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Page revised in February 2010.
Passo della Barchetta all'Armata (Book 5) (View D4)
In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Passo della Barchetta all'Armata
S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini (rear view)
The Plate (No. 87 - ii)
In the 1740s Giuseppe Vasi published Vedute di Roma sul Tevere, his first book of etchings which included fifteen views of the river; while in general the works by Vasi show a lot of attention to the details of the monuments of Rome, his early engravings are more similar to a landscape painting. It is likely that Vasi was influenced by Prospectus Magni Canalis Venetiarum, a book of fourteen etchings by Antonio Visentini after view paintings of the Grand Canal of Venice by Canaletto; the book was part of the print collection of Cardinal Neri Corsini (nephew of Pope Clement XII) to whom Vasi dedicated Book 9. In the plate shown above S. Pietro and S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini are part of the background, while the attention of Vasi is focused on the ferries crossing the river, although these small boats (It. barchette) cannot be compared to those of the Grand Canal (see an engraving by Visentini - external link).
The high walls built in the late XIXth century to prevent floods and several modern bridges caused the ferries to disappear. Today the only opportunity for seeing several boats on the river is to attend Madonna Fiumarola, a procession which takes place in July.
The very accurate map by Giovanni Battista Nolli shows the exact location of Passo della Barchetta all'Armata; Via dell'Armata (the street of the armed guards who controlled the access to Carceri Nuove, the prison of Rome) is No 691 and No 689 is the point on the left bank where passengers boarded the ferry (No. 690 is S. Eligio degli Orefici). The boarding point on the right bank was located between Giardino Farnese and S. Giacomo alla Lungara.
Between Ponte S. Angelo and Ponte Sisto there were two other ferries, in addition to Passo della Barchetta all'Armata: one between S. Anna de' Bresciani and S. Giuseppe and the other between Mola dei Fiorentini, a mill near S. Giovanni de Fiorentini and Porta S. Spirito.
S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini
The fašade of S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini is shown by Vasi in plate 87; the dome, because of its location on the edge of the river and of its high drum, is one of the best known landmarks of Rome. It was designed by Carlo Maderno.
Giovanni Maria Lancisi (1654 - 1720) was a physician who is still known for his studies of anatomy. He worked in Ospedale di S. Spirito where he founded a medical library (see some of its halls - external link). He used to recommend the water of a spring close to the hospital (thus called Acqua Lancisiana). The fountain built by Pope Clement XI at his suggestion was relocated in 1830 near the Tiber by Pope Pius VIII; after the construction of the walls along the river the original inscriptions and coats of arms of the popes were placed above two small modern fountains (which since the 1950s have been turned off because their water is no longer drinkable).
Next plate in Book 5: Fianco della Lungara e di Strada Giulia