All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
Palazzo del Bufalo
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).
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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:
Next plate in Book 9: Collegio de' Neofiti