Cappella della Colonia Marina Vittorio Emanuele III is a 20th century Fascist-era hospital chapel at Lungomare Paolo Toscanelli 184 in the Lido di Ostia Ponente quarter.
The Colonia was founded in 1916, well before the massive expansion of Lido di Ostia as a seaside resort for Romans. It was originally a convalescent home for sick children, especially those suffering from tuberculosis for whom there was no effective treatment except to have them breathe clean air.
The architect was Marcello Piacentini, to receive massive sponsorship as an architect by the Fascists later.
The complex was extended by the city under the Fascists, the architect being Vincenzo Fasolo who completed the project in 1932. He was responsible for the chapel.
After serious damage in the Second World War, the complex was restored as a hostel for displaced and vulnerable children in the Fifties but became used by other social outreaches as the number of these declined. The hostel was closed in 1983. The part including the chapel was leased to the Comunità di Sant'Egidio based at Sant'Egidio in Trastevere, and this is their Ostia base.
Layout and fabric Edit
The Colonia is a huge complex stretching along the Lungomare, and the chapel is part of the main block. However, it has its own architectural identity despite abutting the main block at the back and to the right.
The chapel amounts to a small church, on a basilical plan having a nave of four bays with side aisles. The latter have galleries, at the same height as the nave. There is a semi-circular apse, embedded in the range at the back. The style is derivative neo-Baroque (barocchetto).
The fabric consists of brick rendered in a cream colour (now rather tatty), with a framework of reinforced concrete. The roof is flat.
The exposed left hand wall has two storeys, a dividing molded string course indicating the floor of the gallery within. This string course is supported by blind pilasters dividing the bays, and each bay has a round-headed window rather low down. The second storey has no pilasters, but four triangular windows with the string course as their sill and strongly projecting molded frames imitating pediments. Above these are four small round windows.
The façade has two storeys, which are undifferentiated. The blank wall of the first storey is fronted by a large open porch. This consists of a pair of thin pink polyhedral columns, which support a pair of projecting wall corbels themselves supporting a transverse reinforced concrete triangular truss frame in light grey. This supports a pair of concrete slabs forming a gabled canopy, which floats well in front of the truss. There is a cross finial on the gable tip of this, and a pair of heraldic dolphin finials at the outer front corners.
Within the porch, the façade has a white marble frame. A smaller such frame encloses the door-case for the single entrance, and the space between the frames is divided into rectangular compartments by cross-bars. That above the door has a molded marble tablet fitted into it, the epigraph of which has been painted out. It pr
The second storey is weird, and false because the roof behind it is flat. The central portion, in line with the columns of the porch below, is recessed and has four pilasters including two in the corners. The outer zones support a widely spilt pediment with step-molding and a cornice. The inner edges of the pair of pediment fragments extend in front of the corner pair of central zone pilasters, and the latter extend upwards to support a second, much smaller split pediment with no cornice. The inner pair of central zone pilasters extend upwards between this second split pediment and substantially beyond to support a V-gable in the same style as the two split pediments.
The four central zone pilasters flank three triangular-headed windows, the central one being taller and wider. Two little triangular-headed windows, with a shallower top angle, are tucked in below the upper split pediment.
The interior has a central nave and aisles, but the space is a cuboidal box under one flat roof since the aisles have galleries.
The nave bays are separated by massive transversely rectangular piers, which rise to block capitals above the galleries. Horizontal concrete support beams run from these piers to the side walls under the galleries, and identical horizontal thrust-beams run from the capitals to the side walls above the galleries. The capitals have symbolic decoration in relief.
A transverse roof beam runs across the roof above each pair of piers. A semi-circular transverse concrete arch connects the capitals of each pair of piers, and a short support piers rises to the roof beam at the keystone. Piers of identical thickness, thinner than the aisle piers, rise from the springers to the roof beam too. The transverse roof beams are also connected by longitudinal beams to create the roof structure.
The surfaces are in a tan colour, but there is a high grey-veined marble dado along the side walls and at the bases of the piers. These dadoes have a black band at the top. The gallery balustrades each have two slabs of the same marble, separated by curlicued ironwork.
The window embrasures on the left hand side have stencilled decoration involving flowers. The bottom set of windows is replicated by a set of round-headed niches in the right hand side wall, which contain terracotta bas relief panels depicting saints.
The aisle roofs (the undersides of the gallery) are coffered in squares, each coffer having a geometric design based on a hexagon.
The apse has a conch, and is enclosed by a triumphal arch and piers in the same style as those of the nave. It is entirely frescoed, above a dado in the same style as those of the nave. Four blind pilasters in pink marble meld with a frieze dividing the conch from the apse wall. This bears the epigraph Sinite parvulos venire ad me ("Allow the little ones to come to me").
The conch has a depiction of Christ in glory, flanked by two nuns with children, a pair of palm trees and two saints each with a child. The main fresco has two registers, the one above having the four symbols of the Evangelists either side of the Lamb of God. The lower one has Christian symbols flanked by red curtains, the central one being the Cross.
Mass is celebrated on Sundays at 11:30.
Prayer meetings occur on Tuesdays at 17:00, and Wednesdays and Fridays at 19:30.