All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in August 2010.
Palazzo Colonna di Sciarra
B2) (Day 1) (View C7) (Rione Colonna) and (Rione Trevi)
In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Palazzo Colonna di Sciarra
Palazzo Bonaccorsi and Palazzo Verospi
S. Maria Maddalena
delle Convertite (Palazzo Marignoli)
The Plate (No. 67)
This view by Giuseppe Vasi shows a section of Via del Corso which at that time was regarded as a square; it was called Piazza Sciarra because all the buildings on its eastern (right)
side belonged to the Sciarra, a branch of the Colonna family. The last two buildings were linked by a covered passage known as Arco di Carbognano, after the name of a fiefdom belonging to the Sciarra.
The view by Vasi includes Via del Corso from Piazza Sciarra to its northern end at Porta del Popolo.
At the time of ancient Rome an arch stood at this point of Via del Corso; it was dedicated to Emperor Claudius and it celebrated his conquest of Britannia; fragments of reliefs and inscriptions were found at different times during the construction of the buildings on both sides of Piazza Sciarra.
The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below.
In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Palazzo Sciarra "per la famiglia" (by this meaning the people working for the Sciarra);
2) Arco di Carbognano;
3) Porta del Popolo;
4) Street linking Fontana di Trevi with Piazza di Pietra. 3) is shown in another page.
The small map shows: 1) Palazzo Sciarra "per la famiglia"; 2) Arco di Carbognano; 3) Palazzo Sciarra (the main building); 4) Street linking Fontana di Trevi with Piazza di Pietra; 5) Palazzo Bonaccorsi; 6) S. Maria Maddalena delle Convertite; 7) Palazzo Verospi.
The dotted line in the small map delineates
the borders among Rione Colonna (left half and top right quarter), Rione Pigna (small area near the green dot) and Rione Trevi (lower right quarter).
The view in July 2009; (inset) Porta del Popolo
In 1883, after the 1870 annexation of Rome to the Kingdom of Italy, a new city plan provided for the enlargement of Via del Corso from Piazza
Sciarra to Via Condotti; this led to the demolition of all the buildings on the eastern side of the street
except for Palazzo Sciarra; the small adjoining palace and Arco di Carbognano were pulled down to open a new street leading to Fontana di Trevi.
Eventually the enlargement did not cover the whole section of Via del Corso included in the city plan, but only that near Piazza Colonna.
Palazzo Colonna di Sciarra
Portal and details of its decoration
Dating from medieval times the Colonna had several possessions in Rione Trevi; their houses were protected by towers one of which was modified over the years until it was turned into the current palace. The Colonna split into branches which were named after their fiefdoms; the Colonna of Paliano had their residence in Palazzo Colonna, those of Palestrina in this palace, but they were known also as Colonna di Sciarra after
their ancestor Giacomo Colonna who in 1303 slapped Pope Boniface VIII in the face. In 1630 the Colonna sold Palestrina to the Barberini, but they retained Carbognano,
a very minor fiefdom.
The fine portal was built in 1630 by Orazio Torriani: he probably followed a drawing by Antonio Labacco, an assistant to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger; the image used as background for this page shows a detail of its capitals.
The palace belonged to the Sciarra Colonna until the end of the XIXth century when
Prince Maffeo went bankrupt as a result of his too many real estate investments, which included the construction of Galleria Sciarra Colonna. The name of the Sciarra is also associated with their villa on the Janiculum.
Bonaccorsi and Palazzo
(left) Palazzo della Banca Commerciale Italiana on the site of Palazzo Bonaccorsi; (right) Palazzo Verospi
The process of demolition and reconstruction of the buildings on the eastern side of Via del Corso was a very painful one and it was completed only in 1922
with the inauguration of Galleria Colonna which replaced Palazzo Spada Piombino.
Banks played a major role in this process as they competed to have their headquarters or their Roman branch along Via del Corso.
Banca Commerciale Italiana was designed by Luca Beltrami in 1919; Credito Italiano, another important bank, bought Palazzo Verospi; the building was not affected by the enlargement because it was located on the western side of the street;
yet it was modified to fit the requirements of the bank: a storey was added and the ground floor windows were turned into doors for shops, thus modifying the original design of the façade by Girolamo Rainaldi and Onorio Longhi.
(left) Palazzo Marignoli; (right) detail of its façade
Many prostitutes lived and worked in the streets between Via del Corso and Piazza di Spagna; today these streets are part of the shopping district of Rome.
The popes tolerated and even authorized prostitution, but they supported initiatives meant to "convert" prostitutes; in 1520 Pope Leo X assigned a small church near Via del Corso
to Compagnia della Carità per le donne convertite,
a brotherhood which supported prostitutes who wanted to leave their trade; in 1585 the church was rebuilt and dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene; it was damaged by fire in 1617 (you may wish to see it in a 1588 Guide to Rome).
The church and the adjoining nunnery were closed in 1798; a fine painting by il Guercino which was in the church can now be seen in the Vatican Museums (and also by following
this external link); it portrays the saint with two angels. The street leading from Via del Corso to Piazza
S. Silvestro is still called Via delle Convertite.
Palazzo Marignoli was designed by Salvatore Bianchi and Giulio Podesti; it occupies the site of the former nunnery and church and in addition that of some other buildings; it now belongs to an insurance company.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Piazza e Palazzo di Sciarra
Dal palazzo del Principe di Carbognano della nobilissima famiglia Colonna di
Sciarra prende questa piazza il suo nome, ed è molto frequentata dalla nobiltà; e
cittadinanza per le botteghe del caffè, specialmente per quella del Veneziano, in cui
si trovano oltre l'esquisite bevande calde, e fredde, anco de' canditi, e confetture
Il palazzo fu eretto col disegno di Flaminio Ponsio; il portone però è magnifica
architettura di Giacomo Barozzio da Vignola, ed è maraviglioso per li smisurati macigni,
da' quali fu cavato: ed è sommamente notabile, che nel Pontificato di Pio IV. facendosi
i fondamenti di questo, furono trovati alcuni pezzi di bassirilievi col ritratto
dell'Imperatore Claudio; e dipoi l’anno 1641.facendosi un nuovo scavo nella piazza,
alla profondità di palmi 23. fu ritrovato l’antico pavimento della Via Flaminia,
che quì colla Lata si univa, e trovaronsi ancora alcune colonne rotte di marino
affricano, un pezzo di capitello, ed una gran porzione di lapide con iscrizione del
suddetto Claudio, ed altresì una medaglia d'oro del medesimo Imperatore, avendo da
una parte là di lui effigie, e nome, e dall'altra un arco con statua equestre,
le quali cose danno a vedere, che quei marmi furono dell'arco, che secoli fa stava per
l’appunto, dove ora la strada di fontana di Trevi traversa il Corso.
Questo per le preziose statue,
e busti antichi merita una visita particolare, e ancora per le pitture a fresco di
Francesco Albani, ed il maraviglioso strumento armonico, ove in un medesimo tempo
suonano diversi strumenti.
Chiesa e Monastero di S. Maria Maddalena
Da Onorio I. fu eretta quivi la chiesa sopra un'altra dedicata a s Lucia: ma essendo
poi nell'an. 1520. da Leone X. conceduta alla Confraternita della Canta, Paolo V.
vi aggiunse un conservatorio per le povere donne penitenti, e però rinnovandosi la chiesa,
fu dedicata a s. Maria Maddalena: ora però vi risiedono Religiose vergini sotto la regola di
sant' Agostino; e nella chiesa vi è un Crocifisso dipinto da Giacinto Brandi, e la s.
Maria Maddalena del Guercino da Cento.
Next plate in Book 4: Palazzo Ruspoli sul Corso
Next step in Day 1 itinerary: Dogana
di terra (Piazza di Pietra)
Next step in your tour of Rione Colonna: Dogana
di terra (Piazza di Pietra)
Next step in your tour of Rione Trevi: Chiesa di S. Marcello