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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 September 2009.


Passeggio di Ponte S. Angelo (Book 5) (Map C2) (View C4) (Day 8) (Rione Borgo)


In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
Ponte S. Angelo
in another page:
The Statues of the Angels in detail


The Plate (No. 85 - ii)


This plate shows a very interesting view of the houses and palaces along the river and of some Roman landmarks in the background. 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) Bastion of Castel Sant'Angelo; 2) Collegio Clementino; 3) Dome of S. Carlo al Corso; 4) S. Rocco; 5) S. Atanasio dei Greci; 6) Villa Medici; 7) SS. Trinità dei Monti; 8) Vigna Altoviti; 9) S. Girolamo agli Schiavoni. All but 8) are shown in detail in other pages.


Today

The view in August 2009; inset: 1) S. Carlo al Corso; 2) SS. Trinità dei Monti; 3) modern buildings on the site of Collegio Clementino

In December 1870 Rome experienced a very damaging flood which prompted the Italian government to develop a comprehensive plan for preventing the reoccurrence of such events.
The river bed was drained and enlarged and high walls were built on the two sides of the river. Ponte S. Angelo was modified: the three central arches were not affected, but the lateral lower arches were redesigned: the plate shows that the statues of the angels were at a higher level than that of St. Paul at the beginning of the bridge; they are now at the same level.
On the left side of the view Vasi showed Villa Altoviti a farm/villa in an area known as Prati (meadows) di Castello which was urbanized in the second half of the XIXth century and became Prati, a new "rione" of Rome.
The dome of S. Carlo al Corso is still very clearly visible, but with a small effort it is possible to identify also the twin bell towers of SS. Trinità dei Monti; Collegio Clementino has been replaced by modern buildings.

Ponte S. Angelo

An unusual view of Ponte S. Angelo

Ponte S. Angelo was also known as Ponte Elio or Ponte Adriano after the names of Emperor Hadrian who built it. Most likely at that time the bridge was decorated with statues. It is shown by Vasi in a plate covering Castel S. Angelo.

(Upper row - left side of the bridge: St Peter (school of Lorenzetto), the scourge (by Lazzaro Morelli), the crown of thorns (by Paolo Naldini from an original by Gian Lorenzo Bernini now in S. Andrea delle Fratte), the dice (by Paolo Naldini), I.N.R.I. - the derogatory inscription - (by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Giulio Cartari), the offer of vinegar (by Antonio Giorgetti);
(lower row - right side of the bridge): St Paul (school of Paolo Taccone), the throne (by Antonio Raggi), the poor vestment (by Cosimo Fancelli), the nails (by Girolamo Lucenti), the cross (by Ercole Ferrata), the lance (by Domenico Guidi).

The statues of St Peter and St Paul were erected by Pope Clement VII in 1534. In 1536, for the visit to Rome by Emperor Charles V, Pope Paul III had eight stucco statues placed along the bridge; they represented the four evangelists and four biblical patriarchs; they remained on the bridge for some time before being removed.
The idea of placing statues with instruments of the Passion, some of which were among the most important relics kept in St. Peter's, was discussed between Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Pope Alexander VII, but the decision was taken by his successor Pope Clement IX: the first statue was placed on the bridge in September 1669, the last one in November 1671. Bernini coordinated a team of sculptors, many of whom were part of his inner circle; he provided them with sketches of the statues of the angels who held instruments of the Passion (for more baroque angels click here).
Bernini also designed a new balustrade for the bridge (you can see a detail of it in the image used as background for this page); his purpose was to allow the maximum view of the river because "watching the flow of water is per se a delight".
The following inscriptions were placed under the statues:

St. Peter
Hinc humilibus venia
St. Paul
Hinc retributio superbis
1st angel behind St. Peter
In flagella paratus sum (Psalm XXXVII)
1st angel behind St. Paul
Tronus meus in columna (Eccles. XXIV)
2nd angel behind St. Peter
In aerumna mea dum configitur spina (Psalm XXXI)
2nd angel behind St. Paul
Respicie in faciem Christi tui (Psalm LXXXIII)
3rd angel behind St. Peter
Super vestem meam miserunt sortem (Matth. XXVII)
3rd angel behind St. Paul
Aspiciant ad me quae confixerunt (Zach. XII)
4th angel behind St. Peter
Regnavit a ligno Deus (after a religious hymn)
4th angel behind St. Paul
Cuius principatus super humerum eius (Is. IX)
5th angel behind St. Peter
Potaverunt me aceto (Psalm LXVIII)
5th angel behind St. Paul
Vulnerasti cor meum (Canticle of Canticles IV)

Move to the statues of the angels in detail.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:


Ponte s. Angelo
Dall'Imperatore Elio Adriano fu edificato questo ponte in faccia al suo Mausoleo, o vogliamo dire sepolcro, affinchè fossero comodamente goduti, ed osservati da vicino tutti i magnifici e nobili annessi, che lo adornavano; e però dal suo fondatore fu chiamato ponte Emilio. Ma perite poi le vane superstizioni de' Gentili servì, come anche oggidì per andare alla basilica Vaticana, e pero vi fu eretto fin colà un magnifico portico, affinchè servisse di riparo tanto ne' tempi piovosi, quanto ne' giorni assolati, e per rendere maestoso il suo ingresso gl'Imperatori Gallieno, Valentiniano, e Teodosio vi aggiunsero un grande arco a guisa de' trionfali: ma poi furono a poco a poco atterrati nelle guerre civili. Niccolò V. fu il primo che risarcisse questo ponte dopo la funesta disgrazia succeduta l'anno del Giubbileo 1450. allorchè ritornando molto popolo dalla basilica Vaticana, talmente si affollò sul ponte, che rotti i ripari perirono 170. persone, parte affogate sul ponte medesimo, e parte cadute nel fiume, ed in tale riattamento fecevi nell'ingresso due cappellette una coll'immagine di san Pietro, e l'altra con quella di san Paolo.
Quindi Clem. VII. invece delle cappelle, vi pose statue di marmo, il s. Pietro scolpito da Lorenzo Fiorentino, ed il s. Paolo, da Paolo Romano, e poi quando venne in Roma Carlo V. furono poste sopra i ripari 14. statue di creta cotta riputate bellissime; ma Clemente IX. fu quegli, che ornollo, come ora si vede col disegno del Bernini, collocandovi sopra gran piedistalli dieci statue di marmo, rappresentanti altrettanti Angioli, che tengono varj strumenti della passione del nostro Redentore: quella, che sostiene la colonna è scultura di Antonio Raggi, quella col Volto santo, di Cosimo Fancelli, l'altra con i chiodi di Girolamo Lucenti, quella colla Croce, di Ercole Ferrata, l'altra colla lancia, di Domenico Guidi, quella con i flagelli, di Lazzaro Morelli, quella colla veste inconsutile, e l'altra colla corona di spine sono di Paolo Naldini, quella però col titolo della Croce è del Bernini, e l'ultima, che tiene la spugna è di Antonio Giorgetti: onde con doppia ragione si chiama ora Ponte s. Angelo.

Next plate in Book 5: Ponte e Mole Adriana
Next step in Day 8 itinerary: Ponte e Mole Adriana