Traces of afterlife: the Museum of the Souls of Purgatory

On the Lungotevere Prati peeks out a small church with a facade bristling with spiers, the only Roman example of neo-Gothic style: it is the Church of the Sacred Heart of Suffrage (Chiesa del Sacro Cuore del Suffragio), built between 1894 and 1917 on the project by architect Giuseppe Gualandi. On September, 15th 1897, during the works, a fire broke out in one of the chapels; as soon as the flames were tamed, Father Vittorio Jouet, at the time curator of the sanctuary, noticed that behind the altar the smoke had traced the contours of a sad and suffering face.

The first representation of the crucifix: the wooden door of Santa Sabina

The Aventine, today one of the most elegant and exclusive districts of the capital with its villas and lush gardens, was in ancient times the working class neighbourhood of Rome, the hill of plebeians and merchants, as opposed to the aristocratic Palatine – with the his patrician dwellings – which stood right in front of it. Around the 3rd century AD, with the widespread diffusion of the “new” Christian religion, numerous private homes took on the function of places of worship: they were the so-called “domus cultae”. Santa Sabina was founded out of one of these domestic churches in 422 BC. Its wooden door, surprisingly, has reached almost intact to this day.

The Antico Caffè Greco

The Antico Caffè Greco in Via dei Condotti is probably the most famous Roman public venue, with its three centuries of illustrious history. Its birth dates back to 1760, with the foundation by a certain “Nicola di Madalena coffeemaker”, perhaps of Levantine origin, after whom it was named. The first literary testimony is attributed to Pierre Prudhon, who mentions it in a personal letter to Cesare Pascarella. At the beginning of the 19th century, Caffè Greco became the favorite haunt of German artists and intellectuals based in Italy.

Aqua Paola’s Fountain: er Fontanone

For the Romans, the dome of Saints Peter’s Basilica is, confidentially, ‘er cuppolone’, meaning the huge dome. Similarly, the beautiful 17th-century fountain of Aqua Paola, on the top of the Janiculum, is known as ‘er fontanone’, the huge fountain. Its construction was commissioned by Pope Paul V, intending to solve the long-standing problem of water supply in the districts of Trastevere, Borgo and Vaticano.

A tureen in the middle of a square: the Terrina Fountain

The picturesque fountain standing in the center of Piazza della Chiesa Nuova, along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, is confidentially called by Romans, “the tureen”. It was designed and sculpted by Giacomo Della Porta, who completed it in 1590. Originally, the fountain was located in Campo de ’Fiori, where now towers the monument of philospher Giordano Bruno. At the time, just like nowadays, the square was the site of a very lively market of vegetables and flowers (hence the name), and the fountain, quite disrespectfully, served as a dustbin for waste and leftovers, which remained there to rot for days and days, emanating nauseating miasmas and offering a very indecorous spectacle.

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