My family moved to Fondi back in 1983. This is a town with much history and beauty to no end. Even though I don't really like the people, here, and living here has always been hard... I do love the place very much and have studied its fascinating history.
Ever since I moved here, and I was barely 10 years old, I had always dreamed of going inside the Baronial Palace. Most of the time this was more connected to the beautiful Giulia Gonzaga but it was, in reality, Onorato II Caetani dell'Aquila who made the building beautiful, rich and filled with splendor.
It finally opened yesterday and I managed to follow a tour guide while she explained a few things about the building itself. I have to confess that most of the restoration felt like renovation to me. It is true that the building was hollow, and no ceiling and almost no walls, except for the exterior ones, survived WWII. Still I didn't think that the part that was intact had been so changed, through the years, that nothing of the original palace was there to be restored.
How sad! I had dreamed of entering the building for 27 years!
Onorato II Caetani was the one who made the Baronial Palace rich.
The guide told us that on the above floor there was still a Camera Pictae (a painted room) to be opened. Probably a Studiolo (a study room) where the antipope Clemente VII signed the peace with Velletri - but that, of course, belongs to Onorato I's time period, not to Onorato II's.
What Onorato II did was, once he got friendly with the King of Naples - who was back then a member of the Aragona family - he got jobs and position and money and wanted to show his wealth with a house that could be worthy of him.
To understand what kind of man he was let me tell you that an emperor had come to visit him and Onorato II had gone to meet him with very humble clothes, to show submission, but with a very fancy hat, filled with jewels, to show he was super rich! XD (some of these traits can still be found in the citizen of Fondi, I believe).
Anyways, if my calculations are correct the Emperor should be Friederick III.
The most amazing thing is probably this fresco. It's a knight being crowned by angels: temporal and spiritual power both represented in the figure of the Lord.
Who is this man? Is it Friederick visitng Onorato II? Probably not, probably it's Roffredo III, the man who actually built the castle and the Baronial palace back in the 1300.
Who knows? There are no inscriptions. (I think this dude looks like Karl IV)
The baronial palace could not be expanded in height nor width. The Appia Antica passed between the tower and the palace on one side, St. Peter's churh stood on the other side, on the back there were orchards and in the front, well... the city walls (part of the baronial palace exploits pre-existing Roman walls, so the external walls of the palace also stand for city limits: outside of these walls there's nothing!)
So Onorato II, following the Catalan style, decided he should make his home rich, if not big... and created canteens for wine, oil and vinegar and furnished the place with lots of fancy furniture and tapestry. All that's left, to us, are documents that state that, at his death, the man was stinking rich... and the beautifully carved stone details of the capitelli, a loggia, ogival windows and biforas, Spanish arches and a huge fireplace!
Here's some pictures for you: