Most visitors to Rome never see this church, or even hear of it, for that matter. It's just one of the more than 900 churches in Rome, most of which never get visited.
Yet it is incredibly beautiful and has a wonderful, interesting history. The polished red marble columns alone are enough to make my knees week! The altar and tabernacle by Rainaldi is impossibly, beautifully ornate.
So what and where is this little gem of a church?
Santa Maria della Scala (of the stairs), in Trastevere, the now trendy working-class neighborhood. Trastevere literally means "across the Tevere" or the Tiber River, from the historical center of Rome. The church is not far from the more famous Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Next to the church (on the right as you face it) is a preserved antique pharmacy from the 18th century, which used to service the Vatican.
For more information on the church, the reason for it's creation, and the pharmacy and how to visit it, see:
Like many churches in Rome, it is closed between noon and 4 p.m. most days.
An interesting sidelight of this church involves my favorite painter, Caravaggio. He was commissioned to produce a painting for the church; the subject was the death of the virgin. The work was rejected (this happened to Caravaggio a lot, he was always getting in trouble.) In this case, perhaps because the model for the virgin was a prostitute, perhaps because her legs were exposed, or perhaps because her belly was too realistically swollen in death. In any event, the painting now hangs in the Louvre. You can see a copy of it here.
Death of the Virgin
(click on the small painting for an enlargement, then click on "Fit Width" at the top)
Address: 23 Piazza della Scala, Trastevere
Less than 300 meters northwest of Santa Maria in Trastevere, where Via della Scala turns into Piazza della Scala.
On many buildings in low-lying areas of the older sections of Rome, you'll find markers like these - literally pointing out the high water mark of floods, recent and more ancient. These were just three of many on the front of the church Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (Santa Maria above Minerva - or above the supposed ruins of a temple to Minerva). You'll find them just to the right of the main entrance off the piazza with Bernini's whimsical sculpture of an elephant carrying an Egyptian obelisk.
Near the Trevi fountain I found a great little jewelry store. It was all handmade jewelry some was made of glass. I bought a beautiful silver bracelet with pearls and shimmer beads for only 3 euros. They had a big selection and were very reasonably priced, if you like sparkly things they head for this shop you will not be disapointed.
The store is called Gitti and is located at Via di San Vincenzo, 17 (Fontana Di Trevi) 00187 ROMA
A cool look back at one of the ancient Roman getaways, Villa Adriana was a 2nd century please palace for Hadrian. Large ponds, temples and theaters are among the impressive views here.
While this is considered part of "going to Tivoli", it is quite a distance from the city proper and Villa d'Este.
On Sunday mornings, lots of tourists head for Porta Portese flea market in Trastevere, but nearby, there's another market which I think offers a little more local color and a little less of the piles of cheap, new, plastic junk. Instead of going into the Porta Portese main entrance, continue heading west, to Viale di Trastevere and turn left. Walk down the street, noticing the impromptu shrine on the left to the Blessed Virgin, with many plaques thanking her for favors granted. At Piazza Benardino da Feltre, turn left and follow the hordes to Via Benedetto Musolino on the right. Just before the market stalls begin, there's a great little pastry shop on the left. To be sure, you'll find cheap, new, plastic junk here, too, but there are some real flea market finds as well.
I highly recommended visiting and eatting at the Piazza Navona. Here the real attraction of the square is the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, dated 1651. The rivers represented in the fountain are the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile and the Rio de la Plata. They are arranged on a steep rocky reef from which a Roman obelisk taken from the Circus of Maxentius daringly rises up into the air. Popular tradition has it that the sculptures on the fountain symbolize the rivalry between Bernini and Borromini, who were the most important artists in 17th century Rome. Borromini built the church of Sant’ Agnese in Agone, which stands in front of Bernini’s Fountain. For this reason the personified Rivers seem to cover their faces, not to see Borromini’s “horrible” work.
On Sundays from 7am to 1pm, every peddler from Trastevere and the surrounding Castelli Romani sets up a temporary shop at the sprawling Porta Portese open-air flea market. The vendors are likely to sell merchandise ranging from secondhand paintings of Madonnas and termite-eaten Il Duce wooden medallions, to pseudo-Etruscan hairpins, bushels of rosaries, 1947 TVs, and books printed in 1835. Serious shoppers can often ferret out a good buy. If you've ever been impressed with the bargaining power of the Spaniard, you haven't seen anything till you've bartered with an Italian. By 10:30am the market is full of people. As at any street market, beware of pickpockets! Porta Portese is located near the end of Viale Trastevere, very close to the Tevere river. (see map on pic no.2)
Though not as famous as the Chigi Palace in Rome (now housing the Presidency of the Council of Ministers), the palace in Ariccia was in fact the main residence of the Chigi family. Designed in the 17th century by prolific architect Bernini, it mixes some previous castle elements with Baroque ones such as the blue grey fa?ade which was in fashion at that time in Rome. The real beauty of this palace, however, lies in the original furniture and decorations that have remained virtually the same over the centuries. While you walk through the halls and rooms you feel as though nothing has changed since the Chigi family lived there. The walls of some rooms are still decorated with rare examples of leather ?Cordova? lining, with gold and silver engravings. The large kitchen with its oven reaching up to the vaulted ceiling, or the 17th century furniture designed by Carlo Fontana, both give you the feeling that someone wearing breeches and a powdered wig might turn up any second. This is why films with a historic theme are often made there, the most famous of which was Luchino Visconti?s ?The Leopard?.
After a long restoration, the park is also accessible to visitors, and inside you can find, hidden behind oaks, chestnut trees and cedars, Baroque fountains and an aviary decorated with stone lions and the shield of the Savelli family (who used to reign in Ariccia before the Chigi?s came into power). It is no wonder that this was also a favourite walk of artists such as Turner and Corot when they were staying at Locanda Martorelli (in front of the palace) during the Grand Tour days.
Photos courtesy of Palazzo Chigi
The square on the top of Janiculum Hill and the avenue (passeggiata) going throughout all the Hill were formed in 1885-1887 on the territory of the ex Parco Corsini. Numerous busts of the volunteers who took part in the defense of Rome stand along the road, making a pleasant walk to the square.
Visiting Rome by night is really nice...less cars, less people and the giant monument for you alone.... or with some other young people gathered to talk and drink together. The area of the coliseum seems to be appreciated by the young Romans...there is also a gay cafe not so far and the atmosphere is quite fun.
That is the actual look that you must have in Italy : Big sunglasses that makes you look like a fly ;-) It is for girls and boys...but there are much bigger than on the picture! On the Spanish stairs, you will find a lot of people selling such sunglasses...but of courses copies of the most famous brands : Channel, Dior,...
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An interesting and unexpected crossroads, not unlike the Quattro Canti / Four Corners in Palermo, just that they do not significantly divide Rome up into districts the way the corners do.
Take a look !
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