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Porta Pia (Book 1) (Map A2) (Day 2)  (View B6) (Rione Trevi) and (Rione Monti)

In this page:
 The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
 Today's view
 The gate
 The Walls between Porta Pia and Castro Pretorio

The Plate (No. 4)

Porta Pia

Book I is dedicated to Charles III, King of the two Sicilies who became King of Spain in 1759. Vasi portrays in this plate a visit paid by the King in 1744 to Benedictus XIV. The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below which shows: 1) Porta Pia; 2) Gardens of Villa Patrizi. The dotted line near Porta Pia in the small map delineates the border between Rione Trevi (left) and Rione Monti (right).

Small View


The view today

The outer part of Porta Pia was rebuilt under Pius IX in 1868. At the time the State of the Church was restricted to Latium and the pope was aware he could not resist from a military point the Italian army; maybe that is why there is an angel holding the symbols of the pope, as if protecting the gate. But in 1870, the collapse of the French Empire (Napoleon III protected the State of the Church) left the pope without allies and on September 20, 1870 the Italian bersaglieri (light infantry) entered Rome through a breach near Porta Pia.

The Gate

Porta Pia

Michelangelo prepared three different sketches for this gate and Pius IV apparently chose the least expensive one. The coat of arms was selected by Filippo Juvarra to open his book of drawings on the coats of arms of the popes. Porta Pia replaced in a slightly different position Porta Nomentana, known also as Porta S. Agnese, because it led to the church of S. Agnese fuori delle Mura. In general the monumental side of the gates of Rome is the external one. Porta Pia is an exception: Pius IV opened a straight road (named after him Strada Pia) which linked the Quirinal with this gate; the decoration of its internal side was meant as a celebration of Strada Pia.

The Walls between Porta Pia and Castro Pretorio

The walls

Porta Nomentana can still be identified in the wall to the left of Porta Pia. Above it Pius IV put a little coat of arms. The towers near Porta Pia were strengthened in the XVth century by Pope Pius II, whose coat of arms shows five little moons.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Porta Pia
Nomentana dicevasi anticamente quella porta, dipoi si disse di s. Agnese per la vicina chiesa di detta Santa, ora però la diciamo Porta Pia, perchè da Pio IV. fu ornata col disegno da celebre Buonarroti; ma essendo rimasta imperfetta, fu poi proseguita dal Cav. Bernini, il quale neppure la terminò. A sinistra di questa porta fu l'antico e famoso Castro Pretorio, ed appresso il Vivario, vedendosene ancor le mura distese in fuori, e 4. miglia lungi dalla Città fu' la famosa villa di Faonte liberto di Nerone, in cui egli uccise se stesso.

Next plate in Book 1: Porta Chiusa
Next step in Day 2 itinerary: Casino e Villa Patrizi
Next step in your tour of Rione Trevi: Chiesa di S. Susanna
Next step in your tour of Rione Monti: Mura dell'antico Castro Pretorio

Go to    or to  Book 1 or to my Home Page on Baroque Rome or to my Home Page on Rome in the footsteps of an XVIIIth century traveller.

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