Wednesday, September 30, 2015



Beginning of the sixteenth century for Giovanni Pietro Turci from Novara, secretary of Leo X Medici (1513/21), using the structure of an existing tower

The FAÇADE was rebuilt in the seventeenth century

It is mistakenly called PALAZZETTO DEL BRAMANTE (Bramante Small Palace)



About 1540 maybe by Baldassare Peruzzi (1481/1536) for Tiberio and Domenico Capodiferro

It was renovated in about 1567

In 1632 it was bought by the Spada family

PORTAL maybe by Ottaviano Nonni aka Ottaviano Mascherino (1524/1606)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015



1826 Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839) for Giacomo Raffaelli, advisor to the Russian Czar in the Papal States, who opened in the palace a mosaic workshop

Interesting intermediate solution between the type of the palace and of the bourgeois home
In 1871 one extra floor was added

Monday, September 28, 2015



About 1525 maybe by Baldassare Peruzzi (1481/1536) for Giordano Missini from Orvieto

It was bought in 1674 by the Ossoli family and, in the second half of 1700s, by the Soderini family

The fourth floor above the cornice was added in modern times

The façade with fountain in front of Palazzo Spada was painted after a design by Francesco Borromini (1599/1667) in the years 1648/52

The design by Borromini, over which layers of paint overlapped in three centuries, was restored in 1993

Sunday, September 27, 2015



TOWER of the thirteenth century built for the Anguillara family

PALAZZETTO (small palace) built in 1455 for Count Everso II Anguillara

It was badly damaged by the earthquake of 1542

Restored in 1893/1902 by Augusto Fallani (1842/1930) who incorporated architectural remains in the walls and the Anguillara crest with two crossed eels

Since 1914 it houses the CASA DI DANTE, institution promoting Dante Alighieri's studies with a specialized library

Friday, September 25, 2015



1956/58 Pier Luigi Nervi (1891/1979) and Annibale Vitellozzi (1902/90) for basketball and lifting weights tournaments of the 1960 Rome Olympics

It was built on the site of the old Rondinella Stadium of S.S. Lazio and of the Tennis Club Parioli

The original capacity of about 5,000 spectators was reduced to about 3,500 in 2011 after renovations

Now it hosts the home games of the volleyball team M. Roma Volley and of the basketball team Pallacanestro Virtus Roma

“Pier Luigi Nervi is one of the greatest structural architects of the twentieth century. His extraordinary success in combining the art and the science of building produced some of contemporary architecture’s finest works. Together with other engineers who had a natural inclination to synthesise static and spatial ideas (above all, Eduardo Torroja), Nervi contributed, in the middle decades of the last century, to a break with the formal concepts of rationalism. His constructions based, like those of Torroja, on bold technical-structural solutions achieved an extraordinary elegance and have become icons of a new kind of architecture which enjoy world-wide admiration and esteem. His creations, scattered across Italy, Europe, America and Australia, made those years a glorious period for Italian architecture” (Mario Alberto Chiorino - Pier Luigi Nervi Project Web Site -

Monday, September 21, 2015



Built at the end of 1500s for the wedding of the nephew of Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90) Flavia Peretti with Virginio Orsini

Now is the seat of the Pio Sodalizio dei Piceni (Pius Sodality of the Piceni) derived by the Association of Residents in Rome from Marche Region

The association was founded in early 1600s and, in 1633, it became the Brotherhood of the Holy House of Loreto

The LIBRARY contains about 14,000 books

Courtyard and roof terrace with frescoes by Paul Brill (1554/1626)

“Stories of Hercules and nudes” Giuseppe Cesari aka Cavalier d'Arpino (1568/1640) and Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609)

Oil paintings on canvas such as:

“Our Lady of Mercy” by Federico Fiori aka Barocci (1535/1612)

“Virgin Mary with Child blessing aka S. Maria delle Grazie” 1494 by Antonio Aquili aka Antoniazzo Romano (about 1435-40/1508)
It was originally a processional standard and it was the only painting not to have been destroyed by the fire of 1591 in the church of S. Salvatore in Lauro

“The stylistic and compositional features, including the structure of the throne in a niche or the iconography of the sacred group, correspond to the subjects of Marian paintings of the nineties definitely attributed to Antoniazzo (...) here solved in a version with a more pronounced Umbrian character, derived from Pinturicchio. His original function as a standard makes it a typical product of the mature phase of the painter, when the demands intensified in his workshop for equipment and items to be carried in processions on the occasion of the annual festivals of the brotherhoods” (Anna Cavallaro)

“Cardinal Domenico Consolini” by Francesco Podesti (1800/95

“Christ Redeemer” attributed to Melozzo of Ambrosi aka Melozzo da Forlì (1438/94)

Thursday, September 17, 2015



1579/84 Martino Longhi the Elder (1534/91) with beautiful courtyard and portico

It is connected to the Palazzo Cenci Bolognetti with the ARCO DEI CENCI (Arch of the Cenci family)

On the main floor frescos “Scenes of the Exodus of the Jews led by Moses” 1583/87 by Giovanni Guerra (1544/1618) and assistants, including Vitruvio Alberi (active 1575/dead after 1590)

“Giovanni Baglione reserved to Guerra in 1642 a very detailed biography, with a preliminary list of works (...) and the memory of his business capacity, which also contributed, with its scathing critical reviews, in the general devaluation of the late Roman Mannerism, to make forget the artist quickly, considered far from any appreciable qualitative standard. Only after the mid-twentieth century, initially through the study of his drawings, there was the beginning of the philological and critical recovery of the multifarious activities of Guerra, with particular attention to his ways of organizing a building site and the role of independent and original inventor of sacred and profane iconography” (Mario Bevilacqua - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015



FAÇADE about 1600 by Onorio Longhi (1568/1619) the son of Martino Longhi the Elder and a great friend of Caravaggio

The façade was reassembled here in the 1920s, the only remnant of the destroyed Villa Altemps formerly on Via Flaminia near the Porta del Popolo

The image of a rampant ram, symbol of the Altemps family, is represented in the decoration

The Altemps family was originally from Tyrol and the original name was Sittich von Hohenems transformed in Sittico Altemps when they settled in early 1500s, first in Milan, where they became relatives of the Milanese Medici, and later in Rome

Saturday, September 12, 2015


More imperial portraits

Interesting portrait of “Marcus Aurelius (161/180)” young and beardless, dating back to about 147

“Julia Domna” Syrian wife of Septimius Severus (193/211) who was a native of Libya

“Maximinus Thrax (235/238)” the so-called “Emperor soldier”
He was born in today's Bulgaria and was a shepherd who had made a career in the army. He was huge and the Historia Augusta (document probably dating from the early fifth century AD with biographies of the emperors) reports that he was incredibly 2.40 m (9 feet) tall
He was the first emperor who never went to Rome during his reign

“Balbino (238)” was emperor for three months together with Pupienus with whom he quarreled bitterly. During the quarrel were both killed by the praetorians who proclaimed emperor the thirteen-years-old Gordian III

“Bust of Merman” late second century AD with his mouth open to let water flow out. It was in fact used as a fountain in the Septizonium

“Bas-relief of a woman with two birds in one hand and a cane in the other” early fourth century AD maybe a personification of winter

“Graffiti with donkey man crucified” from the Pedagogium with the inscription in Greek: “Alexamenos worships his god” first half of the third century AD
It is probably a very early mockery of the Christian religion

The sculptural decoration of the Palace. Greek originals and Roman copies of the Classical and Hellenistic periods

“Acroterial headless statue of Aura” with peplum open on the side. Maybe Greek original of the fifth century BC from near the Arch of Titus
An acroterial statue is a statue placed as a decoration on the roof of a temple

“Child seated”

“Headless statue of Aphrodite or Kharis” from the original by Kallimacos with beautiful light drapery that enhances the sensual posing of the goddess

“Dionysus as a child”. It was originally placed in the arms of Hermes

“Head of Aphrodite”

“Statuette of Diomedes carrying the Palladium”

“Torso of Artemis”

“Head of Aphrodite of Cnidus” and “Head of Apollo Sauroctonos” from the original by Praxiteles (about 395/326 BC)

“His ideal is the Charis, who is beauty combined with grace. He does not move in the sphere of the solemn Olympian deities as Phidias and the artists of the fifth century, but he chooses only a few semi-divine beings or gods, and represents them with an all human beauty in a tone already delicately sensual and romantic. For his particular poetic content he creates rhythms that free figures from the equilibrium gravitating around their axis which was the central problem of the art of the fifth century and which had been formulated in more complex and organic way by Polykleitos. Praxiteles' rhythms are either leaning on a lateral support, giving a new curve to the figure, or either, when support is lacking, the body bends in its own soft gravity, it is released in an inert abandonment, or bends in a simple pose, often with its head bowed, always avoiding the static and vertical line” (Enciclopedia Treccani)

“Headless statue of a girl dancing”

“Two muses sitting”

“Fragmentary head of Doryphoros” from original by Polykleitos of Argos (about 490/425 BC)

“Two heads of Apollo” of the Anzio type

“Veiled head of Venus Sosandra” or savior of mankind, from an original of about 460 BC by Calamis
It was his most famous work and it was placed on the Acropolis of Athens

“Figure solemn and quiet, which expresses an ideal of femininity in the process of affirmation. We are far beyond the ancient climate: there is obviously some psychological research, the desire to penetrate in the privacy of individuals” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

“Hera Borghese” second century AD from an original of the end of the fifth century BC

“An original of the last quarter of the fifth century BC takes to the extreme the drapery of the Parthenon with a bold play of folds. It is a statue of a goddess found in secondary arrangement in the agora of Athens and reconstructed from several fragments. The work recalls the so-called type of the Hera Borghese, known only through replicas of Roman age. These types of statues, created especially to depict Aphrodite, introduce a new vision of the deity - more feminine and sensual, different from the idealized humanity of the goddesses of the Parthenon - which will lead, in the following century, to the naked Aphrodite by Praxiteles, the famous Aphrodite of Cnidus” (Marina Castoldi)

Statue of “Magna Mater sitting” in Pentelic marble, originally located in the Temple of Magna Mater
“Head of Hygeia” Augustan copy of a late-classical work

Friday, September 11, 2015



Part of the Museo Nazionale Romano which is made out of five different museums in five different locations. The other four are Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Museo delle Terme and Crypta Balbi


Ground Floor - Palatine Hill from Origins to the Republican Period

The prehistory of the hill (from 100,000 years ago to the end of the second millennium BC). From the Middle Paleolithic to the Bronze Age with stable settlements from 1200 BC

The early history of the hill (X/VII century BC), huts of the Iron Age and burials

The Archaic and Republican period (VI/I century BC). Cultural complexes and private houses


First Floor - Palatine Hill in the Imperial Period

Augustan Age (27 BC/14). The sanctuary of Apollo of Actium and decorative theme in celebration of the Principality

“Fragment of the Face of Late Archaic statue of Athena”

“Fragment of the Palatine Palladium” original Greek of the sixth century BC
The Palladium was a statue that, according to the beliefs of antiquity, was capable of defending an entire city. The most famous was kept at Troy, and in fact the city was destroyed when Ulysses and Diomedes succeeded in stealing it
According to Virgil, Ulysses and Diomedes did not steal the Palladium, but it was Aeneas who brought it with him to Italy and there it stayed only to be eventually kept in the Temple of Vesta

“Three herms of canephorae in black ancient marble” from the porch of the Temple of Apollo
The canephorae were maidens who carried sacred objects of worship in baskets held deftly balanced on their heads

“Campana Slab” 36/28 BC architectural terracottas from the Temple of Apollo
Their name recalls that of the Marquis Giampietro Campana who, in the first half of 1800s, had gathered a rich collection of these particular kind of terracottas

“Fragments of frescoes” from the House of Augustus, one with “Apollo Citaredo”

Age of Nero (54/68) - The Domus Transitoria (temporary house) and new decorative conception

“Inlaid marble panels” in opus sectile from the Domus Transitoria
Opus sectile is one of the more refined and prestigious techniques of marble ornamentation, both for the marbles used often very valuable and for implementation difficulties
Marble is cut into very thin sheets known as crustae and shaped with great precision, using the most different qualities of marble to obtain the desired color effects

Painted decorations with “Trojan Cycle of Ulysses” from the Domus Transitoria

From the Julio-Claudian emperors to the Tetrarchy (284/312). Official portraiture and decoration of the Palace

“In the portraits of Nero, best known from coins emissions, it seems possible to distinguish three stylistically different periods due to his different political behavior. In the portrait of the Palatine, chronologically be placed in the middle years of the reign, the realism of some facial features is tempered by the apparent softness of the marble, the search for effects of light and pathos. This style heralds the stage of absolute rule of the emperor in which we witness, at the level of artistic language, the final affirmation of the Baroque and pictorial trend of the Hellenistic tradition, already in embryo in the figurative culture of Claudius” (Simona Fortunelli)

“Two pieces of the floor in opus sectile (inlaid marble)” of the Neronian period from the Domus Tiberiana

“He ruled with wisdom and righteousness, animated by paternal solicitude for the welfare of all. He eased the tax system, he was generous with donations, he founded charities, including one in favor of orphan girls. Respectful of official religion, however, he was not too intransigent toward Christians and Jews. To his wife Faustina he erected a temple on the Via Sacra. Under his reign raids by Mauri in Africa and Brigantes in Britain were easily tackled: here it was established the famous 'Antonine Wall'“ (Enciclopedia Treccani)

Beautiful “Head of a Young Princess” of the Antonine period

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Domus Tiberiana

The first truly unified palace built by an emperor is maybe that of Tiberius (14/37)
The area was covered in the sixteenth century by the Farnese Gardens. It is largely uncharted
Perhaps Tiberius built it over his birthplace. It included a library

It was probably the seat of the designated successor of the emperor when he was still alive, as Tiberius was the successor of Augustus

We know with certainty that Marcus Aurelius (161/180) and Lucius Verus (161/169) lived here when they were adopted and designated as successors of Antoninus Pius (138/161)

It was used as a residence by Pope John VII (705/707)

Monday, September 7, 2015


Foundations of a temple (60 x 40 m - 197 x 131 feet) of uncertain identification, but by many considered the Temple of the Sun, built by Emperor Elagabalus (218/222)
It must have been originally surrounded by an area with portico

Inside the temple Elagabalus were kept many sacred objects including the Palladium of Troy, the aniconic image of Cybele, the fire of Vesta and the ancilla or shields of Mars preserved in the Regia
Recent excavations have revealed the nature of garden of the area, perhaps the “Gardens of Adonis”. The building stood until the late empire as evidenced by mentions of various ancient authors
Recently, in the northeast corner structures have been excavated belonging to Nero's Domus Aurea, most likely including the famous ROUND ROOM WITH ROTATING FLOOR described by Suetonius

Maybe remains of the monumental entrance with five arches that used to give access to the colonnade of the Temple of the Sun

Square area paved with stones and ruins of an arch of the imperial period
It was perhaps the monumental entrance to the Imperial Palace

Semi-underground corridor 130 m (427 feet) long, illuminated by narrow windows, which united the Domus Aurea with the imperial palace
The attribution to Nero (54/68) is arbitrary
In the stretch leading to the house of Livia, is visible on the vault a copy of a stucco decoration with geometric panels surrounded by cupids and floral motifs. The original is in the Palatine Museum

Structures built by Domitian (81/96) on the remains of the House of Caligula (37/41) or Atrium Gai, where in the sixth century the church of S. Maria Antiqua was built


Remains of brick walls parallel and perpendicular to the axis of the Sacred Way identified by Rodolfo Lanciani as a large porch that was built around rows of stone pillars and was given the name Porticus Margaritaria according to the Chronograph of 354 AD (an illustrated calendar) that mentions it among the buildings located in the Forum

The structure with portico was actually begun by Nero (54/68) shortly before the fire of 64
After the fire the construction of a grand portico with pillars began
It should have been used as access to the Domus Aurea, but it was never finished: after the death of Nero, the Flavian emperors stopped the work and the completed part was destined for public and commercial use until the late empire

Ancient road that connected the Palatine, the Forum and the Capitoline Hill
It owed its name to the functions and ceremonial processions that used to follow this road
According to ancient tradition, the sanctity of the street derives from the legendary pact of peace between Romulus and Titus Tatius, or from the fact that priests walked on it monthly during the sacred ceremonies of the Ides and Nonae
Until the beginning of the imperial age it would have had a first flat section from the Roman Forum, namely the Comitium, up the slopes of the Velia, more or less where the Basilica of Maxentius is, passing next to the Basilica Emilia

A second section uphill (summa Sacra Via) would have reached the Shrine of the Strenia Carinae, passing through the Velia
After the fire in 64 AD the second section was modified and brought to the atrium of the Domus Aurea, where later the Temple of Venus and Rome was built
One can categorically exclude that the Via Sacra is the one that passes under the Arch of Titus

Maybe part of the basement of the porch that surrounded the entrance hall of the Domus Aurea, the Golden House of Nero (54/68)

ARCH OF TITUS (see Roman Forum)

Rectangular base east of the Arch of Titus in flakes of flint, which were attached to some blocks of travertine and lava stone. Its function is unknown
Before the recent excavations, it was believed that it was the base of the Temple of Jupiter Stator, consecrated by Romulus in the Roman-Sabine war
In the Middle ages over the remains of the basement the Turris Chartularia was built, which owed its name to its supposed proximity to the imperial Chartularium (archive), later used as an archive of the popes

Next to the Sacred Way there are the remains of a complex that was perhaps used as baths and has been identified by some as the Baths of Elagabalus, by others as the Curiae Veteres, a temple that the written tradition attributed to Romulus, and that Tacitus mentions as the third corner of the pomerium (border) of the Palatine city
It is more probable that it is the Sacrarium of Augustus erected in the place where the emperor was born
The area is still being excavated, but a room with apse and fountains is visible, probably intended to use as baths but later used as a place of worship

Friday, September 4, 2015


S. Sebastiano

Known in the Middle Ages as S. Maria in Pallara from the Palladium of Troy, which was in the Temple of the Sun

The Palladium was a statue which, according to ancient beliefs, was able to defend an entire city
Rebuilt 1624/30 for Urban VIII Barberini (1623/44) by Luigi Arrigucci (1575/after 1643) retaining the original apse of the tenth century with traces of frescoes

Watercolors nineteenth-century copies of those of the seventeenth century, which were themselves copies of the destroyed medieval frescoes

Paintings in the PRESBYTERY and in the SPANDRELS
“God the Father and angels”, “Virtues”and “St. Sebastian” 1633/36 by Bernardino Gagliardi (1609/1660)

Traces of “Frescoes with scenes of Christ” dating back to the end of the tenth century

“Martyrdom of St. Sebastian” 1633 by Andrea Camassei (1602/49) with the episode of the whipping that actually killed St. Sebastian and is rarely represented
The arrows with which he had previously been wounded in fact had not killed him

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


S. Bonaventura

1675/77 for Cardinal Francesco Barberini on a huge castellum aquae (building with the function of collection and distribution of water) that was intended to supply the Severan Baths

The cardinal supported the reformist Franciscan friar Bonaventure of Barcelona, later canonized, who wanted to build the church here

Today the convent adjacent to the church is the seat of the Centre for Youth Ministry in the Roman Province of the Franciscan Minor Friars

FAÇADE and INTERIOR redone in the years 1839/40

“Tombstone of the painter Francesco Mancini (1679/1758)” 1758 with his portrait


“Madonna and Child, St. Anne, St. Joseph and Spanish Franciscan saints” 1680 by Giacinto Calandrucci (1646/1707) a pupil of Carlo Maratta

“Virgin Mary and the three Franciscan Orders” about 1685 by Filippo Micheli from Camerino

Beneath the altar there is the tomb of S. Leonardo da Porto Maurizio, who died in 1751 in a nearby convent and gave great impetus to the devotion of the Christian martyrs of the Colosseum and to the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) which was very popular since then
He was one of the greatest inventors and propagators of the Stations of the Cross personally creating some hundreds of them. He built the aediculae outside the church, in clay since 1772, and in the Colosseum, later removed

Niches on the right “St. Anthony of Padua” 1867 and on the left “St. Francis”1869 Pietro da Copenaghen

“Annunciation” about 1678 by G.B. Beinaschi

“St. Michael the Archangel” about 1678 by G.B. Beinaschi who was assisted in the four paintings in this church by his daughter Angela Maria Beinaschi

“Deposition” about 1678 by G.B. Beinaschi signed also by his daughter Angela Maria
“Virgin Mary with Sts. Francis and Anthony of Padua” 1862 by Pietro da Copenaghen

“Our Lady of Beautiful Love” by Sebastiano Conca (1680/1764)
“St. Anthony” by Luigi Garzi (1638/1721)
“Virgin Mary and St. Bonaventure” by Pietro Gagliardi (1809/90)
“Lady of the Sacred Heart Jesus” 1766 by Pompeo Batoni (1708/87) donated by the painter to the missionary priest of the convent to take with him on his missions