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.
Ripa Grande (seen from South) (Book 5) (Map C3) (Day 5 and Day 6) (View C11) (Rione Ripa) and (Rione Trastevere)
Giuseppe Vasi showed Ripa Grande from north (plate 97) and from south; in this second plate his main objective was the residence of the Grand Masters of the Knights of Jerusalem (who after the fall of Jerusalem were called Knights of Rhodes and after the fall of Rhodes, Knights of Malta) on the south-western edge of the Aventine hill. On the right side of the plate he showed what was left of the "Antichi Navali" by this meaning the old Roman harbour on the Tiber. On the left side outside the walls Vasi represented the Arsenal built by Pope Clement XI.
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) Priorato dei Cavalieri Gerosolimitani (Knights of Jerusalem); 2) Ruins of the Roman harbour; 3) Dome of S. Luca; 4) Ospizio di S. Michele; 5) Women's jail (in Ospizio di S. Michele); 6) Arsenal; 7) Custom-house. The small map does not show 3). 3), 4), and 5) are shown in detail in other pages.
The beach from which Vasi took this view has disappeared, because of the changes made to the river bed to facilitate the flow of the water. Vasi enlarged the dimensions of the buildings of Rome at the centre of the etching.
Today there are many more trees on the Aventine which partially hide the property of the Maltese Order.
In order to see the dome of S. Luca (SS. Martina e Luca) it is necessary to move forward and stand on a modern bridge near the Aventine.
Santa Maria del Priorato
The church one can see in the plate was remodelled a few years after Vasi's etching by Giovan Battista Piranesi. Piranesi is best known for his etchings of Rome; he was commissioned the redesign of the church and of the adjoining square by the Grand Prior Giovanni Battista Rezzonico, brother of Pope Clement XIII. It is the only architectural work by Piranesi who covered the church façade with an extensive and bizarre decoration. While anticipating some features of Neoclassicism, its richness shows traces of the Roman Baroque tradition. The tower on the capital is a tribute to the coat of arms of the Rezzonico.
Some Grand Masters are buried in the church; you may wish to see a page on the 2008 funeral of Grand Master Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie.
Pope Clement XI tried to facilitate the arrival and storage of supplies in Rome. He built Porto di Ripetta a river harbour for receiving commodities from Sabina and Umbria, he enlarged the granaries at Piazza di Termini and he built a shipyard (It. arsenale) at Ripa Grande. Its main building is characterized by the use of Gothic arches, a very unusual feature in Rome.
The Arsenal was rehabilitated by Pope Pius IX, who was pope from 1846 to 1878; a rather strange decision because at that time transportation was already based on railways and steamers.
Today (April 2009) the main building is used as a warehouse by a small business.
Arco di S. Lazzaro
At the foot of the Aventine an arch of the horrea (the warehouses of the ancient Roman harbour where commodities were stored) is called Arco di S. Lazzaro, after a (lost) nearby little church. Other remains of the horrea can be found in the courtyards of some buildings of modern Testaccio.
The area between Arco di S. Lazzaro and the river was called Marmorata (of the marbles) because it was used for unloading marbles and stones and Via Marmorata was the street leading from there to Porta S. Paolo. It was a narrow street which passed through the arch. It was replaced in the late XIXth century by a modern alley which allowed the transit of tramways. In 2009, during maintenance repairs to the rails, the beautiful statue of a goddess was found, thus showing that there are still discoveries to be made in Rome.
In the XVIIIth century the ruins of the Roman docks along the Tiber were still clearly visible. Pius IX promoted their excavation (a fountain in Lungotevere Testaccio celebrates this initiative). The enlargement of the river around Testaccio stopped the excavations which were resumed in the 1990s. They led to a better understanding of how the Romans managed the handling of the enormous quantities of commodities which arrived from the provinces.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Next plate in Book 5: Veduta delle antiche Mura di Roma
Next step in Day 5 itinerary: Veduta delle antiche Mura di Roma
Next step in Day 6 itinerary: Chiesa di S. Francesco a Ripa
Next step in your tour of Rione Ripa: Rovine del Ponte Sublicio