Architect Giovanni Antonio De Rossi designed the building on behalf of the Marquis of Aste. The facade creates an original balance, combining a Baroque style with Renaissance rigour.
The building was passed on to the family of Marquis Rinuccini of Florence, who fell in love with is harmonious architecture.
Antonio Canova created the sculpture of Mars the Peacemaker, a neo-classic representation of Napoleon. Irony has it that the original stands in Apsley House, the residence of the Duke of Wellington, who conquered Napoleon at Waterloo. One of the five plaster copies can still be found today on the main floor of Palazzo Bonaparte.
Letizia Bonaparte bought the building for 27,000 gold piastres, and made it her home, giving it the family name and from then on it was known as Palazzo Bonaparte.
It is told that on the night of 5th May a mysterious visitor told Letizia “As I speak, his Majesty Napoleon is being freed of his woes and is happy…” and then disappeared into thin air. And if it was the ghost of Napoleon himself?
Now eighty, Madame Letizia died after spending the last part of her life in her treasure rooms in Piazza Venezia 5.
The first place in the whole of Rome to receive gas lighting, Piazza Venezia and the harmonious façade of Palazzo Bonaparte were lit up at night.
On that historical day, 17th March, Victor Emanuel was proclaimed King of Italy. An important step that marked the passage of the country from a mosaic of states to a unified nation. In Rome, people of all classes flocked to the streets to celebrate, though the papal government intervened, arresting and searching the crowds.
It was the year of the Capture of Rome, the city was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy and became its capital. Thus the temporary power of the Popes and the Papal State came to an end.
At Christmas, a horse-drawn tram line connecting Piazza Venezia to Termini station was inaugurated.13 years later, the stretch from Saint Peters and Trastevere Station was opened.
On 22 March, a formal ceremony marked the laying of the first stone of the Vittoriano by King Umberto I. The competition to build the monument to Victor Emanuel II and the Renaissance was won by architect Giuseppe Sacconi.
Giuseppe Sacconi, author of the Vittoriano, redesigned all of Piazza Venezia. And in this great new scenario, the beauty of Palazzo Bonaparte remained intact.
The princes of Canino and Musignano, heirs of Palazzo Bonaparte decided to sell it to the family of Marquis Misciattelli, who came from Orvieto.
The Assicurazioni Generali building in Piazza Venezia 11 was inaugurated; this building deliberately copied the style and architecture of the 15th century Palazzo Venezia which stood opposite. Thus the two buildings became two splendid theatrical backdrops for the whole square.
It took 26 years to complete the Vittoriano. On 4 June 1911 Victor Emanuel III officially inaugurated the monument. This date was packed with events; on the same day the International Expo marking 50 years of Italian Unification was opened.
The Great War, a conflict of intercontinental dimensions, broke out. It was triggered on 28 June 1914 by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo.
The place chosen for the burial of the Unknown Soldier, in remembrance of over 600,000 Italian soldiers killed during the First World War, is the Vittoriano. The remains of an unknown solider are buried in the centre of the staircase, in the Altare della Patria, on 4 November, marking the anniversary of the end of the war.
The urban development of the area around Piazza Venezia continued, with the building of the Imperial Fora.
On 9 May Benito Mussolini proclaimed the birth of the Empire from the balcony in Piazza Venezia.
Europe sped fast towards the Second World War. the war broke out on 1 September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland.
On the evening of 4 June, after nine months of occupation, Rome was freed by the Allies.
On 2 June 1948 the Italian Festa della Repubblica was established for the first time. Italian President Luigi Einaudi visited the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Piazza Venezia, accompanied by a military parade.
Audrey Hepburn, star of Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck, directed by William Wyler, dashes by the building on her Vespa.
Alberto Sordi, playing the lead role in The Traffic Policeman, directed by Luigi Zampa, directs the traffic from his stand on the junction with Via del Corso, a stone’s throw from the building.
Palazzo Bonaparte became the property of INA Assitalia. Today the building belongs to the Generali Group.