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Cappella del Casale di Sant'Alessio is a ruined 16th century farmstead chapel at Via Francesco Moradini in the Ardeatino quarter. The local suburb seems to be called Ottavo Colle.

An alternative name is Casale di Vigna Murata.

Location Edit

This one is not at all easy to find. It is attached to a derelict old farmstead off the Via Ardeatina, hidden away in an overgrown wooded area.

The "Via Francesco Moradini" is actually a private drive, beginning at a monumental gateway arch painted red at the junction of the Via Ardeatina and Via di Grotta Perfetta. It leads, in the first instance, to the former Osservatorio Nazionale Terremoti which is now part of the INGV or Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia. This institution has its main campus to the south, with an address at Via di Vigna Murata 605. The "via" carries on to the Istituto Tecnico Agrario “Giuseppe Garibaldi”, a long-established agricultural school which owns the farm.

To find the Casale, go up the drive and take the first left down an overgrown track.

History Edit

The farmstead belonged to an old country estate, called the Tenuta di Sant'Alessio. This was only 82 hectares, not very large for the Roman Campagna.

The fabric seems to be 16th century. However, it allegedly incorporates remains of a campanile or bell-tower and some vaulting belonging to a previous church which is perhaps of the 13th century (this assertion could do with checking). Also, the presence of an ancient cryptoporticus is evidence that the site was once occupied by an imperial-era villa.

The estate's emergence into documented history in the 14th century shows it to have been owned by the monastery of Sant'Alessio all'Aventino, hence the name. The surmise follows that a monastery once existed here in the early Middle Ages, but this is unprovable.

The Istituto had been founded in 1872 with the laudable aim of educating the Campagna peasants in farming skills -they had been notorious for their ignorance for centuries. The Tenuta became its home in 1907, and (unusually) the government granted the freehold in 1911.

By the look of it, the old Casale has received little or no maintenance since then.

The original patrimony of the Istituto has been nibbled at over the years, for example to provide premises for the INGV. Sixty-seven hectares of farmland is left, but this part of the city is a hot-spot for suburban development and there are concerns (2018) that the Tenuta might become zoned for the purpose.

It seems that the fate of the Casale with its chapel is either to fall down of its own accord, or be knocked down.

Appearance Edit

The original 16th century casale edifice was a large rectangular two-storey block, in brick rendered in yellow ochre. The main roof fell in some time ago, as witness the large tree growing inside. The fabric is complex, containing several disjunct elements including what looks like the chapel in the second storey to the north, under its own gable-pitched roof of which only half survives. The presence of a place of worship is demonstrated by a simple gabled brick bell-cote or campanile on the exterior wall next to this.

There is evidence of more recent alterations and adaptations, perhaps after the main roof collapsed. The possible chapel mentioned above seems to have had a vertical rectangular window in its façade cut downwards and provided with an unloading shelf in order to turn the space into a storage barn. A small round window is in the gable above this (?) barn door.

External links Edit

Info.roma web-page

"Ottavo Colle" web-page

Presentation on the school (PDF)

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