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All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in June 2009.

S. Maria in Campitelli (Book 6) (Map C3) (Day 5) (View C8) (Rione Campitelli) and (Rione Sant'Angelo)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
S. Maria in Campitelli
Convento della Madre di Dio
Palazzi Spinola, Capizucchi and Paluzzi
Casa di Flaminio Ponzio

The Plate (No. 117)

S. Maria in Campitelli

The official name of the church was S. Maria in Portico in Campitelli, which the Romans shortened slightly. Campitelli derives from Capitolium the Latin name of the nearby Campidoglio hill. Piazza di Campitelli, the square where the church is located, was very close to Piazza Montanara, a busy and rather infamous area of Rome, but (as shown in the plate) it had a quite different atmosphere. This was because of the imposing church, the monasteries which flanked it and on the opposite side a series of palaces belonging to noble families (although not the most prominent ones).
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) Monastery adjoining the church; 2) Palazzi Serlupi, Patrizi, Paluzzi e Capizucchi; 3) Street leading to Piazza Montanara. The small map shows also the exact location of 4) Palazzo Paluzzi Serlupi, 5) Casa di Flaminio Ponzio and 6) S. Rita da Cascia. The dotted line in the small map delineates the border between Rione Sant'Angelo (left) and Rione Campitelli (right).

Small ViewSmall Map


The Church today
The view in May 2009

The square is still very quiet with perhaps too many parked cars; while its two long sides are unchanged, the end of the square is quite different. In the 1930s the buildings at the foot of the hill were pulled down and today one can see the trees of Monte Caprino, the southern peak of Campidoglio. In addition Casa di Flaminio Ponzio and Chiesa di S. Rita were "relocated" at the end of Piazza di Campitelli.

S. Maria in Campitelli

The Church
(left) S. Maria in Campitelli; (right) detail of the fašade

S. Maria in Campitelli was built at the expense of the citizens of Rome in honour of a miraculous image of the Virgin which halted a pestilence in 1656. The image was kept in the church of the nearby Spedale di S. Galla. The Senate of Rome and Pope Alexander VII felt that the image deserved a better setting and financed the building of a new church. That explains why the coat of arms of the City of Rome was placed at the top of the fašade (it is shown in the background of this page).
The church was designed by Carlo Rainaldi: its fašade is remarkable for its light and shadow and for the extensive use of columns and pillars.

The Church seen from Capitol Hill
S. Maria in Campitelli and the terrace of Palazzo Capizucchi seen from Campidoglio (in the background some of the domes of Rome)

The structure of the church can be appreciated from the nearby hill: it is made of two distinct parts: first a Greek-cross building with large chapels and then a circular shrine covered by a dome.

Inside the church
(left) Interior; (right) coat of arms of the Orsini family on a grave at the centre of the main nave

The interior is marked by gigantic columns which seem an anticipation of Neoclassicism, whereas the main altar and the apse show the influence of works by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (the baldaquin and the Chair of St. Peter in S. Pietro).
The Orsini family, who had their palace near Piazza Montanara, were among the benefactors of S. Maria in Campitelli; they promoted the construction of a church by the same name (S. Maria in Portico) in Naples, which contains a copy of the sacred image.

Inside the church
(left) Monument to Vittoria Parabiacchi by Antonio Lavaggi; (centre) an altar-piece showing The Vision of the Holy Family by Lorenzo Ottoni; (right) angel by Francesco Baratta or by Michel Maille (for more baroque angels click here)

The chapels were decorated by some of the best artists of the period. The decoration of the main altar was designed and executed by artists who often worked for Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Ercole Ferrata, Melchiorre CaffÓ and Giovanni Paolo Schor).

Inside the church
Detail of the main altar

Convento della Madre di Dio

Nice Windows
Convento della Madre di Dio and detail of its windows

The care of the church was assigned to a small order (Ordine dei Chierici Regolari della Madre di Dio) founded by St. John Leonardi (external link) and approved in 1621 by Pope Gregory XV. Its members resided in the two buildings flanking the church and its Curia Generalizia (the governing body) is still located in one of them (Palazzo Stati). The larger building is today divided into apartments. It has finely decorated windows which were designed in 1724 by Filippo Raguzzini and Carlo De Dominicis.

Palazzi Spinola Capizucchi and Paluzzi

Palazzi Capizucchi e Spinola
(left) Palazzo Albertoni Spinola; (right) Palazzo Capizucchi

Giacomo Della Porta designed the two palaces opposite the church known today as Palazzo Palazzo Capizzuchi (1580) and Palazzo Albertoni Spinola (1600), the latter was completed by Girolamo Rainaldi. The first floor windows of Palazzo Capizucchi were given a clearly baroque appearance in the XVIIth century .

Palazzo Paluzzi Serlupi Caetani Lovatelli
Palazzo Caetani Lovatelli (formerly Paluzzi Serlupi) and details of its portal and cornice

Vasi makes reference also to Palazzo Paluzzi Serlupi, but this palace is not opposite the church, but in a corner of the square. It is now called Palazzo Caetani Lovatelli, although the fleurs-de-lys of its cornice are a reminder of the Serlupi. This building is also attributed to Giacomo della Porta.

Casa di Flaminio Ponzio
(left) Fountain of Piazza Campitelli; (right-above) detail of Palazzo Albertoni Spinola; (right-below) detail of Palazzo Stati

The name of Giacomo della Porta is again mentioned for the design of the fountain, which was initially placed at the centre of the square, but in 1679 it was relocated in its current position. It is decorated with the coats of arms of families residing in the area, including the Capizucchi and the Albertoni. The monastery on the right side of the church included a small palace which still bears the name of Lorenzo Stati, its first owner.

Casa di Flaminio Ponzio

Casa di Flaminio Ponzio
Casa di Flaminio Ponzio and details of its decoration

The late Renaissance palace at the end of the square was erected in the 1950s, but its fašade is original in the sense that it belonged to the house of the architect Flaminio Ponzio. This building was located in Via Alessandrina and it can be seen in the plate by Giuseppe Vasi covering S. Maria in Campo Corleo. In 1933 it was pulled down to open the large avenue linking Piazza Venezia with the Colosseum.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Piazza di Campitelli, co' palazzi Paluzzi, Serlupi, ed altri
Corrottamente si dice questa piazza dal Rione, che doverebbe dirsi Capitolio, in cui oltre i suddetti palazzi, vi Ŕ quello de' Capizzucchi, e Patrizj giÓ, ed in mezzo un fonte. Non molto lontano da questa fu il tempio di Bellona eretto da Claudio Console circa l'anno di Roma 457. in cui il Senato si congregava per li consigli di guerra, e perci˛ innanzi al medesimo era la colonna bellica tenuta con tanta superstizione, che volendo dichiarare la guerra a qualche nazione, si appressava ad essa, o pure, secondo alcuni, vi montava sopra un sacerdote di quella deitÓ, e coll'asta vibrava un colpo verso quella parte in presenza del Console.
Chiesa di s. Maria in Campitelli
Era quivi anticamente una piccola chiesa col medesimo nome, la quale da Paolo V. fu conceduta ai Chierici regolari Lucchesi detti della Madre di Dio. Essendo poi quella CittÓ nell'anno 1656. travagliata dal male contagioso, per voto fatto alla ss. Vergine dal Popolo Romano, fu riedificata con magnificenza sotto Alessandro VII. con disegno del Cav. Rainaldi, e vi fu trasportata la celebre immagine di s. Maria in Portico. ╚ questa scolpita sopra una gemma di zaffiro, che ha circa un palmo di grandezza, filettata di oro, e in due smeraldi vi sono effigiate le teste di s. Pietro, e di s. Paolo, la quale immagine in tempo di Gio. I. mentre Teodorico Re de' Goti tiranneggiava l'Italia, apparve a s. Galla figlia di Simmaco Console il giovane, e per˛ fu collocata nel suo palazzo, come fra poco diremo; e perci˛ Ŕ stata sempre tenuta in somma venerazione dal Popolo Romano. Vi fu similmente trasportata una colonna di alabastro trasparente, e di gran valore, che si vede posta in un finestrino della cupola. Sono in questa nobilissima chiesa maravigliose colonne, e cappelle di marmi; il quadro di s. Anna nella crociata Ŕ di Luca Giordani, e quello incontro del Baciccio; le pitture per˛ nella volta dell'ultima cappella sono del Passeri, ed il bassorilievo sull'altare con li sepolcri laterali sono di Lorenzo Ottone.

Next plate in Book 6: S. Nicol˛ in Carcere
Next step in Day 5 itinerary: S. Angelo in Pescheria
Next step in your tour of Rione Sant'Angelo: S. Angelo in Pescheria
Next step in your tour of Rione Campitelli: Piazza Montanara