Forum Boarium - Tiber Island


Palazzo Cenci

(Late 15 AD) Technically just outside the Ghetto. This vast palace straddles a small hill of rubble from the ancient theater and circus (Monte Cenci).

The flight of stairs at the entrance leads to an antique statue. This elegance belies the grisly doings of the 16C when Beatrice Cenci killed her father Francesco after he had raped her. She was immediately put to death as an example to deter others! This harsh sentence served to frighten the powerful families, warning them to end their bloody feuds.

Palazzo Cenci


Palazzo CenciEnd of 15C. The son of the Pope's treasurer, Francesco Cenci was immensely rich and had already bought off the courts when tried for sodomy. His fine: a crippling 100,000 scudi.
He was a terror to his 12 children with his violent temper. After a particularly fierce argument with some of his offspring he took his wife and Beatrice to a castle outside of Rome.

1598. Beatrice found solace with the castle keep, Olimpio, and hatched the plot to kill her father with the connivance of her stepmother, two brothers and Olimpio.
They bludgeoned him to death as he slept. First imprisoned, Beatrice and her stepmother were then beheaded on Piazza di Ponte Sant'Angelo, while brother Giacomo was tortured with hot pincers, bashed with a mace, and then drawn and quartered.
The younger brother fared better. He was let out for good behavior after just one year in prison. The Pope confiscated all their properties and the Cenci family fell into oblivion.

Piazza Cenci (Map G-H 7)

Fontana delle Tartarughe

Fountain of Turtles, detail Fountain of Turtles

(Fountain of Turtles) (1585). A block away from the Ghetto, a must see is this charming fountain.

A Florentine sculptor, Taddeo Landini, following the drawings of Giacomo della Porta, has created playful young boys nudging turtles into the basin while stepping on pet dolphins who are squirting water.

Piazza Mattei (Map G 7)