A Renaissance palace grafted onto the top of an ancient Roman theatre is up for sale in Rome for 26 million pounds.
Palazzo Orsini, in the centre of Rome, Italy, is being sold by the family of an Anglo-American aristocrat, Iris Origo who sheltered escaped Allied prisoners of war during the Second World War, a leading daily reported.
The price asked is thought to make it the most expensive property presently on sale in the Italian capital, and one of the most costly in Europe.
The 11,000 square foot palace comprises frescoed staterooms, a ballroom, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a library, a dining room, a terrace, a separate penthouse and cellars.
The building, with a garden full of fountains and orange trees, is constructed on top of the still-standing stone and marble shell of the 1st century BC Theatre of Marcellus, which resembles a mini Colosseum.
“Most of the rooms look onto the garden, and there is also a long terrace that overlooks the Tiber,” said Gemma Bruce, of London-based Aylesford International, which is handling the sale.
“The staterooms are very grand but the rest of the property is very homely and liveable.
“The cellars extend right down into the ancient Roman arches. They could be converted into a gym, a health spa or a wine cellar – it would be an amazing place for wine tastings,” Bruce added.
Construction of the Theatre of Marcellus, which could seat 20,000 people, was started by Julius Caesar but it was completed in 11BC by the emperor Augustus, who named it after his favourite nephew.
It was abandoned in the 4th century AD but was later transformed into a fortress and, then into a family palazzo, constructed on the massive travertine blocks that make up the Roman theatre, known in Italian as the Teatro di Marcello.
It passed into the hands of the Orsini family, after which it is named, in the 18th century.