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Giuseppe Vasi's Digression - Marino


"HIC TIBI TUTA QUIES ET QUAE CUPIT OTIA VIRTUS DEFICIETQ(UE) NIHIL SI MENS NON DEFICIT AEQUA" the 1696 inscription which greeted the travellers from the lost main gate of Marino stated that "here you will find the quiet and rest which virtue desires and nothing lacks to those who have a balanced mind". It was a sort of advertisement of what Marino offered to those who went there to escape the heat of Rome and enjoy its good wine.

Inscription at the entrance of Marino; gate leading to the Colonna gardens; Palazzo Colonna
Inscription at the entrance of Marino; gate leading to the Colonna gardens; Palazzo Colonna

The main street led to the top of the town and to a palace where an isolated column in a niche told the viewer that he was looking at the Colonna palace. Marino was one of the few fiefdoms the Colonna had not sold to the emergent families of XVIIth century Rome (Borghese, Barberini, Pamphilj, Chigi).

Main fountain and detail of the Cathedral
Fontana dei Mori and detail of the main church

The main fountain celebrates what was both the great achievement of the family and the beginning of its economic decline. The four moors (meant to portray Turkish prisoners, both men and women) tied to a column are a reference to the naval battle of Lepanto where in 1571 the allied fleets of Spain, Venice and the Papal States defeated the Turks. Marcantonio Colonna led the papal fleet and he actually paid for its manning and equipment: his contribution to the victory gave him glory and in memory of the event a mermaid was added to the family heraldic symbols (and mermaids support the basin of the fountain and a mermaid is portrayed in the decoration of the main church of Marino). The less positive aspect of the event was its economic aspect: the victory of Lepanto did not lead to any actual conquest and Marcantonio Colonna and his successors had to deal with the expenses incurred for granting to their family the honour of having fought for the defence of Faith.
The fountain is also known as Fontana del Vino as it sprouts wine (on special occasions only: there is another Fontana del Vino in Genzano).


Main church
S. Barnaba

Notwithstanding their economic difficulties the Colonna managed to give Marino a very imposing main church designed by Antonio del Grande in 1650.

S. Maria del Rosario
S. Maria del Rosario

Immediately outside Marino a huge Dominican nunnery with its small windows conveys the idea of a prison (which in a sense it was). It has an interesting XVIIIth century church by Giuseppe Sardi with an elaborate entrance, which currently suffers from the excessive contrast between its whiteness and the shabby appearance of the rest of the building.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:


Marino castello de' Colonnesi
Fuori della medesima porta s. Giovanni, prendendo la strada a destra, che a drittura guida al regno di Napoli, si trova dopo 14. miglia questo castello giÓ detto Mariano o Mareno. Prese egli un tal nome da Cajo Marino, perchŔ fabbricato sopra la sua villa, o pure da Lucio Murena, che vi ebbe la famosa sua delizia. Fu ancora detto Ferentino, celebre dopo la destruzione di Albalunga, per il concorso de' popoli Latini, che vi andavano a consultare i loro affari: perci˛ molto grande e magnifico dovette essere, vedendosi per quelle contrade varie rovine maravigliose.
Evvi ora di ammirabile un quadro del Guercino da Cento rappresentante s. Bartolommeo Apost. posto nella chiesa Collegiata, ed altro in quella della ss. TrinitÓ, dipinto da Guido Reni.

Next step in your tour of the Environs of Rome: Velletri

See my Home Page on Baroque Rome or my Home Page on Rome in the footsteps of an XVIIIth century traveller.




All images © 1999 - 2004 by Roberto Piperno. Write to romapip@quipo.it