Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia Comune di Ariccia
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The Chigi Family
(click the photo to enlarge)
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Jacob Ferdinand Voet,
Portrait of Maria Virginia Borghese
Ariccia, Palazzo Chigi
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Il Baciccio,
Portrait of Cardinal Sigismondo Chigi
Ariccia, Palazzo Chigi
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Jacob Ferdinand Voet,
Portrait of Cardinal Flavio Chigi
Ariccia, Palazzo Chigi
The family is of ancient Sienese origin. One of the more important figures was the banker Agostino Chigi "the Magnificent" (1465-1520), one of the most important patrons of the arts during the Renaissance.
After a period of absence from the political and cultural scene, the family reached new glory with the election of Cardinal Fabio Chigi as Pope Alexander VII (1655-1667). He had two nephews who were cardinals: Flavio I (1631- 1693), main art collector of the family and Sigismondo (1649- 1678); another nephew, Agostino (1634- 1705) married Maria Virginia Borghese, niece of Pope Paul. Starting in the second half of the 1600ís, the Chigis acquired a great deal of real estate properties, and in the 1800ís they became one of the five major landowners of the Pontifical State.
In the 1700's the Chigis had another cardinal in the family, namely Flavio II (1711-1771), with Jesuit sympathies, who was up for Papal election during the conclave of Clement XIV. Sigismondo Chigi (1735- 1793) was an important character in the eighteenth century being an intellectual, illuminist and interested in French culture.
In the 1800's an important marriage put the Chigis in contact with the great European aristocracy when Mario Chigi (1832- 1914) married the Russian princess Antonietta Sayn Wittgenstein (1839- 1918), niece of the famous German general Peter Wittgenstein, who stopped Napoleon at St. Petersburg, and daughter of the beautiful Leonilla Bariatinsky (1816- 1918), decendant of one of the most important Russian families (her grandmother was a blood-related cousin to Czar Paul III).
During the 1800's the Chigi family also had its last cardinal: Flavio III (1810- 1885), once Apostolic Nuncio in Paris.
One of the last important figures was Ludovico Chigi (1866-1951), Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Since 1712 until the recent pontificate of Paul VI, the fir5st born son of the Chigi family has held the important role of Custodian of the Conclave and Marshal of the Holy Roman Church, with the delicate duty of watching over the college of cardinals during the conclave meetings. The last Marshal was Sir Sigismondo Chigi (1894- 1982) who married the American Marian Berry (1901-1989). Agostino Chigi (1929- 2002) , who was greatly involved in philanthropic pursuits in India as well as Italy, and was an expert photographer, donated the palace to the City of Ariccia, along with its park and surrounding property, on 29th December 1988. The Chigi family is presently represented by Prince Mario Chigi (1929), son of Francesco, who resides in the family villa at Castel Fusano , and his son, Duke Flavio Chigi (1975).