Santi Ildefonso e Tommaso da Villanova Church Rome

The Santi Ildefonso e Tommaso da Villanova Church is a small 17th century church on the Via Sistina in Rome.

Santi Ildefonso e Tommaso da Villanova Church Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

The address of the Chiesa dei Santi Ildefonso e Tommaso da Villanova is Via Sistina, 11 – Rome (tel. +39 0642014059). Metro: Barberini. Bus: 53, 62, 63, 83, 85, 116, 160, 492, C3, N4, N5, N12, N25. Opening hours: 07.15 to 13.30 and 15.00 to 20.00. Entrance fee: Free.

History and description

Santi Alfonso e Tommaso da Villanova Church Rome
“Adoration of the Shepherds”, Franco Siciliano (1667)

Towards the end of the 18th century, the Order of the Discalced Agostinians was founded in Spain. In 1619 they opened a hospital and a couple of years after that an oratory in Rome.

In 1667 the oratory was replaced by the Santi Ildefonso and Tommaso da Vilanova Church.

The architect was G. Paglia.

The Baroque façade was built between 1724 and 1730 by Francesco Ferrari.

The interior consists of a single nave with two chapels.

Tourist attractions

The first altar on the right has a “Nativity” by Francesco Grassia (1667).

Santi Ildefonso e Tommaso da Villanova – Via Sistina 11, Rome

Montecitorio Obelisk Rome

The present Montecitorio Obelisk was brought to Rome in the year 10 BC, together with another obelisk now known as the Flaminio Obelisk. Another name for the monument is Obelisco Solare, since its original function was that of sundial for the meridian in the present Piazza del Parlamento.

Montecitorio Obelisk Rome

Earliest history

The obelisk in the Piazza di Montecitorio in Rome is of Egyptian origin and was made by Pharaoh Psammetico II. Emperor Augustus had the monument transported to the Eternal City. The obelisk was originally located in Heliopolis, in those days one of the most important cities of Egypt, but now no more than part of a suburb of Cairo.

The emperor placed the monument in what was then the Campo Marzio district, in order to serve as a sundial for the enormous meridian north of the Piazza del Parlamento.

Lost and found

Montecitorio Obelisk Rome
Montecitorio Obelisk

Towards the 11th century the ground shifted as a result of either floodings or earthquakes. This made the obelisk tilt so that it became unable to fulfill its function. It became covered with earth and virtually forgotten, not to be found until several centuries had passed.

In 1748 the architect Antonio Zabaglia got the task to restore the obelisk, which had broken into five pieces. The restoration had been ordered by Pope Benedict XIV.

The restoration took a long time and was finally completed in 1792 by Giovanni Antinori, who also placed it in its present location. Antinori used red granite parts of the Column of Antoninus Pius for the restoration. The pedestal of this column is on display in the Vatican Museums.

The globe on top of the obelisk is a memorial sign for its former function. Every day, exactly at 12 noon, a sunbeam strikes the earth through a hole in this globe.

The height of the Montecitorio Obelisk is almost 22m, but with its base it reaches more than 33m. The pedestal contains an inscription with a dedication to emperor Augustus.

Of the inscriptions on the obelisk, only very few are still legible. The ones that can still be deciphered include a list of the Pharaoh’s names and an interpretation of natural phenomena according to the Egyptians’ philosophy.

The pavement below the obelisk was decorated with mosaics showing the signs of the zodiac, the winds and a sundial. After a first restoration in 1965, in 1998 the entire square got a new layout. The signs of the zodiac and the sundials were recreated.

Piazza di Monte Citorio – Rome

Piazza della Rotonda Rome

The Piazza della Rotonda is the official name of the square that faces the Pantheon, so most people know it by the name Piazza del Pantheon. It is one of Rome‘s liveliest squares, with a jumble of open-air café tables and a picturesque central fountain. The alleys leading up to the square are lined with tourist shops, wine bars, restaurants and small cafés.

Piazza della Rotonda Rome

Piazza della Rotonda in Rome
Piazza della Rotonda

Apart from the Pantheon itself, the most distinguishing landmark on the Piazza della Rotonda is the obelisk on top of the fountain right in its center. Like the Minerva obelisk its original location was the temple of Isis. The hieroglyphics place its origin during the reign of Ramses II.

The obelisk was placed in front of the Pantheon in 1711 and Pope Clement XI commissioned its decorative dolphins and coats of arms.

There is a plaque on the building across from the Pantheon claiming that the papal authorities saved the square from the hands of brothels and inn-keepers.

The plaque on the building housing the Hotel del Sole, one of the most famous hotels in Rome, says that the poet Torquato Tasso used to live there.

The Piazza della Rotonda is a perfect spot to just sit and have a coffee. Do not be surprised though if that coffee costs 8 times as much as everywhere else.

Originally there were 4 fountains on the Piazza della Rotonda. Three of these are now kept in municipal warehouses, while the fourth one stands in the Viale Goethe in the Villa Borghese park and is known as the Fountain of the Winged Victories.

Piazza della Rotonda – Rome

San Lorenzo in Lucina Church Rome

The San Lorenzo in Lucina Basilica is a church in the Colonna district of Rome. It is one of the oldest Christian churches in the city and contains works of art by o.a. Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Michelangelo and Guido Reni.

San Lorenzo in Lucina Church Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via in Lucina 16/A – Rome (tel. +39 06 6871494). Opening hours: 08.00 till 20.00. Admission: Free. There is a guided tour of the archeological excavations on every first Saturday of the month at 16.30. The cost is 2 Euros. (Times may change, so it is recommended to call first.)

History and description

San Lorenzo in Lucina Church Rome
San Lorenzo in Lucina Basilica

The origins of the name of the church are not completely clear. Until 30 years ago it was believed that Lucina was the name of a wealthy woman, who owned several properties in the area. She had turned one of her houses into a sort of private place of worship for Christians and later donated it to the Roman church.

At the moment the prevailing theory that there used to be a temple dedicated to the Goddess Giunone Lucina at the site of the present church. Roman women visited this church because it was believed that water from its well could heal the sick and make barren women pregnant. This temple was then adapted to its use as a Christian church.

This version was confirmed when, during excavations underneath the Sala Capitolare a well was found with well-preserved decorations (wall paintings, a mosaic and marble steps) that a temple dedicated to the goddess has indeed stood here.

The Basilica of Saint Lawrence’s at Lucina itself was built in the 5th century by Pope Sixtus III. At the time it consisted of three naves and its floor was no less than 2 meters below its actual level.

Tourist attractions

In the 12th century, under Pope Pasquale II the church was restored and several features were added, including the main entrance flanked by the marble lions, part of the outer walls and the apse, which is hidden by the surrounding buildings.

The 5-floor bell-tower was also constructed in this period. It is situated between the façade and the former convent (which is now a barracks for the carabinieri police force). The bell-tower has two bells; there was an earlier one that fell down and killed a priest.

In front of the entrance there is a wide portico with six Ionic pillars, which is unfortunately slightly hidden by an iron gate.

An extensive restoration in the 17th century completely changed the interior of the church. The two side naves were replaced by a number of chapels, so there is only one nave left. The floor was also raised, which had been deemed necessary because of the Tiber’s frequent floodings.

Underneath the altar of the first chapel on the right the gridiron on which Saint Lawrence himself was burnt during the persecutions ordered by te Emperor Valeriano in the middle of the 3rd century.

A chapel on the left contains a 16th century crucifix made by Michelangelo.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini created the Fonseca chapel.

The painting above the main altar is Guido Reni‘s  “Crucifix”, which is framed by 4 black marble pillars.

Underneath the sacristy fragments were found of the Horologium Augusti, a clock made by Augustus, with the aid of a.o. Maecenas. This sundial had a diameter of around 180 meters.

San Lorenzo in Lucina Church – Via in Lucina 16/A, Rome

Fountain of the Pantheon Rome

The Fountain of the Pantheon in Rome is located right in the middle of the Piazza della Rotonda in front of the Pantheon itself.

Fountain of the Pantheon Rome

History and description

Fountain of the Pantheon Rome
Fountain of the Pantheon

The fountain was commissioned in 1575 by Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni, designed by Giacomo della Porta and sculpted by Leonardo Sormani. The water for the fountain comes from the old Acqua Vergine Aqueduct.

There is a marble shell on a balustrade in the middle of the tub. The shell is decorated with four sculpture groups of masks and dolphins. These were originally created for the southern fountain in the Piazza Navona.

The present version of the fountain was commissioned by Pope Clemens II Albani and designed by Filippo Barigioni. The artist used Bernini‘s Fountain of the Four Rivers as an inspiration for his design. He got rid of the balustrade and created a marble cliff with a dolphin on every corner.

Piazza della Rotonda without the Fountain of the Pantheon Rome.
A 15th century drawing shows that there was no fountain in the Piazza della Rotonda yet.

The obelisk of Ramses II was not added until much later, in 1711, when Pope Clemente XI Albani ordered Filippo Barignoni to reconstruct the fountain, by adding a rock instead of the basin and decorating the base with four dolphins by the hand of the sculptor Luigi Amici.

Like the obelisk on Bernini’s Elephant, this Macuteo Obelisk also originally stood on the Iseo Campense. This was a temple for the Egyptian Gods Isis and Serapis, built by Domitian. Until the 14th century this temple was located in front of the San Macuto Church. Domitian himself had transported this obelisk, which was made during the reign of Ramses II, from Egypt to Rome. Two more obelisks that used to decorate the Iseo Campense were the Dogali Obelisk and the obelisk in the Boboli Gardens in Florence.

The coats-of-arms adorning the north and south sides of the fountain are those of the Albani family and of the Pope. The bronze star on top of the obelisk is another symbol of the Albani family.

Towards the end of the 20th century the original masks were replaced by copies. The originals, one of which stems from the 17th and the other ones from the 15th century, are on display in the Museo di Roma.

The total height of the obelisk is 14,52 meters.

Address and public transport

The fountain of the Pantheon is located in the Piazza della Rotonda. The nearest bus stop is Argentina (30, 40, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 130F, 190F, 492, 628, 916, 916F, N5, N6, N7, N15, N20, SHOP1).

Piazza della Rotonda – Rome

Via Sistina Rome

The Via Sistina is a street in the center of Rome, connecting the Piazza Trinità dei Monti to the Piazza Barberini. The part closest to the Piazza Barberini belongs to the rione Colonna, whereas the part closer to Trinità dei Monti belongs to the rione Campo Marzio.

Via Sistina Rome

The street is named for Pope Sixtus V, who had ordered it to be built towards the end of the 16th century.

The architect was Domenico Fontana and initially the street was much longer (2km), since the intention was to connect the Pincio hill to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.

At the time the Via Sistina was called the Via Felice, since the Pope’s real name was Felice Peretti.

In the 18th century the Via Felice was split up into shorter streets: Starting from Saint Mary Major the street is called Via de Pretis, then it turns into the Via delle Quattro Fontane and finally into the Via Sistina.

There are a number of interesting palazzi along the Via Sistina: the Palazzetto Stroganoff, the Palazzo Perucchi and the Palazzo Dotti are amongst the more noteworthy ones.

On the Trinità dei Monti side the nearest metro stop is Spagna, on the other side it is Barberini (both on line A).

Via Sistina – Rome

Museo Missionario di Propaganda Fide Rome

The Palazzo di Propaganda Fide, a 17th century Baroque architectural masterpiece in Rome designed by Bernini (Gianlorenzo) and Francesco Borromini, has opened its doors to the public in the form of a museum, called the Museo Missionario di Propaganda Fide.

Museo Missionario di Propaganda Fide Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via di Propaganda, 1/C – Rome (tel. +39 06 69880266). Opening hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 14.30 till 18.00. Admission: 8 Euros (concession: 6 Euros; children age 0-5: free). At the ticket office you can request a free guided tour.

History and description

Museo Missionario di Propaganda Fide Rome
Museo Missionario di Propaganda Fide

The museum highlights 400 years of missionary work by the Catholic church, through artefacts such as documents, sculptures and photographs assembled by the Congregation of Propaganda Fide.

After a restoration that that cost around 17 million Euros and saw the building’s foundations strengthened and the chapels and library reconstructed, visitors can now, for the first time, visit the chapels and hallways of the palazzo.

It used to be the headquarters of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide, a religious order founded by Pope Gregory XV in 1622 and re-baptized the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples by Pope John Paul II. This organization’s aim was to spread Catholicism and also to protect missionaries from being prosecuted.

Highlights of the Museo Missionario di Propaganda Fide

  • Bernini‘s wooden library with Pope Urban III symbols (the Barberini bee) adorning the ceiling.
  • Borromini‘s Chapel of the Magi, its theme (the epiphany of the three wise men) an allegory for converts to Christianity finding salvation through Christ.

Via di Propaganda, 1/C – Rome

Temple Of Hadrian Rome

The Temple of Hadrian in Rome is located in the Piazza di Pietra in the rione Colonna in the center of Rome.

Temple Of Hadrian Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazza di Pietra – Rome. The monument can only be seen from outside.

History and description

It was built by Antoninus Pius in 145 AD and of course it was dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian.

There is very little left of the original building, except for a row of eleven columns that used to form its northern side. The architrave, which has been restored, was adorned with small palm trees and the heads of lions.

The entrance to the Temple of Hadrian used to be on the east side. There were 15 columns on each of its long sides and 8 on each of its short sides.

The reliefs that used to decorate the plinths that rested on semicolumns on the inside are partly kept in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples and partly in the Palazzo dei Conservatori (Capitoline Museums). The reliefs personified the Roman provinces.

In the 17th century Carlo Fontana incorporated the remaining columns into what is now the Borsa (Stock Exhange) building.

Piazza di Pietra – Rome

Santa Maria in Aquiro Church Rome

The church of Santa Maria in Aquiro is located in the Piazza Capranica in the center of Rome.

Santa Maria in Aquiro Church Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

The address of the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Aquiro is Piazza Capranica, 72 – Rome (tel. +39 066790410). Opening hours: 7.15 AM to 12.00 noon and 4 PM to 7.30 PM in winter and 7.30 to 11.30 AM and 4.45 to 17.45 PM in summer. Admission is free.

History and description

The first church in this site was built in the 5th century, by Anastasius I.  Construction was financed by a man named Cyrus. The church came to be named “a Cyro” (built by Cyrus), which was gradually changed into “Aquiro”.

(Another interpretation of the name claims that it originates from the word equira, meaning “horse race”. These races were held in nearby Campo Marzio.)

For a while the church was known as the “Church of the Little Orphans” (Chiesa degli Orfanelli). The building on its right was the seat of the Collegio Salviati, an institution that took care of the education of orphans.

The first restoration of the Santa Maria in Aquiro Church took place in the 8th century, under Pope Gregorius III.

In the 16th century Cardinal Antonio Maria Salviati commissioned Francesco da Volterra to paint a number of paintings for the decoration of the interior.

The church was completely rebuilt between 1590 and 1774, the year Pietro Camporese completed the façade as it can now be seen.

In 1886 the interior was redesigned.

Main works of art

  • Domenico Guidi made the monument for the archbishop Carlo di Montecantini, on eof  anumber of baroque-style tombs in the church.
  • The “Madonna with Child and Saint Stephen” fresco was painted in te 14th century.
  • Carlo Saraceni painted the fresco-cycle “Life of the Virgin”.
  • Trophime Bigot was one of Caravaggio‘s pupils. He is thought to have painted the “Flagellation of Christ” and the “Crowning with the Crown of Thorns”.

Piazza Capranica, 72 – Rome

Oratorio del Caravita Church Rome

The Oratorio del Caravita is located just off the Via del Corso in the historical center of Rome. It used to also be called the Oratorio della Santissima Comunione Generale (“Oratorium of the Holy General Communion”).

Oratorio del Caravita Church Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via del Caravita, 7 – Rome (tel +39 06 6794560). Opening hours: The church is only open on Sundays, to celebrate mass.

History and description

Rome - Oratorio del Caravita
Oratorio del Caravita

Construction of the Oratorio was started in 1630 by the Jesuit priest Pietro Gravita. The money was mostly put up by the wealthy nobility that lived in the area. It was constructed on the remains of the 12th century Church of San Nicola de Forbitoribus, (referring to the Confraternity of the Forbiciai, or “knife-makers and -salesmen”, in the area).

In 1551, Pope Julius III gave the church to the Benedictine monks and in 1631 the Jesuits, who already had their Collegio Romano across the road, acquired the oratorio.

It is dedicated to Santa Maria della Pietà  and to San Francesco Saverio (Saint Francis Xavier). The name “Caravita“, a mispronunciation of the founder’s name, came into usage after the death of Gravita in 1658.

Between 1670 and 1677 the church was completely restored, probably by the architect Giovanni Antonio de Rossi.

The facade of the church is characterized by an entrance surmounted by a triangular tympanum between two windows. The interior is open, with the typically Jesuit clear sight lines to the altar.

The second floor, occupied by the Jesuit Community, has 3 windows.

The interior of the Oratorio del Caravita was restored in the 19th century.

Works of art in the Oratorio del Caravita

  • To the right near the entrance to the Sacristy, kept in a silver reliquary, there is a relic of Saint Francis Xavier.
  • The atrium preceding the nave has a vault with frescoes by Lazzaro Baldi, representing “Scenes from the Life of San Francesco Saverio”.
  • Baldassarre Peruzzi made the fresco near the organ to the left of the sanctuary.  Formerly in the Church of San Rocco all’Augusteo it was donated the oratorium in 1677.
  • The two fonts in the Atrium are made in the form of a crab holding a  bronze crucifix, a symbol of Francis Xavier.
  • The Ristretto degli Angeli is a room above the Atrium and has stucco decorations by Giovanni Battista Maini (1746).
  • The organ upstairs in the Gallery was built in 1790 by the famous Priori family.

Via del Cartavita, 7 – Rome