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Palazzo Massimi detto delle Colonne (Book 4) (Day 4) (View C7) (Rione Parione)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
Palazzo Massimi
The rear of the palace (or Palazzo Istoriato)
S. Pantaleo
Palazzo Santobono then Braschi
Farnesina ai Baullari
Palazzi di Girolamo Pichi e Ceccolo Pichi and S. Elisabetta dei Fornari

The Plate (No. 76)

Palazzo Massimi detto delle Colonne

On the papal street leading towards St Peter's there were little squares like this one in front of Palazzo Massimi belonging to a family claiming to derive from Fabius Maximus Cunctator. The fašade is curved to follow the line of the street, which was influenced by the existence in this site of an odeon, a Roman theatre built immediately next to the Stadium of Diocletianus (today Piazza Navona). The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Palazzo Santobono; 2) S. Pantaleo; 3) Palazzo di Pirro (part of Palazzo Massimi); 4) Papal Street leading to Palazzo Valle. The small map shows also 5) Rear fašade of Palazzo Massimi; 6) Palazzo di Gerolamo Pichi; 7) Farnesina ai Baullari; 8) Palazzo di Ceccolo Pichi; 9) S. Elisabetta dei Fornari.

Small ViewSmall map

Today

The view today

The need to open a large street between Piazza Venezia and St Peter's led to linking several existing squares like that of Palazzo Massimi. Most of the papal street is immediately north of what is today called Corso Vittorio (Emanuele II). Palazzo Santobono and Chiesa di S. Pantaleo are not visible in the image, nor were they visible in the XVIIIth century, but Vasi nevertheless showed them in his view.

Palazzo Massimi

Palazzo Massimi


Palazzo Massimi

The palace was built by Baldassarre Peruzzi in 1536 on the ruins of a previous palace destroyed during the Sack of Rome in 1527 and it has some very innovative solutions, which in some aspects look to the classical world (for example the portico and the entrance to the inner court) and in other details (for example the little aerial windows, which you see in my background) anticipate the future Baroque predilection for curved lines. The interior was decorated by Poussin and on the second floor the palace has its own private chapel. The interest of the Massimo family for Roman art is confirmed by a mosaic floor from the Emperor Hadrian's villa. Every year on March 16 the palace is open to the public in memory of a miracle by S. Filippo Neri, who brought back to life for a short time a young member of the family. The fašade of the palace was cleaned in 2002.
Palazzo di Pirro was named after a statue of Mars, which once stood in its courtyard. The statue was thought to represent Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus who in 282-275 BC fought against the Romans. In 279 he defeated the Romans in Apulia, but he suffered such heavy losses that since then a Pyrrhic victory is a useless victory.
Because the Massimo claimed to descend from Fabius Maximus Cunctator and this Roman commander claimed in turn to descend from Hercules, the coat of arms of the family is shown next to an infant Hercules, who at the age of one year strangled the two serpents sent by Hera to destroy him.

The Rear of the Palace

The other fašade

The rear fašade of Palazzo Massimi shows a typical Renaissance use of graffiti. It was painted in 1523 maybe by Daniele da Volterra and it shows scenes from the Bible. The column, most likely a column of the odeon was re-erected in this site in 1950.

S. Pantaleo

S. Pantaleo

The fašade of the small church of S. Pantaleo was rebuilt by Giuseppe Valadier in 1805 at the expense of the Torlonia family (the new rich of XIXth century Rome). The decoration is similar to that of Piazza del Popolo (another work by Valadier). The back and the interior of the church have maintained their late XVIIth century design (by Giovanni Antonio De Rossi).

Palazzo Braschi

Palazzo Braschi

In 1790-92 Luigi Braschi Onesti, nephew of the pope in charge (Pius VI), bought and modified the existing Palazzo Santobono to transform it into a stately palace, the last of a long series of palaces built by nephews of the pope who made money during his pontificate (nepotism). The courtyard is decorated with the heraldic symbol of Pius VI. The street to the right of Palazzo Braschi leads to Piazza Navona, while the street to the left leads to Piazza di Pasquino, where you can see another image of Palazzo Braschi and the heraldic symbol of the Onesti family.

Farnesina ai Baullari

Farnesina ai Baullari

Farnesina ai Baullari means (small) Farnese palace in the Baullari (trunk makers) street, but the reference to the Farnese is wrong as the building belonged to a Breton prelate, Thomas le Roy, who had added to his heraldic symbols, the fleurs-de-lis, the arms of the French royal family. This led to assuming the palace belonged to the Farnese, whose heraldic symbols were the fleurs-de-lis too. It was built in 1522 and there is still uncertainty about the architects who designed it: for some time it was attributed to Michelangelo, but today it is thought to be a work either by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger or by Baldassare Peruzzi. The palace was impacted by the opening of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and it got a new fašade on that side. The original fašade (image on the right) is in the rear alley. The small but very elegant loggia is original too, while the steps leading to the building are a modern addition required by the new level of the street.

Palazzi di Girolamo e di Ceccolo Pichi

Palazzo di Girolamo Pichi e Ceccolo Pichi

The print by Vasi shows to the left a large palace which was modified by the opening of Corso Vittorio Emanuele: by walking in a rear alley one can see its remaining original parts. The house of Girolamo Pichi was built towards the end of the XVth century. Picchio in Italian means woodpecker and this explains why two woodpeckers decorate the windows of the house and a portal (now inside the modern part of the building).
The father of Girolamo, Ceccolo Pichi had a less imposing house in the square behind the palace of his son. His house has been modified, but the portal retains a fine Renaissance relief.
The opening of Corso Vittorio Emanuele led to the enlargement of some of the side-streets. This caused the pulling down of Chiesa di S. Elisabetta dei Fornari which stood opposite the lateral entrance of Chiesa di S. Andrea della Valle.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:


Chiesa di s. Pantaleo
Fra questa giÓ antica parrocchiale fondata nel 1316. da Onorio III. e vi stavano alcuni Preti Inglesi; essendo poi nel 1621. conceduta al B. Giuseppe Calasanzio fondatore de' Chierici regolari delle Scuole pie, eresse nel vicino casamento il suo collegio, e poi rinnov˛ la chiesa col disegno di Antonio de' Rossi; fra le pitture evvi il Santo martire dipinto dal Cav. Calabrese, e quelle intorno all'immagine della ss. Vergine sono della scuola del P. Pozzi Gesuita.
Palazzo Massimi
Dopo la detta chiesa siegue il palazzo dell' antichissima famiglia Massimi, eretto col disegno di Baldassare Peruzzi Senese, ed Ŕ degno di osservazione particolare, per il portico in linea curva ornato di colonne, e nicchioni ben adattate, che pare opera antica, e fa nobile prospetto nella strada papale, ed ancora per li tre cortili distribuiti con carattere grandioso, sebbene in poco sito, ornati di colonne, statue; bassirilievi antichi, e fontane, e vi si vedono alcuni capitelli di singolare bellezza non messi in opera. Ed Ŕ finalmente sopra ogni altro notabile, che nelle case contigue verso la chiesa di s. Andrea della Valle, possedute giÓ da Pietro Massimi l'anno 1455. sotto Niccol˛ V. fu per la prima volta eretta la stampa de' caratteri ritrovata da Corrado Suveynheyn, e Arnoldo Pannatriz entrambi Tedeschi, e i primi libri, che vi si stampassero, furono il s. Agostino della CittÓ di Dio, e Lattanzio Firmiano: con che daremo fine a questa quarta giornata, che non Ŕ stata di poca fatica a me, ed al mio Lettore.
Nel prospetto posteriore di questo palazzo si vedemo delle pitture di chiaro, e scuro, le quali sono opere di Daniele da Volterra.
...Mancherei troppo al mio dovere ... se altresý non accennassi la bellezza dell'architettura, che si vede in un palazzino quý incontro detto la Farnesina, creduto benchŔ vanamente per casa del Buonarroti.

Next plate in Book 4: Palazzo Marescotti

You have completed Day 4 itinerary! Move to Day 5.
Next step in your tour of Rione Parione: Palazzo della Cancelleria

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