Santa Maria del Buon Riposo in Via Portuense is a deconsecrated 17th century former country chapel on a section of the old Via Portuense, where it is a side street in the Portuense quarter near the Trastevere train station.
The dedication was to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Good Rest.
This little chapel was built in the 17th century for the estate workers of what later became the Villa della Porta Rodiani. According to Armellini, it replaced a parochial chapel of uncertain date.
This country house was commissioned by the Massimo family, and was designed by Girolamo Rainaldi in 1629. He might have been responsible for this chapel, too, which would make it an important building. The family would, of course, have had their own private chapel at the villa itself. Fragments of the architectural ensemble of the villa layout can be found in the vicinity, among all the apartment blocks.
At this time the area was completely rural, but was being laid out with vineyards and market gardens to supply the city. The chapel was on the Via Portuense, which then was the main road down the right bank of the Tiber. Across the road was later a vineyard called La Vigna di Francesco di Norcia, and the info.roma website uses this name.
The building of the Viale di Trastevere made this section of the Via Portuense redundant as a highway, and at the place where it would have crossed the railway the Trastevere station was built. This left the section of the road with the chapel on it as a narrow side street when the suburb was laid out.
The chapel was deconsecrated shortly after 1900. It is now derelict, and has a very uncertain future despite a brief newspaper campaign in 2007 which tried to draw attention to its plight. The present location of the icon of the Madonna del Buon Riposo that used to be venerated here seems not to be public knowledge.
This chapel is not easy to find, and there is no reason to visit the locality unless you are looking for it or know somebody who lives there.
It is just north of the junction between the Via Carlo Porta, which runs off the Viale di Trastevere near San Gaetano dell'Ursuline, and the Via Portuense which here is a little street running just west of Via Ettore Rolli.
It is very small, built in brick on a semi-circular plan. The curve of the semi-circle is the frontage, which has a door flanked by a pair of large rectangular windows having grilles. The roof is flat. There are fragmentary remains of stucco decoration, which consisted of two pairs of pilasters either side of the door and two other pairs on the far sides of the windows; these did not seem to have had capitals, but supported a very deep entablature with a wide frieze and a slightly projecting cornice forming the roofline.
Most of the stucco has fallen off, leaving exposed bricks in places. Especially to the right of the door, it has been replaced in places with a rough cement coating.
The chapel was once attached to a domestic building of some sort, as can be seen at its rear which is flat. The gable end of the demolished building still projects above the roofline, and broken fragments of the side walls are still attached. On this face is a small, deeply recessed window above a large blind arch blocked with what looks like modern brickwork.
For a surviving example of a chapel attached to the end of a country edifice, see San Giovanni Battista all’Osteria del Curato.
This is not one of the uglier suburbs in Rome, and money has been spent on making the streetscape attractive. There have been trees and flowers planted here, and the adjacent open space is now a tidy piazza. However, the interior of the chapel is a filthy mess and if you come down here after dark and shine a torch inside, you may see the glow of a rat's eyes.