PONTE DISTRICT  – ITINERARY 21

Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides

PONTE DISTRICT – ITINERARY 21

The Itinerary 21 of the Ponte District takes place in an area of Rome that is almost divided into two large symmetrical zones by the route of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II: in your walk, starting from where we finished the previous one, you will first visit the area on the right and then the one on the left.

Via degli Orsini – Via dei Banchi Nuovi – Lungotevere dei Sangallo – Lungotevere dei Fiorentini – Piazza Pasquale Paoli – Lungotevere degli Altoviti – Piazza Ponte Sant’Angelo – Via di Panico – Via degli Orsini – Via Giulia – Via dei Banchi Vecchi – Piazza Sforza-Cesarini

The Capponi Palace

THE CAPPONI PALACE

From the Clock Square (once called the Square of the Junk Dealers, for the sale of goods that took place there) observe, at the corner with Via degli Orsini, the beautiful Capponi Palace.

This palace, once belonged to Cosimo Orsini, then became the property of the Capponi family of Florence who lived there until the 18th Century, when it was sold and purchased several times. The palace, with a beautiful double basin fountain with an eagle among oak branches and with the gush coming out of the mouth of a laurel crowned female head, is on three floors and has two entrance doors surmounted by faun heads and the tympanums of the windows respectively decorated with shells, capitals and female heads. In this palace Eugenio Pacelli was born in 1876 and later became Pope Pius XII.

Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Via dei Banchi Nuovi

Turn now onto Via dei Banchi Nuovi, so called because of the presence of the moneychangers’ desks and also nicknamed “papal” because, as we have already mentioned in the previous Itineraries, it was being walked by the papal procession that accompanied the newly elected Pope to take possession of the Lateran.

At numbers 37 and 41 you can see the Aldobrandini Palace, inhabited by Silvestro Aldobrandini, father of Pope Clement VIII. The building passed first to the Borghese family, related to the Aldobrandini, then to the Pamphilj family, and finally again to the Borghese family, before being sold and purchased several times by much less noble families. Nothing remains of the original façade, and what you see today is a 19th Century reconstruction: inside there is a beautiful courtyard with a porticoed side and a marble plaque that recalls how the palace was frequented by St. Philip Neri and Torquato Tasso.

Walking again on Via dei Banchi Nuovi, you will find the following streets in order:

  • the narrow Vicolo di San Giuliano, where you can see a beautiful shrine with a fresco of the Madonna;
  • Vicolo della Campanella, which preserves a characteristic succession of houses with ancient façades whose architectural forms go from the 16th to the 19th Century. On the corner of Vicolo di San Celso is the seat of the Archconfraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and of Saints Celso and Julian, which was established by Pope Pius V in 1560. The façade is animated by pilasters with capitals in Ionic style, and on the ceiling inside is represented the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, by an anonymous author.
  • At number 4, you can admire the Maderno House, built at the beginning of the 16th Century and remained a family property until the 19th Century. The building, decorated with stuccoes, has windows surmounted by alternating triangular and curved tympanums, inside which are elements taken from the Maderno family’s coat of arms: the obelisk, the eagle, the chessboard and the tower.
Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Palace of the Bank of the Holy Spirit

THE BANK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

At the end of the street, you will find yourself in front of the Palace of the Bank of the Holy Spirit, where until 1541 the papal mint was housed, then moved to Via Santa Lucia del Gonfalone. The building, designed by Donato Bramante, was embellished by a façade built in 1545 by the architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and decorated with the coat of arms of Pope Clement VII. The building then became the property of the Bank of the Holy Spirit, who wanted to put inside it the physical seat of its Bank, wanted by Pope Paul V (of which remains the coat of arms on the façade, flanked by two statues representing Charity and Abundance) and inaugurated in 1667 during the pontificate of Pope Clement IX.

The palace, which preserves the rustication in the lower part with the main entrance door and two windows on the sides, has a slightly concave façade, marked by four pilasters flanking an arch, decorated with a marble aedicula reminiscent of the popes who contributed to the construction of the building.

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Via del Banco di Santo Spirito

Along this road once existed the homes and workshops of many artists, including the engraver Gaspare Mola and the sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini.

THE GADDI PALACE

At number 41 there is the Gaddi Palace, built at the beginning of the 16th Century at the will of Luigi Gaddi and then purchased in 1530 by Filippo Strozzi, and then again owned by various families. In this building worked the sculptor Andrea Sansovino and housed the man of letters Annibal Caro, both remembered by two portraits on the second floor. Inside the building there is an elegant porticoed courtyard on two sides, while on the other two sides the wall is decorated with three arches with niches and statues. In the upper part there is a thick stucco decoration with festoons, masks and erotos. Among the numerous statues that once decorated the courtyard, the documents recall the group of Venus and Mars, the work of the son of the sculptor Simone Mosca, unfortunately lost.

THE ALBERINI CICCIAPORCI PALACE

At number 12 you will find the elegant Alberini Cicciaporci Palace which, built by the Roman nobleman Giulio Alberini, was then bought by the Cicciaporci family and finally sold in 1901 to the Pontifical Portuguese College. In 1866, the palace underwent a heavy restoration work by Antonio Sarti, who modified the two façades and the porticoed courtyard.

THE FLOOD OF THE TIBER RIVER

Almost in front of the Vicolo del Curato, on the left, you can see the so-called Arch of the Banks, a small clearing previously called the Courtyard of the Chigi, because the famous Agostino Chigi had his counter there. Under the arch is walled an ancient marble inscription that recalls a tremendous flood of the Tiber, which occurred on November 7th 1277: this plaque is the oldest in which is remembered a flood of the river with the indication of the level reached, and was once walled on the façade of the Church of Saints Celso and Giuliano. Also under the arch is venerated an image of the Virgin known as “Madonna dell’arcotto” (Virgin Mary of the Little Arch).

Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
The Church of Saints Celso and Julian

THE CHURCH OF SAINTS CELSO AND JULIAN

Now approach the St. Angel’s Bridge, and stop in front of the Church of Saints Celso and Julian.

The first news about this church dates back to 1008, but according to some documents it was even consecrated in 432 by Pope Celestino l. The chronology of the church is well known: in the 12th Century it was under the jurisdiction of the Church of St. Lawrence in Damaso, in 1486 it became a parish and in 1906 the parish seat was moved to the Church of St. John of the Florentines.

Originally the church, which had three naves and was much larger than the present one, overlooked the Bridge Square. The church was then demolished during the pontificate of Julius II in order to widen the street and was rebuilt to a design by Donato Bramante, who had designed a Greek cross plan surmounted by five domes, one in the center and the other four at the ends of each arm of the cross. Bramante’s project, however, was not completed and the construction of the church, on the death of Julius Il, was interrupted to be completed in 1535, but with a single nave.

Two centuries later, Pope Clement XII also had this church demolished, rebuilding it in two years to a design by Carlo De Dominicis. The architect Andrea Busiri Vici restored the church again in 1868.

THE DECORATIONS OF THE CHURCH

The façade is marked by pilasters and double columns supporting capitals decorated with palm branches, crowns and the monogram of Christ. The façade, decorated with a large window, ends in a tympanum linked to the baroque style of Francesco Borromini.

Now cross the central door, surmounted by an oval opening framed by palm branches and lilies in stucco, and observe the interior of the church, elliptical in shape with side chapels, decorated with paintings of the 18th Century, among which stands out on the high altar the altarpiece with Christ in Glory and Saints, made by Pompeo Batoni.

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Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
The Square of the St. Angel's Bridge

THE “BRIDGE SQUARE”

Better known by the Romans as the “Bridge Square“, it was created after 1450 by Pope Nicholas V and later reorganized by Pope Sixtus IV. At the head of the St. Angel’s Bridge, on this side of the Tiber, were in fact erected two small votive chapels in atonement for the tragic collapse of the parapets that the bridge had suffered in 1450 and as a result of which there were 172 dead. On the occasion of these works it was thought to realize a square in front of the entrance to the bridge, in order to solve the problem of the pilgrims’ turnout towards the bridge itself.

THE LESSER TRIDENT OF ROME

In order to improve road traffic in this part of Rome, between 1543 and 1546 the streets that led to the square were also rearranged: Via Paola, Via del Banco di Santo Spirito and Via di Panico. In this way a second road trident was created (in addition to the most famous one in People’s Square) that functioned as a junction and at the same time as a control of an important urban hub: the access through the bridge to the Vatican.

FISH MARKETS, FIREWORKS, INN AND TAVERNS

On the square was held the second fish market in Rome after the one on the Octavia’s Portico, and the square was always crowded with stalls selling all kinds of products, both food and craft. From the Bridge Square, of course, all the parades to and from the Vatican passed through, which attracted a crowd of onlookers and the continuous presence of jugglers and artists from the square who found it easy to find the public, transforming this place into a sort of popular open-air theater. Often fireworks shows were held in the square in response to the famous Girandola of the St. Angel’s Castle, the most famous fireworks display in Rome.

The area around the square was then full of inns, taverns and hotels where many of the countless pilgrims who went to St. Peter’s stopped and indirectly fed the trade.

THE EXECUTIONS OF THE CRIMINALS

However, the square was famous in Rome for a much darker reason. The nearby prison of Tor di Nona, in fact, beat the hours of executions of death sentences which, in the majority of cases, were carried out in a small prison courtyard where the Confraternity of San John Beheaded had built a small chapel dedicated to the Saint. But the guilty of the crimes that had shaken the public opinion the most, and in any case all the criminals whose execution wanted to be shown as an example to the Roman population, were executed right in the Bridge Square, so that many citizens could attend the execution.

On the other hand, the justice of the State of the Church could be very strict: on August 27th 1500 the pilgrims found hanged, along the shovels of the bridge, eighteen condemned, one of whom had been a doctor of the hospital of St. John who had poisoned the sick pilgrims who had been hospitalized and who had brought with them large sums of money. Pope Sixtus V in particular became very famous in a well known popular proverb, for having had more heads of brigands killed on the bridge than there were on the Roman market stalls.

On the occasion of these executions, a consolidated Romanesque tradition wanted the fathers to accompany their children to witness the tortures, considering them extremely educational. In reality, as the poet Gioacchino Belli recalls, the Romans participated amusedly in these executions, which sometimes represented a real pastime.

BEATRICE CENCI

On September 11th 1599 three members of the Cenci family were executed in the Bridge Square: Lucrezia, Giacomo and the famous Beatrice. Lucrezia and Beatrice were beheaded, while Giacomo had his head crushed by blows of a club and his body, torn in four parts, was hung on four hooks. The very young Bernardo, Beatrice’s little brother, was spared but he was forced to witness the death of his family while sitting on the gallows, among the emotion of the Roman people.

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Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Pasquale Poli Square

THE “AMEDEO BRIDGE”

Now follow the Lungotevere degli Altoviti until you reach the Pasquale Paoli Square, named after the man who was the defender of Corsica’s independence against the French. Corso Vittorio Emanuele II flows into this square, which on one side leads to the Bridge Prince Amadeus of Savoy and on the other to the Argentine Square, thus constituting one of the main road axes of the historic center of Rome.

The bridge, more commonly called Amedeo Bridge, has three spans, extremely linear and without decorations and has, in correspondence of the pylons, as many arched passages to break the force of the current when the river is in flood. On the pillars, placed at the heads, are engraved the motivations of the gold, silver and bronze medals received by Prince Amadeus of Savoy as part of his military career.

THE ANCIENT BARRACCO MUSEUM

In 1938, just to complete the opening of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, the building where the collection of ancient sculptures that the baron Giovanni Barracco had left in Rome was demolished. The architect Gaetano Koch had designed a neoclassical style building for the museum, whose entrance resembled an ancient Ionic temple. In the area where the Museum was located, among the few flowerbeds present here, is now the monument to the Italian politician and patriot Terenzio Mamiani, by Mauro Benini.

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Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
The Gold Square

If you walk a few steps to Piazza dell’Oro (Gold Square), you will reach the place where, in Roman times, the Tarentum, one of the entrances to the underworld, was located. From here you can see on the right the narrow Via delle Mole dei Fiorentini, whose name recalls the floating mills on the Tiber, whose millstones worked thanks to the wheels moved by the river current.

On this side of the Tiber was the Neronian Bridge, also called “triumphal“, which we talked about in the introduction to the Ponte District and whose foundations of the pylons emerge when the Tiber is dry.

THE IRON BRIDGE

Speaking of bridges, it is necessary to remember that right on the Lungotevere of the Florentines there was an iron bridge that, in 1863, a private company had built exercising the management with a contract lasting 99 years. This bridge crossed the river with a single iron arch that had at both ends the place where you had to pay the toll to the Celani family, quantified precisely in a penny. The soldiers and the monks who asked for alms were exempt from paying the toll; in addition to this, during Easter Sunday the passage over the bridge was free of charge. The bridge, built by architect Calvi on a design by engineer Ondry, was demolished on July 15th 1941 and the iron was collected to cover the costs of the war. For some time, in fact, the Iron Bridge had been closed to carriage traffic and limited to pedestrian traffic only.

The 15th Century Florentine houses with rusticated corners, arched windows, travertine frames and Florence’s lily overlook Piazza dell’Oro. At number 3, then, you will see a 16th Century house that preserves in the small courtyard a strigilated sarcophagus dating back to the III Century AD, decorated in the corners with reliefs of a lion attacking a deer.

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The Church of St. John of the Florentines

THE CHURCH OF ST. JOHN OF THE FLORENTINES

The construction of the Church of St. John of the Florentines saw an interminable number of architects. In 1508 the architect Donato Bramante realized the first project for a large church of the Florentine nation dedicated to St. John the Baptist: the plan of the church with a central plan, even if never built, explains how Bramante will take a strong cue from his own project, realized for the renovated St. Peter’s Basilica.

On Bramante’s death, a competition was held for the construction of the church, won by the architect Jacopo Sansovino: unfortunately for him, the works proceeded very slowly and, besides being heavily criticized for the first phases of the construction of the church, considered too close to the Tiber and therefore on too soft ground, Sansovino suffered in 1520 a serious accident falling from a scaffolding.

The direction of the works passed into the hands of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, who had demonstrated his technical skills in the construction of fortifications and military buildings but who, although brilliantly solving the problem of the foundations of the church, was unable to follow up his project. The works seemed to be unable to proceed: Jacopo Sansovino was called again, who collaborated with Antonio da Sangallo himself, and even Michelangelo Buonarroti provided projects and ideas, but the church seemed to be unable to be built.

The works proceeded with greater speed only at the beginning of the 17th Century, thanks to the intervention of the architects Giacomo Della Porta and Carlo Maderno, who managed to complete the church with the exception of the façade, which was executed by Alessandro Galilei in 1734: however, since the bad luck of the church was now legendary, Galilei too was affected, dying the year before the completion of the works.

THE “SUCKED CANDY” DOME

The majestic and elegant facade, with high semi-columns with Corinthian capitals, has three doors corresponding to the three internal naves; the statues and reliefs that adorn it have a high symbolic value because they recall the episodes of the life of St. John the Baptist and the most important Florentine saints. The dome, built by Carlo Maderno in 1634, because of its tapered elevation is nicknamed by the Romans “the sucked candy“.

THE INTERIOR DECORATIONS

The interior is particularly rich in frescoes, paintings and marble. The chapels are dedicated above all to Florentine saints and in the sacristy there is a statuette of “St. John the Baptist“, which is considered by many to be a youthful work by Michelangelo. The chapel of Saints Cosmas and Damian keeps a canvas dedicated to these saints, by Salvator Rosa, and the monument to Ottaviano Corsini, made by Alessandro Algardi. In the Chapel of the Crucifix is the splendid “Prayer in the Garden“, by Giovanni Lanfranco.

On the floor of the transept, moreover, you can see the tombstone linked to the tomb of the Maderno family, where are buried among others the architect Carlo Maderno and his nephew, the great baroque architect Francesco Borromini, who died suicide in 1667. Borromini himself designed both the high altar and the sepulchral crypt.

THE STATUE OF THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST

In 2016, in the church was finally reported the gigantic sculptural group of the Baptism of Christ, sculpted by Francesco Mochi between 1634 and 1644. After having had Borromini modify the composition of the high altar, the work began to wander from place to place for almost 400 years, passing from the Falconieri Palace to the Milvian Bridge (where there are still copies of the statues) until 2016 in the atrium of the Museum of Rome, inside of the Braschi Palace.

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Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Via Giulia

VIA GIULIA

Now take Via Giulia, arriving at the first street on the left, Via dei Cimatori: along this road settled those Florentines, now exiled from Florence after the siege of 1531, who exercised the profession of wool topping. Here also the Barberini family had their first home in Rome, perhaps recognizable in the beautiful 16th Century building at number 19 which was restored in 1932.

At number 82 you will find another beautiful 16th Century building, donated to the Archconfraternity of the Florentines as compensation for the expropriated property when Pope Julius II decided to open Via Giulia. The building, divided into three floors by frames, once had evident decorations on the façade, and still today you can see the ornaments of the friezes that emphasize the various floors: eroti, winged lions, containers with fruit and coats of arms of the Florentine family of Alberti.

Go back to Via Giulia and reach number 81, where there is the Bandinelli College, founded in 1678 by the Florentine baker Bartolomeo Bandinelli. This college was founded until 1870 and since then, bequeathed to the Archconfraternity of St. John Beheaded (also depicted in the marble emblem on the second floor), it awards scholarships in accordance with Bandinelli’s wishes.

Next to it, at number 79, there is the palace that belonged to the architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, who built it in 1541. The building then passed to Cosimo I dei Medici and, on behalf of the Medici family, the facade was adorned with frescoes of which we have memory until the 19th Century. The building has a beautiful row of windows on the main floor, connected by the frame that joins the windowsills.

The house at number 85, crowned by a rich cornice with heraldic elements, is traditionally linked to the name of Raffaello Sanzio.

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Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
The Sacchetti Palace

THE SACCHETTI PALACE

Number 66 on Via Giulia marks the Sacchetti Palace, built by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, who lived there until 1546, the year of his death, leaving also a plaque in which his property is highlighted. In 1552 his son, Orazio da Sangallo, sold the palace to the Cardinal Giovanni Ricci of Montepulciano, who commissioned the architect Nanni di Baccio Bigio to arrange it and the painter Francesco Salviati to decorate the first floor rooms of the palace.

The palace was then sold in 1576 to Tiberio Ceuli, who contributed greatly to its further arrangement and embellishment and it was in this period that Giacomo Rocca frescoed the façades on the Tiber. In 1608 the palace was purchased by the Cardinal Ottavio Acquaviva of Aragon, in whose property it remained for about forty years. In 1648, the palace was finally sold to the Marquis Sacchetti, an illustrious family of Florentine origin. The Sacchetti family has since then remained in possession of the palace until 2015: in that year, part of the palace corresponding to the entire main floor was sold to the banker Robert De Balkany.

Through the main door decorated with a marble frame you can enter the austere porticoed courtyard, decorated with a frieze in which the metopes contain the heraldic elements of the Ceuli family. Above the entrance hall is walled an interesting relief, which could represent the presentation to the Senate of Caracalla, which took place in 197 AD in the presence of his father Septimius Severus.

THE FRESCOES OF THE PALACE

Of particular interest is the so-called Great Hall of the Globes, also known as the Cardinal’s Audience Hall, decorated with frescoes by Francesco Salviati with episodes from the life of King David. Some frescoes by Pietro da Cortona decorate the gallery and the dining room, depicting “Adam and Eve” and the “Holy Family“.

The other rooms, facing the garden, were painted in the mid-16th Century by a group of French and Italian Mannerist artists (including Girolamo from Faenza, Marco Duval and Stefano Pieri) with grotesques, mythological scenes and Old Testament stories.

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Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
The Palace of the Courts

THE PALACE OF THE COURTS

Still on Via Giulia, between Vicolo del Cefalo and Via dei Bresciani, there is a seemingly extravagant building, characterized by a few rows of large rusticated stones and by stone seats always facing the street and known to the Romans as “the Via Giulia sofas“.

These structures are all that remains of the never completed Palace of the Courts of the Curia which, based on a design by Donato Bramante (preserved today at the Uffizi Museum), should have consisted of a quadrangular porticoed structure with towers at the four corners and a church on the back side, which was the demolished Church of St. Anne of the Brescians. This construction site, begun in 1509 during the pontificate of Julius II, should have been flanked by a grandiose square (the Merchants’ Square), to highlight the monumental building that was to become the central hub of the entire area of Via Giulia. In 1547, however, Pope Paul III assigned the site to Francesco Del Nero to build a series of private buildings on it.

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Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
The Church of St. Blaise

THE CHURCH OF ST. BLAISE

Next to the place where the Palace of the Courts was supposed to be built is today the Church of St. Blaise. The church, whose date of construction is unknown, had a first rebuilding under the pontificate of Pope Alexander II in 1072 and, after some renovations, a second reconstruction in the 18th Century. It is dedicated to St. Blaise, bishop of Sebaste, who suffered martyrdom in the IV Century AD. According to tradition, during the persecution of Licinius, Blaise took refuge in the mountains but continued to follow his faithful. Discovered and brought back to the city, Blaise refused to sacrifice to the gods and was condemned to be beheading; while he was taken to the place of torment, Blaise was stopped by a woman who was carrying her dying son in her arms to have a herringbone shoved down his throat. Then Blaise imposed his hands on the child’s throat and saved him from death: for this reason, today St. Blaise is considered the protector against all throat diseases, so much so that the relic of the Saint’s throat is even kept in the church. In 1836 Pope Gregory XVI entrusted the church to the Armenians, who made it their national church.

The simple 18th Century façade is the work of Giovanni Antonio Prefetti, and is marked by four pillars and a central doorway surmounted by a broken tympanum, and above it, a fresco depicting the Saint performing the miracle, by Andrea Sacchi. Although the Romanesque bell tower that adorned the church until the 19th century has been lost, inside you can still see the two angels, a youthful work by Pietro da Cortona, and the venerated image of the Virgin Mary of Grace.

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The Church of St. Mary of Suffrage

Continuing on Via Giulia you can see on the right the sober façade of the Church of St. Mary of Suffrage, seat of the Company of Suffrage which, founded in 1592 with the approval of Pope Clement VIII, had as its first seat the nearby Church of St. Blaise.

The church was begun in 1662, but the travertine façade (rather similar to that of St. Blaise) was built only in 1669, based on a design by Carlo Rainaldi. The interior, designed by Tito Armellini, has a single nave (with the vault frescoed by Cesare Mariani) on which the side chapels open: on the high altar, designed by Carlo Rainaldi, is the painting by Giuseppe Ghezzi (1672) depicting the “the Virgin Mary and the Angels accompanying the souls in Purgatory“.

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The Oratory of the Gonfalone

THE ORATORY OF THE GONFALONE

Leave the church and turn right onto Via del Gonfalone which takes its name from the famous Oratory that overlooks it, in turn named after the equally famous Archconfraternity, established in 1264 in the Church of St. Mary Major. The term “gonfalone” means “flag“, and refers to the fact that, during the processions in the 14th Century, the Confraternity used to raise the flag of the Pope (at that time in Avignon) to reaffirm the sovereignty of the Pontiff over Rome.

The oratory was built in 1544 on the site of the small Church of St. Lucy, which was used as a burial place, and was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. The rectangular interior, surmounted by the beautiful wooden ceiling carved in 1568 by Ambrogio Bonazzini with images of the Virgin and Saints Peter and Paul, is enriched by extraordinary frescoes depicting the “Stories of the Passion of Christ“, twelve episodes painted between 1569 and 1576 by the best artists of Roman Mannerism, such as Federico Zuccari, Cesare Nebbia and Livio Agresti.

Let us not forget that one of the activities of the Archconfraternity was to perform a sacred representation with the Passion of Christ as its theme. This sacred representation, which took place on Good Friday at the Colosseum where the Archconfraternity had a chapel, was no longer followed after 1539 because of the unrest that very often broke out at the end of it.

Just for the preciousness of these frescoes and for the important names of the artists who painted them, the Oratory of the Gonfalone was nicknamed the “Sistine Chapel of the Roman Mannerism. If you prefer to visit the real one, enjoying the Michelangelo’s works, it’s enough to book the St. Peter’s and Vatican Museums Tour offered by the Cultural Association Rome Guides.

Today, the Oratory of the Gonfalone hosts the concerts of the Roman Polyphonic Choir.

Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides
The Criminological Museum

THE CRIMINOLOGICAL MUSEUM

Return to Via Giulia and, before arriving on Vicolo della Scimmia (which marks the border between the Ponte District and the Regola District), you will see the building commissioned by Pope Leo XII to house the young minors who came from the St. Michael’s Prison.

This prison of correction, designed by the architect Giuseppe Valadier, today houses the Criminological Museum, founded in 1931 and in which are exhibited, in original and in copy, all the instruments of torture used to extort confessions and as an instrument of death, including the cloak and the axe that belonged to Mastro Titta, the most famous executioner in Rome.

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The House of the Puppets

THE “HOUSE OF THE PUPPETS”

Always following the boundaries of the district, first take Via delle Carceri and then Via dei Banchi Vecchi, characterized by two particularly important buildings.

At numbers 22 and 24 admire the Crivelli House, better known in Rome as the House of the Puppets, built by the Milanese goldsmith Giovanni Pietro Crivelli (later buried in the nearby church of St. Lucy at the Gonfalone). The beautiful 16th Century building has an absolutely amazing façade, with the ground floor adorned by a rusticated embankment which is matched by a decoration of stucco masks above the windows of the second floor, and of lion heads and satyrs supporting festoons above the windows of the second floor. On the third floor, among the decorative motifs there are two scenes with historical subjects.

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The Sforza Cesarini Palace

THE SFORZA CESARINI PALACE

As your last stop of the Itinerary 21 of the Ponte District, return back to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II to admire at number 284 the majestic Sforza Cesarini Palace, built in 1458 by Rodrigo Borgia, nephew of Pope Callisto III, in order to highlight the prestige of the office of vice-chancellor that the Borgia had received. The palace later housed other vice-chancellors belonging to famous Roman noble families, including the Sforza and Della Rovere families, who embellished the palace even more with frescoes and furnishings.

In reality, the building remained the seat of the Apostolic Chancellery only until 1517, when it was moved to the Riario Palace. In 1536, therefore, the palace was given to the Sforza family and remained until the extinction of the family, which had added to its name also that of the Cesarini family, as Federico Sforza had married Livia Cesarini.

The Sforza Cesarini family had the building completely restructured and modified in 1730 by the architect Pietro Passalacqua but, during the works carried out in 1888 for the opening of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, a part of the building was demolished and then rebuilt by the architect Pio Piacentini. The 18th Century surviving façade on Via dei Banchi Vecchi has a decentralized rusticated portal on the ground floor, surmounted by a balcony with balustrades and a window with a triangular tympanum.

Ponte District Itinerary 21, Ponte District – Itinerary 21, Rome Guides