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.
Palazzo Altieri (Book 4) (Map B3) (Day 1) (View C7) (Rione Pigna)
Giuseppe Vasi regarded himself as first of all an architect, although he was not commissioned the design of any major building; his etchings are influenced by his interest in architecture: in this plate in particular he wanted to show all the details of Palazzo Altieri and to do this he disregarded the actual size of the streets and of Piazza del Ges¨, the small square in front of the building; the background of the plate shows the Quirinale hill which cannot be seen from the square. Palazzo Altieri is also shown in plate 39.
Piazza del Ges¨ was not affected by the changes made in the late XIXth century to allow an easier flow of carriages between Piazza Venezia and the Vatican; the space between Palazzo Altieri and il Ges¨ was not that much, but town planners did not dare to touch the two historical buildings.
The Altieri were a Roman family which owned several buildings in Rione Pigna, including those which were pulled down for the construction of il Ges¨. In 1643 Giambattista Altieri was appointed cardinal by Pope Urban VIII; he felt his house was not good enough for his new social role and in 1650 he commissioned Giovanni Antonio De Rossi the redesign of the family properties in Piazza del Ges¨; Berta, a widow who lived in a small house to the right of the entrance refused to leave and De Rossi found a way to incorporate her home into the design of the new palace (this explains the two small windows
above the main ones).
In 1679 Emilio Altieri, a brother of Giambattista, was appointed cardinal by Pope Clement IX and in the following year he was elected pope with the name of Pope Clement X; he was then aged 80, but he lived long enough to finance the enlargement of the family palace.
De Rossi built two major additions: one to the right of the original palace and the other behind it, but he retained as main fašade that of his earlier project; he also designed an elegant courtyard.
Today a portion of Palazzo Altieri is owned by Associazione Bancaria Italiana: the following external link shows some of its decorated interior.
The entablature of Palazzo Simonetti e Guerra in nearby Via del Ges¨ was thought to belong to an ancient temple, but it is a fine Renaissance work which elaborated upon a classical theme, which can also be seen on the entablature of Tempio di Antonino e Faustina. At the beginning of the street there is an XVIIIth century madonnella.
The Silvestrini belong to a Benedictine order founded in 1231 by S. Silvestro Guzzolini. They were given by Pope Pius IV
the church of S. Stefano del Cacco and the adjoining building. In 1734 they enlarged their monastery
by adding a new building designed by Ludovico Rusconi Sassi.