Palazzo Baldassini is situated in Via delle Coppelle, in the area in Rome that from the thirteenth century onwards is called Sant’Eustacchio. It’s construction was commissioned to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger between 1515 and 1518 by the jurist Melchiorre Baldassini. We are in the Rinascimento (Renaissance), a period in which Italy was the centre of an intellectual revolution that also brought great innovations in the fields of art and architecture. It was the period during which Sangallo was the architect of Pope Leo X, Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici, son of the great Lorenzo il Magnifico and he was charged with the task of improving the appearance of the area of Rome that was developing around the palace of the de’ Medici family’s property, Palazzo Madama today the seat of the Senate.
Life in the neighborhood where the Palace was due to be built was particularly fervent: there was always a constant crowd of numerous people occupied in various activities, such as the transport of wine barrels, “the coppelle” from which the street Via delle Coppelle derives its name. The urban fabric was composed of low, insalubrious buildings, often flooded by the Tiber. The houses were inhabited by a population living in the poorest conditions, while, a little further on, one came across rich, beautiful palaces, large squares and impressive works art. On this boundary line, separating the aristocrats from the commoners, the rich from the poor, Melchiorre Baldassini decided to have his palace built.
Originally from Naples, Baldassini was a man of culture and power, lecturer of civil law at The Sapienza University, a Consistory lawyer and an “advocate for the poor”, Baldassini has become a wealthy and powerful man and a great friend of Cardinal Andrea della Valle, a refined intellectual, under whose influence he is induced to become a major collector of great works of art – mainly consisting of ancient statues – of which unfortunately, today, not a single trace remains. Upon his death in September 1525, Baldassini was buried in the church of Sant’Agostino, next to the Palace that he had built.