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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 January 2010.

Collegio Nazzareno (Book 9) (Map B2) (Day 3) (View C6) (Rione Colonna) and (Rione Trevi)

In this page:
 The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
 Today's view
 Collegio Nazzareno
 Palazzo del Bufalo
 Acqua Vergine
 S. Maria di Costantinopoli and some lost churches

The Plate (No. 168)

Giuseppe Vasi dedicated his ninth book of Roman views to a series of very different buildings (schools, hospitals, houses for the poor and the old) which in general do not fall into the category "The Great Monuments of Rome", yet these views help in understanding the social structure of Rome in the XVIIIth century.
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Palazzo del Bufalo; 2) Street leading to Chiesa dell'Angelo Custode; 3) Street leading to S. Andrea delle Fratte. The map shows also 4) Collegio Nazzareno (or Nazareno); 5) Ruins of Acquedotto dell'Acqua Vergine; 6) Chiesa dell'Angelo Custode; 7) S. Maria di Costantinopoli; 8) S. Giovanni dei Maroniti; 9) S. Nicola in Arcione. The dotted line in the small map delineates the border between Rione Colonna (upper half) and Rione Trevi (lower half).


The view in June 2009

In the 1950s the left wing of Collegio Nazzareno was aligned to the older part of the building in order to enlarge the street; apart from this change and an added storey above the cornice of Palazzo del Bufalo, this corner of Rome has retained its original appearance, whereas the area immediately behind the two palaces was impacted by major changes in the late XIXth century.

Collegio Nazzareno

(left) Portal; (centre) windows in Via del Tritone; (right) heraldic symbol of Alessandro Maurelli (also in the image used as background for this page)

Collegio Nazzareno is still an educational institution; today it is a prestigious and expensive private high school; its website has a series of images of its facilities and its works of art. The institution is named after its founder, Cardinal Michelangelo Tonti, Archbishop of Nazareth, who because of this title was known as Cardinal Nazareno; it is necessary to clarify that Cardinal Tonti was the Archbishop of Barletta, a town in southern Italy, where a church was dedicated to S. Maria di Nazareth in memory of an archbishop of Nazareth in Palestine who sought refuge in Barletta.
Cardinal Tonti bought the palace in 1622, the year of his death, with the purpose of bequeathing it to a new college for the poor to be managed by the Piarists, an order approved by Pope Gregory XV in January 1622. The will of Cardinal Tonti was challenged by members of his family and the college was able to move to its expected location only in 1689.
The palace was built in the late XVIth century by Alessandro Maurelli, a nobleman from Parma.

(left) Bust of an emperor (Caracalla ?); (centre) painting by il Baciccio; (right) bust of an ancient Roman

In order to face a difficult financial situation Collegio Nazzareno enlarged its scope by accepting children of wealthy families. The Piarists were known for giving a more open-minded education than other religious orders and Collegio Nazzareno soon became a very prestigious school; this development was favoured by the foundation of Accademia degli Incolti, an academy which was supported and managed by the parents of the students and which had the aim of promoting the knowledge of classical literature. The rules of the academy established the donation to Collegio Nazzareno of works of art (usually paintings) having a motto, a short phrase encapsulating an ideal. One of the finest paintings still in Collegio Nazzareno is a work by il Baciccio (Giovan Battista Gaulli), the late XVIIth century painter known for the ceiling of il Gesù: you can see it in an enlarged (and edited) image in the page listing the 2005 additions to this web site.

Palazzo del Bufalo

(left) Palazzo del Bufalo; (right) entrance opposite Collegio Nazzareno

The palace was built in the XVIth century, but it was modified in the following one. It had a garden with a painted nymphaeum which was pulled down in the late XIXth century (the frescoes were detached and were moved to Museo di Roma). The del Bufalo family acquired importance during the pontificate of Pope Innocent X (1644-55), whose mother was a del Bufalo. It was probably during this period that the entrance opposite Collegio Nazzareno was designed.

(left) Coat of arms of the del Bufalo; (centre) S. Andrea delle Fratte: tip of the bell tower designed by Francesco Borromini; (right) motto on the entrance opposite Collegio Nazzareno

The del Bufalo promoted the construction of the bell tower of S. Andrea delle Fratte. Sometimes it is necessary to follow the motto (be wild with the wild ones) above the second entrance to Palazzo del Bufalo.

Acqua Vergine

(left) Door giving access to the aqueduct and above it coat of arms of Pope Sixtus IV (in northern Latium and Umbria similar doors are called "Porta del Morto" - Door of the Dead); (right) travertine arch of Acqua Vergine

In the street leading to the lost church of Angelo Custode there is a small door with the coat of arms of Pope Sixtus IV which celebrates the restoration of Acqua Vergine, an ancient Roman aqueduct which ended at Fontana di Trevi. The aqueduct was very low (its arches are almost buried in the ground) so it was of no use for the part of the city on the hills. Opposite the door it is possible to observe the upper section of a decorated arch of the aqueduct; it has an inscription celebrating Emperor Claudius (see it in an etching by Giovanni Battista Piranesi - external link).

Old Churches

(left) S. Maria di Costantinopoli; (centre-above) restaurant inside S. Giovanni dei Maroniti; (centre-middle) 1883 map showing 1) Palazzo Poli, 2) Chiesa dell'Angelo Custode, 3) S. Giovanni dei Maroniti, 4) S. Nicola in Arcione and 5) S. Maria della Neve or dei Foglianti (the green dot indicates S. Maria di Costantinopoli); (centre-below) current map; (right) S. Giovanni dei Maroniti or della Ficoccia

Via del Tritone today is an important street which links Piazza Colonna with Piazza Barberini (where Fontana del Tritone is located); in the XVIIIth century is was shorter and narrower. Its enlargement at the end of the XIXth century together with the opening of a tunnel (il Traforo) under the Quirinale hill led to many changes in the area near Collegio Nazzareno. Part of Palazzo Poli (the palace behind Fontana di Trevi) and the churches of S. Nicola in Arcione and Chiesa dell'Angelo Custode were demolished. Two other small churches which existed at Vasi's time are lost: during the French occupation of Rome S. Maria della Neve was pulled down and S. Giovanni dei Maroniti was deconsecrated.
The church of S. Maria di Costantinopoli has an 1817 façade: in 1799 the troops of Francis IV, King of the Two Sicilies (Sicily and Naples), forced the French out of Rome and celebrated their victory in this church which belonged to the Sicilian Nation in Rome (see a list of national churches in Rome). When the French returned to Rome they retaliated by raiding and deconsecrating the church which was restored by Pope Pius VII. The reference to Constantinople is due to a sacred image which protected the Sicilian troops defending that city from the Arabs.

Details of XVIIIth century buildings in Via in Arcione (left) and Via dei Serviti (right)

Most of the palaces along Via del Tritone were designed after the enlargement of the street, whereas the side streets retain several XVIIIth century buildings.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Collegio Nazzareno, e chiesa de' ss. Angioli Custodi
Dal Card. Michelangelo Tonti, che lo fondò prese un tal nome questo collegio, perchè era Arcivescovo di Nazzaret; e altresì perchè alla ss. Vergine col titolo di Nazzaret è dedicata la cappella di questo. Stava prima sulla salita di s. Onofrio, ma concorrendovi de' convittori nobili, ed in gran numero, fu quivi trasportato, ed eretto nel medesimo palazzo del suo Fondatore, e si estende fino alla strada de' ss. Angeli Custodi, in onor de' quali fu dedicata la chiesa che ivi si vede eretta da una Confraternita di devoti fedeli; il quadro nell'altare maggiore è di Giacinto Brandi, ed il s. Antonio di Padova di Luca Giordani. Quindi camminando più oltre verso piazza Barberini, evvi a sinistra la
Chiesa di s. Maria di Costantinopoli
La nazione Siciliana con li soccorsi del Re Cattolico Filippo II., e del Card. Simone Tagliavia eresse circa l'anno 1515. questa chiesa in onore della ss. Vergine sotto il titolo di Idria, come dicemmo altrove, titolo molto celebre, ed antico nella Città di Costantinopoli; ma in oggi per l'ignoranza di ciò, dal volgo l'è stato mutato in quello di Costantinopoli. Sonovi delle cappelle ornate di marmi, e di pitture. Il quadro di s. Francesco Saverio nella prima cappella a destra è diGio: Qualiata; la s. Rosalia nell'altra è di Gio: Valerio Bolognese; il s. Corrado in quella incontro, è di Alessandro Vitale; il s. Leone Papa nell'ultima, .di Pietro del Po, e la s. Agata, e la s. Lucia nei laterali sono di Francesco Ragusa. Vi è unito l'ospizio per i pellegrini, e l'oratorio per li fratelli ascritti. Indi entrando nel vicolo incontro a questa, si trova a sinistra la
Chiesa di s. Nicola in Arcione
Dall'antico foro Archimonio si crede, che prendesse il nome questa chiesa, corrotto poi in Arcione. E' antica parrocchiale, e ne hanno cura i Frati Serviti, i quali l'hanno rinnovata, ed adornata di varie pitture. il s. Antonio di Padova nel primo altare a sinistra, ed il s. Francesco nel secondo sono di un allievo di Andrea Sacchi; il s. Niccolò, ed il s: Filippo Benizi nell'altare maggiore sono di Pietro Sigismondo da Lucca; il s. Lorenzo nella cappella, che siegue è di Luigi Gentile; quello nell'altra del Cav. d'Arpino, l'ultimo viene dal Maratti, e le pitture nella volta erano di Giuseppe Passeri.
A sinistra di questa chiesa, e sulla strada Rosella evvi quella dedicata a s. Maria della Neve, coll'ospizio de' monaci Fugliensi della congregazione di Francia; e ritornando a destra, si trova nel secondo vicolo il collegio, e chiesa di s. Gio: de' Maroniti.

Next plate in Book 9: Collegio de' Neofiti
Next step in Day 3 itinerary: Fontana di Trevi
Next step in your tour of Rione Colonna: Chiesa dei Cappuccini
Next step in your tour of Rione Trevi: Palazzo Sciarra