The Square of Sforza Cesarini
The Square of Sforza Cesarini and its surrounding area is of notable historic interest.
In this area in Ancient Rome there was a small port on the Tiber called Navalia superiora (Upper Navalyard) which was used both for military purposes and also for the delivery of goods valued by the merchants of the IX Augustan quarter, Campo Marzio (the Field of Mars). Near the river there was even the ‘Trigarium’, the camp for training the teams of charioteers who raced in the Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus). Nearby you can still see a grotto which was a thermic outlet called the Tarentum dedicated to the Gods of the Underworld and, in fact, in 1883 under the Sforza Palace they found an alter dedicated to Dite and his wife, Proserpina.
During the Middle Ages there were many winding streets which converged on Piazza del Monte Giordano, described by Dante as a place of pilgrimage. Piazza Sforza was called Platea del Primicerio in the Middle Ages and Pizzo del Merlo during the Renaissance. Where today you find Piazza Chiesa Nuova there was a small depression called the Vallicella and a quarter called the Pozzo Bianco (White Well).
In the palace on the corner of Piazza Sforza, where you find the ‘Antica Trattoria Polese’, lived Vannozza Cattanei with her second husband, Giorgio de Croce, and with the five-year old Lucrezia Borgia (1485). You can, in fact, read a dedication by Vannozza ‘agli Agostiniani Ante est platea, ab uno latere via quae vadit ad Puteum Blarcum, ab uno latere ese via per quam itur ad Cancelleriam’ (the Old Chancellery is the present Sforza Palace).
The building with the tower on the corner of the square was the Boemi Hospice founded in 1338 and reconstructed by Charles IV in1437, as you can see from the plaque in the Via Banchi Vecchi.
The statue in the Square is of Nicola Spedalieri, philosopher and writer (1795) who wrote ‘Diritti dell’uomo’ (The Rights of Man). It is a work in bronze by the Sicilian sculptor Mario Rutelli (1903) who created the famous Naiadi (Nymphs) on the fountain in Piazza della Repubblica.
The trees in the Square are ‘Pawlonia Imperialis’ and are of Japanese origin. In the Spring they have large purple bellflowers with a delicate scent.
Palace of the Accetti
The 16th century Palace of the Accetti, which is on the Via Sforza Cesarini and on the Piazza Sforza Cesarini (No 41), was given in 1539 by Algelo Paluzzo Accetti to Muzio Muti. It then passed to the del Nero, to the Strozzi and to the Guerrieri who are the present-day owners. The Palace was built at the beginning of the 16th century for the Accetti, a family of Tuscan extraction which lived in Rome from the beginning of the 1400s and was given to Muzio Muti in 1539. Subsequently it belonged to the del Nero, to the Florentine Strozzi and finally to the Guerrieri. The earlier part of the Palace, from No 38 to No 40 Piazza Sforza Cesarini, was by a Raphaelesque architect and was probably the work of a direct disciple of the great artist. It was built over a pre-existing Mediaeval building.
The Raphaelesque design was added to that portion of the building facing Piazza Sforza.
From the architecture of this part of the building you should note the elegance of the arcade supported by brick columns. The arcade is limited to the first three windows to the North West.
The second phase from Nos 40 to 41A of Piazza Sforza and from Nos 119 to 124 of Via Banchi Vecchi is by the architect Antonio da Sangallo. The design of this part of the building, seen from the Via Banchi Vecchi, is ashlar work in fine Travertine marble to the height of the mezzanine floor and all the windows, with the exception of the top floor, are surrounded on three sides by a Travertine cornice and ashlar which define the façade on Piazza and Via Sforza Cesarini while the walls are faced.On Via Sforza Cesarini the building is on three floors in the central part and on four in the two lateral parts. There is a loggia on the fourth floor which was closed and provided with windows in the 1800s but which is open on three sides with its principal façade on the Via Sforza Cesarini. Its portal was, however, walled-up in the 1800s. We still have the doors on the two lateral facades on the Via Banchi Vecchi and Piazza Sforza Cesarini 41.
Seen from Piazza Sforza and Via Banchi Vecchi there are radial and rectangular mouldings in ashlar covering the ground floor where there are shops, doors for deliveries and barred windows. Ashlar cantonals rise to the first floor. The windows on the string course façade up to the first floor are framed and on the second and third they are adorned with lintels. Originally there was a loggia on the top floor which has in part been given windows and in part walled-up in the 1800s. In its entirety the façade of the Palace has the liveliness of great variety.