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Santa Maria dell'Orto

Santa Maria dell'Orto The garden in which was made the first miracle of Virgin (about 1488) was part of the large number of orchards and fields that stretched for centuries on the right bank of Tiber. Exept for certain wetlands, it seems that until fifth century BC, emmer and barley were grown in, while in the fourth century (and in the near Monteverde Nuovo, until the middle of twentieth century) also wheat, grapes and olives, and vegetables but the most common - at least according to what some chronicles say - they were very modest in quality. The area where the church is located today was called prata Mutia or "meadows Muzio (Scevola)," we will discuss shortly. In short distance, more or less where today the Trastevere train station is, lay the gardens of Caesar, the same as the greatest Julius left as inheritance to the Roman people. Near after - where today there is Radio Square – prata Quintia lays, meadows of Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, where the distinguished general retired to conduct a purely rural life.

Formerly, that part of Rome stretched trans Tiberim (beyond Tiber), although an essential outpost for the defense of the city, was a strictly rural area sparsely populated: the few farmers situated there, however, were also the first to face armed Etruscan incursions. In this foothills - including today's Mastai and San Francesco a Ripa squares – there is traces of a country’s settlement, the pagus Ianiculensis, which already existed in Roman monarchy. Santa Maria dell'OrtoHill and village, in ancient times, were subject to Etruscan city of Veio, but it was under King Anco Marzio that the bridge Sublicio was built (a few meters further north than today) and began de facto Roman control on that outpost. Then the reform of Servius Tullius instituted 4 urban tribes and 17 rustic one: the little possessions over the Tiber, called septem pagi (seven villages) formed the tribe Romilia, from the name of the gens who dominated.

In 509 BC the last king of etruscan origin was exiled from Rome, he was Tarquinio so despotic as to have merited the epithet of the suberb. He tried every means to recover the lost throne, so that one day he turned to Porsenna - king of Chiusi - who would provide the military support needed to force action. The Etruscan king sat personally at the head of an army and, passed the Gianicolo hill, put the camp near the bridge Sublicio, starting a series of heroic acts.

Publio Orazio said Coclite (as blind in one eye), a descendant of the famous Orazi’s family who fought against Curiazi, who alone taken the fight on the bridge - attacked by surprise by the Etruscans - as long as the fellow behind him managed to demolish the wooden structure and thus prevent the possible invasion of the city.

And then Clelia, part of a group of girls - all daughters of prominent people - had claimed as hostage by Porsenna as a guarantee of the negotiations. But Clelia was also equipped with indomitable temper, so he led her companions, and after many adventures he was able to return within friendly territory. The Romans, however, didn’t want to lose the honor, so returned the hostages to Porsenna. Clelia came before the king with such pride to convince him to postpone her home and finally remove the siege. Later, it was dedicated to her an equestrian statue, the first that has ever been in Rome dedicated to a woman.

Finally Caio Muzio Gordo, who recklessly entered the camp to kill Porsenna. Unfortunately he stabbed the wrong person and was caught by the guards, who brought him before the king. Here, with fearless determination, placed the right hand on a brazier and let it burn, such as self-punishment for the failure of the operation. This event impressed so much Porsenna that he decided to enter into peace negotiations, while Muzio taken since then the name of "Scevola", or rather left-handed, with whom he would become famous.

Santa Maria dell'OrtoThe Roman Senate, even to him, such Orazio Coclite, granted a prize piece of land, but in the case of Muzio, wanted to give it a particular symbolic gesture: the farm must be located in that same area on which Porsenna had once placed the camp. Someone has come to give even a precise size to the lot of land: one acre, or approximately 2,500 m². In any case, from that moment, the small rural area near the Tiber was known as "Muzio meadows" or "gardens of Muzio".

Because of its characteristic rustic and secluded, for centuries the over the Tiber region was considered almost detached from the rest of the City, so that only after the administrative reform desired by Augustus it formed the Region XIV, whose boundaries were given on the north by Vatican Field, on the east from the Tiber (including the Tiber Island), south by Porta Portese, west by Gianicolo. In this way it also became the largest among all urban regions, with its perimeter of about 33,400 feet (about ten thousand meters), as stated in the Regionari catalogs. The Tiber, in fact, separated the two hemispheres of the city not only in a symbolic sense. The territory was also called Romilla (named after the ancient gens Romilia) and the people who had to go beyond the bridge used to say - even in the nineteenth century - "I greet you, I go in Rome." It could also happen that some people, especially older ones, were proud that their lives had never "past the bridge". The blood and exasperated rivalry between Trastevere and neighbor of the district Monti (the "monticiani") had no match between any of the other districts of Rome. In fact, besides often stone-throwing exchange with the other side, the Trastevere people felt to belong to a different urban elite, to a "Roman" even higher than that of other citizens, perhaps reinforced by the fact that - historically - the district was inhabited "from the purest Latin blood, so that the rulers for a long time would not join up with other people living there" (see Publio Barghiglioni - The Tiber Island and the trastevere region in "The common people of Rome”, by Francesco Sabatini, Rome 1890).

If this were not enough, even the dialect spoken in Romilla was a bit different from that used in the rest of the city, although in turn the dialect is divided into two strains: the dialect of the Ground and of Ripa. The latter referred to the language used in the area around the port of Ripa Grande, and on Tiber island, "that is Roman, but full of terms and marine ways." In fact, the people of Ripa - always in contact with the sailors of the ships from Calabria and Sicily - ended with assimilate some modes of expression, so that "their imagination, always full of Rome, takes pictures of the south, and has familiarity with the things of the sea "(P. Barghiglioni).

Turning back to the original argument, the area on which stands the church is located in the center of Gianicolo area including both the pagus than the lands of Muzio Scevola. The point was really nerve, especially for its location along the river: already mooring point for the Roman Emporium, became the seat of the port of Ripa Grande as well as of pontificial armory. The river port, in particular, was for centuries a hub of thriving businesses of all kinds. The goods (cereals, wine, oil, various materials, etc..) arrived at the port of Ostia from all around the world: there were sorted and loaded onto smaller ships, which arrived at the port of Ripa Grande pulled by oxen along the banks . However, a few dozen meters from Ripa began the urban section of Via Aurelia (modern way of Lungaretta), vital artery connecting with the north. Many traders were gravitating around the harbor, at the end of the fifteenth century, first associate to form the Brotherhood in honor of Mary (1492) and soon to begin construction of the church on the garden it had seen the fulfillment healing of its owner.

The Church is based in Via Anicia 10. It is possible to reach easily from the trains station of Rome (Termini Station) with the coach of the line H up to Square Belli, with the coach No 75 up to Tavolacci Street (Palace of the examinations) or with the coaches 40 express or 64 up to Wide of Torre Argentina and then with the tram No 8 up to Mastai square.
From the airport Leonardo da Vinci of Fiumicino with the train FR1 up to the station of Rome Trastevere and then with the tram No 8 up to Mastai Square.
The Church is opened for the whole year (except July and August) in the working days from 09:30 AM to 12.30 AM and from 3.30 PM to 6.30 PM; on Sunday and holiday days from 10.00 AM  to 12.00 AM. Accepted for sightseeing groups by appointment only. In holiday days the mass are celebrated at 11.00 AM. There are no celebrations on working days.

Our telephone number is 039-06-58301874. For particular demands, call the number indicated in the answering machine.
Our email address is info@santamariadellorto.it.
In Internet, moreover with our site, we are present also in Wikipedia at page "Chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Orto "