The institution had its origin in 1598, when the Order of Clerks Regular of Somascha founded a school for youths of the city under the patronage of Pope Clement VIII. The order had been founded by St Jerome Emiliani for the education of poor boys among other pious works, but this college saw them taking up the education of the children of the aristocracy.
The architect of the new complex was Giacomo della Porta.
The college was very successful, and restored its chapel in a lush Baroque style in 1688. It remained an important institution in the city until it was suppressed by the French in 1798; the Somaschi re-founded it in 1834, but it was definitively suppressed as a religious institution in 1873.
The complex was demolished in 1936, and replaced by the modern office block now on the site.
The college occupied a four-storey building arranged around a quadrangle between the piazza and the bank of the Tiber. The building of the river embankment at the end of the 19th century necessitated the removal of the far range, which was right on the waterfront.
The chapel, which amounted to a church and was artistically important, did not have any architectural identity from the outside. Inside, it was a domed space designed by Carlo Fontana, with frescoes on the inside of the cupola and on the walls by Ludovico David.