Santa Maria della Pace ☆☆☆

Raphael's Sibyls in the Chigi Chapel, Santa Maria della Pace, Rome, Italy (Photo by Peter1936F)
Raphael's Sibyls in the Chigi Chapel

A tiny church off Piazza Navona decorated by Raphael and Peruzzi with architecture by Bramante and Pietro Da Cortona

Pietro da Cortona's facade, Santa Maria della Pace, Rome, Italy. (Photo by gaspa)
Bramante's 1503 cloisters, Santa Maria della Pace, Rome, Italy. (Photo Public Domain)
The High Altar, Santa Maria della Pace, Rome, Italy. (Photo by Andreas Faessler)
, Santa Maria della Pace, Rome, Italy. (Photo )
The interior facade with the church organs, Santa Maria della Pace, Rome, Italy. (Photo by Lalupa)

This church's curving baroque facade (1556–57) by Pietro da Cortona struggles mightily to belong to a much larger, grander structure—but is instead warped and shoehorned to fit into this pocket-sized piazza just off the northwest corner of Piazza Navona.

Da Cortona actually ingeniously made us of that restricted space, making it seem as if the church is bursting from within to fill the space, a hint at the artistic riches inside.

Closed for more than a decade for renovations, you can now get inside this Baccio Pontinelli–designed (1480–84) church to see the first chapel on the right frescoed by Raphael with Sibyls (1514), heavily influenced by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling (which Raphael has snuck in to see even before they were unveiled). The chapel next to it was designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.

Across the aisle is the Ponzetti Chapel, frescoed by Baldassare Peruzzi. Check out the bold purples, greens, skyblue, and burgundies of his Virgin and Child with Saints Brigida and Caterina (Cardinal Ferdinando Ponzetti joins the holy group, kneeling at their feet.)

[If you want to see these two artists take on more secular themes, Raphael and Peruzzi were also the primary frescoists of the amazing Villa Farnesina.]

In the central tribune are several more paintings, including more by Peruzzi and by Orazio Gentileschi.

The Chiostro del Bramante

The very first architecture project Bramante lined up in Rome—before going on to such plum tasks as redesigning St. Peter's—was to create a new cloister for the church (1500–04), a graceful two-story structure which now operates under separate management as a performance and exhibiton space.

As with everything Bramante did in true High Renaissance mode, he took his cue from the ancients and based his entire design on careful measurements of Roman ruins.

(Also handy: From a room off the cloisters, you can peek at the Raphael frescoes inside the seldom-open church.)

Photo gallery
  • Raphael
  • Pietro da Cortona
  • Bramante
  • The High Altar, Santa Maria della Pace, Italy (Photo by Andreas Faessler)
  • , Santa Maria della Pace, Italy (Photo )
  • The interior facade with the church organs, Santa Maria della Pace, Italy (Photo by Lalupa)
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How long does Santa Maria della Pace take?

When it's open, you can tour it in about 15–20 minutes.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah

* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).