All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com. Text edited by Rosamie Moore. Page revised in May 2009.
S. Simeone Profeta (Book 6) (Day 4 ) (View C5) (Rione Ponte)
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This etching shows an area close to the river which could be reached through a posterula (small gate in the ancient walls of Rome) which was called Arco di Parma. The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Palazzo Lancellotti; 2) other buildings adjoining Palazzo Lancellotti; 3) Arco di Parma; 4) S. Simeone; 5) Palace once belonging to the Cesi family. The small map shows also: 6) S. Salvatore in Lauro; 7) S. Maria in Posterula; 8) S. Salvatore in Primicerio; 9) Palazzo della Maschera d'Oro.
The view is not much changed but Arco di Parma does not exist any longer and the steps rather than going down to the river now go up to the Lungotevere.
This little church of very old origin was entirely rebuilt by Orazio Lancellotti, who was about to complete the construction of his family palace. The upper part of the fašade was modified in 1741; the fašade is the only remaining part of the church which was demolished in 1929.
The plate shows only a corner of Palazzo Lancellotti which was begun by Daniele da Volterra and completed by Carlo Maderno. The portal is attributed to Domenichino. The street to the left of Palazzo Lancellotti is Via dei Coronari, famous today for its antique shops. It was opened by Pope Sixtus IV in the XVth century to facilitate the access to St Peter's and it was called Via Recta (straight street). There were many shops selling devotional goods to the pilgrims including rosaries and small crowns (hence Coronari).
The small square in front of Palazzo Lancellotti is a 1930s addition which was obtained by pulling down a small house; in 1973 a XVIth century fountain was relocated in the square: it came from Piazza Montanara.
The houses for the servants are shown in the plate and they still bear the star of the Lancellotti, which is shown in the image used as background for this page.
In the period 1560-1630 the family Cesi was among the wealthiest families of Rome. They had extensive possessions in Umbria. Members of the family built the fašade of S. Maria in Vallicella and embellished Todi; Prince Federico II Cesi founded Accademia dei Lincei and protected Galileo Galilei; he married Isabella Salviati and added to the heraldic symbol of the Cesi (a tree on a mountain) the stripes of the Salviati. By Vasi's time the Cesi had left the palace shown in the plate, but they retained a larger palace near Piazza S. Pietro in what is called today Via della Conciliazione.
The detail of the map shows the location of three churches near Palazzo Lancellotti. S. Maria in Posterula was a little church built in a small gate of the walls on the river and it was pulled down at the end of the XIXth century, together with Arco di Parma (marked with a blue arrow) and Teatro Apollo or Tordinona, one of the main theatres of Rome. Arco di Parma had this name because of a nearby (lost) palace which belonged to a cardinal who had been bishop of Parma. S. Salvatore in Primicerio (the red dot in the map) is no longer a church (you may wish to see the building as it appeared in a 1588 Guide to Rome). S. Salvatore in Lauro is dedicated to our Lady of Loreto (the detail of the fašade shows the angels bringing the holy house to Loreto) and it is the national church of ComunitÓ Picena (the inhabitants of Le Marche the Italian region on the Adriatic Sea which was part of the Papal state - click here for a list of national churches in Rome).
The building with a green border was pulled down to create the square opposite Palazzo Lancellotti.
S. Salvatore in Lauro was severely damaged by a fire in 1591; at the time it was assigned to the Order of S. Giorgio in Alga, which was founded in 1404 on the Venetian island by the same name. The order was in a declining phase and it was eventually abolished in 1668. The reconstruction of the church was very slow even after it was bought by ComunitÓ Picena; the church was completed in neoclassical style by Camillo Guglielmetti in 1862 (you may wish to see it in a 1588 Guide to Rome). It retains some elaborate late Baroque works.
A little fountain, now next to S. Salvatore in Lauro and once in nearby Via di Panico, shows a worn out lion's head. The long inscription explains how a dragon (the heraldic symbol of Pope Gregory XIII) tamed the lion and convinced the beast to provide such a useful utility. Another fountain on the parapet along the river marks the site of Teatro Apollo. The inscription says that in the theatre two operas by Giuseppe Verdi Trovatore and Ballo in Maschera had their first performance.
The southern side of Via di Tordinona was spared by the changes made to the river banks. Its old and decaying buildings were occupied by squatters in the 1970s and only recently municipal authorities were able to recover and restore these houses, some of which still retain their Renaissance features and in particular the positioning of the windows in order to provide space for mural paintings. The squatters made use of this space and one of their mural paintings which portrayed a flying donkey was spared.
Palazzi di Via della Maschera d'Oro
On Via della Maschera d'Oro (Golden Mask) there is a XVIth century palace (Palazzo Milesi) which was painted by Polidoro da Caravaggio, a pupil of Raphael. The subject of the paintings is the myth of Niobe, although many scenes were inspired by the reliefs of Colonna Traiana. The name of the street is due to a detail of the decoration showing a little boy hiding behind a golden mask. Parts of the paintings were revived in 2004 (image on the left). Next to it there is another Renaissance building with evidence of graffito paintings and decorations.
Renaissance Buildings along Via de' Coronari
Via de' Coronari has several Renaissance buildings worth a short note.
The portal of the house of Prospero Mochi was designed in 1516 and it shows some typical elements of Renaissance architecture (the use of the arch, the entablature with a moral inscription, the lateral pillars).
Casa di Fiammetta is a (much restored) XVth century detached house at the end of Via de' Coronari. Fiammetta is the name of a Florentine courtesan, who was "friendly" with Cesare Borgia, the preferred son of Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza Cattanei.
Palazzo Ruiz or Sampieri is a Late Renaissance palace attributed to Bartolomeo Ammannati.
SS. Simone e Giuda
SS. Simone e Giuda was also known as S. Maria in Monticello, with a reference to a small elevation called Monte Giordano. The tiny church was deconsecrated at the beginning of the XXth century and turned into a cinema, then into a restaurant and finally into a theatre. The only thing left is the XVIIIth century portal.
Via dei Coronari has one of the oldest frames for sacred images which can be found in Rome. It was designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger in 1523 for Cardinal Alberto Serra del Monferrato (whose name is written below the image).
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Next plate in Book 6: SS. Celso e Giuliano
Next step in Day 4 itinerary: SS. Celso e Giuliano
Next step in your tour of Rione Ponte: Palazzo Boncompagni Corcos