The most striking building in the Largo Corrado Ricci at the end of the Via Cavour in Rome is a massive structure called Torre de’ Conti. This is a 29 meter tall monument that used to be both the defensive tower and residence of Pope Innocence III.
Torre de’ Conti Rome
The address of the Torre dei Conti is Largo Corrado Ricci, snc. – 00184 Rome. Bus: 16, 81, 84, 85, 87, 175, 628, 810, 850. The tower can only be visited from the outside.
History and description
The Torre de’ Conti served as both a residence and a tower. It was built in the early 12th century for the family of Pope Innocenzo III, the Conti di Segni. The architect was Marchionne Aretino.
One of the motives for the construction of the tower is that it was meant to protect the big basilicas in the area. Its imposing structure was also meant to underline the power of the church in general.
On the spot where the tower was built there used to be one of the four exedras of the portico of the Tempio della Pace, which is still recognizable at the bottom of the building.
The tower used to be lined with slabs of marble looted from the Fori Imperiali. These were later removed to be used in the construction of the Porta Pia.
In the Middle Ages the tower was also known as the Torre Scura (“Dark Tower”) or as the Torre Maggiore (“Greatest Tower”). The latter becomes a more credible nickname when one recalls that what can be seen today was just the foundation. It is thought that the tower probably must have been around 60 meters tall.
The original tower consisted of three floors, which narrowed as they got higher.
In 1349, an earthquake reduced the tower to ruin, and it was abandoned. A restoration took place in 1620, but more earthquakes struck in 1630 and 1644.
Pope Alexander VIII ordered a new restoration towards the end of the 17th century. The two buttresses that can still be seen date from this time.
The base consists of layers of flint and marble. An inscription by the hand of Pietro da Nicola extols the splendor of the tower.
Largo Corrado Ricci Rome
Largo Corrado Ricci is named after the man under whose supervision the excavations for the construction of the Via dell’Impero (today’s Via dei Fori Imperiali) were carried out. It was formerly called Piazza delle Carrette because this is where the wagons that brought wine and other goods from the Castelli Romani to the market of the Roman Forum used to park.