THE VILLAGE OF OSTIA ANTICA
La Rocca is the name of the village of Ostia Antica of early medieval origin which, after passing the gate, one enters: in the forms and in the urban layout it dates back to the interventions of the 1400s; three rows of double-rowed houses in a stepped arrangement (1472-1479) and the bulk of the castle of Julius II create a perspective cone towards the Basilica of Sant’Aurea, which stands in Piazza della Rocca on the remains of a 4th-century basilica where the homonymous saint, a Christian martyr in the third century, and Santa Monica, mother of Sant’Agostino, who died in Ostia in 387, were buried.
The current building
Attributed to Baccio Pontelli, is a fine example of fifteenth-century architecture, rich in classical references: two triangular pediments conclude the elevations, entirely wrapped in pilasters and pilasters resting on tall stylobates connected by a continuous frame that simulates a podium ; the façade has a rose window with lobed segments and round-arched windows with lobed mullioned windows. Inside, with a single nave, the marble framing of the presbytery area was commissioned by Cardinal Della Rovere, while the altarpieces are from the seventeenth century; on the left wall, a marble shrine for the holy oils (13th century); to the left of the main altar is the paschal candle, consisting of a relic from the 5th century basilica; in the chapel of Santa Monica is a fragment of a marble slab with an inscription in honor of the saint made by Anicio Auchenio Basso.
Behind the church is the Episcopal Palace, a reconstruction (1472) of a previous episcope (Ostia was a bishopric from the 4th century); the wing between the church and the city walls dates back to 1511. The first floor is decorated with a cycle of frescoes, commissioned by Cardinal Raffaele Riario to Baldassarre Peruzzi (1508-1513), which was found in 1977-1979 under the whitewashing of lime executed on the occasion of the plague of 1615 and under eighteenth-century grotesques now partially detached: the monochrome battle scenes depicted there, and which are inspired by the reliefs of the Trajan’s Column, are divided into panels by pilasters decorated with candelabra and supporting elements a rich frieze with spirals, allegorical figures and mottos.
On the square there is also the castle of Giulio II, one of the first bastion fortifications, built at the behest of Pope Sixtus IV (1483-1486) by Giuliano Della Rovere (the future Pope Julius II) based on a project by Baccio Pontelli (inscription on the architrave of the portal that precedes the atrium), and used under Pope Pius VII as accommodation for the prisoners who worked in the nearby excavations of Ostia and in the reclamation. The complex combines the defensive findings derived from the treatises of the time (ravelin, low towers, merlons, casemates connected by tunnels) forms and technological elements that anticipate solutions implemented in the fourteenth century (polygonal bulwark, use of scarp curtains); the triangular plan, articulated around a trapezoidal courtyard, has two circular towers at the corners and a higher one, with a pentagonal base and organized for the last autonomous defense, which probably incorporates the previous tower of Martino V. Inside, the Scalone it was decorated with grotesques and panels featuring “a grisaille” by Peruzzi assisted by Cesare da Sesto and Michele del Becca