From HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi and Rome’s Villa Aurora, wishes for a happy New Year

One of the great holiday traditions at Rome’s historic Villa Aurora is the raising and decoration of a monumental Christmas tree underneath Guercino’s frescoes in the great Sala. When topped with a star, these festive trees—including the 2019 edition—stretch to a height of over five full meters.

In 2012, HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi instituted what would become an even more vital tradition—a holiday party in their home of the Villa for the children of the Istituto San Giuseppe della Montagna, on Viale Vaticano in Rome. This Institute had long held a special place in the charitable giving of the Prince and Princess, and so a natural next step was to bring the Institute over to their Villa Aurora for a special day of festivities.

The Istituto San Giuseppe della Montagna at Viale Vaticano 88, Rome.

This Institute stands almost in the shadow of the Vatican Museums and the Basilica of Saint Peter, and is administered by Spanish sisters of the Congregation of San José de la Montaña. For some decades, the nuns have offered a home-like setting to more than a dozen children ranging from infants to young teens. They are either orphans or children of poor immigrant working parents, and all stay at the Institute without charge.

The Institute is supported completely by private donations as well as revenues from an unusually pleasant guesthouse on the premises. The guesthouse boasts 17 rooms, all with private bath, and the nightly charge (which includes a sumptuous breakfast) costs a fraction of the cost of neighboring hotels. You can contact the guesthouse here.

So to honor the mission of the Istituto San Giuseppe della Montagna, eight years ago Prince Nicolò and Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi started hosting a large and lively December lunch and Christmas party—complete with carol singing and a visit from Santa Claus—for the Sisters and the children. The Prince and Princess made sure that no child left without an armful of welcome gifts.

Many members of Rome’s nobility have fixed the date of the December event for the Institute in their social calendars, and have brought their own children and grandchildren to participate in the festivities. This year Princess Maria Camilla Pallavicini brought gifts for all of the Institute’s children. Also supporting the 2019 event were (among others) Princess Giovanna Borghese; Prince Urbano Barberini Colonna di Sciarra; Prince Alessandro and Princess Maresti Massimo; Prince Carlo and Princess Elisa Massimo; Marchesa Teresa Patrizi; and Princess Claudia Ruspoli, as well as Prince Guglielmo Giovannelli Marconi and Princess Vittoria Rubini Marconi.

We should note that this was the second Christmas party for the Istituto San Giuseppe della Montagna after the loss of Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi on 8 March 2018. The continuation of this event, his widow Princess Rita tells the blog, is also in part a tribute to her late husband, who was devoted to the work of the Institute and the celebration of the devoted Spanish Sisters who see to the care of the children. And she hopes that all have had a festive holiday season, with wishes for a wonderful New Year. There will be lots of progress on Archive projects to report soon in 2020!

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