Monday, November 26, 2018


Piazza S. Chiara
The original construction of the building dates back to the fifteenth century
Carlo Borromeo assigned to the Franciscan Sisters the building where they established their house called Casa Pia in honor of Pius IV Medici (1559/65). The church yet to be built should have been called S. Pius I
Built in 1582 by Francesco Capriani aka Francesco da Volterra (1535/94) for Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85)
Restored 1627/28 for Cardinal Scipione Caffarelli Borghese (1577/1633) and assigned to the Poor Clares under its present name
In 1814 it passed to the Brotherhood of St. Gregory the Wonderworker and the Poor Clares were transferred
In 1855 the roof collapsed and the church was abandoned
It was rebuilt in the years 1883/90 by Luca Carimini (1830/90)

Luca Carimini. Sculptures on the façade “Madonna and Angels” and “Saints” by Domenico Bartolini

Altar piece “St. Clare adoration of the Eucharist” maybe by Angelo Caroselli (1585/1652)

Altar piece “Holy Family” 1863 by Vincenzo Pasqualoni (1819/80)


Via di Porta S. Sebastiano
Built in the eight century AD over an ancient building of the second century AD, maybe part of the BATHS OF COMMODUS
Rebuilt at the end of the sixteenth century maybe by Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602)
Karol Wojtyla was the titular cardinal of this church for 11 years until 1978, when he was elected pope
Also known as S. Cesareo in Turrim or, erroneously, from the sixteenth century, as S. Cesareo in Palatio
It was confused with the homonymous church no longer existing identified in 1907 by Alfonso Bartoli in a cubiculum (bedroom) of the Domus Augustana on Palatine Hill, in which a small apse had been obtained in the back wall. At the time of the excavations some painted figures were still fairly well identifiable in the cubiculum

Enclosure of the presbytery, pulpit, altar frontal and chair reassembled at the end of the sixteenth century using also “Cosmatesque elements” from St. John Lateran

Canopy of the end of the sixteenth century

Above the chair
Fresco of the fifteenth century “Madonna and Child”

Mosaics with “Eternal Father in glory” in the apse and “Annunciation” on the outside of the triumphal arch 1603 from cartoons by Giuseppe Cesari aka Cavalier d'Arpino (1568/1640) who maybe also painted the panels in the attic with “Stories of Sts. Ippolitus and Cesareus”

Mosaic floor in black and white with “Marine scenes” of the second century AD that covers the entire area of the church
A little further along the Appian Way is the CASINA DEL CARDINAL BESSARIONE (Small Villa of Cardinal Bessarion) of the mid-fifteenth century with inside part of the original frescoes


Piazza di S. Caterina della Rota
Mentioned in the Mirabilia Urbis Romae, a guide for pilgrims who visited Rome, in the twelfth century as S. MARIA IN CATERINO or IN CATERINE
Mentioned by a papal bull in 1186 as S. MARIAE IN CATHERINA

There are two hypotheses to explain the present name:

1) Maybe it comes from a certain Caterina, who must have founded the church, and whose name must have been kept in the name of the church, just as it happened for the churches of S. Lorenzo in Lucina or S. Lorenzo in Miranda

2) Maybe it comes from a misunderstanding: attached to the church there was a hospital for prisoners rescued from the hands of the Muslims of Tripoli and Tunis. They used to hang their chains at the altar of the Virgin Mary, in memory of the liberation, hence the name de catenariis

Over time, this expression was transformed into Caterina (Catherine), and then the cult of St. Catherine of Alexandria replaced that of the Virgin Mary
The rota refers to the instrument of torture of the saint who was killed in the early fourth century
Restored in the eighties of the sixteenth century by Ottaviano Nonni aka Ottaviano Mascherino (1524/1606) and about 1730, the period to which dates the façade designed by an unknown architect
Restored again in the years 1857 and 1879
It is since 1929 the church of the palafrenieri (grooms) or the papal sediari, people who supported the gestatorial chair of the pope and accompanied the papal carriage

1587/88 moved here from the destroyed Church of St. Francis near Ponte Sisto (Sixtus Bridge) destroyed in 1879 to build the Tiber Walls

Above the altar “Rest on the Flight into Egypt” and in the lunette “Two prophets and two putti” 1549 by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92)

“If in the lunette the influence of Michelangelo is evident, in the night scene of the panel, the artist resorts to Venetian models (Tintoretto, Sebastiano del Piombo) who had such a big part in his training” (Daniele Ferrara)

“Many elements of the style of Muziano remind us of Sebastiano del Piombo: the attitude full of quiet dignity of his figures, their restrained movements, the simple nobility of the clothes' motives, the wide technique, which still recalls Venice, the colors mostly gentle and harmonious” (Hermann Voss)

“Wooden crucifix” maybe of the end of 1500s maybe by an anonymous Flemish artist

“Altar of St. Anne” 1933. Sculptural group “St. Anne and the Virgin Mary” from the Monastery of the Most Holy Conception in the Campus Martius

“Glory of St. Catherine of Alexandria” painting of the nineteenth century by a certain Zucca
On the right fresco “God the Father in between angels and cherubs” maybe by Francesco Nappi (c. 1565/1630)
Nappi also painted the fresco in the apse to the left of the high altar beneath which there is the painting “Sts. Peter and Paul” by an anonymous artist of the end of the seventeenth century influenced by Carlo Maratta

“A sort of expressionistic epilogue of the parable of Francesco Nappi” (Claudio Strinati)

To the left of the main altar there is a “Case for the Holy Oil” of the beginning of the sixteenth century, in the form of a marble shrine

“The chorus joins the nave with three apses and, with its plan as a clover, it is the most interesting element of the structure of the church: Mascherino's drawing depicting the layout of the church kept in Rome at the National Academy of St. Luke is not still a sufficient element to understand whether the rare form with three apses would be his creation or if it would constitute a medieval legacy instead” (Daniele Ferrara)

Frescoes “Madonna and Child with Sts. Catherine of Alexandria and Apollonia” 1569 maybe by Domenico Zaga or Michele Grechi

“Miracle of St. Valeria” nineteenth century copy of Francesco Kech from the original painted for the Basilica of St. Peter by Giovanni Antonio Galli aka the Spadarino (1585/about 1653)

According to tradition, St. Valeria was beheaded for her faith and then she took her head in front of her bishop, S. Martial, who had made her convert

“Funerary Memory of Giuseppe Vasi (1710/82)” engraver, architect and landscape painter born in Corleone in Sicily, famous for his detailed views of Rome

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


1560/64 Guidetto Guidetti (about 1498/1564) for Cardinal Federico Cesi patron of the Society of the Miserable and Precarious Virgins
It replaced the former S. Catharina Domne Rosae of the twelfth century, which, in turn, had replaced a three-aisled basilica, S. Maria de Donna Rosa in Castro Aureo
Dedicated to S. Catherine of Alexandria martyr of the fourth century, decapitated after resisting to starvation and the crushing with a toothed wheel
The current name comes from the ropes makers who used to work nearby

From 1543 up to 1611 every 25 November, on the day of St. Catherine, from the adjacent monastery, a procession of miserable and precarious virgins used to begin. They were daughters of courtesans or prostitutes put on display so they could marry with a large dowry
On Sunday a Mass for the Indians speaking Kerala is celebrated

“The undisputed quality of design of Guidetto Guidetti, a yet little-known figure, were chiefly directed to the exterior of his architectural achievements. They are emblematically expressed in this unique façade, where the study of the architectural mass and the accurate ornamentation of the outside contrasts vividly with the interior of the church. In fact, internally the church, despite being characterized by six chapels decorated with frescoes, is presented as a simple and bare room covered by a vault without color effects, communicating a certain severity as a whole to the discerning visitor” (Stefania Quattrone)

“St. Catherine before the Empress” by Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609)
“St. Margaret” 1599 by Annibale Carracci (1560/1609) for Gabriele Bombasi, autographed replica, with some variations, of the St. Catherine of 1592 for the altarpiece of the Cathedral of Reggio Emilia now in the Louvre

“The strong chiaroscuro that stains the face of the saint, the bright colors of the clothing, the material almost Titianesque of the colors with which are described the landscape and the dragon on the ground, combined with the reprise, in the cyma, of the Correggio fragment detached from the apse of Parma's Cathedral, place this work in a moment of intense relationship with the Lombard-Venetian culture” (Silvia Ginzburg)

“He enlarged the form of pictorial language beyond the strictly devotional limits and reviving the old values of the great Italian tradition. The drawing from life, considered as an essential method of work, the sensitivity to organic form and plastic structure connect in fact Annibale back to the great legacy of mature Renaissance” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

As witnessed by Bellori, Caravaggio stopped to look at this painting for a long time and then said: “I am glad that in my time I see a painter”
In the cyma “Coronation of Mary” designed by Annibale Carracci but executed by one of his pupils, maybe by Innocenzo Tacconi (active in Rome 1607/25)
Jacopo Barozzi aka Vignola (1507/73) for the abbot Spanish Philip Ruiz
Above the altar “Deposition” by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92) who also painted the frescoes on the sides and on the vault with “Scenes from the Life of Christ”, “Prophets” and “Saints”
On the pillars on the right “St. Mark” and “Christ carrying the cross”, on the left “St. Luke” and “Ecce homo” 1571 by Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609), painted on blackboard
Ottaviano Nonni aka Ottaviano Mascherino (1524/1606)

“The client is identified in the family Solone, named as Soiano in the documents, but that does not appear as the name of any known Roman family. The most reliable interpretation results, probably and simply, from the expression itself by Mascarino '(...) of Solon' (of the big sun), i.e. of the family whose coat of arms is represented by a large beaming sun: the Della Vetera family” (Website of the Conservatorio S. Caterina della Rosa -

On the altar “Assumption” 1598, unfinished masterpiece by Scipione Pulzone (about 1550/98)
Frescoes on the vault and under the arch “Life of the Virgin”, “Marian Symbols” and “Prophets” by Giovanni Zanna aka Pizzica who maybe also painted on the side walls on the right “St. Catherine of Alexandria” and on the left “St. Lucia”

Guidetto Guidetti (about 1498/1564) with changes made in the eighteenth-century
Altar piece “Glory of St. Catherine” by the Sienese Giovanni Sorbi (1695/about 1764)
On the sides “St. Augustine” and “St. Monica” by the Neapolitan Alessandro D'Elia, who also made the bezel “Elevation to the sky of St. Catherine”
Of the original decoration of the sixteenth century remains:
In the vault “Glory of St. Catherine” maybe by Livio Agresti (about 1508/79)
On the right “Martyrdom of St. Catherine” and on the left “Dispute of St. Catherine” 1573 by Federico Zuccari
Monochrome bands on the sides, on the right “Sts. Sisinius and Saturninus” and on the left “Putti” and “Sts. Romanus and Augustine” by Raffaellino Motta aka Raffaellino da Reggio (1550/78)

Above the altar “Stories of St. John the Baptist” 1573 by Marcello Venusti (about 1512/79) on slate

“That imperceptible distressing, unsatisfied and unstable feeling that always accompanies crisis caused by the decline of old ideals, pushes another student of Perin del Vaga, Marcello Venusti, to beat a street full of hijackings, looking for new encounters and new experiences (...). His St. John the Baptist is a work that revises themes of Sebastiano del Piombo and Raphael according to meanings of Florentine flavor almost similar to Andrea del Sarto” (Federico Zeri)

“He seemed to have found in the technique of oil painting on slate the best expression of his art. Painter influenced by Northern European painters, in Rome he was under the influence of Sebastiano del Piombo, and, especially, Michelangelo, great friend of his and the godfather of his son” (Website of the Conservatorio S. Caterina della Rosa -

Here there was originally a chancel
On the right wall “Funerary Roman Tombstone”
For the bishop Andrea Canuto whose tombstone is in front of the chapel
Above the altar “Annunciation” copy from original by Marcello Venusti
Basin and arch “Life of the Virgin Mary”, “Prophets”, “David” and “Moses” 1610 by Girolamo Nanni


1526 maybe by Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481/1536) for Cardinal Giovanni Piccolomini and  the banker Agostino Chigi (1466/1520) on the Castrum Senense (Siena's camp), the area where since the Middle Ages the Sienese carried out their business activities
Rebuilt 1766/75 by Paolo Posi (1708/76) with the help, as foremen, of Luca Sardi and Giuseppe Sardi (1680/1753)
Oval panels in stucco on the FAÇADE “Seno and Aschio with the wolf and the writing S.P.Q.S.” 1770 by Wander Elsken

According to legend, Seno and Aschio were the twin sons of Remus who, having escaped from their uncle Romulus who wanted to kill them as well as he did with their father, took refuge in Tuscany, where Seno would found the city of Siena and Aschio the town of Asciano
Marble decorations on the façade (heraldic shield, flaming pots) and stoups inside the church by Francesco Antonio Franzoni (1734/1818)
It is the regional church of the Sienese people

“The church stands as one of the most interesting monuments produced by the Roman artistic culture of the late-eighteenth-century during the transition from the last stage of the Baroque to that of the nascent Neoclassicism. A formal unity of intent involves both the architectural structure and the pictorial, from the stuccos to the church vestments, that would complement a thematic decorative unity almost entirely devoted to the glorification of the Sienese saint” (Federica Papi)

“Angel Musicians” by Ermenegildo Costantini (1731/91)

“The collaboration of Costantini with Kuntz, which was renewed later also in the church of St. Stanislaus of the Polish people, shows an affinity of style between the two artists which is indicative of the formal scope in which Costantini operated. Kuntz is in fact the painter who 'definitively concluded the Roman rococo' (Schleier). So, while working in St. Catherine alongside artists such as Lapis, Monosilio, Corvi, La Piccola, transitional painters who were making their first neoclassical experiences, Costantini did not draw from this closeness any incentive for a formal updating of his style, remaining an isolated representative of a decorative language substantiated by the Rococo grace” (Marina Coccia - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

Monochrome figures giving the optical illusion to hold the frames by the Polish Tadeusz Kuntze aka Taddeo il Polacco (1732/93)

Stucco decorations 1770 by Wander Elsken

The first on the right “St. Catherine receiving the Stigmata” is by Giovanni Sorbi (1695/about 1764), the one in front “Christ gives his heart to St. Catherine” is by Tommaso Maria Conca (1734/1822)
Above the confessionals on the right “Christ gives to St. Catherine a pectoral cross” and on the left “St. Catherine communicated by Christ” by Etienne Parrocel (1696/1774)
Above the doors by the presbytery, on the right “St. Catherine as a young girl in prayer” and on the left “St. Catherine's renunciation of the golden crown for that of thorns given to her by Christ” by the classicist painter from Bologna Pietro Angeletti (about 1737/98)
Altarpiece “Preaching of St. Bernardino” about 1770 by Salvatore Monosilio (active from 1744/d. 1776)
Altarpiece “Apparition of Christ to the Blessed Bernardo Tolomei” 1774/76 by Niccolò La Piccola (1727/90)

“He reveals, in the search for an intense luministic weft, his openness towards the new chromatic experimentation by Domenico Corvi” (Federica Papi)

On the high altar “Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine” 1768/69 by Gaetano Lapis (1706/76), a pupil of Sebastiano Conca
Oval panels on the doors of the presbytery on the right “Christ carrying the Cross appears to St. Catherine in penance” and on the left “Christ shows to St. Catherine the wound in his side” 1768/69 also by Gaetano Lapis

“These works are carried out in a language that, filtered through the work of Maratta, refers to the seventeenth-century Bolognese classicism, hence the nickname 'Carraccetto' given to the painter” (Federica Papi)


Altarpiece”Assumption” 1768/70 by Tommaso Maria Conca (1734/1822) who was a pupil of his uncle, the great Sebastiano Conca
Altarpiece “Gregory VII (1073/85) puts out the fire set by the troops of Henry IV in the Vatican” 1769/70 by Domenico Corvi (1721/1803) from Viterbo

“For this painting the customary reference is to the work with the same subject painted by Raphael in the Stanze. It appears built on the recurring scheme of the diagonals and on the strong chiaroscuro contrasts that accentuate the dynamism of composition” (Federica Papi)

On the left wall “Memorial plaque with bust of the architect Paolo Posi” 1778 by his pupil Giuseppe Palazzi

Vault “Angels with liturgical objects” by the Polish Tadeusz Kuntze aka Taddeo il Polacco (1732/93)

“Resurrection of Jesus” about 1530 by Girolamo Genga (about 1476/1551). It was formerly on the high altar of the previous church built by Peruzzi
“View of Rome” in the antechamber and decorations with “Fake windows with views” by G.B. Marchetti
“Plaster Statue of St. Catherine” 1662 by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86). It was the prototype for the statue to the Chapel of the Vow in the Duomo of Siena