Among the many noble residencies in the city, PALAZZO RASPONI DALLE TESTE stands out for its size (over 5.000 sqm) and its grandeur, and is considered by many one of the most beautiful palaces of Ravenna.
Built starting from the last decade of the 17th century by the will of Giovanni Rasponi – who at the time was the bishop of Forlì – and his brother Giuseppe, the building was realised to underline the importance of the Rasponi family for the society of Ravenna of the time.
The family played the main role in the local political and economic landscape between the 16th and the 19th century, as well as one of the most powerful family of all Romagna. Nevertheless, the construction of the palace turned out to be quite anachronistic and excessive, and coincided with the beginning of the decline of the Rasponi family’s power over the city.
The palace underwent several works over time and was severely damaged by bombings in 1944, which caused many interior decorations to be destroyed.
After being used with different purposes during the 20th century, between 2011 and 2014 the building underwent extensive restoration works thanks to the contribution of Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna that brought it back to the glory days.
Today, the building hosts offices of the Municipality of Ravenna and is also the venue for exhibitions, concerts, conferences, weddings and cultural events.
A majestic building
Several hypotheses have been put forward regarding its design, but it is mainly attributed to Luca Danese (1598 – 1672), a humanist and mathematician, who was also responsible for the construction of the Church of San Romualdo, close to the Classense Library.
Originally, the palace overlooked an elegant private park for 70 metres (today Piazza Kennedy) bordered on the other side by the Palazzo Rasponi Murat. The ancient Basilica of Sant’Agnese (5th century AD) – whose plan is still visible on the flooring of the square – probably stood on the same square,
The facade of the palace, rich in classicist and mannerist elements, features 43 windows framed in Istrian stone and boasts an enormous portal surmounted by the coat of arms of the family (lion’s paws for the Rasponi family and a blindfolded Moor’s head alternating with a lion’s head, symbol of the Dalle Teste family).
The majestic portal theatrically frames a double-height hallway and witnesses – along with the interiors – the transition from Baroque to Rococo.
The entrance consists of an enormous portal surmounted by the family coat of arms (lion’s paws for the Rasponi family and a blindfolded Moor’s head alternating with a lion’s head, symbol of the dalle Teste family), through which one enters the large tripartite hallway which, in its double height, already communicates a sense of power and wealth.
Tripartite as a three-nave church, the hallway leads up to the second floor with a sumptuous staircase realised by Giuseppe Antonio Soratini. The staircase ends with the portal of the salone nobile (lit. noble hall), decorated with the big coat of arms with crossed lion’s paws.
In the big hall, that once was the accomodation of count Giuseppe, there are four doors decorated with stuccoes representing ancestors or historical figures recurring in every room.
The decorated portals of the six episcopal rooms form a gallery that once hosted hundreds of very precious paintings.