Tuesday, February 28, 2017


1586 for Bishop Bartolomeo Ferratini
In 1626 Urban VIII Barberini (1623/44) seconded the request of Bishop Juan Baptista Vives, one of the subsequent owners, and assigned it to the CONGREGAZIONE DI PROPOGANDA FIDE (Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith), powerful propaganda tool of the Church which was established in 1622 by Gregory XV Ludovisi (1621/23)
The congregation moved into the palace in 1633
WING ON VIA DUE MACELLI 1639/45 by Gaspare De Vecchi (active 1628/1643) for Cardinal Antonio Barberini
FAÇADE ON PIAZZA DI SPAGNA 1644 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680)
Extraordinary FAÇADE ON VIA DI PROPAGANDA and FAÇADE ON VIA CAPO LE CASE 1646 by Francesco Borromini (1599/1667)
“As in the Oratory of the Filippini the façade, parallel to the longitudinal axis of the internal church, is at the same time the front of the church and of the palace. Borromini continues here his studies about making the most of the available space, taking into account the urban location of his building: the narrow Via di Propaganda Fide gives a dramatic tone to the strong plasticity of the façade” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“The overwhelming weight of this façade produces an almost nightmarish effect. Everything here is outside the norm. The movement of the window frames is not dictated simply by a desire for picturesque variety, but it is set up as a fugue, with the subject, response and variations. By these means Borromini created a surprising and alarming palace façade that has no precedent or followers” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Since 1967, the congregation took the name of CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELIZATION OF PEOPLES
In this palace all the missionary activity of the Catholic Church is organized
In the historical center of Rome there are large and expensive real estate belonging to the Vatican which refer to both the congregation and the APSA, the heritage of the Apostolic See. Added to this are the numerous extraterritorial buildings that are part of the Vatican City State
In 2010, Cardinal Sepe, prefect of the congregation from 2001 to 2006, was entered in the register of suspects by prosecutors in Perugia, with the former Transport Minister Pietro Lunardi, for inconsistencies regarding maintenance of the façade of the Palace of Propaganda Fide. Investigations are still ongoing

Monday, February 27, 2017


Begun in 1653 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) for Innocent X Pamphilj (1644/55) who wanted to donate it to the Ludovisi family
The work was interrupted in 1655 on the death of Innocent X as the Ludovisi did not have the funds to finish the building
“Bernini expresses his innovative ideas, while referring to the traditional Roman architecture of Palazzo Farnese. The complete and uniform idea of a civil building is overcome by genuine attempts at articulation; observe the slightly convex shape of the facade, the naturalistic rocks under great pillars that mark five volumetric units of which the central is decidedly protruding forward. Moreover, the expansion of the wings is a symptom of a new vision of space that tends to a prospective enlargement that will become a fundamental element of Bernini's architectural language” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
Adapted in 1694 by Carlo Fontana (1634/1714) to State Court for Innocent XII Pignatelli (1691/1700)
In 1871 it became the seat of the CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES OF THE ITALIAN REPUBLIC
In the years 1903/27 Ernesto Basile (1857/1932) built the new body of the building, the current ASSEMBLY HALL readjusting the courtyard of Carlo Fontana and the FAÇADE ON PARLIAMENT SQUARE adorned by the “Sculptural groups” by the sculptor Leonardo Bistolfi (1859/1933) from Piedmont and Domenico Trentacoste (1859/1933) from Palermo
The old and provisional assembly room, the Aula Comotto, named after the engineer Paolo Comotto who designed it, was very hot in summer and cold in winter so that the members of parliament were allowed to wear hats to keep warm
In the Middle Ages the artificial mound on which the palace stands was called Mons Acceptorius. The name probably derives from the fact that it was a place of waste building material and therefore it “accepted” discharges
On the central balcony occurred the extraction of the lottery in the eighteenth century
Over the two smaller entrances two round panels:
On the left “Charity” maybe by Giovanni Antonio Mari (active from 1635/d. 1661), on the right “Justice” by Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86)
ASSEMBLY HALL in floral style
Glass skylight fan-shaped in art nouveau style known as “Velario” by Giovanni Beltrami (1860/1926) from Milan who also designed stained glass in the Cathedral of Milan
Frieze on canvas “Italian Civilization and virtues of the Italians” 1908/12 by Giulio Aristide Sartorio (1860/1932)
Bronze relief on the wall “Apotheosis of the House of Savoy” 1911 by Davide Calandra (1856/1915)
Founded in 1848 with over 400,000 books
In the building a wealth of works of art are preserved: over a thousand paintings and sculptures dating from the four centuries between 1500 and 1900, thousands of engravings and prints of various periods, a number of archaeological pieces, as well as a fair amount of other artistic goods such as watches, mobile antiques and tapestries
It is not clear why this immense amount of art is not to be assigned to appropriate museums
Some of the masterpieces hidden from the public:
“Wedding at Cana” by the school of Paolo Caliari aka Veronese (1528/88)
“Venus and the Three Graces” maybe by Jacopo Robusti aka Tintoretto (1518/94)
“Rape of Helen” by Raffaello Vanni (1587/1673) from Siena
“Flood” by Francesco da Ponte aka Bassano the Younger (1549/92)
“Weapons bearer with putto” by Jacopo Carrucci aka Pontormo (1494/1556)
“Madonna and Child” maybe by Pietro Bonaccorsi aka Perin del Vaga (1501/47)
Extraordinary “The Rape of Europa” by Giovanni Domenico Ferretti aka Imola (1692/1768)
“Landscape with Juno” by Jan Frans van Bloemen aka Orizzonte (1662/1749)
“Death of St. Joseph” by Francesco Solimena (1657/1747)
“Portrait of Napoleon” that seems to be the only one for which Napoleon himself has posed
“Ships on the stormy sea” by Anton Sminck Pitloo (1791/1837) Dutch painter who lived mainly in Rome and Naples. He was a leading exponent of the School of Posillipo and is considered a precursor of Impressionism
“The Shepherdess” by Antonio Fontanesi (1818/82)
“The rest of a Cadine in the harem” by Armando Ferraguti (1862/1925)
“Pennine Alps” by Enrico Bartezago (1849/1954)
“The wounded of Porta Pia” by Nicola Parisi (1827/87)
“Thunderstorm in the Roman countryside” by Giuseppe Cannella (1788/1847)
“Three sheep grazing” by Stefano Bruzzi (1835/1911)
WORKS OF 1900s
“Winter on Lake Iseo” by Carlo Carrà (1881/1966)
“Paris by Night” by Giovanni Boldini (1842/1931)
“Dance of Women” by Mino Maccari (1898/1989)
“Landscape” by Alberto Ziveri (1908/90)
“Composition” by Mario Sironi (1885/1961)
“Student in love” and “Rose on the table” by Mario Mafai (1902/65)
“Gladiators” by Giorgio de Chirico (1888/1978)
“Woman” by Massimo Campigli (1895/1971)
“Landscape with pink house” by Giorgio Morandi (1890/1964)
“Head of a peasant woman” by Francesco Paolo Michetti (1851/1929)
“Roman Landscape” by Fausto Pirandello (1899/1975)
“Little old lady” by Ottone Rosai (1895/1957)
“Ripetta Walk” by Francesco Trombadori (1886/1961)
“Woman” by Lorenzo Viani (1882/1936)
“Sicilian carts” by Renato Guttuso (1911/87)
“Bathers and girls” by Armando Spadini (1883/1925)
Sculpture “Mother and Child” by Giacomo Manzù (1908/91)
Sculpture “Mother” by Marino Mazzacurati (1907/69)

Sunday, February 26, 2017


About 1519 maybe by Raffaello Sanzio (1483/1520) for Jacopo da Brescia the doctor of Leo X Medici (1513/21)
The palace was destroyed in 1936 for the opening of Via della Conciliazione and the façade was moved here from Via Borgo Nuovo
The same happened to the CASA DI FEBO BRIGOTTI (Febo Brigotti's House), the doctor of Paul III Farnese (1534/49). The façade of the Casa is now adjacent to the Palace of Jacopo da Brescia on Via dei Corridori
It was inspired by the neighboring and now completely destroyed Palazzo Caprini by Donato Bramante
“The upper floors are one of the first examples in Rome of the use of a curtain of exposed brick (in this case coupled with lava stone), in a representative building. The tight side on Borgo Sant'Angelo was solved by Raphael with a Serlian window of which he was one of the first designers” (Emanuela Montelli)

Saturday, February 25, 2017


1888/1911 Guglielmo Calderini (1837/1916) from Perugia in collaboration with, among others, Giulio Magni (1859/1930) at the behest of Giuseppe Zanardelli, first Minister of Public Works and later Minister of Justice
It is the Seat of the CORTE SUPREMA DI CASSAZIONE (Supreme Court of Cassation)
Huge building of 170 x 155 m (558 x 508 feet)
About 900 rooms and 30 courtrooms
Covered with travertine but the internal structure is in reinforced concrete, one of the first examples in Europe
Crowned with a “Quadriga in bronze” 1907 by Ettore Ximenes (1855/1926). It was put in place only in 1925
ABOVE THE PORTAL “Justice between Force and Law” by Enrico Quattrini (1863/1950)
ON THE FAÇADE two beautiful allegorical representations of “Fame” by Eugenio Maccagnani (1852/1930)
“Statue of Jurisconsults” by Ubaldo Pizzichelli (1858/1942), Silvio Sbricoli (1864/1911), Mauro Benini (1850/after 1907), Arturo Dazzi (1881/1966), Luigi De Luca (1856/1938), Augusto Rivalta (1837/1925), Ernesto Biondi (1855/1917) and Emilio Gallori (1846/1924)
ON THE PEDIMENT OF THE FAÇADE ON PIAZZA CAVOUR “Group in bronze” by Paolo Bartolini (1859/1930)
“Statue of Jurisconsults” Mauro Benini and Michele Tripisciano (1860/1913)
Frescoes “Legal History” by Cesare Maccari (1840/1919) and pupils including Paride Pascucci (1866/1954)
It is derogatorily known as PALAZZACCIO (ugly palace) for its alleged excessive grandeur and pomposity and also for the fact that it is a court, a designated use which does not contribute to the love for the building
Guglielmo Calderini died in circumstances that led to thinking of suicide as a result of the fierce criticism that rained down on his work
However, it is a beautiful product of its time and it can be considered an architectural version of the musical genre of French Grand-Opera, popular in the last decades of the 1800's, or rather, its Italian interpretation that the genius of Giuseppe Verdi expressed with the magnificent Don Carlos
The building is always much admired by the vast majority of foreign visitors who appreciate the overwhelming Calderini's architecture oblivious and unaware of the judgment of many critics, who have, probably wrongly, lambasted it for a century now
The choice of location was not accidental, in order to emphasize the contrast between the new courthouse of the young Italian secular state with the massive nearby Castel Sant'Angelo, a symbol of the judicial brutality of the late state of the popes
The alluvial soil created stability problems and the very long time to build it, which did raise costs and fed suspicions of corruption, led to a parliamentary inquiry. There were also suspects of recommendations from Zanardelli, who was from Brescia, for companies from the same town involved in the processing of the Botticino marble used for the interiors

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


The oldest of the four buildings that make up the so-called Isola Mattei (Mattei Block), together with Palazzo Mattei di Giove, Palazzo Mattei Paganica and Palazzo di Alessandro Mattei (now Caetani)
It was built in part on the cavea of the ancient THEATER OF BALBUS of 13 BC
It consists of the union of two buildings:
The one at No. 19, the oldest, of the end of the fifteenth century with the FIRST COURTYARD featuring a white marble portal with the coat of arms of the Mattei family
The portal leads to a beautiful SECOND COURTYARD with two rows of arches, balcony and staircase
The two courtyards were used by movie director Sergio Leone for some scenes of his “spaghetti western” movies
Renovated in mid-1500s by Giovanni Lippi aka Nanni di Baccio Bigio (about 1513/68) for Giacomo Mattei, who built a single façade to combine it with the other building at No. 17
The FAÇADE was originally decorated with monochrome frescoes by Taddeo Zuccari (1529/66) of 1548 representing stories of Furius Camillus, considered his first masterpiece, but now completely disappeared
On the front side there is a window which is linked to a legendary story probably not true: it is said that one of the Dukes Mattei, a compulsive gambler, one night lost a large sum playing with his future father in law who, knowing he had no money anymore, refused at that point to give him his daughter's hand
The duke, anxious to redeem the insult, bet his palace, the only thing he had left, against the hand of the girl, that he would have made a fountain appear in the square in a few hours. He invited to his palace his now no longer future father in law and organized a party until dawn
During the night he made the beautiful fountain appear. It was actually ready within easy reach and it only needed to have the pipes connected, having been prepared for the Jewish Ghetto of which the Mattei family held the keys
The next morning he invited his future father in law to look out the window, saying, “That's what a penniless Mattei is able to do in a few hours!” In this way he recovered the girl's hand but the bride had an unhappy life and had the window walled in memory of the event
The real tragedy was for the Roman Jews to whom the fountain was intended: they had to stay without water for thirty years

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


1516/30 for Jacopo Cardelli as a Palatium, the representative and ceremonial palace of their real home, the Domus Magna i.e. the nearby Palazzo Cardelli
On the death of Balduino Cardelli in 1561 the palace passed to Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and it became the Roman residence of the Medici family
When the Medici became extinct in 1737 it became property of the Lorena family
Since 1870 it belongs to the Italian state and it has been the headquarters of the Ministero di Grazia e Giustizia (Ministry of Justice) before the construction of the Palace on Via Arenula
Since 1929 is home to the SOCIETÀ DANTE ALIGHIERI founded in 1889 with the aim, as stated in its articles of association, “to protect and promote the Italian language and culture in the world, reviving the spiritual ties of compatriots abroad to Italy and feeding among foreigners love and worship for Italian culture”
Designed by Bartolomeo Ammannati (1511/92) for Julius III Ciocchi Del Monte (1550/55) who gave it in 1550 to his brother Balduino Ciocchi Del Monte
Paintings by Prospero Fontana (1512/97), father of Lavinia Fontana
Frescoes and stucco in the loggia 1553/55 and frescoes in DRESSING ROOM and in the room of the GRAND DUKE by Prospero Fontana


Fresco in the ceiling “Demogorgon and the separation of the elements” 1574/75 by Jacopo Zucchi (about 1542/96)


Fresco in the ceiling “Chariot of the Sun and Aurora” 1574/75 also by Jacopo Zucchi
“The first of the two rooms was influenced by the Room of the Elements by Vasari in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence only with regard to the main idea. Neither the representation of the literary program, nor the decorative arrangement show other affinities with the decoration of the room painted by Vasari. The second room has the Seasons as theme but it is not representing it in paintings rich of figures, but in isolated figures, sat in round medallions. Both the first room, so rich, and the second, simpler, reveal in the fine execution and in the wealth of decorative detail, especially of flowers and festoons of fruit, the miniaturist painter” (Hermann Voss)

Friday, February 10, 2017


1958/60 Pier Luigi Nervi (1891/1979) and Marcello Piacentini (1881/1960) for the 1960 Olympic Games
Dome of 95 m (312 feet) in diameter
“Pier Luigi Nervi was especially devoted to the study of reinforced concrete, creating new manufacturing processes especially in the field of structural prefabrication, which have significantly expanded the horizons of architecture (the new type of cement which he invented is known as iron-cement). Nervi's architecture, which also stands out for its daring technical achievements, is based on the assumption that there is no contradiction between the 'static-construction' resolution of an architectural problem and its aesthetic result” (Enciclopedia Treccani)
It was renamed PALALOTTOMATICA after the sponsor who financed the modernization works from 1999 to 2003 designed by Massimiliano Fuksas (1944)
It is one of the most important indoor sports arenas in Europe, able to accommodate up to 11,200 spectators seated
Near the arena there is the enormous spiral sculpture “Twentieth Century” 2004 by Arnaldo Pomodoro (1926)

Thursday, February 9, 2017


1939/42 Massimo Castellazzi (1901/77), Pietro Morresi (1898/1982) e Annibale Vitellozzi (1902/90)
Built in the same period of the other three buildings arranged symmetrically around the square
National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions
The museum was founded from the Italian Ethnography Exhibition, held in Rome in 1911 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Unification of Italy
The exhibition was coordinated by the ethnologist LAMBERTO LORIA, who in 1906 had founded the Ethnographic Museum in Florence
He collected over 30,000 objects for the exhibition in 1911, with the help of assistants, teachers and local scholars, who were active in the various regions. The collections of objects were locked in crates, were deposited during those years in the basements of various museums and finally ended up at Villa d'Este in Tivoli
Only April 20, 1956 the museum was inaugurated in this building
The walls of the main hall are decorated with frescoes painted by different artists (Varagnolo, Colao, Bertoletti, Cavalli, Cascella, Guberti, Amato, Barillà and others), representing scenes of family life, seafaring and farming, festivals, games and ceremonies
It is the only state museum in Italy with specific expertise in the field of ANTHROPOLOGY
It contains over 100,000 documents related to the world of popular culture: a unique collection, unrepeatable today
Most objects date back to the period between the late 1800s and early 1900s, but some wooden artifacts date back to the eighteenth or the first half of the nineteenth century
ELEVEN ROOMS each dedicated to a particular aspect of popular culture:
Transport systems
Peasant labor
Work of shepherds
Hunting and fishing communities
Signs of trades
Housing and domestic space
Rituals and family life
Rituals and feasts
Musical Instruments
Shows and games on the road
Popular clothing and jewelry
In addition, historical photographic archive and photo library for the material collected before and after 1956, tape library for sound documents, archive of visual anthropology with visual and multimedia material, office inventory, library with about 12,000 volumes, restoration workshop, photographic laboratory and audiovisual laboratory