Galleria Sciarra

Galleria Sciarra, Rome
On a wander through the centre of Rome the other day, I took a short cut through the recently restored Galleria Sciarra. Situated very close to the Trevi Fountain on Piazza dell' Oratorio, this gorgeous and utterly surprising arcade is easily missed, so I thought I'd post something about it here in our Discover Rome section, where we take a closer look at some of the hidden treasures in the Eternal City that are sometimes overshadowed by the city's more famous landmarks.

The arcade is named after the building's original owner, Prince Maffeo Sciarra, who in the late 1880s commissioned the architect Giulio De Angelis to design a glass-domed galleria to serve as a fashionable shopping centre for Rome. Painter Giuseppe Cellini decorated the space and the frescoes he produced are a wonderful example of the influence of English pre-Raphaelite art on Italian artists at the end of the 19th century, in their mixing of Renaissance decoration with images of contemporary women. In fact, the role of women in middle class society is very much at the heart of the fresco cycle, albeit in the traditional roles of mother, wife and housekeeper, as well as personifying the female "virtues", some of which are seen in the photo below:

Galleria Sciarra, Rome - Frescoes by Giuseppe Cellini

  • Amabilis - streches out her arms in welcome;
  • Fidelis - points to her faithful heart, with a dog symbolically placed at her feet;
  • Misericors -is cutting her long hair and thus making a sacrifice.
Look out for this hidden gem next time you're in Rome!

Photos © Deborah Swain - All rights reserved