All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in December 2009.
Convento dei Padri Cappuccini
B2) (Day 2)
(Rione Colonna), (Rione Campo Marzio) and (Rione Trevi)
In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Chiesa dei Cappuccini (S. Maria della Concezione)
Palazzo della Regina
di Polonia (Palazzo Zuccari)
Villa delle Rose (Villa Malta)
S. Nicola da Tolentino
SS. Ildefonso e Tommaso da Villanova (and S. Francesca Romana)
Palazzi Ferri Orsini e Perucchi
The Plate (No. 132)
The Capuchins (Order of Friars Minor Capuchin) are an offshoot of the Franciscan Order which was founded in the XVIth century with the aim of restoring the original way of life preached by St. Francis; after a difficult start the new order was recognized as autonomous in the early XVIIth century; the dress worn by its members was characterized by a hood (It. cappuccio) and Cappuccino became a way to name the members of the order; in the early XXth century an espresso coffee with hot milk was called cappuccino with reference to the brown colour of the Capuchins' habit.
The Capuchins used to build their monasteries at the margins of towns and possibly on
elevated ground. In the XVIIth century Piazza
Barberini (from where this view was taken) was the limit of the populated
area of Rome and this explains why in 1626 this area was chosen by Cardinal Antonio Barberini, brother of Pope Urban VIII, to build the main church and monastery of the Capuchins in Rome.
The plate shows some trees behind the monastery; they belonged to Villa Ludovisi - Boncompagni.
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below.
In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Chiesa dei PP. Cappuccini; 2) S. Isidoro;
3) Street leading to the churches of S. Basilio and S. Nicola da Tolentino.
The map shows also 4) S. Nicola da Tolentino; 5) Palazzo della Regina di Polonia; 6) S. Basilio;
7) SS. Ildefonso e Tommaso da Villanova; 8) Palazzo Ferri Orsini; 9) Palazzo Perucchi; 10) Villa delle Rose; 11) S. Francesca Romana.
The dotted line in the small map delineates
the borders among Rione Campo Marzio (top left quarter), Rione Colonna (in the middle) and Rione Trevi (lower right quarter).
The view in December 2009
In 1883 the Boncompagni Ludovisi partitioned and sold most of their villa; there was however an obstacle to its urban development: the lack of a road leading to the new quarter because the only existing one (Via di S. Basilio) was too narrow and steep; for this reason Via Veneto, a large winding alley with the vague appearance of a Parisian boulevard, was opened between Piazza Barberini and Porta Pinciana; in 1890 the monastery and the bell tower were pulled down and the access to the church was modified.
In 1917 Fontana delle Api was placed at the beginning of Via Veneto (lower right corner in the image above). Via Veneto was renamed Via Vittorio Veneto after the battle which occurred near that town in November 1918 and which marked the end of WWI on the Italian front; the previous name however is still commonly used.
(left) Fašade; (right-above) stoup with the Barberini bee; (right middle) detail of a gravestone; (right-below) inscription at the entrance to the ossuary
The land where the church and the monastery were built was donated by the pope; the design of the complex was supervised by Fra Michele da Bergamo, a member of the order; in line with the ideals of the Capuchins the fašade is very simple and without decorations.
Cardinal Antonio Barberini who financed the construction is remembered by stoups with his heraldic symbols. He ordered the relocation to the new monastery of the corpses of the friars which were buried in S. Croce e Bonaventura dei Lucchesi, the previous seat of the order. The bones were placed in an ossuary on the right side of the church; in line with the XVIIth century emphasis on the temporariness of life on earth (memento mori - remember that you will die) the bones were arranged in order to form the decoration of five crypts (which greatly impressed XIXth century travellers: read the accounts of their visits to these "chapels" by Mark Twain in 1867 and William Dean Howell in 1908).
(left) Ananias heals St. Paul's blindness by Pietro da Cortona; (right) Monument to Alexander Sobieski by Camillo Rusconi
The interior of the church is bare and the decoration of the chapels very limited. Cardinal Barberini however thought that commissioning the most famous painters of the time the altarpieces was not in contrast with the aims of the order. One of the most famous paintings by Guido Reni and one of his last works is on the altar of the first chapel to the right while Pietro Da Cortona, who was in the early stage of his career, painted the altarpiece in the first chapel to the left.
The church does not have imposing funerary monuments and also the gravestones are very simple; an exception was made for Polish Prince Alexander Sobieski, who joined the order shortly before his death in 1714.
della Regina di
Polonia (Palazzo Zuccari)
(left) Facade and Strada Felice linking SS. TrinitÓ dei Monti with S. Maria Maggiore (in the inset); coat of arms of the Polish Queen in the ceiling of the porch
Prince Alexander Sobieski followed his mother Queen Maria Casimira when in 1699 she came to Rome for the Jubilee Year 1700; the Kingdom of Poland was not a hereditary monarchy and at the death in 1696 of King John III Sobieski, the saviour of Vienna in 1683, the throne of Warsaw went to a German prince. In Rome Maria Casimira and her retinue of 120 noblemen and servants was hosted by Prince Livio Odescalchi in his palace. The Queen however decided to remain in a sort of voluntary exile after the Jubilee Year and she rented Palazzo Zuccari at the end of Via Sistina; she lived there until 1714: after the death of her son she returned to France, her native country, where she died in 1716.
Her name continued to be associated with the palace where she had lived until 1799 when Arco della Regina, a wooden arch she had built across Strada Felice (today Via Sistina) was demolished. The small porch and the balcony (maybe designed by Juvarra)
were added by the queen to have a better view over Rome.
The palace was originally built by painter Federico Zuccari at the end of the XVIth century; it was enlarged and modified several times but its side on Via Gregoriana retains some amazing windows, which call to mind the monsters of Bomarzo.
Rose (Villa Malta)
(left) Villa delle Rose; (right) a detail showing an ancient sarcophagus
Queen Maria Casimira was allowed to build Arco della Regina so that she could directly reach a small villa she had rented on the other side of Via Sistina. Originally the villa belonged to the Orsini, but in 1611 it was bought by the Friars of SS. TrinitÓ dei Monti who rented it; from the end of the XVIIIth century its tenants were mainly German.
In 1878 it was bought by Russian Count Alexei Bobrinski who almost entirely rebuilt the old casino. He planted many rose bushes so that the villa became known as Villa delle Rose; Villa Malta, its other name, is due to the fact that one of the tenants was the bailiff of BrÚteuil, ambassador to the Pope of the Order of Malta.
According to tradition two palms of the garden were planted following a request made to a friend by J. W. Goethe at the end of his second Roman stay.
(left) Fašade; (right) detail of the fašade and the bell tower
S. Isidoro was built at the same time as Chiesa dei Cappuccini; its founders were a group of Spanish Franciscans and this explains why the church was dedicated to St. Isidore the Farmer (Isidoro Agricolae), a Spanish saint who was canonized in 1622. During the early stage of the construction the Spanish Franciscans encountered financial and political difficulties so that the completion of the complex was assigned to Luke Wadding, an Irish Franciscan. The original dedication remained, but chapels and statues were dedicated to St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland (click here for a list of national churches in Rome).
The fašade was designed by Carlo Francesco Bizzaccheri in 1704 and its stucco statues and decorations are by Andrea Bertoni.
The Pontifical Irish College (external link) which was founded in 1628 in the monastery adjoining S. Isidoro is today housed in a modern building near Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano, while the monastery (St. Isidore's College) is the property of the Franciscan Province of Ireland.
Nicola da Tolentino
(left) Fašade; (right-above) detail of a niche with the heraldic symbols of the Pamphilj; (right-below) "Glory of St. Nicholas" 1664 relief by Giovanni Francesco De Rossi above the entrance to the monastery
The Greek name Nikolaos in Tuscany was usually translated as Niccol˛ whereas elsewhere in Italy Nicola was more common; today the former name is regarded as somewhat archaic. St. Nicholas of Tolentino was an Augustinian friar and the church dedicated to him by his order was founded at the beginning of the XVIIth century; the construction lagged behind until 1649 when Camillo Pamphilj, nephew of Pope Innocent X, and his wife Olimpia Aldobrandini decided to finance the completion of the church and of the adjoining monastery; they did so to comply with a vow made by them when Olimpia fell gravely ill during her pregnancy and was assisted by an Augustinian friar.
The main altar was designed by Alessandro Algardi who decorated it with very fine coats
In 1883 the church and the monastery were assigned to the Pontifical Armenian College.
Ildefonso e Tommaso da
(left) Fašade; (right) ceiling
Another Augustinian church was founded at the same time as S. Nicola da Tolentino at a short distance from it; the church was dedicated to two Spanish saints and it belonged to the Augustinan Recollects, an order founded in Spain in the XVIth century which advocated a more severe lifestyle and a greater adherence to the teachings of St. Augustine. The fašade was designed in 1725 by Francesco Ferrari. The
decoration shows a skilled use of stucco and the ceiling is very similar to that designed by Francesco Borromini in Cappella dei Re Magi.
The church was deconsecrated for a short period during the annexation of Rome to the French Empire at the beginning of the XIXth century.
Almost opposite SS. Ildefonso e Tommaso da Villanova stood another small church dedicated to S. Francesca Romana; it belonged to the Trinitarians who built it in 1614 after they left S. Tommaso in Formis; it was demolished in the XXth century and replaced by a large theatre for musicals (Teatro Sistina).
(left to right) Fašade; bell tower; relief with the symbol of St. Basil; detail of the iconostasis
The church was part of a monastery and it was built in 1682. The monastery retains a sort of coat of arms of St. Basil of Caesarea (today's Kayseri),
who lived in the IVth century and was considered the father of the Greek church, thus he was called Magnus (the Great). Monasteries having rules based on the examples and teachings of St. Basil were founded in parts of southern Italy where Greek influence was significant; near Rome a very important monastery was founded at Grottaferrata. The column surrounded by flames is a symbol of unscathed faith.
The inscription Talis est Magnus Basilius means that the saint's faith resisted all temptations. The small church was designed by Carlo Francesco Bizzaccheri; its main altar is screened by a modern iconostasis in line with the Greek rite.
Ferri Orsini e Perucchi
(left) Palazzo Ferri Orsini; (centre) entrance to Palazzo Perucchi; (right) courtyard of Palazzo Perucchi
Because the area near Chiesa dei Cappuccini was considered a remote location, some minor noble families
chose it because the land was less expensive and they built small palaces, which in the late XIXth century were enlarged and modified. However Palazzo Ferri Orsini (late XVIth century) and Palazzo Perucchi (late XVIIth century)
have retained their original portals.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Chiesa e Convento de' Padri Cappuccini
Dal Card. s. Onofrio cappuccino , e fratello di Urbano VIII. fu eretto questo convento e
chiesa con disegno di Felice Cafoni . Nella prima cappella a destra evvi il celebre
quadro di s. Michele Arcangelo opera di Guido Reni ; nella seconda il s. Francesco del
Muziano, nella terza la Trasfigurazione di Mario Balaffi , nella quarta 1' Orazione all'
Orto di Baccio Ciarpi , ed il s. Antonio nell' ultima di Andrea Sacchi . Nell'altare
maggiore evvi la ss. Concezione dipinta dal Cav. Lanfranco, e sotto l' altare si custodisce
il corpo del dottissimo filosofo s. Giustino martire . A lato del medesimo cappellone si
vede un quadro con s. Francesco dipinto dal Domenichino ; nella prima cappella
dall' altra parte evvi la ss. Vergine con un santo Vescovo del suddetto Andrea Sacchi ;
la nativitÓ del Signore nell altra Ŕ del Lanfrancho suddetto ; siegue il Cristo morto ,
del Camassei ; poi il s. Felice , di Alessandro Veronese , e nell' ultima la
Conversione di s.Paolo, di Pietro da Cortona . Sopra la porta si vede in cartone
la copia della celebre navicella di s. Pietro dipinta dal Giotto giÓ messa
in mosaico nel portico della basilica Vaticana . Quindi voltando a sinistra del
convento , si vede a destra la chiesa di san Basilio
coll'ospizio de' Monaci, e poco dopo entrando in un vicoletto, evvi la
Chiesa e Convento di S. Niccol˛ da Tolentino
Fu questa edificata dal Principe Panfili l'anno 1614. con disegno di Gio: Batista Baratta
allievo dell'Algardi, ed Ŕ ornata di marmi, stucchi dorati, pitture, e bassirilievi.
La santissima Nunziata nella prima cappella a destra Ŕ del Pughelli, e i laterali di Gio:
Ventura Borghesi; le pitture nella terza sono di Pietro Paolo Baldini. Il s. Gio: Batista
nell'altare della crociata Ŕ del Baciccio, e li stucchi sono di Ercole Ferrata, il quale
fece marmo il Dio Padre, ed il s. Niccol˛ nell'altare maggiore; la ss. Vergine per˛ fu
fatta da Domenico Guidi, e gli Angioli sono del Baratta, il tutto col disegno dell'Algardi.
La cupola fu dipinta dal Coli unitamente col Giraldi amendue Lucchesi, e li angoli dal
Baldini, il quale dipinse ancora tutta la cappelletta della parte destra. La s. Agnese
nella crociata Ŕ copia del Guercino, e li stucchi sono del Ferrata. La nobilitata cappella,
che siegue, Ŕ magnifico disegno di Pietro da Cortona, il quale dipinse la piccola volta, che
fu lĺultima sua opera a fresco, Ŕ perchŔ neppure potŔ compirla, la termin˛ Ciro Ferri suo
allievo. Il bassorilievo nell'altare Ŕ di Cosimo Fancelli, la statua di s. Gio. Batista del
Raggi, e quella di san Giuseppe di Ercole Ferrata, e i bassirilievi sotto l'organo sono del
Baratta. Nel convento vi sono i frati riformati di s. Agostino.
Chiesa di S. Isidoro
Circa l'anno 1622. fu eretta questa chiesa da' frati riformati di s. Francesco di
nazione Spagnola, col disegno di Carlo Bizzoccheri: ma dipoi vi fu stabilito un
collegio di frati Osservanti di nazione Ibernese. Nella chiesa sonovi de' quadri di
molta considerazione; lo Sposalizio della ss. Vergine co' laterali nella prima cappella
a destra sono prime opere di Carlo Maratti; le pitture nella seconda sono di Pietro
Paolo Baldini, la ss. Concezione col Bambino nella cappelletta Ŕ bellissima opera del
mentovato Carlo Maratta, e le sculture sono del figlio del Cav. Bernino.
Il s. Isidoro nell'altare maggiore Ŕ di Andrea Sacchi; il s. Agostino, e s. Francesco
nella cappelletta laterale sono di uno Spagnolo; il s. Antonio di Padova con i laterali
di Gio: Domenico Perugino, le lunette per˛ sono di Egidio AlŔ Liegese; ed il
ss. Crocifisso con i laterali nell'ultima cappella sono del lodato Carlo Maratta.
Or facendo ritorno alla strada felice, si vede a sinistra la
Chiesa di S. Ildefonso
Da' frati Eremitani Spagnoli fu edificata questa l'anno 1619. e dipoi riedificata con
disegno di Luigi Paglia Siciliano, nella quale evvi la nativitÓ del Signore scolpita in
bassorilievo da Francesco cognomiato il Siciliano. Poco dopo a destra Ŕ la piccola chiesa di
S. Francesca Romana rinnovata lĺanno 1614. da frati Trinitarj Spagnoli, nella quale
fra gli altri quadri evvi la ss. Vergine con gli Angioli del ricatto dipinta da
Palazzo abitato dalla Regina di Polonia
Nel fine della strada Felice si vede a sinistra questo palazzo, eretto da' celebri pittori
Taddeo, e Federigo Zuccheri per loro abitazione, nel quale fecero delle belle
pitture a fresco; e vi abit˛ Maria Casimira Regina di Pollonia.
Next plate in Book 7: Chiesa di S. Marcello
Next step in Day 2 itinerary: Porta Salara
Next step in your tour of Rione Colonna:
Villa e Casino Ludovisi
Next step in your tour of Rione Campo Marzio: Palazzetto dei Borgognoni
Next step in your tour of Rione Trevi: Palazzo Galloppi