Princess faces eviction from stunning Roman villa with Caravaggio mural

A Texas-born Italian princess faces eviction from a Roman villa which has the world's only known mural painted by the renaissance artist Caravaggio, as part of a bitter inheritance battle over the future of the unique property.

Princess Rita Jenrette Boncompagni Ludovisi, 73, whose extraordinary life has encompassed acting, modelling for Playboy, becoming a New York real estate broker, and marriage to a US Congressman and an Italian prince, was served an eviction notice by a court in the Italian capital.

It came after a wall of her residence, Casino dell'Aurora, collapsed, causing the closure of a nearby street.

She told Reuters news agency she was "stunned" to be told that she had 60 days to vacate the property, which she insists is in need of maintenance, but that she would appeal the decision.

The princess, born Rita Carpenter in San Antonio in 1949, is locked in a feud with the children of her late husband, Prince Nicolo Boncompagni Ludovisi.

The couple married in 2009, and there have been protracted legal proceedings between her and her three stepsons since his death in 2018.

A court ordered that the property be publicly auctioned in January 2022, with a minimum bidding price of €350m (£310m), which would have made it one of the most valuable houses in the world.

But there were no bids at that price, nor at subsequent auctions with lower minimums.

The villa's 2.75m-wide ceiling mural, commissioned from Caravaggio in 1597, has been valued at €310m (£274m) and depicts the gods Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto.

The princess had recently been offering paid tours of the property to help pay for its upkeep, but these were in violation of the judicial ruling to sell it at auction.

She claims that her husband left her half of his estate, but his son Prince Bante claims she did not have her father's best interests at heart.