All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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)
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.
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 Trinità dei Monti; Collegio Clementino has been replaced by modern buildings.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 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.
(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:
Move to the statues of the angels in detail.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Next plate in Book 5: Ponte e Mole Adriana
Next step in Day 8 itinerary: Ponte e Mole Adriana