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Porta Latina (Book 1) (Map A4) (Day 5) (View C10) (Rione Campitelli)

In this page:
 The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
 Today's view
 The gate
 S. Giovanni in Oleo
 S. Giovanni a Porta Latina
 Along Via Latina
 Tombe della Via Latina
 The Walls between Porta Latina and Porta S. Sebastiano

The Plate (No. 9)

Porta Latina

Porta Latina is very similar to Porta S. Lorenzo. The two round towers were added by Belisarius in the VIth century. Via Latina led to little towns south of Rome and eventually joined Via Appia. The limited importance of Via Latina explains why this gate was closed for long periods. The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below which shows: 1) Porta Latina; 2) S. Giovanni in Oleo; 3) S. Giovanni a Porta Latina. The larger 1924 map shows 1) Tomb at the bridge crossing the railway; 2) Roman fountain excavated in Via Cesare Baronio; 3) Mausoleo dei Cessati Spiriti; 4) Tombe della Via Latina.

Small View


The view today

The gate is very well preserved and the limited traffic did not require openings in the walls or enlargement of the gate.

The Gate and S. Giovanni in Oleo

The Gate and S. Giovanni in Oleo

The gate (1) has no decorations but a monogram (4) on the keystone. Behind the gate you see the Oratory in memory of St. John the Evangelist who in this place survived boiling oil (Oléo). The current Oratory (2) is said to have been designed by Bramante in 1509, for sure it was restored under Alexander VII by Francesco Borromini who added the frieze (background) and the papal mountains and star. The rear entrance bears the coat of arms (3) of the French prelate B. Adam and an unusual inscription in French.

S. Giovanni a Porta Latina

S. Giovanni a Porta Latina

The church dates back to the Vth century and it was built using materials of Roman temples.

Along Via Latina

Along Via Latina

Via Latina reached some towns of lower Latium and eventually it joined Via Appia near Monte Cassino. It had limited importance, but nevertheless it was chosen as a site for erecting funerary monuments or building villas. Today its initial stretch runs through a highly populated borough and the memories of the past come as a surprise. The image shows 1) a brickwork funerary monument decorated with two columns (near a bridge crossing the railway); 2) a fountain at the center of a large basin (in Via Cesare Baronio). The Romans usually kept fish in their fountains so the holes in the basin of this fountain were perfect for fish during spawning; 3) a funerary monument which was covered by slabs of travertine (Mausoleo dei Cessati Spiriti).

Tombe della Via Latina

Tombe della Via Latina

A section of Via Latina at its fourth mile was excavated in the XIXth century and several hypogea (underground chambers) were identified. They were near a hay-loft which turned out to be a three-storey Roman tomb. It is called Tomba Barberini because in the XVIIIth century the area belonged to this family. It is very similar to Sepolcro di Annia Regillia. Today this section of Via Latina is owned by the State.

The Walls between Porta Latina and Porta S. Sebastiano

The walls between Porta Latina and Porta S. Sebastiano

This section of the walls is very picturesque. Several restorations were carried out by the Popes.In the top picture you see a coat of arms of Pius II. The picture below shows a restoration (between the two towers) by Pius IV.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Porta Latina, e chiesa di s. Giovanni Evangelista
Prese un tal nome questa porta dalla Via, che porta al Lazio celebre provincia de' Romani, ed č antica, ne' mai ha mutato sito o nome, sebbene in oggi il Lazio dicesi Campania. Appresso a questa si vede la chiesa di s. Giovanni, che dagli Scrittori Ecclesiastici si dice ante portam latinam, la quale bisogna dire, che sia molto antica, mentre fu ristaurata da Adriano I. che fu del 772. Da prima fu collegiata, e perņ nel 1044. essendovi Arciprete un tale Giovanni, secondo altri, di Graziano, fu eletto Papa: indi vi stettero le monache Benedettine, e poi i frati Trinitarj scalzi; oggi perņ vi abitano i frati Minimi di s. Francesco di Paola.
A sinistra della divisata porta si vede una cappella rotonda dedicata al medesimo santo Evangelista, la quale si dice in oleo, perchč ivi fu posto nella caldaia di olio bollente, dalla quale egli uscģ senza ricevere lesione alcuna. Fu rinnovata l'anno 1658. col disegno del Borromini, e si dice essere in essa li strumenti del martirio del Santo, e de' capelli e sangue sparso nella rasura del capo.

Next plate in Book 1: Porta S. Sebastiano 
Next plate in Day 5 itinerary: Porta S. Sebastiano
Next step in your tour of Rione Campitelli: Porta S. Sebastiano

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