History of the Villa d’Este from 1572 to the Napoleonic period
After the death of Ippolito II d’Este in December 1572 the Villa d’Este continued to be frequented by his nephews. Cardinal Luigi d’Este stayed in the Villa from 1572 to 1586; on his death he was succeeded by Cardinal Alessandro, who remained there until 1624.
Then follows Cardinal Rinaldo I and Rinaldo II d’Este; in 1671 the works of the garden were taken over by the architect Matti de ‘Rossi, one of Bernini’s pupil. In this period there is the renovation of some fountains like the Fountain of the Rometta and the Fountain of the Dragons.
Cardinal Rinaldo II d’Este ordered the construction of the Fountain of Neptune and the Fountain of Bicchierone under the supervision of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Fundamental to the knowledge of the Villa in this period are the splendid prints of Venturini appeared in 1685 and a few decades after the engravings of Piranesi, dating back to 1733.
The decadence of the Villa
The decadence of the Villa d’Este began about the end of 1695. From 1751 the building was deprived of its furnishings and even the garden was deprived of the collections of statues that were sold all around Europe. Towards the end of 1700 when Ercole III died the Villa passed to his daughter Maria Beatrice married to Ferdinand II of Habsburg.
With the Habsburgs the Villa d’Este was totally abandoned. Meanwhile the troops of the Napoleonic army occupied Rome, captured Pope Pius VII and took him to France. The Quirinale Palace in Rome was chosen by the Napoleonic government as a Napoleonic residence in anticipation of a stay in Rome of Emperor Napoleon, which in reality never takes place.
In this period, around 1849 the Napoleonic troops also settled in Villa d’Este which became a sort of barracks. The Villa d’Este was raided, the French troops devastated the palace and took away also the lead relevant to the pipes of the Palace.