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Visit Rome following 8 XVIIIth century itineraries XVIIIth century Rome in the 10 Books of Giuseppe Vasi - Le Magnificenze di Roma Antica e Moderna The Grand View of Rome by G. Vasi The Environs of Rome: Frascati, Tivoli, Albano and other small towns near Rome A 1781 map of Rome by G. Vasi An 1852 map of Rome by P. Letarouilly Rome seen by a 1905 armchair traveller in the paintings by Alberto Pisa The 14 historical districts of Rome An abridged history of Rome How to spend a peaceful day in Rome Baroque sculptors and their works The coats of arms of the popes in the monuments of Rome Pages on a specific pope Pages complementing the itineraries and the views by Giuseppe Vasi Walks in the Roman countryside and in other towns of Latium following Ferdinand Gregorovius A Directory of links to the Churches of Rome A Directory of links to the Palaces and Villas of Rome A Directory of links to the Other Monuments of Rome A Directory of Baroque Architects with links to their works A Directory of links to Monuments of Ancient Rome A Directory of links to Monuments of Medieval Rome A Directory of links to Monuments of Renaissance A Directory of links to Monuments of the Late Renaissance A list of the most noteworthy Roman Families Directories of fountains, obelisks, museums, etc. Books and guides used for developing this web site An illustrated Glossary of Art Terms Venice and the Levant Roman recollections in Florence A list of Italian towns shown in this web site Venetian Fortresses in Greece Vienna seen by an Italian XVIIIth century traveller A list of foreign towns shown in this web site
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All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in June 2009.

To the Italian visitors of 
my web site

Porta Pia (Book 1) (Map A2) (Day 2)  (View B6) (Rione Trevi) and (Rione Monti)

In this page:
 The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
 Today's view
 Porta Pia
 The Walls between Porta Pia and Castro Pretorio

The Plate (No. 4)

Porta Pia


In 1747 Giuseppe Vasi dedicated his first book of etchings to Charles of Bourbon, King of the two Sicilies, who became King of Spain in 1759 (as Charles III). As king of the two Sicilies, Charles preferred not to add a number to his name; in theory he should have called himself Charles VII, but he regarded some of his predecessors as usurpers.
Vasi portrayed in this plate a visit paid by the king to Pope Benedict XIV in November 1744. It was not just a courtesy visit; a few months earlier Charles had invaded the Papal State to prevent an Austrian army from advancing towards Naples; the enemy was defeated at Velletri, but Charles and his troops remained in the proximity of Rome to put pressure on the pope and ensure he would confirm the rights of Charles to the thrones of Naples and Sicily.
The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below which shows: 1) Porta Pia; 2) Gardens of Villa Patrizi. The dotted line near Porta Pia in the small map delineates the border between Rione Trevi (left) and Rione Monti (right).

Small View

Today

The view today
The view in June 2009

The outer gate of Porta Pia was built in 1868, during the pontificate of Pope Pius IX. It replaced the simple portal which is shown in the etching. In 1870, the collapse of the France Empire left the pope without allies (Emperor Napoleon III protected the State of the Church); on September 20, the Italian bersaglieri (quick-moving light infantry) entered Rome through a breach near Porta Pia. In 1936 a monument to the bersaglieri was erected opposite Porta Pia to celebrate the centenary of the corps foundation.

Porta Pia

Porta Pia
The outer gate and two details of its decoration (the lion is in the rear part of the portal)

The new gate was designed by Virginio Vespignani (who also designed new Porta S. Pancrazio) and it was dedicated to Pope Saint Alexander I and to St. Agnes who both suffered martyrdom along Via Nomentana, off Porta Pia; they are remembered by the two statues at the side of the entrance.
Maybe because Pope Pius IX was aware that his mercenary troops could not resist the Italian army, an angel holding the symbols of the pope was placed above the entrance, as if to protect the gate.

Porta Pia
The inner gate and enlargement of its decoration

Michelangelo prepared three different sketches for this gate and Pope Pius IV apparently chose the least expensive one. The coat of arms was selected by Filippo Juvarra to open his book of drawings on the coats of arms of the popes. Porta Pia replaced in a slightly different position Porta Nomentana, known also as Porta S. Agnese, because it led to the church of S. Agnese fuori delle Mura.
In general the monumental side of the gates of Rome is the external one. Porta Pia is an exception: Pope Pius IV opened a very long straight street (named after him Strada Pia) which linked the Quirinal with this gate; the decoration of its internal side was meant to provide a grand ending to the new street (today Via XX Settembre).

The Walls between Porta Pia and Castro Pretorio

The walls
Walls between Porta Pia and Castro Pretorio

Porta Nomentana can still be identified in the section of the walls to the left of Porta Pia. The towers near Porta Pia were strengthened in the XVth century by Pope Nicholas V and by Pope Pius II.

The walls
(left) Ancient tower which protected Porta Nomentana; (centre) the site of Porta Nomentana and the inscription and coat of arms which were placed by Pope Pius IV; (right) coats of arms of Pope Nicholas V (above) and Pope Pius II (below)

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:


Porta Pia
Nomentana dicevasi anticamente quella porta, dipoi si disse di s. Agnese per la vicina chiesa di detta Santa, ora per˛ la diciamo Porta Pia, perchŔ da Pio IV. fu ornata col disegno da celebre Buonarroti; ma essendo rimasta imperfetta, fu poi proseguita dal Cav. Bernini, il quale neppure la termin˛. A sinistra di questa porta fu l'antico e famoso Castro Pretorio, ed appresso il Vivario, vedendosene ancor le mura distese in fuori, e 4. miglia lungi dalla CittÓ fu' la famosa villa di Faonte liberto di Nerone, in cui egli uccise se stesso.

Next plate in Book 1: Porta Chiusa
Next step in Day 2 itinerary: Casino e Villa Patrizi
Next step in your tour of Rione Trevi: Chiesa di S. Susanna
Next step in your tour of Rione Monti: Mura dell'antico Castro Pretorio