ROMAN ITINERARIES – TRASTEVERE DISTRICT – ITINERARY 51

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides

TRASTEVERE DISTRICT – ITINERARY 51

The Trastevere District Itinerary 51 starts from the St. Aegidius’ Square, where the homonymous church is located. St. Aegidius was born in 430 AD into a noble Athenian family and, orphaned, gave up all his possessions to devote himself to prayer and assistance to the poors. He cured two sick people by a miracle and, to escape notoriety, he retired to a cave in Provence, feeding on herbs and the milk of a deer. One day the king of France, during a hunting trip, came across the deer, which attracted him to the cave of the Saint, for which a convent was built.

Piazza di Sant’Egidio – Via della Paglia – Vicolo del Piede – Vicolo del Cedro – Piazza della Scala – Via della Pelliccia – Via della Renella – Via del Politeama – Piazza Trilussa – Via Benedetta – Piazza di San Giovanni della Malva – Via di Porta Settimiana – Via della Lungara

The St. Aegidius' Square

THE ST. AEGIDIUS’ SQUARE

The history of the Church of St. Aegidius in Trastevere begins in the 12th Century, when there were two small churches in the area, one dedicated to St. Lawrence and one to St. Blaise: they were demolished in 1630, to build the current church of St. Aegidius which, as you can read on the inscription on the portal, was also dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The façade of the church has only one order, with a portal and a large decorated window. The interior has only a single nave and does not contain important works of art, except for the Funeral Monument of Veronica Rondinini by Carlo Fontana and the St. Aegidius painted by Pomarancio.

THE MUSEUM OF ROME IN TRASTEVERE

After 1870 the monastery was expropriated by the Italian State, which in 1875 donated it to the Municipality of Rome. Restored in 1969, it became the seat of the Museum of Folklore and Romanesque Poets, which opened to the public in 1977. Today a part of the ancient monastery houses the headquarters of the Community of St. Aegidius, founded in 1968 and dedicated to the activities of evangelization and closeness to the poor, while another part houses the Museum of Rome in Trastevere, opened to the public in 2000 in place of the previous Museum of Folklore.

The Museum’s collection focuses on the salient aspects of Roman popular life between the 18th and 20th Centuries, with accurate three-dimensional reconstructions with mannequins (the “Roman Scenes“) that reconstruct moments of daily life in Rome in the first decades of the 19th Century, inspired by the drawings of Bartolomeo Pinelli: you can therefore see the public scribe, the wine cart, the crib and the pharmacy. The exhibition also includes a large collection of prints and watercolors, including the famous series “Roma Sparita” (“Vanished Rome”) by Ettore Roesler Franz, and the documentary and photographic archives belonging to the poet Carlo Alberto Salustri, better known by his pseudonym Trilussa.

THE VELLI PALACE

On the St. Aegidius’ Square also faces, at number 7, the 15th Century Velli Palace. The building has two floors with architraved windows, while on the walls dominates the coat of arms of the Velli family consisting of a tree flanked by two stars, but you can also see the coat of arms of the Orsini family, consisting of a bear and a rose. Here for some decades was hosted the Conservatory of Divine Clemency, a shelter subsidized by the Borghese family for women abused or abandoned by their husbands.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The alleys around the square

From the St. Aegidius’ Square radiate streets and alleys that constitute a fascinating tangle of interesting buildings from the Middle Ages to the 18th Century. Let’s observe them quickly, allowing you to visit them in case there is something of interest for you.

VIA DELLA PAGLIA

Via della Paglia (which recalls the warehouses of fodder for horses) flanks the monastery of St. Aegidius: in the courtyard at number 14 you can admire the 12th Century apse of St. Mary in Trastevere, with high pilasters and hanging arches. Continuing along the street you can access the Oratory dedicated to St. Joseph, to the Holy Mary and to the Souls of Purgatory, built in 1819 by the architect Domenico Servi and administered since 1992 by the Community of St. Aegidius. The cemetery of the poor parishioners, now disappeared, was annexed to the oratory: until the 19th Century the cemetery was very popular because there were sacred representations with natural wax statues in memory of the souls of the dead, created by artists of considerable fame, including Bartolomeo Pinelli.

Observe the façade of the Oratory, decorated with a beautiful marble portal with an architrave surmounted by a large window and an oculus; from the street you can also see a bell tower with two bells and a medieval cross. At this point you can enter inside, in a single nave which preserves a wooden crucifix on the altar and two marble plaques in memory of the restorations made during the pontificate of Pius IX in 1877 and of the special spiritual benefits granted by Leo XII in 1824 to those who visited the Oratory.

VICOLO DEL PIEDE

The toponym of Vicolo del Piede is much debated: according to some scholars, it refers to the stylized shape of the alley, while according to others it refers to the expression “ad pedes“, which in latrine means “near”, that means near the Basilica of St. Mary in Trastevere.

On this street, at number 14, there was another Oratory, managed by the Archconfraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and dedicated to Our Lady of Clemency. The small church has a façade with two orders: the lower one has a portal flanked by niches above which there are lilies and palms, while in the upper one two angels raise a curtain. Unfortunately the alley and the entrance of the church, now deconsecrated, are invaded by the tables of restaurants.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The Church of St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows

THE CHURCH OF ST. MARY OF THE SEVEN SORROWS

Vicolo del Cedro (Alley of the Cedar) has a name perhaps derived from the sign of a tavern that was located here, or from a cedar tree that stood here in ancient times. Observe the volutes that decorate the house at number 12, the Renaissance house at number 30 and the 18th Century house at number 34. Going up the stairs at the end of the street, and turning right along Via Garibaldi, you will find the Church of St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows.

The church and the convent were built in the 17th Century by the will of the noblewoman Camilla Virginia Savelli-Farnese, who commissioned the architect Francesco Borromini (helped by Antonio Del Grande) for the church and Francesco Contini for the convent, but both could not finish the façade for lack of funds.

The building has an unfinished façade in rough bricks, articulated on concave and convex lines as typical of Borromini’s design and flanked by two lateral constructions similar to turrets. In the interior, with a single nave, the only works of any importance are the Deposition of Christ by Pordenone and the St. Augustine by Carlo Maratta.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The Church of St. Mary of the Staircase

THE CHURCH OF ST.MARY OF THE STAIRCASE

Via della Scala is probably the most important of the streets that start from the St. Aegidius’ Square. It begins immediately with a large baroque tabernacle under a canopy with a cusp in sheet metal ending with a cross, with two pillars decorated with winged heads and festoons of flowers and a shelf supported by a cherub on which are still placed vases of flowers: at the center you can see, protected by a grille, the 18th Century fresco of the Virgin Mary, sitting on the clouds with open arms among the angels.

Halfway along the route you will find the Square of the Staircase, so called because of the external staircase of a house, on the wall of which was placed a painting with the image of the Madonna. According to legendary tradition, a midwife named Cornelia was praying in front of this image when her daughter, born mute, began to speak. Immediately the people cried out for a miracle and Pope Clement VIII was almost forced to build a church on the site of the little house, which had become the destination of many pilgrims in search of miraculous healings. The miraculous image still exists today, preserved in the Chapel of the Madonna of the Staircase, where there is also the funeral monument of Prospero Santacroce, sculpted in 1643 by Alessandro Algardi.

The main building of the square is the Church of St. Mary of the Staircase, begun in 1593 by Francesco Capriani from Volterra, who died a year later; for this reason the works were interrupted and were resumed by Girolamo Rainaldi, who finished them at the beginning of the 17th Century. The façade has the lower order divided by pilasters with Corinthian capitals, with a beautiful portal surmounted by a Madonna with Child, sculpted by Francesco Cusart in 1633.

THE INTERIOR DECORATIONS

The interior has a single nave, a deep presbytery and the high altar by Carlo Rainaldi has a dome that rests on several small columns. Among the most admirable works of art in the church, you can admire the beautiful Caravaggesque painting by Gerrit Van Honthorst depicting the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the Holy Family by Giuseppe Ghezzi and the Madonna and Child, painted by Cavalier d’Arpino and placed on the choir wall.

Approach also the Chapel of St. Teresa of Avila, designed by Giovanni Paolo Pannini, which holds in a reliquary the right foot of the saint.

In the church was also kept one of the most exciting works of Caravaggio, painted in 1604 and depicting the Death of the Virgin Mary, now preserved in the Louvre Museum. The work was considered very scandalous, since Caravaggio probably chose, as a model to portray the Virgin, a prostitute found dead in the Tiber river.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The Pharmacy of St. Mary of the Staircase

THE PHARMACY OF ST. MARY OF THE STAIRCASE

The convent of the church was designed first by Matteo from Città di Castello and later by Ottaviano Mascherino.

On the second floor is the Pharmacy of St. Mary of the Staircase, the oldest pharmacy in Rome that has survived intact to this day. Originally opened for the needs of the friars, who cultivated in the garden the medicinal plants necessary for their health, at the end of the 17th Century it was opened to everyone and became so famous that nobles, cardinals and even the doctors of the Popes came to use it. The most famous friar was Basilio, an 18th Century pharmacist who invented well-known medicines, including a medicine against hysteria.

Look at the colorful majolica, vases, scales, stills and mortars, positioned inside 18th Century showcases. Among the most unique relics is the vase of theriaca, a drug invented by Nero’s doctor Andromaco, made with a mix of 57 different substances and considered a universal antidote against any poison.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
From Via della Pelliccia to Trilussa Square

From the St. Aegidius’ Square, the starting point of the Trastevere District Itinerary 51, also begins Via della Pelliccia, so called probably for the surname of the family De Pelliciis that along the street owned a palace and that has a private chapel in the nearby Church of St. Mary of the Staircase.

The street has buildings belonging to very different eras: houses renovated in the 19th Century, such as the one at number 13 where a puppet theater was installed; testimonies of the 16th Century, with the embedded mask at number 17; medieval houses, such as those at number 20 and number 40.

Continue along the street until you reach the Renzi’s Square, from the name of the Trastevere family that lived here. Here they used to leave the “bussolette” (small closed boxes with slits) to introduce the offerings for the sacred representations set up in the cemetery of St. Mary in Trastevere.

Take now Via del Politeama, so called because of the wooden theater demolished in 1883, where shows of various kinds were held, ending in Trilussa Square.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The Sixtus Bridge

THE SIXTUS BRIDGE

Before examining the Trilussa Square, it is appropriate to narrate the vicissitudes of the bridge that connects the square with the other side of the Tiber River.

The Sixtus Bridge is much loved by the Romans, also thanks to the large circle in the center of it (affectionately called by the Romans “occhialone“) that the Romans used as a hydrometer: when the water of the Tiber submerged it completely, this meant that the flooding of the district was imminent.

The bridge was probably built on the site of an older Roman bridge, built by Marcus Aurelius or Caracalla. The reason for the reconstruction is very curious: Cardinal Francesco Della Rovere, who lived in the convent of St. Savior in Via dei Pettinari, regretted having to walk a long way to reach the St. Angel’s Bridge every time he had to go to the Vatican. When he became Pope Sixtus IV, in 1474 he had the ancient bridge rebuilt by the architect Baccio Pontelli, paying for the work with money from the taxes imposed on prostitutes called “curials“, because they were subject to the surveillance of the Curia. The bridge was named after the Pope, thus becoming the Sixtus Bridge.

Walking on the bridge, you can see a plaque praising Pope Sixtus IV, encouraging passers-by to pray to God to keep him alive for a long time.

In 1875 some politicians suggested the demolition of the bridge, but in 1877 it was instead enlarged with cast iron hanging platforms resting on corbels with new parapets. Restorations for the Jubilee of 2000 freed the bridge from its 19th Century overstructures, which were removed amidst much controversy.

The Sixtus Bridge is also connected to a popular legend, which tells how Donna Olimpia Maidalchini, the sister-in-law of Pope Innocent X, appears on hurricane nights on a chariot of fire, crossing the bridge to go to the Pope’s villa.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trilussa Square

THE TRILUSSA SQUARE

The Trilussa Square, placed just in front of the Sixtus Bridge, remembers the great Roman poet Trilussa, pseudonym of Carlo Alberto Salustri, here represented in the monument realized by the sculptor Lorenzo Ferri in 1954: the poet, tall and jointed, is represented leaning against a parapet, with next to him the text of one of his poems.

The square is dominated by the great fountain built in 1613 at the behest of Pope Paul V by architects Giovanni Vasanzio and Giovanni Fontana. The fountain, fed by the Paola Water, has a large niche, at the sides of which two Ionic columns of veined marble support a commemorative epigraph, surmounted by the great coat of arms of Paul V with the eagle and the dragon.

Although it may seem incredible to you, this fountain was not initially built here, but along Via Giulia, leaning against the Hospice of Beggars (as shown in the black and white photo, dated 1879). With the construction of the embankments on the Tiber, it was necessary to move back the Hospice, and so the fountain was disassembled and reassembled in 1898 on the opposite bank of the Tiber, in the square where you see it now, by the architect Angelo Vescovali, who decided, however, to place it at the top of a wide flight of fifteen steps.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The Church of St. John of the Mallow

THE CHURCH OF ST. JOHN OF THE MALLOW

Take Via Benedetta, to the left of the fountain, and follow it until you reach the Church of St. John of the Mallow, overlooking the square of the same name.

The church probably dates back to the 12th Century, but it was named in this way only in 1367: the name may derive from the mallow plant that grew near the church or from the deformation of “Mica Aurea” (golden sand), a name that in the Middle Ages was attributed to a part of the Janiculum. The church was restored by Pope Sixtus IV on the occasion of the Jubilee of 1475, since it was located near the Sixtus Bridge and therefore along the route of the pilgrims.

In 1818 the medieval church was demolished because it was crumbling, but it was rebuilt in 1851 on a project by Giacomo Moraldi. The present building has a tripartite façade and a triangular tympanum with a bas-relief of the Virgin with St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist on the door.

Once the interior had three naves, while today is a Greek cross with a hemispherical dome. Nothing remains of the ancient interior decoration; there are only works of the XVIII and XIX Centuries, mostly of unknown or uncertain authors.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The Church of the Saints Sylvester and Dorothea

THE CHURCH OF THE SAINTS SYLVESTER AND DOROTHEA

Continuing along Via Benedetta, stop to look at the Church of Saints Sylvester and Dorothea, linked to the memory of the virgin saint beheaded in Cappadocia under Diocletian (early 4th Century AD).

We have news of the church since 1123, but it was initially dedicated to St. Sylvester. Only in the 16th Century it was dedicated to St. Dorothea, after the body of the saint was buried there. In some rooms annexed to the sacristy lived Gaetano of Thiene and Giuseppe Calasanzio, who laid the foundations of their respective religious orders here. Demolished in 1750, it was rebuilt six years later by Giovanni Battista Nolli, who is buried at the base of the high altar.

The façade is slightly concave and divided by four pilasters, with an inscription above the door that remembers the two Saints.

THE INTERIOR OF THE CHURCH

The interior of the church is in the shape of a Latin cross, with four side altars; the vault is frescoed with the Stories of St. Dorothea and the Franciscan Saints by Gaetano Bocchetti. The right altar of the transept is dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua and houses the altarpiece St. Anthony by Lorenzo Gramiccia, while the left altar is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi and houses the altarpiece Ecstasy of St. Francis by Liborio Marmorelli.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The Settimiana Gate

THE SETTIMIANA GATE

Continuing along Via Benedetta, raise your eyes towards the medieval-style window surrounded by an ogival arch, located in the attic of number 20, which according to tradition belonged to the house of Margherita Luti, the famous Fornarina (daughter of a baker) loved by Raffaello Sanzio.

Turn then to the right, arriving in front of the Settimiana Gate: it could be one of the arches of the aqueduct that brought water to the Baths of the Emperor Septimius Severus, or the entrance to the Horti Getae, the gardens belonging to the Emperor’s son Geta.

Regardless of its ancient origin, documents mention the Settimiana Gate since the end of the 14th Century, when it was ordered to be kept clean and free from the debris of the Tiber River. After a restoration made by Pope Niccolò V in 1451, because of the considerable importance acquired by the area thanks to the construction of the Sixtus Bridge, the gate was rebuilt by Alexander VI in 1498, enlarging it and giving it its present aspect, even if retouched in 1643 by Urban VIII and in 1798 by Pope Pius VI.

The door has Ghibelline battlements, corbels and embrasures.

VIA DELLA LUNGARA

From Via di Porta Settimiana to the Della Rovere Square stretches Via della Lungara, a road used by pilgrims who landed at the Port of Ripa Grande on their way to St. Peter’s: for this reason, in the Middle Ages it was called Via Santa and then Via della Lungara because of its length (almost one kilometer).

The long two-storey building on Via della Lungara “leaning” against the Settimiana Gate, at numbers 3 and 5, is the Torlonia Palace, in the gallery of which were placed Greek and Roman statues and Etruscan artifacts now transferred to Villa Albani: on the façade between the first and second floor you can see a large coat of arms of the Torlonia family.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The Farnesina Villa

THE FARNESINA VILLA

At the beginning of Via della Lungara, on the right, there is what can undoubtedly be considered the jewel of the Trastevere District Itinerary 51: the sumptuous Farnesina Villa, built by the rich Sienese banker Agostino Chigi between 1506 and 1518, commissioning the architect Baldassarre Peruzzi.

Once the elegant horseshoe-shaped architecture of the building was completed, Agostino Chigi contacted not only Baldassarre Peruzzi and the Veneto painter Sebastiano del Piombo for the decorations, but also the famous Raffaello Sanzio, who frescoed two rooms of the Villa with the help of his co-workers Giulio Romano, Giovanni from Udine and Francesco Penni.

The Loggia of Cupid and Psyche has been defined “an incomparable pearl”, with festoons of flowers and fruit surrounding the events of a famous mythological tale. The sublime Galatea, painted by Raphael (perhaps with the face of his beloved Margherita Luti) and having next to the horrible Polyphemus by Sebastiano del Piombo, enriches the admirable loggia having on the vault the Constellations and the Zodiacal Signs painted by Baldassarre Peruzzi

On the upper floor, the Room of the Perspectives painted by Baldassarre Peruzzi is flanked by the Room of the Marriage of Alexander the Great, entirely frescoed by Sodoma, a very refined painter who also collaborated with Raphael in the decoration of the papal apartments in the Vatican.

With the death of Agostino Chigi in 1520, the villa decayed and was impoverished of furniture and works of art. In 1580 it was purchased by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, thus obtaining its present name: at that time dates back the project (never realized) to connect the Farnesina Villa with the Farnese Palace, on the opposite side of the Tiber. In 1714 the Farnesina Villa became the property of the Bourbon of Naples and in 1864 the Spanish ambassador settled there and carried out heavy restoration works: unfortunately in 1884 the opening of the Tiber embankment led to the destruction of part of the gardens and of the loggia on the river.

Since 1927, the Farnesina Villa has belonged to the Italian State, which had it restored for the Academy of Italy; today it is used as a representative office of the Academy of the Lincei and houses, on the second floor, the National Prints Cabinet.

If you want to visit thie gem of the Renaissance, please book the Extended Version of the Trastevere Tour organized by Rome Guides.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The Corsini Palace

THE CORSINI PALACE

Right in front of the Farnesina Villa you can visit the Corsini Palace, built at the end of the 15th Century by Cardinal Riario, nephew of Pope Sixtus IV. In the 17th Century, the Palace was inhabited by Cristina of Sweden, who hosted in the garden the first meetings of what would later become the Arcadian Academy.

In 1736 the building and the garden were bought by the Florentine cardinal Neri Maria Corsini, nephew of Pope Clement XII, who entrusted the renovation of the palace to the architect Ferdinando Fuga, who was already working for the Pope on the enlargement of the Quirinale Palace. Ferdinando Fuga transformed the small suburban villa into a real royal palace, doubling the extension of the façade and creating a lively rear façade, facing the vast gardens, with a particularly protruding central part and a staircase with large windows that serves as a panoramic viewpoint over the gardens.

During Napoleon’s occupation of Rome, the palace hosted Napoleon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte, and during the Roman Republic of 1849 one of the bloodiest battles against the French took place here, during which Goffredo Mameli was mortally wounded.

THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ANCIENT ART

In 1883 the Corsini Palace was sold by the Prince Tommaso Corsini to the Italian Government, donating the library and the art gallery kept inside. The palace then became the seat of the offices and the library of the Royal Academy of the Lincei, as well as an admirable museum connected to the National Gallery of Ancient Art.

The collection is based on a substantial nucleus of paintings, with a certain predominance of Italian painting and numerous landscapes. The most important work of the 15th Century is the Triptych with Pentecost, Universal Judgement and Ascension, painted by Beato Angelico and present in the Gallery since 1740, while the masterpiece of the 16th Century is the Adoration of the Shepherds, painted by Jacopo Bassano.

Baroque art consists of an exceptional number of masterpieces, such as St. Sebastian healed by angels, a Roman work of 1602 by the painter Pieter Paul Rubens, the Madonna of Straw by Antoon Van Dyck, the Madonna and Child by Orazio Gentileschi and especially the St. John the Baptist painted in 1603 by Caravaggio.

There are also rooms dedicated to the shady Neapolitan painting of the 17th Century, with the great masterpiece Venus discovers dead Adonis, painted in 1637 by Jusepe de Ribera, and the canvas depicting Christ among the Doctors, by his pupil Luca Giordano.

In the room dedicated to the 18th Century there is a vast nucleus of works by Carlo Maratta, such as the Madonna and Child, Martyrdom of St. Andrew, Rebecca at the spring and the Escape to Egypt, as well as the Triumph of Ovid by Nicolas Poussin.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
The Botanical Garden of Rome

THE BOTANICAL GARDEN OF ROME

In the ancient Park of the Corsini Palace was installed, in 1883, the Botanical Garden of Rome.

The ancestor of the current Botanical Garden of Rome was the Simpliciarius Pontificius Vaticanus, founded in the 13th Century by Pope Boniface VIII and used to cultivate medicinal plants, used in the monasteries. Even the successive evolutions were very similar to vineyards and orchards.

The first real Botanical Garden of Rome was built in the 16th Century by Pope Alexander VI and was later rebuilt by Pope Pius IV, who also provided it with a guardian who acted as a Tour Guide. In the 17th Century, Pope Alexander VII transformed it into one of the principal botanical gardens of Europe, using water from the aqueduct built by one of his predecessors, the Pope Paul V.

The Botanical Garden of Rome currently has an extension of 12 hectares, in a sheltered position on the slope of the Janiculum. It currently houses over 3000 plant species and has educational functions, environmental education and scientific research. In the upper part of the hill the original arboreal structure, called Roman Wood, has been preserved and from the clearings among the secular specimens of holm oaks and plane trees (350 – 400 years old) you can enjoy splendid panoramic views of the city.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Via della Lungara

VIA DELLA LUNGARA

Start now the long walk along Via della Lungara, examining the various cross streets that you will meet on your way.

VIA DEI RIARI

On the left, just after Palazzo Corsini, you might find Via dei Riari, which takes its name from the Riario family, who, as mentioned above, owned the Palazzo before it was sold to the Corsini family. The Riario became powerful when Cardinal Francesco della Rovere became Pope under the name of Sixtus IV (1471-1484). Pietro and Girolamo, sons of a Pope’s sister, became one a cardinal and the other a General Captain of the Papal Arms. Obviously, over the centuries, the Riario family also had other important cardinals.

Via dei Riari is full of marble fragments and coat of arms of important families, such as at number 4 (Corsini), at number 5 (Barbo), at number 6 (Riario). At numbers 34-41 there was the House of the Holy Sacrament, with a monastery, a chapel dedicated to St. Joseph and a conservatory for servants.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Immediately beyond is Via della Penitenza, which takes its name from a convent founded in 1615 for women of “improper conduct” who wished to redeem themselves. In 1838 the Institute was entrusted to the nuns of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and the building became famous with the nickname of “Good Shepherd” (as you can see from the statue at number 19 of Via della Lungara). In 1619 the Church of the Holy Cross of the Stairs was built next to it, so called because of the double flight of stairs on the façade. The Institute operated until 1950, when the complex was used as a jail for women guilty of minor crimes and as such remained until 1970, when it was used as a center of assistance for the elderly. Today it is the headquarters of the International House of Women.

THE CHURCH OF ST. JAMES AT THE LUNGARA

Cross Via di San Francesco di Sales (on which stands out a portal decorated with a flaming heart, symbol of the Philippine Fathers, and the baroque house at number 20 with a beautiful Marian aedicule of the 18th Century) and, a little further on the opposite side of the street, meet the Church of St. James at the Lungara, already nicknamed “in Settimiano” because of its proximity to the Settimiana Gate. This ancient church, dating back to the 9th Century, passed in 1628 to the Penitents Nuns, who, supported financially by the Barberini family, rebuilt it in 1644 on a project by Luigi Arricucci.

Inside there is the macabre work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1640), realized as a funeral memory of the lawyer Ippolito Merenda: a tombstone in the form of a crumpled sheet held up with hands and teeth by a winged skeleton.

THE REGINA COELI PRISON

At number 29 of Via della Lungara you can see the entrance to the Regina Coeli prison, originally a Carmelite Monastery founded in 1654 and then requisitioned by the Italian State in 1870 to be used as a penitentiary, after being enlarged by Carlo Morgini in 1885.

THE CHURCH OF ST. JOSEPH AT THE LUNGARA

Cross Via delle Mantellate (named after the habit of the Servants of Mary who lived in the convent, later transformed into a prison) and reach number 45, in front of the Church of St. Joseph at the Lungara, built in 1732 by Giuseppe Ludovico Rusconi Sassi. The façade of the church has two orders: the lower one is divided into three parts by pilasters with Ionic capitals, while in the upper one there is a large round oculus and a curvilinear tympanum. The interior has an octagonal plan and is characterized by pleasant 18th Century decorations, such as the chancel and the high altar decorated with Mariano Rossi‘s Dream of St. Joseph. On the side walls of the small presbytery there are two other paintings by Mariano Rossi, the Adoration of the Magi and the Massacre of the Innocents. The sacristy preserves a marble bust of Clement XI and in the ceiling a painting depicting the Triumph of the Church, also by Mariano Rossi.

THE SALVIATI PALACE

At number 82 stands the Salviati Palace, a building that closes the Trastevere District Itinerary 51. Built in the first half of the 16th Century for Orazio Farnese, who owned a vineyard here, the palace was sold in 1552 to Cardinal Giovanni Salviati, who in 1560 had it restored by the architect Nanni di Baccio Bigio.

After a series of sales, it became the property of the Italian State, being used as the seat of the Military Court and the Center for Military Studies. The façade of the Salviati Palace is divided into five parts, some of which are more protruding; some halls were decorated at the end of the 19th Century by Annibale Brugnoli with Scenes of Risorgimento battles, while the chapel is frescoed with the Salviati family coat of arms.

Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides
Trastevere District Itinerary 51, Trastevere District – Itinerary 51, Rome Guides