"If you stand at the centre of the Piazza Navona in Rome, facing the concave facade of the 17th-century church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, and look just below the southernmost of the two towers that flank its cupola, you'll see a set of tall French doors opening on to a small columned balcony.
Behind these doors is not a section of the church interior, as the façade's configuration would suggest, but a set of monumental frescoed chambers that were designed as the private apartments of Innocent X – born Giovanni Battista Pamphilj – who served as pope from 1644 to 1655.
Anecdotally – or apocryphally, or whatever qualifier befits a juicy piece of ecclesiastical Baroque gossip which, despite never having been proven entirely factual, has equally never been entirely dismissed as false – this was also the love nest of Innocent and his purported mistress, Donna Olimpia Maidalchini, the ambitious noblewoman from Viterbo who was also his sister-in-law.
The history of three-and-a-half centuries ago may be vague in places but what's certifiably true today is that, in property terms, this apartment has to be among the most singular places in the Eternal City to lay one's head. Its interior boasts more than 350 square metres of floor space, 17th-century frescoes by Francesco Allegrini, and an entrance reached via a rather fabulous ramped spiral passageway (up which it is said, Innocent rode a snow-white donkey). From the windows are views of the famous piazza that are arguably superior to those of any of the other palazzi lining it."