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San Lorenzo Lodges by Giovanni De Sandre

Scandal in the papal apartment – Rome’s infamous room opens for stays

As the story goes, a 17th century Pope had an affair with his widowed sister-in-law, and their dalliances played out in a jaw-dropping baroque apartment spanning 350 square metres, replete with ceilings that arch 8 meters into the air, and a columned balcony in the bedroom that overlooks Piazza Navona itself.

A former papal apartment becomes one of the Rome's most sought-after stays

As the story goes, a 17th century Pope had an affair with his widowed sister-in-law, and their dalliances played out in a jaw-dropping baroque apartment spanning 350 square metres, replete with ceilings that arch 8 meters into the air, and a columned balcony in the bedroom that overlooks Piazza Navona itself. Welcome to the Holy Deer San Lorenzo City Lodge, which can be yours for a night to create your own spellbinding tales in the Eternal City.

While the apartment has been updated with modern luxuries such as a whirlpool tub lined with 300,000 handmade tiles and a private wine collection stocked with an array of delectable vintages, the original baroque interiors have been carefully preserved in all their decadent glory. Nowhere are the design sensibilities of the elites of yore more evident than in the Pope’s cavernous bedchamber itself. Indolent silks and heavy velvets drape every inch of the room, especially on the plush platform bed that dominates the space.

But what makes the apartment truly unforgettable is its exquisite location: the bedroom’s French windows lead to a columned balcony on Piazza Navona, one of Rome’s largest and most beautiful squares.

A view of Rome from the French windows

San Lorenzo Lodges by Giovanni De Sandre
San Lorenzo Lodges by Giovanni De Sandre
San Lorenzo Lodges by Giovanni De Sandre
San Lorenzo Lodges by Giovanni De Sandre
A private library with an impressive collection of material
A private library with an impressive collection of material
San Lorenzo Lodges by Giovanni De Sandre
San Lorenzo Lodges by Giovanni De Sandre
San Lorenzo Lodges by Giovanni De Sandre
San Lorenzo Lodges by Giovanni De Sandre
The master bedroom is bedecked in decadent silks and finery

Whether you believe the story of the Pope or not, the amorous tale certainly lends the apartment an undercurrent of sensual mystique. Coupled with the peerless, commanding view of Piazza Navona, and the apartment creates an atmosphere that can only be described as divine. ◼

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© This article was first published in Dec-Jan 2019 edition of World Travel Magazine.

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