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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 July 2010.

Chiesa e Monastero di Sant'Apollonia (Book 8) (Map C3) (Day 6) (View D10) (Rione Trastevere)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
Palazzo Leoni
S. Margherita
SS. Rufina e Seconda
Palazzo Leopardi o Cavalieri
Picturesque Trastevere

The Plate (No. 154)

The etchings by Giuseppe Vasi provide interesting elements to understand practical aspects of Roman life in the XVIIIth century i.e. the route followed by supplies loaded at Porto di Ripa Grande to reach the city centre; in a plate Vasi showed a carriage carrying commodities moving from S. Francesco a Ripa to S. Pasquale, in another he showed a carriage crossing Piazza di S. Maria in Trastevere and in this plate a carriage on its way to Ponte Sisto.
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) S. Margherita; 2) S. Apollonia; 3) Palazzo Leoni. The small map shows also 4) S. Maria in Trastevere; 5) SS. Rufina e Seconda; 6) Palazzo Leopardi.


The view in June 2010

Today the street has entirely lost its commercial importance and the small square is one of the rare areas of Trastevere where residents can park their cars. The church and the nunnery of S. Apollonia do not exist any longer; the small church was built in 1582, but it was not regarded as having artistic or historical relevance and in 1888 it was replaced by an apartment block. The building which housed the nunnery of S. Margherita is still there, but it has lost the window frames shown in the plate. Palazzo Leoni has one additional storey and it is in bad need of being repainted. The square is still named Piazza di S. Apollonia.

Palazzo Leoni

Side of Palazzo Leoni in Piazza di S. Maria in Trastevere

Palazzo Leoni was built in the XVIIth century and it belonged to several different families (Cucurni, Leoni, Cesarini and Pizzirani); between 1788 and 1794 it housed Conservatorio delle Pericolanti, an institution aimed at helping young women who were "about to fall"; because the number of women in need of assistance became very large, the institution was relocated to a new building in Piazza delle Fornaci.

S. Margherita

(left) S. Margherita; (right) Via della Lungaretta

The church of S. Margherita was built in the second half of the XVIth century and its façade was on Via della Lungaretta, the high street of Trastevere; in 1680 it was replaced by a larger building designed by Carlo Fontana, who changed the orientation of the church to give more visibility to its façade, Via della Lungaretta being rather narrow.

SS. Rufina e Seconda

(left) Nuns waiting for Madonna de' Noantri; (centre/right) bell tower

Nunneries and institutions caring for young women are so frequent in this neighbourhood that they highlight the existence of difficult social conditions; in 1798 they reached the record number of 54 (in the whole city).
A church on the assumed house of Rufina and Seconda, two martyrs of the IIIrd century, is recorded from the XIIth century and the small Romanesque bell tower belongs to that period, whereas the interior of the church was entirely redesigned in the XVIIth century when the building was included in a nunnery (where two daughters of Gian Lorenzo Bernini lived and died).

Palazzo Leopardi

(left) Palazzo Leopardi; (right) portal

This palace is named Palazzo Leopardi, although it belonged to this family for only three years (1803-06); the reason lies in the fact that it was bought by Count Monaldo Leopardi, the father of Giacomo Leopardi, one of the most important Italian poets of his time, whose works continue to be widely popular.
The building has a Renaissance design with some XVIIth century additions, in particular in the stucco decoration of the main portal and in the cornice (a detail of which can be seen in the image used as background for this page). In 1806 the palace was turned into yet another institution (Pia Casa del Rifugio) caring for women in danger: the inmates of Carcere femminile del S. Michele after they had served their sentence.

Picturesque Trastevere

Ancient reliefs: (above) Via della Scala ; (below) Vicolo del Bologna: the last image shows a funerary inscription: D.M. Aemilio/Felicitas/cum filis meaning "for the Manes-gods to Aemilio from Felicitas and children"

Trastevere was one of the regiones of Ancient Rome, but it retains very few memories of that period; however by walking in the maze of narrow streets between S. Maria in Trastevere and Ponte Sisto one comes across several ancient small reliefs and funerary inscriptions.

Renaissance memories: (left) door in Via del Moro 58: (right) graffito wall in Via del Moro 61-62

Ponte, Parione and Regola were the heart of Renaissance Rome and they have retained very fine buildings of that period; those of Trastevere were not regarded as having the same importance and during the XIXth century they were widely modified, but some elements of them can still be identified notwithstanding many additions and alterations.

(left) Renaissance portal in Via della Lungaretta; (right) XVIIIth century door opposite S. Gallicano

Madonnelle: (left) Vicolo del Bologna; (centre/right) Vicolo del Cipresso

Where Trastevere retains the lead is in the number of sacred images dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Chiesa e Monastero di s. Margherita
Da D. Giulia Colonna fu edificata questa chiesa, ed il monastero l'anno 1564. per le religiose del terzo Ordine di s. Francesco, e poi dal Card. Gastaldi fu rinnovata la chiesa con disegno di Carlo Fontana. Nell'altare maggiore vi è la s. Titolare dipinta da Giacinto Brandi, e la volta fu fatta da un frate Francescano; i laterali però sono del Cav. Ghezzi; il s. Francesco è del Baciccio, e la s. Orsola, di Gio. Paolo Serveri. Si vede quì incontro la
Chiesa e Monastero di s. Appollonia
Prima dell'anno 1300. Paluzza Pierleoni gentil donna Romana aveva quivi una casa, in cui viveva sotto la regola del terz'Ordine di s. Francesco, insieme con altre pie donne, e vi seguitarono poi altre donne col medesimo tenor di vita fino al Pontificato di s. Pio V. il quale però le ridusse a clausura, e a professione solenne; dipoi nel 1669. essendovi unite le suore, che erano presso s. Giovanni delle Muratte, edificarono la loro chiesa in onore di s. Appollonia, e l'ornarono di alcune pitture. Quindi prendendo la strada a sinistra della suddetta chiesa di s Margherita, evvi il
Monastero e Chiesa delle ss. Ruffina e Seconda
Per quello, che si legge di questa piccola chiesa, fu quì la casa di queste due sante Vergini e Martiri, e che alle medesime furono quivi nell'anno 1153. consagrati due altari da Anastasio IV., e poi da Clemente VIII. Furono rinnovati insieme colla chiesa. Nell'anno 1600. fu conceduta dal Capitolo di s. Maria in Trastevere ad alcune donne forestiere, le quali ristaurarono la chiesa, e vi fecero una comoda abitazione, in cui vivono religiosamente senza voti, e senza clausura, dicendosi oblate Orsoline.

Next plate in Book 8: Chiesa e Monastero della Purificazione
Next step in Day 6 itinerary: Spedale di S. Gallicano