Rome Travel Guide

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Finding another (too well) hidden gem - Diulio Cambellotti's Santa Barbara Chapel

We feel comfortable bringing this post to our readers, even in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, because even were the virus to disappear tomorrow, it wouldn't be possible to visit the remarkable chapel of Santa Barbara.  The Institute in which it is housed is closed for repairs, with no opening date in sight.  So enjoy RST's virtual tour!

We are fans of, and followers of, the 20th-century craftsman and artist, Duilio Cambellotti, who is featured in works in Villa Torlonia (especially the Casina delle Civette) and elsewhere in Rome as well as other places in Italy. Last Spring we gathered in a post several places in Rome to see his work - indoors and out. But we had missed a large and lovely one, the windows that frame the altar in the small chapel within the Istituto Storico e di Cultura dell'Arma del Genio - an odd complex of buildings Bill wrote about in 2014, near Foro Italico.

Sketch by Cambellotti of Santa Barbara
for the chapel in the Istituto...
Imagine our surprise to find a large and complex Cambellotti work later last year IN that Istituto Storico - the chapel of Santa Barbara, patron saint of, appropriately, artillerymen and miners.
(Capella Santa Barbara)

Immediately below is Cambellotti's "signature" in the windows, explaining it was his idea and design, and that Giulio Cesare Giuiliani was the craftsman (I think), created in XVIII E.F. (18th year of the Fascists, or likely 1940). One reason the enormous windows look so good is that they were restored in 2000.

In the photo of the chapel below, one can see the military men digging out a bunker at left, underground at right and in the middle, bottom and above the bottom middle panel, as radio transmitters (2nd photo below). 


 We were fortunate to have an extensive tour of the museum and the chapel as part of 2019's OpenHouseRoma. 

And now, I must add a postscript - unfortunately the Institute and Museum are now closed for restoration. And, as those things go, who knows for how long. It's possible one could talk one's way into the chapel. The library and archives remain open by appointment.

Below are external views of the Istituto.


This very Fascist design is outside, but inside the external walls of the complex; in a courtyard.

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