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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 August 2010.

To the Italian visitors of 
my web site

Giardino Colonna nel clivo del Quirinale (Book 10) (Map B3) (Day 3) (View C7) (Rione Trevi)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
Giardino Colonna
Via della Pilotta
Torre Colonna
Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana (Palazzo Piombino)
S. Croce e Bonaventura dei Lucchesi
Palazzo Testa Piccolomini

The Plate (No. 193)

Giardino Colonna

Giuseppe Vasi relied on the courtesy of a neighbour in order to engrave this view of the very secluded gardens the Colonna had behind their palace. They were arranged in a series of terraces in the western slope of the Quirinale hill and four small bridges linked them with the palace; the structures supporting the terraces were in part those of a Temple to Serapis built by Emperor Caracalla; the ruins of the temple were pulled down in 1630 when the design of the gardens was completed.
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) Oval Gallery of Palazzo Colonna; 2) bridges over Via della Pilotta; 3) new fountains and steps; 4) new casino built on the ancient Roman walls. The small map shows also: 5) Entrance from Piazza di Monte Cavallo (Quirinale); 6) Torre Colonna; 7) site of today's Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana; 8) S. Croce e Bonaventura dei Lucchesi; 9) Palazzo Testa Piccolomini.

Small ViewSmall Map

Today

The view today
The view in June 2010

Similar to during Vasi's time, the courtesy of a neighbour is necessary to have a comprehensive view of today's gardens; flower-beds have been replaced by trees and in 1927 the new casino was pulled down for the construction of Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana; the high terrace from which the photograph was taken allowed views over the loggia of Palazzo del Quirinale and (in the right lower corner) over the niche housing a statue of Marcantonio II Colonna, the family hero.

Giardino Colonna

Giardino Colonna
(left) Portal on the Quirinale hill; (right) detail showing a celebratory inscription between two Ottoman prisoners

The gardens were designed at the initiative of Filippo I Colonna, Duke of Paliano and they had a grand entrance in the side opposite to the family palace. The portal was completed in 1618 and it was decorated with references to one of the family's heraldic symbols (a crowned mermaid) and to the large vineyards the Colonna had near Marino, a town where every year the victory of Marcantonio II Colonna at Lepanto is celebrated with a historical procession.

Giardino Colonna
(left) Remaining section of the new casino on the side of Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana; (right) niche with statue of Marcantonio II Colonna

In 1713, almost a century after the completion of the gardens, Filippo II Colonna celebrated Marcantonio with a statue where his ancestor is portrayed as a Roman emperor. In the late XIXth century the Colonna sold a portion of their gardens which bordered on those of the convent of S. Silvestro al Quirinale, but they still retain the major part of the original property.
Read Henry James's account of his visit to Giardini Colonna in 1873.

Via della Pilotta

The view today
(left) Via della Pilotta seen from Via 4 Novembre; (right) the two bridges which were added in the XVIIIth century

Via della Pilotta cannot be ranked among the silent streets of Rome because too many cars use it to reach Via della Dataria or to park along it. Yet it is a cosy street which is crossed by four small bridges; the first two were entirely built with travertine, while the central ones were added between 1756 and 1760 and their balustrades are lighter; the image used as background for this page shows a crowned column, the heraldic symbol of the Colonna, which is visible in Via della Pilotta.

Torre Colonna

Torre Colonna
(left) Torre Colonna; (centre) dome of SS. Nome di Maria; (right) ancient reliefs and heraldic symbols of the Colonna (column and mermaid)

The Colonna lived in this area from the XIIth century onward and they built several towers to protect their houses. Torre Mesa, a lean and tall tower, was located at the side of the ruins of the Temple to Serapis; it was shortened at the request of Pope Gregory XIII, as it spoiled the view over Rome from the summer residence the pope was building on the hill (which later on became Palazzo del Quirinale). The only remaining tower of the Colonna's medieval defence system can be seen along Via Quattro Novembre, a modern street. It is decorated with the family heraldic symbols and with some ancient reliefs.

Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana

Palazzo Piombino
Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana in Piazza della Pilotta; (inset) a dragon, the heraldic symbol of Pope Gregory XIII in one of the windows

Via della Pilotta leads to Piazza della Pilotta, where the Romans used to play ball games. The eastern side of the square was closed by Palazzo Muti Papazzurri, while opposite to it stood the new casino of the Colonna (although the 1781 Map of Rome designates it as Palazzo Piombino). The building was pulled down in 1927 to make room for Pontificia UniversitÓ Gregoriana; the university is dedicated to Pope Gregory XIII, the founder of Collegio Romano. The (patchy) fašade of the new palace was designed by Giulio Barluzzi.

S. Croce e Bonaventura dei Lucchesi

SS. Croce dei Lucchesi
(left) Fašade; (right) detail of the baroque restyling

A church existed on this site as early as the IVth century; it was replaced by a larger church which is recorded as S. Nicola de Portiis; in 1575 it was incorporated into a new church dedicated to St. Bonaventura which was part of a Capuchin convent; in 1631 Pope Urban VIII relocated the Capuchins to a new convent and assigned the church to the citizens of Lucca living in Rome; the fašade was redesigned towards the end of the XVIIth century by Mattia de' Rossi (click here for a list of national churches in Rome). The church was also dedicated to the Holy Cross, which in Lucca is the object of a special veneration and of a famous night procession - external link.

Palazzo Testa Piccolomini

SS. Croce dei Lucchesi
(left) Portal in Via della Dataria; (right) window with the heraldic symbol of the Piccolomini

The small square in front of the church is closed by an elegant small building having the entrance in Via della Dataria; it was designed in 1718 by Filippo Barigioni for the Testa Piccolomini; they were not direct descendants of the Piccolomini, a family from Siena known for Pope Pius II and Pope Pius III, but one of their ancestors was allowed by the Piccolomini to add their surname to his own.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:


Giardino Colonnese
Nel clivo del monte Quirinale sta situato questo amenissimo giardino, e dal palazzo vi si passa per quattro ponti gettati sulla strada della pillotta. E questo molto considerabile, non solo per 1'amenitÓ delle fontane, viali, e statue, ma molto pi¨ pel maraviglioso marmo, che giace per terra nella parte superiore di esso; egli Ŕ un pezzo di frontespizio lavorato egregiamente, e per la sua gran mole, mostra di essere avanzo di edifizio molto sorprendente; le muraglie antiche, che ivi si vedono furono, secondo che dimostra il Serlio, parte del medesimo edifizio, il quale principiava dal basso con magnifiche scale, e portici, e saliva sul colle per andare alle terme di Costantino Magno: perci˛ da alcuni si crede , che tutte quelle opere siano state del medesimo Costantino.
Chiesa della ss. Croce de' Lucchesi
Nella strada a destra di detto palazzo si vede quella chiesa, che prima dicevasi s. Niccol˛ in porcibus, poi s. Bonaventura de' frati Cappuccini, e ora, avendola nel 1631 ottenuta la nazione Lucchese, sý dice santa Croce de' Lucchesi. Il quadro della B. Rita nella prima cappella a desfra Ŕ di Lazzaro Baldi; la Presentazione al tempio di Pietro Testa Lucchese, la ss. Concezione, di Biagio Puccini; il s. Frediano Ŕ di Francesco Tintore, il s. Lorenzo Giustiniano Ŕ di Domenico Muratori, e le pitture nel soffitto sono di Gio. Coli, e Filippo Gheraldi.

Next plate in Book 10: Disegno dell'Anticaglia nel Giardino Colonnese
Next step in Day 3 itinerary: Monastero delle Vergini
Next step in your tour of Rione Trevi: Palazzo Colonna