The villa is perhaps the most striking building along the Riviera di Chiaia, the road bounding the north side of the Villa Comunale on the sea front between Mergellina and Piazza Vittoria. It was built at the behest of Ferdinand Acton in 1826 as a neo-classical residence that would be the centerpiece of a park. The central atrium was moved to the front of the building and Doric columns still catch the eye of the viewer from the street 50 yards away. The property has changed hands since construction. It was bought in 1841 by Karl Meyer von Rothschild of the German family of financiers; then in 1867 it passed to the Duke of Monteleone, Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes, whose widow then willed it to the Italian state in 1952. The villa maintains intact the gardens in front of the building and houses a coach museum and a collection of French and English vehicles from the 18th and 19th centuries.