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The Middle Ages



The Middle Ages is undoubtedly one of the less emblematic periods of the Roman architecture, but very important. If you walk along the streets in the quarters of Trastevere or of the Jewish Ghetto, Vicolo dell’Atleta and Arco degli Acetari, real medieval views. But the greatest evidence appears in the works of the museums and churches. For the lovers of mosaics or medieval cloisters, the list is very long !!. Mausoleum of Saint Constance, Saint Agnes, Saints Cosmas and Damian,Saint Sabina, or the trio of Saint Mary Major, Saint Pudenziana and Saint Praxedes. Among the most important works of this period we can mention the following:



Santa Maria in Trastevere

The basilica of St. Mary in Trastevere is probably the first Church dedicated to the Mother of Jesus. Legend has it that a natural oil spring in Piazza Trastevere appeared in the same year of the Birth of Jesus indicating to Pope Callisto the point where to edificate the Church and a stone bearing  the inscription  ‘Fons Olei’,  marks the source under the presbytery. The Church was built and opened to the Mass by Giulius I. The aisles aside were built by Pope Adriano, whereas Pope Gregorio IV committed relevant works for the presbytery but only later works made the Basilica as stands today.




Basilica di S.Cecilia

The Basilica was built in the IX century on the foundations, of Saint Caecilia’s house. It was later developed with the tower bell, the right side and the cloister.

In front of the Church with baroque  façade, there is  a colonnade of the XVIII century, the original colonnade is today a beautiful garden with a great Roman pot in the middle.

But in the basement of the church the "calidarium", that is the place where the martyr (S. Caecilia), had suffered for three years the torture, and where her persecutors beheaded her, not stifled by the hot fumes yet, on wish of emperor Marcus Aurelius, after the third day, because she was guilty, of having tried to convert Valeriano and his brother Tiburzio.

The body of the saint had been found for much time, it was brought to light in 820 in the catacombs of Saint Callixtus, miraculously uninjured and wrapped in a dress. Today the body is  situated in the crypt of the basilica.




Piazza Navona

History of Piazza Navona dates back to the times of ancient Rome. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in I century AD, once dedicated to public entertainment, games, and simulation of naval battles Piazza Navona has remained a place of amusement even after its decay. It was a place where people used to gathered  for events and festivity. This tradition run until nineteenth century  when comedians,acrobats, and fools used to entertain people  on holidays.Its actual shape dates back to 1600-1700 and  the fountains, Pamphili Palace, (today site of Brazil Embassy), and Saint Agnese church were already there. Since then it has retained its shape. This is one of the reasons that makes it so amazing. The obelisk in the center of the square is about 16 metres high. It is placed on a stand made of The Fountain of Rivers, by Gianlorenzo Bernini, representing the four major rivers the Nile, the Danube, the Ganges and the Rio de la Plata. The Church of Saint Agnes in Agone, by Borromini, is dedicated to the homonymous saint who, the legends holds, died in the Circus of Domitian in the very point where the Church was erected.



Piscinula Square (Piazza in Piscinula)

It’s name derives from the ancient presence of a watering -place with baths and swimming pools, "piscinula", is the name which it still has.

The medieval place is suggestive, with the small palace of Mattei family (philo-papal family), the arcades with the medieval column, and the loggia.

In the place we find the Church of San Benedetto in Piscinula, of the XI century, and its bell tower, built on the ruins of the Domus Aniciorum, villa of a very noble and ancient Roman family, the Anicii family, to whom Saint Benedict of Norcia belonged too. It was the house where the saint was during his stay in Rome, as it was proved into the church.

At street number 19, the palace Nuñez Leslie, half of the XVI century, inhabited  by the beautiful artist, intellectual, and paramour, Tullia d'Aragona.

In 1870   it became the “locanda in piscinula”, and the Roman people renamed it “la locanda della Sciacquetta”, a term used for the servants and sluts, maybe, because  it was  their  use of the palace of that time.

 On the place there are also “a little virgin ” and a table of  marble  portraying  four fishes.




Tiber Island

It’s difficult to imagine, that in a so little space there is so much history, culture and charm... but this is Rome!

The Tiber Island has volcanic origin, it’s 300 m long and 90 m large and it represents one of the most fascinating places of Rome.

It’s also called Nave di Pietra (Stone Ship) because of its shape. It’s connected to the dry land through two beautiful bridges, “ponte Cestio” (46 b. C), in the direction of the Jewish ghetto (Synagogue and Portico D’ottavia), and Ponte Fabricio (62 b.C.) toward piazza in Piscinula.

The Island has always been related to the devotion for medicine, before with the Temple of  Esculapio (290 b.C.), and today with the Jewish Hospital  and the Hospital Fatebenefratelli.

In the hospital Fatebenefratelli, is situated the courtyard of the 17 century. In the middle is  situated a beautiful fountain decorated by four turtles. You can visit also the Museum of the medical and surgical instruments.

In the place of the temple of Esculapio, we find today the Church of San Bartolomeo all'Isola (in the past it was dedicated to Saint Adalbert, martyr in Danzig in 998), and its bell tower (113) with Romanesque style. The Church is rich in art, it has a basilica plan with 3 naves, divided by ancient  columns, maybe those one of the missing Temple.

At piazza San Bartolomeo, the Pit is believed  to be situated  where there was in the past the Temple of Esculapio, and that there was the holy spring  in the temple, considered  miraculous water. The marks of the chain  used to lower the bucket are still visible today .

From the square it’s  possible to see the “Palazzi Castello” (castles –palaces) also called  Castello Caetania complex of palaces built during  4 centuries. Inside you can visit  the historical museum of the Island, and outside the great tower built during the X century by Pierleoni  family also called of the “Pulzella”, because you can see  an ancient  marble  female head  into the walls.

On the Island we find the “Colonna Guglia Jacometti”, the Monastery Saint Bartholomew and  the Oratory Sacconi Rossi, which takes its name from the confraternity. It is situated  on the left of the church of Saint Bartholomew and  it consists in an  underground oratory  and  if there is illumination, you can see an ossuary  through the grills.

On the Island we find another  church, Church of Saint John Calibita, the façade of the church is incorporated to the Hospital Fatebenefratelli, it’s worth noting the cloister and the bell tower restored between 1930 and 1934 of the XIII century.

The Island shows its best with “Estate Romana” (Roman Summer), welcoming the cinema with  “Isola del Cinema” (Island of the cinema) which shoots international movies, in an open-air movie theater, on the banks of the Tiber river among the  architectural  lightened beauties of the island.

Moreover, the perimeter of the river is surrounded by great crowds, stalls, various  restaurants, pub, sushi bars, cocktail bars), cabaret shows, music or theatre until late night, under Rome’s sky.



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