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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 October 2009.

DON'T LET ME 
DOWN!

SS. Venanzio e Ansovino (Book 6) (Day 1) (View C8) (Rione Campitelli), (Rione Pigna) and (Rione Sant'Angelo)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
The fountain of Pope Sixtus V
Palazzo Muti Bussi
Palazzo Fani now Pecci Blunt
Palazzo Massimo di Rignano
Tor Margana

The Plate (No. 116)

SS. Venanzio e Ansovino

The etching shows Piazza d'Aracoeli, a small square along the street linking il Ges¨ with S. Maria d'Aracoeli and Palazzi del Campidoglio. It has the three elements of an Italian piazza: a church, a palace and a fountain.
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 Muti Bussi; 2) SS. Venanzio ed Ansovino; 3) Palazzo Silvestri; 4) Via Capitolina leading to Campidoglio. The small map shows also: 5) S. Rita da Cascia; 6) Casa di Pietro da Cortona; 7) Tor Margana; 8) Palazzo Fani; 9) Palazzo Massimo. The dotted line in the small map delineates the border between Rione Pigna (upper part), Rione Sant'Angelo (small part on the left) and Rione Campitelli.

Small ViewSmall Map

Today

The square today
The view in April 2008 (on the right side of the image the dome of il Ges¨)

The church and the adjoining buildings (including Palazzo Silvestri) were pulled down in 1928 to make room for a large square surrounding the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II and for the opening of Via del Mare, a new road linking the centre of Rome with the southern part of the city.

Aerial view
(left) Aerial view of the area before the 1920s changes: the red border surrounds the buildings which were pulled down; the red asterisk indicates the location of S. Rita da Cascia; the green asterisk indicates Palazzo Muti Bussi; the yellow dot indicates the location from which the current image on the right was taken.

SS. Venanzio and Ansovino was a small medieval church which was redesigned by Giovanni Battista Contini in the late XVIIth century when the church was assigned to the community of inhabitants of Camerino who lived in Rome (Camerino is a small town in the Marche region - see a list of churches belonging to foreign communities). The house of Pietro da Cortona is among the lost buildings of this part of Rome. S. Rita da Cascia, another small church which was pulled down at the same time as SS. Venanzio and Ansovino, was rebuilt near Teatro di Marcello.

The Fountain of Pope Sixtus V

The fountain
(left) The fountain; (right-above) coat of arms of Pope Alexander VII; (right-below) detail of the decoration

The fountain was built in 1589 by Giacomo della Porta as part of a large plan for the distribution of Acqua Felice, the water carried by an aqueduct built by Pope Sixtus V. The three mountains at the top of the fountain are a reference to the heraldic symbol of that pope.
The coats of arms of Pope Alexander VII celebrate a restoration of the fountain.

Palazzo Muti Bussi

Palazzo Muti - Bussi
(left) The corner with the balcony shown in the etching; (right) various details of the portals

The Muti family claimed to descend from Mutius Scaevola, so when Cecilia Muti, the last of the family, married a Bussi, her father insisted that Muti be added to Bussi (because of its greater lustre Muti was named first).
Palazzo Muti Bussi is a late XVIIth century work by Giovanni Antonio De' Rossi. The portals are decorated with the heraldic symbols of the Muti, in particular a couple of maces (clubs with a metal head and spikes); these are called mazze in Italian and they were therefore a reference to Mutius Scaevola.
You may wish to see the fine monuments to Giovanni Andrea Giuseppe Muti and his wife Maria Colomba Vincentini in the church of S. Marcello.

Palazzo Fani

Palazzo Fani
(left) Fašade of Palazzo Palazzo Fani in Piazza d'Aracoeli; (right) side street portal

The palace is now usually called Palazzo Pecci Blunt after the current owners. It belonged to many Roman families including the Ruspoli and the Spada. However it is during the Fani family ownership at the end of the XVIth century that the building was redesigned by Giacomo della Porta. It has a very fine loggia.

Palazzo Massimo

Palazzo Massimo
(left) Palazzo Massimo seen from the steps leading to Piazza del Campidoglio; (right) main portal

In 1939 the eastern corner of the building was cut to enlarge the street. As a result the balcony at the attic level enjoys a terrific view over the twin steps leading to Piazza del Campidoglio and S. Maria d'Aracoeli. The loggia in the form of a little castle is a XIXth century addition. Apart from these changes the palace retains the appearance it was given in 1695 when Carlo Fontana redesigned it. The elegant portal became a pattern for the architects of the XVIIIth century. The palace currently (2009) houses the Embassy of Syria.

Palazzo Massimo
(left) Fountain in the courtyard (see other fountains in courtyards); (right) inner portal with the heraldic symbol of the Colonna family

Tor Margana

Tor Margana
View of the complex of buildings which include Tor (tower) Margana; (right) ancient reliefs on the walls of Tor Margana

In the XVth century the Margani were often involved in fights with other Roman families. The chronicles of the time report a Paolo Margano killing a Bartolomeo Santacroce in 1446 and another Paolo Margano killing a Prospero Santacroce in 1485. The Santacroce lived very near in their fortified palace and the two families were fierce enemies. The Margani had a fortified house too, which they embellished with true and fake fragments of Roman buildings. Today Piazza di Tor Margana is one of the most peaceful squares of Rome.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:


Chiesa de SS. Venanzio ed Ansovino
Incontro alla Casa professa evvi il palazzo Petroni, e a sinistra quello di Astalli, e di Muti Bussi, e dietro a questo si vede la chiesa de' suddetti santi, anticamente detta s. Gio: Batista in mercatello, per il mercato, che vi si faceva di cose comestibili, prima che fosse stabilito quello in Piazza Navona. Nell'anno 1542. questa fu conceduta ad una Congregazione di Gentiluomini eretta da s. Ignazio di Loyola per istruire i Neofiti, e Catecumeni; ma poi essendo questi trasportati presso la chiesa di s. Maria a' Monti, nel 1635. vi succedettero i Monaci Basiliani di Grotta Ferrata, e dopo la Confraternita de' Marchigiani. Finalmente nel 1674. l'ottennero i Camerinesi, i quali nel rinnovarla la dedicarono a' Santi loro patroni, che si vedono sull'altare maggiore dipinti da Luigi Garzi, e vi mantengono la cura delle anime.
Il Fonte, che sta sulla piazzetta fu fatto dal Senato Romano, e la strada fu aperta da Paolo III. quando venne in Roma l'Imperatore Carlo V. e si chiama capitolina, perchŔ porta al Campidoglio. A piedi di questo vi sono fra gli altri palazzi uno di Ruspoli, e l'altro di Martini, e nel vicolo incontro, che si dice della petacchia, si vede la chiesa di s. Biagio Vescovo che fu rinnovata nel suo prospetto con disegno del Cav. Carlo Fontana: ora per˛ si dice della B. Rita.

Next plate in Book 6: S. Maria in Campitelli
Next step in Day 1 itinerary: S. Maria in Aracoeli
Next step in your tour of Rione Campitelli: S. Maria in Campitelli
Next step in your tour of Rione Sant'Angelo: Palazzo Paluzzi Serlupi Lovatelli