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Page revised in August 2009.
Chiesa dell'Archiconfraternita delle Stimmate di S. Francesco (Book 9) (Map C3) (Day 4) and (Day 5) (View C7) (Rione Pigna) and (Rione Sant'Eustachio)
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"Roma ha ancora i suoi orrendi e scomodi vicoli nel pi¨ bell'abitato, e dove il concorso Ŕ maggiore, a Campo Marzio, alla Minerva, al Panteon, a Fontana di Trevi, a S. Andrea della Valle, e dove richieggonsi strade pi¨ regolari, e pi¨ spaziose, ivi son rimaste pi¨ disagiate e pi¨ oblique e pi¨ anguste." (Rome still retains its appalling and uncomfortable narrow streets in the very centre of the city where the influx of people is greater, at Campo Marzio, Pantheon, Fontana di Trevi and S. Andrea della Valle. Where spacious and straight streets are more needed, there they are the worst of all). These words were written in Principj di Architettura Civile by Francesco Milizia, an art historian who lived in Rome at Vasi's time. Probably Vasi shared Milizia's views and he decided to greatly enlarge this very narrow street linking the Pantheon with il Gesù.
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 Strozzi; 2) Palazzo Cesarini; 3) Collegio Calasanzio, once Palazzo Cenci; 4) Palazzo Amadei. The map shows also 5) SS. Stimmate di S. Francesco; 6) S. Nicola de' Cesarini; 7) Casa del Burcardo; 8) Teatro Argentina and in green Area Sacra. The dotted line in the small map delineates the border between Rione Sant'Eustachio (left) and Rione Pigna (right).
The wishes of Milizia and Vasi were fulfilled in part in the 1880s when a large street (Corso Vittorio Emanuele) was opened to link il Ges¨ with S. Andrea della Valle. Palazzo Amadei on the left was pulled down and replaced by a much smaller building. Palazzo Strozzi was shortened too. In the 1920s it was the turn of Palazzo Cesarini (and in part of Collegio Calasanzio) to be pulled down. For these reasons the church can be seen much better from the other direction.
The church was designed in 1714-1721 by Giovan Battista Contini and Antonio Canevari on the site of a previous one which was dedicated to Quaranta Martiri (Forty Martyrs) di Sebaste (this is the name used by Vasi in his map). It belonged to a brotherhood (Arciconfraternita delle Stimmate di S. Francesco) having the objective of helping the sick and burying the dead. A statue portrays St. Francis in the act of receiving the stigmata. The bell tower is surrounded by buildings and it can be seen only from a great distance.
The Strozzi were a family of Florentine bankers whose residence in Florence is a masterpiece of Early Renaissance. The Roman branch of the family bought this palace opposite the church in 1649 from the Olgiati for whom the building had been designed by Carlo Maderno in the early XVIIth century. The pictures show the remaining original part of the building.
Collegio Calasanzio or delle Scuole Pie was a brand new building when Vasi made his etching as it had been erected in 1746. JosŔ de Calasanz was a Spanish priest who founded in 1597 in Rome the first school which did not require an admission fee. The members of his order are usually known as Scolopi, after Scuole Pie (pious schools). The architect Tommaso De Marchis made only one concession to the decoration of the building in the elaborate capitals and in the cornice. The elegant madonnella is a copy of Raphael's Madonna della Seggiola.
The Cesarini were a very prominent Roman family for many centuries. The palace and the family church (S. Nicola dei
Cesarini), were pulled down in 1929
to enlarge the street linking Corso Vittorio Emanuele with Via Arenula. The church was also called S. Nicola de Calcarariis,
after the medieval workshops where for many centuries ancient marbles were turned into mortar.
The excavations, which also caused the pulling down of Palazzo Sonnino Colonna, led to unearthing a fine circular temple with tufa columns crowned
by travertine capitals. It is thought that it was dedicated to Fortunae Huiusce Diei, the Fortune of Today, an indication of the importance of good luck in the beliefs of the
ancient Romans. Because there is uncertainty about the names of the temples they are usually referred to with letters.
In 1731 the Cesarini built a large theatre on a site next to their palace. The building was designed by Girolamo Theodoli, but the fašade is an 1826 addition by Pietro Holl
which reflects the impact of Neoclassicism on traditional baroque subjects (you may wish to compare the two personifications of Fame on the top of Teatro Argentina
with those of Fontana di Trevi). It is now a drama theatre, but in the past it was mainly used for operas.
As a matter of fact the bishop was not a member
of the Cesarini family. His name was Johannes Burckardt (italianized in Burcardo) and he arrived in Rome in 1479. He built a compact, tall palace where Italian and German elements
are mixed. At his death the Cesarini acquired the building which was modified in
the XIXth century. Today it houses a small museum and a library on the history of
theatre in Italy.
Next plate in Book 9: Monte di Pietà e Banco pubblico
Next step in Day 4 itinerary: Monastero di S. Chiara
Next step in Day 5 itinerary: Chiesa di S. Lucia delle Botteghe Oscure
Next step in tour of Rione Pigna: Chiesa del Ges¨
Next step in your tour of Rione Sant'Eustachio: S. Andrea della Valle.