All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in January 2010.
Chiesa e Monastero di S. Lucia in Selci (Book 8) (Day 2) (Map B3) (Rione Monti)
Pope Sixtus V built the first modern aqueduct of Rome (Acqua Felice) to provide the Quirinale, Viminale and Esquilino hills with an adequate supply of water. Yet the three hills which made up Rione Monti did not see a major urban development; they remained rather unpopulated and continued to be characterized by the presence of villas and monasteries. In this plate which shows the southern section of the Esquilino hill Vasi made reference to four monasteries/nunneries.
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below. In the description below the plate Vasi indicated: 1) Ancient walls of S. Lucia in Selci; 2) Street leading to Monastero della Purificazione; 3) S. Pietro in Vincoli; 4) Casa delle Suore Paolotte. 3) is shown in another page. The map shows also 5) SS. Gioacchino e Anna.
Via in Selci and the severe looks of the nunnery make up one of the most interesting medieval sites of Rome; this because a large parallel modern street takes care of the traffic, but unfortunately cars are allowed to park alongside the old walls.
The nunnery was built on the site of Porticus Liviae, a square surrounded by porticoes built by Emperor Augustus in 7 BC in honour of Livia, his third wife. The closed arches which can be seen before the entrance to the nunnery are part of a later building of the IVth or Vth century which has not been identified with certainty: at a slightly later time the building became a diaconia, an institution caring for the poor and the sick in the early Church.
During the first half of the XVIIth century the nunnery was enlarged and its interior was redesigned by some of the leading architects of the time (Carlo Maderno and Francesco Borromini). It is still a nunnery and notwithstanding the medieval appearance of its exterior it is a quite comfortable place to live in. The image used as background for this page shows a walled Roman capital.
The plate shows at the far right part of a nunnery. "Casa delle Suore
Paolotte" means house of the nuns of Paola (nuns belonging
to the order founded in 1453 by St. Francis of Paola). When Vasi published this book in 1758 the
nunnery was in the process of being completed and in 1770-78 a church dedicated to S. Gioacchino was added to the complex. During the construction the workers found a small treasure of silver and gold artefacts which were part of the dowry of Projecta, a Christian bride of the late IVth century; it is generally referred to as the Esquiline Treasure: a finely chiselled silver casket (external link) is now at the British Museum. It is very interesting because its decoration is based on both Christian and pagan themes.