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Visit Rome following 8 XVIIIth century itineraries XVIIIth century Rome in the 10 Books of Giuseppe Vasi - Le Magnificenze di Roma Antica e Moderna The Grand View of Rome by G. Vasi The Environs of Rome: Frascati, Tivoli, Albano and other small towns near Rome A 1781 map of Rome by G. Vasi An 1852 map of Rome by P. Letarouilly Rome seen by a 1905 armchair traveller in the paintings by Alberto Pisa The 14 historical districts of Rome An abridged history of Rome How to spend a peaceful day in Rome Baroque sculptors and their works The coats of arms of the popes in the monuments of Rome Pages on a specific pope Pages complementing the itineraries and the views by Giuseppe Vasi Walks in the Roman countryside and in other towns of Latium following Ferdinand Gregorovius A Directory of links to the Churches of Rome A Directory of links to the Palaces and Villas of Rome A Directory of links to the Other Monuments of Rome A Directory of Baroque Architects with links to their works A Directory of links to Monuments of Ancient Rome A Directory of links to Monuments of Medieval Rome A Directory of links to Monuments of Renaissance A Directory of links to Monuments of the Late Renaissance A list of the most noteworthy Roman Families Directories of fountains, obelisks, museums, etc. Books and guides used for developing this web site An illustrated Glossary of Art Terms Venice and the Levant Roman recollections in Florence A list of Italian towns shown in this web site Venetian Fortresses in Greece Vienna seen by an Italian XVIIIth century traveller A list of foreign towns shown in this web site
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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 April 2009.

To the Italian visitors of my web site

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
Today's view
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)

Monte Aventino e Vestigi del Ponte Sublicio

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.

Small ViewSmall Map

Today

The view today
View of the Aventine hill from (modern) Ponte Palatino

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.

What's Left

S. Sabina & S. Alessio
View over S. Sabina (left) and S. Alessio (right)

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.

Details
(left) Main building of the Priory of the Knights of Malta; (centre/right) S. Maria in Cappella and detail of its bell tower; (lower right corner) ruins of Ponte Sublicio


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

Casino di Donna Olimpia
(left) Casino di Donna Olimpia: the photo was taken from Rocca Savella on the opposite side of the river. The image shows in the background: (left to right): bell tower of S. Cecilia, S. Giovanni Battista dei Genovesi, bell tower of S. Grisogono and St. Peter's; (right) detail of the loggia.

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

Eremitorio di S. Anna
(left) Modern building near the previous site of S. Anna; (right) detail of its "madonnella"

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

Ruins on the Aventine slope
(left) An ancient wall; (centre - above) detail of the plate showing this wall and Monte Testaccio; (centre - below) fragment of Baroque decoration; (right) coat of arms Pope Innocent XII Pignatelli, which once stood in Palazzo di Montecitorio


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:


Ponte Sublicio
In questa spiaggia fa ora bel vedere il grande ospizio di s. Michele, con la dogana, ed il moderno sbarco de' navigli, che vengono dal mare, ed in mezzo al Tevere si vedono le rovine dell'antichissimo ponte Sublicio, così detto da ilex albero forte, e resistente all'acqua, o pure da' legni grossi, con i quali era costruito, che sublices dicevansi. Era questo formato tutto di legno fin da' tempi più antichi, e da esso solevano gettare ogni anno nel Tevere 30. uomini Greci; ma a persuasione di Ercole fu mutata tale usanza, ed invece di uomini vi si buttarono dipoi figure di uomini fatte di paglia. Questo fu quel ponte, che Orazio Coclite discese contro l'impeto de' Toscani, mentre dall'altra parte veniva tagliato da' Romani, e poi gettatosi nel fiume col suo cavallo passò a nuoto da' suoi. E perchè un tal valore venne attribuito ad opera divina, e perchè in quella necessità fu tagliato con difficoltà, fu dipoi rifatto senza chiodo alcuno, e fu dato in cura ad alcuni sacerdoti con ampia facoltà di ristaurarlo e rifarlo quando bisognasse, onde questi furono detti Pontifices, ed il maggiore tra loro Pontifex Maximus, la cui autorità fu di tanta possanza, ed onore, che poi se l'appropriarono gli stessi Imperatori. Questo ogni anno si riattava con simile materia, e con grande superstizione; e però fu ancora detto Ponte Sagro. Fin al tempo di Augusto, di Vespasiano, e di Antonino fu conservato di legno: ma perchè spello rovinava, fu alla fine da Adriano fatto di pietra, non già nel medesimo sito, ma poco discosto, perciò a distinzione di quello, che egli fece presso il suo sepolcro, si disse ponte Emilio.
Rovine nel clivo dell'Aventino
Nessuno ha saputo dire di che sorta di edifizj fossero le grosse muraglie, che si vedono appoggiate al monte Aventino; ognuno però vede, che sono avanzi di opere magnifiche degli antichi. Poco più oltre camminando,evvi
La Salara nuova
E' questa una fabbrica, ove si purifica il sale, che si lavora sulla spiaggia del mare, e sta appunto dove erano l'antiche saline. Quivi sulla strada fu ancora un arco eretto per ordine del Senato al nome di Orazio per aver difeso, come dicemmo, il suddetto ponte, e conservata la libertà alla patria. Poco più avanti si vede a piedi della salita del monte Aventino la
Cappella di s. Anna
Questa piccola chiesa, quando il Papa abitava nel palazzo di s. Sabina era custodita da' Palafrenieri: ma avendo poi edificata quella presso il palazzo Vaticano, restò questa unita alla chiesa di s. Sabina, i cui frati vi tengono un Eremita per custodia.
Chiesa di s. Maria in Cappella
In sito molto basso sta questa piccola chiesa, la quale da principio era dedicata al ss. Salvatore; ma poi essendovi da s. Francesca Romana aggiunto un piccolo spedale, prese l'uno e l'altra il titolo di s. Maria in Cappella. Quindi nel 1540. avendola ottenuta la confraternita de' Barilari, si disse ancora in cupella. Accanto di questa evvi l'amenissimo giardino del Principe Panfili con un casino sulle sponde del Tevere.

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