Santa Maria ad Nives a Salone is a 16th century deconsecrated farm chapel located at Via Andrea Noale 30 at the hamlet of Salone. This is in the Acqua Vergine zone, and is a rural location to the east of the suburb of La Rustica on the far side of the Grande Raccordo Anulare.
The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The name uses the Latin, which in Italian translates Santa Maria della Neve meaning "St Mary of the Snows".
The chapel is part of the Casale di Salone, an ancient farmstead. Its first documented reference dates from 1074, when it belonged to the abbey of San Paolo fuori le Mura. In 1192 it had passed into the possession of the Chapter of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the freehold has remained in its possession ever since despite mostly being on long lease to various tenants.
This ownership explains the dedication of the chapel, which honours that of the basilica.
There might have been a chapel here in the Middle Ages, but there is no evidence of one.
In the early 16th century, Cardinal Agostino Trivulzio obtained a lease and built for himself a country villa which was completed in 1525. The architect was Baldassare Peruzzi. Unfortunately this Villa Trivulzio was almost immediately despoiled in the Sack of Rome in 1527, but the cardinal had it restored. The work included frescoes by Perin del Vaga and Daniele da Volterra, and took place from 1538 to 1541. The extant chapel dates from this project.
Tragically, after the death of the cardinal in 1548 the villa was abandoned and reverted to being a working farmstead for the next four hundred and fifty years. The chapel catered to the very small rural population in the district.
At the end of the 20th century, the chapel was regarded as a subsidiary Mass centre of the parish of Nostra Signora di Czestochowa. However, at some unrecorded date it was shut down despite still (2016) being listed by the Diocese.
In 2016, the owner of the leasehold was the firm of Agricola Lieta SPA. In that year, the farm was put on the market as a development opportunity. The hamlet, despite being tiny, has its own railway station close to the Casale and so urbanisation is very likely.
Of the two separate 15th century blocks which make up the farmstead, the working block has been restored as office or light industrial accommodation, but the former villa awaits attention and its interior is in a poor state. The fate of the chapel depends on the future use of the building, but it would only be likely to re-open for worship if it were wanted for rather intimate weddings.
The Casale is up a long, straight driveway from the Via Andrea Noale, just west of the junction with the Via di Salone. There is a locked and unsigned gate at the back of a lay-by well used by fly tippers.
At the end of the drive, the restored working farm block of the 16th century villa presents it south end. This straightforward but handsome long rectangular brick edifice is thought to be by Peruzzi, and has nine enormous round-headed windows in each side.
The villa itself is a separate block away to the left (west). This is also a long rectangular block on a perpendicular east-west alignment, and has a central passage passing through to the ghost of a circular garden at the back which was blocked at the far end by another long block built after the villa was abandoned. The garden front was the more important aspect of the villa.
The tatty Renaissance stucco decoration has survived in part. The garden front shows a set of gigantic blind arches springing from shallow tripletted Doric pilasters which have lost their stucco capitals. The passage archway has a simple raised frame, and is flanked by two pairs of gigantic pilasters which reach the roofline and hence interrupt the blind arcading. Above the portal is a large window in a stone frame, and above this is a marble tablet recording Cardinal Trivulzio's ownership. It reads:
Aug[ustinus] Trivultus cardinalis villam hanc ad aquam appiam secessum sibi animi causa paravit, MDXXV ("Augustine cardinal Trivultus prepared this villa for his own amusement, by the Appian aqueduct ").
The barrel-vaulting of the passage has decorative stucco coffering including the Cardinal's coat-of-arms. The farm front has the same set of gigantic pilasters, but no arcading.
The chapel is in the second storey, and is a small square room with a large window in the near wall and a pair of doors in the two side walls which provide access. The walls are undecorated, although the floor is in grey-veined marble.
Some of the fittings (including pews) survive, although in a derelict condition. The free-standing altar is interesting, being made from a gigantic ancient column capital. There are two marble statues of kneeling angels, and a damaged holy water stoup in the wall which is in the form of a grotesque mask.