Cappella del Castello della Spizzichina is a 17th century private chapel, part of an old farmstead which has its postal address at Via Riccardo Moretti 6. This is in the suburb of La Giustiniana. The premises are actually on the Via Casilina, at 1416, but are both invisible and inaccessible from the main road.
The dedication seems to be to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The locality is in the city, but the diocese is Porto Santa Rufina.
The complex allegedly contains late 11th century fabric, deriving from a fortified farmhouse which has left the heavily restored Torre di Spizzichino (note change of gender in the name).
The present premises date from the 17th century, when the chapel was built. Back then, the locality was called Borgus Vetus.
At present, the premises are being run as a reception and hospitality suite (ricevimenti), with a good reputation. The business advertises the chapel as a chiesa consecrata and it is available for weddings, but it has never been a public liturgical centre. This is owing to the historical proximity of Santa Maria Immacolata alla Giustiniana, which is just down the road.
The fabric of the complex is in rough-cut blocks of dark grey stone, although the tower has three deep white stripes. It is arranged around a small rectangular courtyard, entered through a gateway which is an enormous round-headed portal. The chapel is the range to the right of the gateway, with the old tower at its far end.
The layout of the chapel is rectangular, with a semi-circular sanctuary apse intruding into the plan of the tower. The entrance doorway is off the courtyard, in the bottom of the left hand side wall. The bottom wall, to the right of the gateway, has no entrance but a large round-headed window instead. The right hand side wall has two further windows in the same style, but oddly the left hand wall which abuts the courtyard is windowless.
The roof is pitched and tiled, with a hip at the near end.
The single nave has an open roof with its timbers stained, and with V-rafters having iron tie bars. The tiles show in between the rafters.
The nave walls are in exposed rough stone blocks, the lower courses in dark grey and the upper ones lighter in colour. The three large round-headed windows, one in the near wall and two in the right hand side wall, have clear glass in decorative metal cames which feature sacred monograms (Chi-rho in the near end and far side windows, the Ave Maria monogram in the near side window). The windows have splayed surrounds, as does the entrance door.
Much of the floor is in bright red bricks laid in a herringbone pattern, but the further end of the nave and the sanctuary are laid with coloured stone slabs which are scavenged ancient material.
The sanctuary occupies the far end of the nave and the apse, and is elevated by one step. The far wall and the apse, which has a conch, are rendered in a dull pink. The apse contains two doors which lead into the first storey of the tower, and these have molded door-cases including a barley-sugar twist. In between the doors is a little shelf bearing a relief of the Crucifixion.
The sanctuary is screened from the nave by a pair of black marble transennae or thick pierced slabs having a cross motif.
The most interesting thing in the chapel is the altar. This has a horseshoe-shaped mensa with two straight edges to each side, which is on seven little columns of white and pavonazzetto marble -also ancient. The curve of the horseshoe is at the apse end, and the altar stands on a platform of one step.
Access and liturgy Edit
The chapel is private and part of business premises, but those with a serious interest could try contacting the proprietors of the ricevimenti before any proposed visit.
As a private chapel, this is not a venue for public Masses.
The website of the ricevimenti does not actually state that nuptial Masses are celebrated in the chapel for Roman Catholic weddings, but if they are then the local parish priest at Santa Maria Immacolata alla Giustiniana needs to be informed beforehand on each occasion.
Ricevimenti website (There is an English language version, but the standard of English is not good.)