This 1930s view of a lush, sunny garden in Italy shows the grounds of the British Embassy, in Porta Pia, Rome. The Embassy building at the time was the Villa Bracciano. The site had been bought by Don Marino, Duke of Bracciano in 1825, who reconstructed the building and sold it to the British Government in 1870. It then served as the British Ambassador’s Residence and Embassy for over 75 years until, on 31 October 1946, the building was severely damaged as the result of a terrorist attack. The Jewish Palestine terrorist organisation Irgun Zvai Leumi claimed responsibility for two bombs concealed in suitcases and planted in the main doorway. The explosion injured one passer-by and caused severe damage to the building, which was later pulled down. After the bombing the Italian Government made Villa Wolkonsky (the former property of an expatriate Russian princess Zanaide Wolkonsky) in the San Giovanni area of Rome available for use as a temporary Embassy and Ambassador’s Residence, while a more permanent solution was sought.
In 1959, British architect Sir Basil Spence was commissioned to design the new British Embassy building and 14 staff flats on the site of the former Embassy at Porta Pia.
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