Viterbo and the surrounding area were the stronghold of the Farnese family, who also owned extensive property in Rome. The family’s true rise to power, however, was when Alexander Farnese became Pope Paul III in 1534. Never heard of him? That’s not exactly true if you’ve seen Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. Pope Paul III financed the 61-year-old artist.
In the small town of Caprarola, Alexander Farnese’s father built a family fortress. (You can never be too sure, not even in the Renaissance!) With Alexander’s election as Pope, the country fortress was renovated into a prince’s palace, with all the necessary commodities: a throne room, a map room (seen in the picture), guest quarters, summer and winter lodgings, and – noblesse oblige – gardens.