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January 29, 2005 additions

In plate 3: Porta Salaria
Villa Paolina

Villa Paolina

In the XIXth century the balance between prints showing monuments of ancient and of modern Rome changed in a significant manner. The market became very much oriented towards the ruins of the glorious past, rather than the theatrical architectures of the Baroque period. For this reason Gaetano Cottafavi, who in 1842 illustrated a large guide of Rome by Jeremiah Donovan, thought to add to the most usual views of ancient Rome, the print (partially) shown above portraying the Horti Sallustiani. In the background, to the right of the buildings shown in the previous photo, it is possible to see the casino of Villa Paolina, built in 1750 ca. by Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga.
At the death of the cardinal, the villa was sold to the Colonna di Sciarra. In 1816 it was bought by Paolina Borghese, one of the sisters of Napoleon Buonaparte, hence the current name of the Villa. After several other changes of property in 1951 it was bought by France to locate there the Embassy at the Holy See (the French Embassy in Italy is in Palazzo Farnese). The photo shows the 1825 gate of the surviving part of the gardens near Porta Pia.

In plate 29: Piazza Giudia
Via della Reginella

Via della Reginella

In 1798 the French opened the gates of the Ghetto, but the return of the papal government after the Napoleonic era closed them again. This decision was criticized by many European governments and due to their pressure in 1823 Pope Leo XII added Via della Reginella, a street leading to Piazza delle Tartarughe to the area of the Ghetto. The street is therefore the only surviving part of the old quarter. Some relatively tall houses are a sign of the high density of population in the Ghetto (this also occurred in the Ghetto of Venice).

In plate 36: Piazza Barberini
Ponte Ruinante

A ruined bridge

The obelisk shown in the plate is now in the Pincio Gardens. It had been discovered in 1570 near Porta Maggiore and in 1632 Pope Urbanus VIII moved it to his family palace with the idea to erect it next to Ponte Ruinante (falling bridge), a bridge designed by Bernini with two very different objectives: one was very practical, i.e. to provide the palace with a direct access to the upper part of the gardens; the other one was to add yet another memento of ancient Rome to the many already existing in the gardens. To this purpose Bernini designed a bridge with one arch which is in part collapsed and the other one with the stones of the vault on the verge of falling.
A fine strigilato sarcophagus used as a basin is another component of the "Ancient Rome" decoration designed by Bernini (strigilato?!? click here and learn about this and other obscure terms).

In plate 78: Palazzo Mattei
Palazzo di GiacomoMattei

Palazzo di Giacomo Mattei

The Mattei initially acquired and lived in two rather simple and small buildings. The courtyard of the house to the right of the fountain was designed towards the end of the XVth century following patterns of Florentine architects.

In plate 111: S. Caterina alla Ruota
Cappella Antamoro in S. Girolamo della Carità

Cappella Antamoro

The Sicilian architect Filippo Juvarra came to Rome in 1703 at the age of 25; in the nine years he spent in Rome he had only one opportunity to show his skills. The Antamoro were very wealthy, but definitely not a major Roman family. Their chapel was very small, but Juvarra, who had studied the masterpieces of both Borromini and Bernini, designed a unique and intriguing chapel. It is a pity that Juvarra had to leave Rome to express his talent. During his stay in Rome he published a book showing the finest coats of arms of the Popes.

In plate 173: Spedale di S. Giovanni di Dio
Casa di Sir John Leslie

Casa di Sir John Leslie

The coat of arms of the owner of this finely restored old house near S. Benedetto in Piscinula, would puzzle even an expert in genealogy and heraldry of the Roman families. The meaning of the horses and the three buckles requires a visit to Castle Leslie in Ireland. The following is an excerpt from the owners' website:
"The Leslies can trace there ancestry back to Attila The Hun. Bartholomew Leslie was the chamberlain and protector of Margaret Queen Of Scotland. It is through him that the family motto Grip Fast originated. While fleeing enemies Queen Margaret rode pillion on the back of Bartholomew's horse. When fording a river the queen fell off, Bartholomew threw her the end of his belt and told her to grip fast the buckle. He saved the Queen's life & from that day forward she bestowed the motto Grip Fast on the Leslies.
The first Leslie to come to Ireland was Bishop John Leslie who was Bishop of the Isles of Scotland. In 1665 Glaslough Castle and Demesne was sold by Sir Thomas Ridgeway to the Bishop of Clogher John Leslie.
... the poetic Sir Shane transferred the property to his eldest son John Norman Leslie who became the 4th Baronet. Owing to ill health from five years in a prisoner of war camp he made the estate over to his sister Anita and lived the next 40 years in Rome until his return home to Castle Leslie in 1994 where he still lives."
Sir John Leslie embellished his Roman residence by adding a couple of modern madonnelle.


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All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.