All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in April 2009.
Monte Aventino e Vestigi del Ponte Sublicio (Book 5) (Map C3) (Day 5) and (Day 6) (View C11) (Rione Ripa) and (Rione Trastevere)
In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
What's left (S. Maria in Cappella)
Casino di Donna Olimpia
Eremitorio (hermitage) di S. Anna
Ruins at the bottom of the Aventine
The Plate (No. 96)
This all embracing view of the Aventine seen from the Tiber clearly shows the walls which prevented its monasteries from being attacked. The Aventine was so remote from papal Rome, that security could only be achieved by treating it as a separate little town. The title of the plate refers also to the ruins of Ponte Sublicio, the first Roman bridge to cross the river.
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) Palace of the Knights of Jerusalem (of Malta); 2) S. Alessio ; 3) S. Sabina; 4) Salara (salt-works); 5) Eremitorio di S. Anna; 6) S. Maria e S. Giacomo in Cupella; 7) Part of Trastevere; 8) Ruins of a Roman bridge. 1), 2) and 3) are shown in detail in other pages. The small map shows also 9) Casino di Donna Olimpia.
After the very damaging flood of Rome which occurred in December 1870, the Italian government took steps to protect the city; these included the enlargement of the river bed and the construction of high walls; their effects are particularly evident when one compares the view by Vasi with the current one; the little mills and other factories which characterized this area have disappeared, while the view over the top of the Aventine hill is almost unchanged.
A section of the monastery of S. Sabina which stood on the edge of the hill was pulled down when the church was restored in the XXth century. Little else seems to have changed in this secluded part of the city.
The status of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is not easy to define, but Italy grants extraterritoriality to its Villa on the Aventine (and to Palazzo Malta in Via Condotti) and this explains the flags placed on the roof and on the balcony.
The small church of S. Maria in Cupella (today in Cappella) is very old (it dates back to the XIth century) but it has undergone too many alterations; in the XIXth century it was given a medieval appearance.
The memory of Ponte Sublicio is associated with an episode of the war between Rome and the Etruscans; at that time it was made of timber, but later on it was rebuilt in stone; it was maintained until the Vth century AD; the pillars which supported it were very visible until 1878, when they were blown up to facilitate the flow of the river; today they can be seen only when the level of the water is very low.
Casino di Donna Olimpia
Donna Olimpia Maidalchini, the very powerful sister-in-law of Pope Innocentius X Pamphilj (1644-55), built a small Casino overlooking the river. In the XIXth century the Pamphilj modified their property by adding a long building with a neoclassic porch and destined it to provide a recovery for the old and the sick. The redesign of the river bed entailed the pulling down of the casino and a significant reduction of its gardens.
Eremitorio di S.Anna
The isolated chapel of S. Anna belonged to the hose-makers guild. The modern building which replaced it retains some memory of the chapel in the madonnella which portrays St. Anne with the Child. It is located at the beginning of Clivo di Rocca Savella, one of the nicest silent streets of Rome.
Ruins on the Aventine slope
The detail of the plate shows some ruins of the Roman walls built to reinforce the foundations of the villas erected on the top of the Aventine. The ruins are still there. In addition to them there are some more recent ruins in a sort of a nearby open air warehouse, which probably was meant to be a temporary solution to a shortage of space.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Next plate in Book 5: Porto di Ripa Grande
Next step in Day 5 itinerary: S. Maria in Cosmedin
Next step in Day 6 itinerary: S. Cecilia
Next step in your tour of Rione Ripa: S. Sabina