The page covers:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
SS. TrinitÓ degli Spagnoli
Palazzo Nunez Torlonia
Palazzo di Malta
Via Condotti (Palazzetto Ansellini and Palazzo Maruscelli Lepri)
Palazzo del Principe di Polonia and Palazzo Gomez Silj
Oratorio del SS. Sacramento
SS. Giuseppe e Orsola (Accademia di S. Cecilia)
When Giuseppe Vasi published this etching in 1756 the monastery of the Spanish Calced Trinitarian Fathers had just
been completed; it consisted of a home for the monks in Via Condotti, of a residence for lay members of the order at the corner with Via del Corso, opposite Palazzo Ruspoli, and of a church placed between the two buildings.
The complex provided an elegant entrance to Via Condotti which ended at Piazza di Spagna; this plate gave Vasi the opportunity to show SS. TrinitÓ dei Monti and the steps leading to it, which he had not included in his previous etching covering that square.
The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Strada Condotti; 2) Palazzo Nunez; 3) Fontana della Barcaccia; 4) SS. TrinitÓ dei Monti. 3) and 4) are shown in more detail in other pages. The small map shows also 5) SS. TrinitÓ degli Spagnoli; 6) Palazzo di Malta; 7) Palazzetto Ansellini; 8) Palazzo Maruscelli Lepri; 9) Palazzo del Principe di Polonia; 10) Palazzo Gomez Silj; 11) Oratorio del SS. Sacramento; 12) SS. Giuseppe ed Orsola.
The view in August 2010
During the XIXth century a certain number of buildings along Via Condotti were enlarged by the addition of one or two storeys and/or their fašades were modified, but overall the view is very similar to that shown in the etching, exception made for Obelisco Sallustiano which was placed at the top of the steps in 1789.
Fašade and details of its design
The church was designed by Emanuel Rodriguez Dos Santos, a Portuguese architect to whom also S. Maria Maddalena is attributed. The fašades of the two churches are similar, but that of the Trinitarians has a less rich decoration. In 1895 the church was assigned to the Spanish Dominicans.
(left) An angel is about to free two slaves by Pietro Pacilli; (right) coat of arms of Castile and LÚon, historical regions of Spain, where the Trinitarians had many communities
The Trinitarian Order was founded by St. John of Matha at the beginning of the XIIIth century and it had among
its key objectives that of ransoming
Christian slaves; the saint lived in two small rooms near S. Tommaso in Formis, the first Roman monastery and
hospital of the order; according to tradition he saw a stag bearing on his head the blue and red cross which became the emblem of the order (see the image used as background for this page), a vision similar to that of St. Eustace.
In the following centuries the order split into Calced and Discalced Trinitarians and along national divides (the Discalced wore sandals rather than shoes and followed stricter rules than the Calced). The Spanish Discalced Trinitarians had their monastery at S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and the French Trinitarians at S. Dionigi Areopagita.
(left) Interior of the dome; (right) detail showing the use of fake marbles
Foreign travellers rarely peered into this church which does not house important works of art. Until 2010 its dingy aspect and poor XIXth century repainting did not permit a proper appreciation of the design of its interior and in particular of its dome.
Balcony for the cantors with symbols of Castile. You may wish to see a page on Organs and Cantorias in the Churches of Rome
(left) Fašade in Via Condotti; (right) fašade in Via Bocca di Leone
The Nunez were a family of Spanish origin who came to live in Rome at the time of Pope Alexander VI; their palace in Via Condotti was designed by Giovanni Antonio de' Rossi in 1659. In 1842 it was bought by Marino Torlonia, Duke of Poli, who commissioned a large renovation of its interior; the fašade was given a more austere appearance, with the exception of the cornice which retains an elaborate decoration.
The property was enlarged on the side of Via Bocca di Leone and a wide courtyard was designed by Antonio Sarti between the old and the added buildings. The architect is best known for Nuova Fabbrica del Tabacco in Trastevere and Chiesa del SS. Salvatore at Terracina.
Courtyard: (left) copy of an ancient statue; (right) an ancient relief portraying Medusa upon a capital; it resembles a relief at Palazzo Rondinini which was much praised by J. W. Goethe
The Torlonia wanted to have palaces and villas similar to those of older noble Roman families and for this reason they acquired a number of ancient statues and reliefs which were complemented by modern copies. This is particularly evident in the decoration of Villa Torlonia in Via Nomentana.
(left) Detail of the cornice; (right) fountain donated by Duke Marino Torlonia in Via Bocca di Leone
(left) Fašade; (right) 1631 inscription
In 1522 the Knights Hospitaller of St. John were forced by the Ottomans to surrender Rhodes; they withdrew to Crete, at the time a Venetian possession, until 1530 when they were given Malta by Emperor Charles V; they ruled the island until the French conquest in 1798. Their representatives in Rome lived in a palace in Via Condotti which was repeatedly modified in the XIXth century: it retains an original 1631 inscription celebrating a bequest of properties to the Knights by Antonio Bosio (1575-1629), a Maltese who wrote Roma Sotteranea, the first description of the Catacombs of Rome. On December 8, Festa dell'Immacolata, the balcony is decorated with ancient drapery for the passage of the pope. The Knights have a large property on the Aventine Hill and a smaller one inside Foro di Augusto.
(left) Palazzetto Ansellini; (centre) final section of Via Condotti, the white building on the right side of the street is Palazzo Maruscelli Lepri; (right) detail of Palazzo Maruscelli Lepri
The original name of the street was Via de' Condotti because of the conduits which were laid along
the street to distribute the water of Acqua Vergine, an ancient aqueduct which was
repaired by Pope Sixtus IV. When Via de' Condotti became the main street of the
Strangers' Quarter, the humble origin of its name was forgotten; the description below the plate and the small map call it Strada Condotti (in this way it sounds as if Condotti designated a noble family); today it is the heart of a shopping district which is in the process of losing its traditional
aspect because chain stores replace the old historical shops.
In many XVIIIth century palaces along the street landlords lived on the first floor (that above the ground level) and the rest of the building was split into flats which were rented. Palazzetto Ansellini and Palazzo Maruscelli Lepri are examples of this pattern (for other similar buildings see a page on Flats for Rent in XVIIIth century Rome).
(left) Via della Croce seen from Piazza di Spagna; (centre) Palazzo del Principe di Polonia; (right) Palazzo Gomez Silj (at the very far end of the street Rampa di S. Sebastianello)
Via della Croce is a street which, similar to Via Condotti, links Via del
Corso with Piazza di Spagna. Prince Stanislaw Poniatowski, a nephew of Stanislaw August II, the last King of Poland, bought some houses in this street after he settled in Rome in 1792; they were replaced by a rather ordinary
building which Mariano Vasi, in an update to his father's guide to Rome, pompously called Palazzo del Principe di Polonia; as a matter of fact the building was split into apartments as the
Prince preferred to live in Villa Sinibaldi Poniatowski. Not very far from Via della Croce, opposite Trinità dei Monti, Palazzo Zuccari
was for some time known as Palazzo della Regina di
Polonia (Queen Maria Casimira Sobiesky).
In the same street Palazzo Gomez (aka Palazzo Lepri Gallo and Silj) is another work by Giovanni Antonio de' Rossi; it was built in 1678 and it is not much different from the other buildings of the street; the architect left his mark in some details of the decoration.
(left) Detail of Palazzo Gomez Silj; (right) XVIIIth century portal of another building in Via della Croce
(left) Fašade; (right) symbols of the brotherhood in the nearby dead-end alley: the gridiron is a reference to St. Lawrence's martyrdom
Oratorio del SS. Sacramento is not the only oratory with this name. A larger one is located near S. Maria in Via. This small building belonged to a brotherhood founded in 1576 and associated with the church of S. Lorenzo in Lucina; it was redesigned in 1724, maybe by Nicola Michetti, a Roman architect who spent many years in St. Petersburg. The oratory was deconsecrated in the XIXth century and since 1971 it houses a leather shop.
(left) Fašade of the (deconsecrated) church and Via Vittoria; (right) the nunnery and at the far end of the street Mausoleo di Augusto
Camilla Orsini was the wife of Marcantonio II Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V; in the first half of the XVIIth century she paid for the construction of a large nunnery in Via Vittoria, a street parallel to Via della Croce; the nunnery belonged to the Ursulines, an order aimed at the education of young girls.
(left) A wing of the courtyard; (right) detail of the decoration of the former Refectory
The building was confiscated by the Italian Government in 1870 and it was used to house
Accademia Musicale di S. Cecilia, an institution founded in 1585 as "The Congregation of Musicians under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin, Saint Gregory and Saint Cecilia" (you may wish to see their website - external link).
The facilities of the nunnery have been adapted to the needs of the Academy, but the building retains some of its original decoration.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Proseguendo il cammino per la strada del Corso, ed entrando nel terzo vicolo dopo la descritta chiesa, si vede a sinistra il monastero dell'oblate Orsoline, eretto l'an. 1684. da Laura Duchessa di Modena, madre di una Regina d'Inghilterra , con una piccola chiesa che Ŕ dedicata al Patriarca s. Giuseppe.
L'anno 1741. fu edificata quella chiesa con disegno di Emanuele Rodriquez Portughese,
terminata per˛ da D. Giuseppe Ermosiglia spagnuolo, per un legato di D. Diego Arcivescovo
di Lima, e Vice-Re del Per¨, affine di stabilire in Roma i Religiosi spagnuoli dell'Ordine
del Riscatto, di cui anche egli era religioso. Perci˛ terminata che fu, venne dedicata alla
ss. TrinitÓ, e per distinzione dell' altre chiese, porta il nome della strada, a cui
appoggia. E' questa di figura ovale con sette cappelle; nella prima a destra vi Ŕ s.
Caterina colla ss. Vergine dipinta da Giuseppe Paladini Messinese; nella seconda vi
dipinse il quadro Lamberto Karhe Fiammingo, e nella terza D. Francesco Preziado spagnuolo.
Il quadro dell'altare maggiore Ŕ di Corrado Giacquinto, e i laterali sono di D. Antonio
Valasques spagnuolo, il quale dipinse a fresco anche le pitture in alto. Il quadro
nell'altra cappella Ŕ di Gaetano Lapis, e quello nell' ultima del Cav. Benesiani.
Le pitture a fresco nella volta, nel coro, e nella sagrestia sono di Gregorio
Guglielmi; il quadretto per˛ nellĺ altare della medesima Ŕ del suddetto Preziado, e
le sculture in marmo sono di Gasparo Sibilia.