The History Palazzo del Drago (originally palazzo Crispo) was built over a period of approximately 20 years, from 1530 to 1550, by wish of cardinal Tiberio Crispo (1498 -1566), governor of Bolsena and a close friend of the Farnese family and Pope Paul III (Alessandro Farnese). Power and connections made it possible for Tiberio Crispo to make use of the best artists and architects of the time for the construction of his home. Simone Mosca and Raffaello da Montelupo worked on the architecture, while Prospero Fontana decorated the ceilings with frescoes representing the story of Alexander the Great, the myth of Love and Psyche, grotesques, and the history of the creation of Rome.
The same Prospero Fontana also decorated the interiors of Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome.
The palace has an unusual articulated structure that unfolds along the length of the town of Bolsena, with an imposing facade that dominates the northeast entrance to the town. It has a garden which has four levels. On the first, oranges, roses, and figs are cultivated, camellias and hydrangeas are found on the second, and boxwood, quince and a Canadian oak are on the third. The fourth level has an Italian-style garden. Inside the palace we find five frescoed rooms, the tapestry room, a gallery, great halls, and a suspended terrace with a view of Lake Bolsena. The two large halls, which are open to the public, were part of the private apartments of cardinal Crispo and are richly decorated with frescoes by Prospero Fontana. The first depicts the life of Alexander the great, and the second the myth of Love and Psyche.
Owners: after Cardinal Tiberio Crispo, in the 16th century the palace was passed on to the Spada family which owned it until the end of the 19th century. In 1890, upon the marriage of Ferdinando del Drago and Angelica Spada Veralli, the palace was passed on to the family of the Drago princes. At that time, the palace was in a state of complete abandon and in critical conditions. In the 1930s, Rodolfo del Drago began the first restoration work, but after the second world war the palace was abandoned once more. Prince Giovanni del Drago, who owned the palace from 1950 to 2016, performed major recovery and restoration work which continues today under the current owner, Ferdinando del Drago.
A Piece of Trivia: the palace was frequented by celebrities such as Pope Paul III, Marguerite of Austria and Tiberio Crispo in the 16th century, by Orazio Spada in the 17th century, and more recently by artists such as Balthus and Cy Twombly, who dedicated a series of paintings to the palace and the town of Bolsena.