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San Francesco Saverio a Somaini

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  San Francesco Saverio a Somaini is a 20th century Fascist-era church at Via Portuense 956, in a little country hamlet called Somaini which is surrounded by fields. This in the Magliana Vecchia zone. The location is south-east of the junction of Via della Pisana with the Circonvallazione Occidentale.

The dedication is to St Francis Xavier. Another name used is Santi Francesco e Carlo.


This is a subsidiary church in the parish of San Paolo della Croce, the church of which is in the suburb of Corviale and some distance to the east. It is not a chapel.


This little hamlet of Somaini, with its church, is actually a planned settlement, established by the Fascist government between 1922 and 1930. The motivation was to improve the productivity of the land around Rome, up to then still very poor, and to help feed the city (the overall project was called the Bonfica dell'Agro Romano). The original settlers, ninety families, were not local Romans but expatriate Venetians who brought their dialect with them -native Romans allegedly cannot understand this.

The original name was Casa Mattei (not to be confused with a suburb near Corviale called Casetta Mattei). 

The venture was organized as a co-operative firm, and produced grain, vegetables and especially fresh milk for Rome. Also, a quarry was opened. The firm survived until 1954, since when the original colony has become much more like a typical outer Roman suburb.

Somaini is nowadays best known for a very good pizzeria, Il Secchio e L'Olivaro.


The church is a small red-brick building in a vaguely Gothic style, with an aisless nave of three bays, a segmental external apse and a pitched and tiled roof.

The façade has a stone doorway with a slightly pointed arch enclosing a tympanum with a mosaic. A narrow stone string course runs across the frontage above this. There is fairly small round window with a stone frame at the level of the side rooflines, and the gable roofline is decorated with little pendant Gothic arches on corbels, all in brick. The corners of the gable are occupied by a pair of empty octagonal brick plinths.

There is a campanile attached to the right hand side of the nave, a square tower all in brick. The large arched soundholes have balustrades, and the bellchamber is crowned by a projecting cornice and a spire in the form of a steep-sided pyramid.

The location is off the road, in a park and surrounded by cypress and pine trees. There is an iron railing fence separating the park from the road, with attractive brick piers.


The simple nave has three round-headed windows on each side, and walls in a very light tan colour. The roof is raftered, and has no ceiling.

The attractive floor is in polychrome brickwork in a geometric pattern.

The sanctuary occupies the apse, which has two round-headed windows. There are painted geometric designs in a vaguely Baroque polychrome marble style on the triumphal arch archivolt, under the windows and as a dado the lower apse wall. The upper apse wall is stencilled with ghostly rosettes.

The conch of the apse has an attractive fresco in blue and gold, showing six sheep venerating the Lamb of God standing above the Rivers of Paradise. Above is a blue expanse with golden stars, and in the centre is a jewelled cross in a yellow oval with rainbow edging.

The altarpiece is on the wall between the apse windows, and shows The Death of St Francis Xavier.


You need the 701 bus from the train station at Ponte Galeria. This bus route doesn't connect with any transport hub nearer the city.

External linksEdit

Official diocesan web-page

Photo on Arvaliastoria

"Studioreportage" photo gallery

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