Santa Maria della Visitazione a Collatino is a later 20th century parish church at Via dei Crispolti 142, in the Collatino quarter, south-west of the Pietralata metro station. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here.
The parish began as a curacy within the mother parish of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino in 1959. It was made an independent parish in the following year, 1960 (the diocesan website gives the wrong year).
The church was designed by Saverio Busiri Vici, begun in 1965 and completed in 1971.
Layout and fabric Edit
This fantastic Brutalist design is a contender for the most un-churchlike church in Rome. As appropriate to the style, the fabric is entirely in reinforced concrete the surfaces of which are left raw. At present (2016) it is a dark brownish grey.
The plan and elevation are actually quite complicated. The church complex occupies an almost square plot on a street corner, and the far left hand angle of this is impinged on by a separate L-shaped edifice having sections in two and three storeys -the street frontage of this uses red brick for the lower storeys and yellow brick for the upper storey, which is cantilevered out over the pavement in two units. This edifice contains the parish offices and social facilities.
The church stands on a crypt which is partly underground, and seems to contain a car park. The first storey includes ancillary elements, including a covered walkway running along the street side of a narrow rectangular garden courtyard aligned along the left hand side of the church. Sacristy accommodation occupies the far right hand end of this, and also the far right hand side of the church itself.
Above this first storey, the church has the form of a massive truncated, approximately rectangular concrete pyramid of five storeys. The storeys are separated by four deep horizontal concrete flanges which run around almost the entire edifice, and below these are window strips ditto. The fifth storey is basically the flat roof, with tall eaves.
The plan of this main part of the church includes several deviations from the basic longitudinal rectangle which is preserved in the roof. Firstly, a narrow rectangular extension runs off to the left from the near left hand side of the rectangle, and is connected to the frontage of the church by a sweeping incurve. Secondly, a right-angled triangular addition abuts to the far right hand side of the rectangle, with its hypotenuse facing forward. Thirdly, the back side of this extension and the far side of the rectangle, which are on the same line, are given a gentle outcurve. Fourthly, the far side of the left hand side of the rectangle is given a quarter-circle incurve facing diagonally to the far left.
The concrete flanges wrap around all these elements in the plan, except for a section just before the last-listed element and also at narrow gaps above the main entrance and behind the altar. The battered walls and the flanges are supported by massive piers leaning at the angle of the pyramid, which are visible both in the exterior and the interior.
The unique campanile is a short concrete cylinder with vertical slits in it, rather like a pillbox, which is inserted into the top of the narrow rectangular extension to the near left of the church.
Because the church is on a crypt, it is approached by a shallowly stepped side ramp which runs up to a patio from the left. The frontage of this elevated patio is in white, which contrasts with the rather dirty brownish grey of the main church fabric, and is solid. A slightly overhanging balustrade is supported on two short engaged pilasters.
The campanile wing to the left of the façade is in raw concrete rectangular panels, sheltered under a floating canopy. This canopy is carried on over the entrance, incorporating a quarter-circle incurve to make it deeper. The right hand side of the frontage of the first storey of the church is also in raw concrete panels, and here the canopy is stepped back and given large rectangular light-holes. It then runs down the right hand side of the main church edifice.
Above the entrance, there is a vertical strip where the concrete flanges stop. This is occupied by a stack of four large rectangular windows, almost square. The flanges on the left have an incurve, as mentioned, but on the right they terminate in an L with the short arm pointing outwards.
Inside, the vast space has hardly any decoration. Apart from lots of concrete surfaces, the dominating features are the enormous strut-beams holding the structure up, and in between them five horizontal sets of window strips in clear glass. A sixth strip runs down each side just under the roof.
The only notable artwork is apparently a sculpture by Mussner Gregor of The Visitation. However, much needed colour is provided by stained glass in an abstract pattern which fills the four large windows in a stack behind the altar. These are on the same structural pattern as those over the entrance.
The parish has no website, and the information that the Diocese holds on Mass times is old and incomplete. According to this, in 2010 the Sunday and Solemnity Masses were at:
18:00 (Saturday), 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, 18:00. The evening Masses were at 19:00 in summer.
(The parish's internet profile is very poor.)
Parish blog (several years old)