Porta Settimiana

Porta SettimianaToday's facade 15 Century. Rome stopped here! Via della Lungara was outside and defenseless.

Under Emperor Septimus Severus (192 - 201 AD), was the first recording of the gate's presence: the entrance to his country estate.

Then it was incorporated into the Aurelian walls at the end of the 3C to render Rome inviolate, which it didn't. If you look up you can see where the portcullis descended, and note the massive hinges on either side.

During the Middle Ages (in 1123 AD) it was mentioned as marking the boundary of Rome, and things stayed that way until 1633. It was restored in 1451, 1798 and 1995. Lucky are the people who live in the tiny apartment carved out of the thickness of the wall. They have a terrace on the battlements. But watch out for the ghosts! On both sides, there were frescoes under canopies that have seen better days.

Attraverso Porta Settimiana si entra nel cuore di Trastevere

La Fornarina. The baker's daughter "La Fornarina", Raphael's beautiful mistress and model for many paintings, lived here (today Romolo Restaurant, one of the oldest taverns in town).
So besotted with her was he that he had "a broken heart" when the Pope had her spirited away as he and Chigi felt Raphael was doing too much loving, and not enough painting.

Via Porta Settimiana, 8

Piazza della Scala

Any house with walls that go up diagonally can be considered medieval. There are a few along Via della Scala, especially on your right. Look at no. 54, an ancient farmhouse. This area was a fief of the Stefaneschi family in the Middle Ages - and some of the women were so powerful the men had to take the women's name in marriage and not vice-versa.

Old Pharmacy of Piazza della Scala

Via della ScalaThis pharmacy was opened by the Carmelite monks in 1523 to help the sick and needy.

The monks had invented a special "Acqua della Scala", a deep red liquid with properties that cured many forms of plague, one of which just happened to be raging that very year. The 16 C alone had no fewer than four plagues: 1523, 1527, 1538, 1558.

The populace of Medieval and Renaissance Rome was constantly being decimated by a variety of diseases: bubonic plague (brought on by the bite of a flea who had first bitten an infected rat); dysentery (widespread through dirty food); typhus (from contaminated drinking water, often due to the Tiber flooding which brought water mixed with sewage into the streets - the Ancient Romans were the first to eliminate their "used water" via pipes into the rivers); and malaria, which occurred regularly every summer when the mosquitoes could breed happily in the stagnant ponds or moats around the city.

In 1726 Fra’ Basilio concocted such famous herbal remedies that he was consulted by kings and cardinals and held a study program for fledgling chemists.

The old pharmacy on the upper floor still looks much like it did, with marble urns where the decoctions were stored.

Piazza della Scala, 23. Tel. 06 5806217.

St. Maria della Scala

Built in 1592 to house a miracle picture which had hung on the stairs (scala) of a medieval house across the square. The pretty altar canopy with columns (Carlo Rainaldi 1650) was added later.

Piazza della Scala

Museum of Folklore

(Museo del Folklore e dei Poeti Romani). Next to the Church of St. Egidio, this building used to house the Carmelite Nuns. The museum has very attractive "tableaux" of Roman life 300 years ago (one flight up), and copies of famous statues around town.

The Museum is temporarily closed. Will open for the Jubilee year.

Painting " Festival of the Moccoletti in Via del Corso" by Ippolito Caffi (1809-66), showing the locals playing the game of extinguishing each others' candles during Carnival.

Piazza Sant’Egidio, 1b. Tel. 06 5816563

Now turn left out of the square and right on Via della Pelliccia. Walk along here and turn right on Vicolo del Piede: don't miss no. 29, totally medieval. Now take the left fork on Via della Fonte dell’Olio and admire the houses on the right. This is the route the oil took when it flowed from a natural spring to the Tiber River.