De Torre dei Frangipane is an old medieval tower in the Via dei Portoghesi in Rome. It is also named Torre della Scimmia (“Monkey Tower”), thanks to an old legend.
Torre dei Frangipane Rome
Address and opening hours
The Torre della Scimmia is located in the Via dei Frangipane. The tower can only be seen from outside.
History and description
The Torre dei Frangipane was built in the middle ages, but in the 16th century was incorporated in the historical building Palazzo Scapucci. The tower has a square base and consists of four floors.
Most of the walls are made of the typical Roman brick called laterizio, but the corners are made of the volcanic tuff stone.
The sides have four windows, with cornices made of marble. The top is supported by corbels. A statue of the Madonna can just be seen on the roof.
In the course of the centuries the Torre dei Frangipane belonged to a succession of families, the first one being the Frangipane themselves. They were succeeded by the Crescenzi, who later sold the tower to the Confraternita del Gonfalone (“Brotherhood of the Banner”). Later a second brotherhood, the Congregazione di Carita, took over and towards the end of the 16th century the building was acquired by the Scapucci.
The terrace of the tower is decorated with the symbols of the last family’s coat-of-arms. These are a star with eight rays and a half moon with its extremities pointing upwards.
The Legend of the Monkey Tower
Several centuries ago a family that lived in the tower had a moneky for a pet. One day the monkey stole a newborn baby and climbed the tower. The father called the animal down by means of a whistle and the monkey quietly put the baby back in its cot. The father then had an eternally burning candle placed next to the rooftop Madonna. Nathaniel Hawthorne describes this tale in his book “The Marble Faun“.