Prima Porta

Coordinates: 42°00′N 12°29′E / 42.000°N 12.483°E / 42.000; 12.483
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Prima Porta
Zona of Rome
The arch of Malborghetto and the near chapel
The arch of Malborghetto and the near chapel
Position of the zona within the city
Position of the zona within the city
Country Italy
 • Total20.3447 sq mi (52.6926 km2)
 • Total16,776
 • Density824.6/sq mi (318.37/km2)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)

Prima Porta is the 58th zona of Rome, identified by the initials Z. LVIII. The name Prima Porta (First Door) came from an arch of the aqueduct that brought water to the Villa of Livia, which formed over Via Flaminia a sort of gateway which travellers saw as the first indication of having reached Rome (Piperno).


The location was strategically important due to the iron-rich cliffs of red tuff that approach the river at this point, the confluence of several roads, and its function as the north entryway to Rome.

Prima Porta was one of the scenes of Constantine's victory over the army of Maxentius in 312 which ended with the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. The battle is shown in the frieze of the Arch of Constantine in Rome. A triumphal arch was also erected here.

The Villa of Livia[edit]

Nearby, the villa of Livia Drusilla called Ad Gallinas Albas was probably part of Livia's dowry brought to the Julio-Claudian dynasty. It was named and famous for its breed of white chickens and for its laurel grove (Pliny's Natural History 15.136f), which were given auspiciously omened origins by Suetonius.[2] The villa's site was rediscovered and explored as early as 1596, but it was not recognized as that of Livia until the nineteenth century.[3]

The famous statue of Augustus from Prima Porta

In 1863–1834, a marble krater carved in refined low relief was discovered at the site and in 1867 one of the most famous marble statue of Augustus, the Augustus of Prima Porta, which is now in the Vatican (Braccio Nuovo), was discovered here. The magisterial Augustus is a marble copy of a bronze statue that celebrated the return in 20 BC of the military standards captured by the Parthians in 53 BC after the defeat of Crassus at Carrhae: a rich iconography plays out in the low reliefs that decorate his cuirass.

The villa occupied the height dominating the view down the Tiber valley to Rome; some of the walling that retained its terraces may still be seen (Piperno). Except for works of terracing—the gardens are currently being excavated—, all that can be seen today are three vaulted subterranean rooms, from the largest of which the fine fresco decor of an illusionistic garden view, where all the plants and trees flower and fruit at once, was removed to Rome; it has recently been reinstalled in the Palazzo Massimo, following cleaning and restoration. The vault above the fresco was covered with stucco reliefs of which only a few remains survive.

The villa was built and modified in four stages, the earliest of Republican date, the latest of the time of Constantine the Great. In the nineteenth century the villa belonged to the convent of Santa Maria in Via Lata; it may never have passed into private hands.

A new series of more meticulous modern excavations was initiated in 1970.

Modern history[edit]

The new cemetery of Rome was established in Prima Porta in 1945, on a project by the architect Elena Luzzatto. With its extension of 140 hectares,[4] the Cimitero Flaminio is the largest cemetery in Italy; it is crossed by 37 km of internal roads, on which vehicles and buses circulate. Pope Francis, having previously said Mass on All Soul's Day at Rome's Campo Verano Cemetery, said that Mass here in 2016.[5]

House damaged by 1965 flooding

In 1965, heavy rains made two near Tiber tributaries, which had no protective banks, to flood the area, generating infrastructural and economic damage. Water level was two meters high at some points.


The zone is located 12 kilometres north of the city center, along the Via Flaminia and just a kilometre outside of the Grande Raccordo Anulare highway. It is located on the right bank of the Tiber, where the Via Tiberina leads away from the Via Flaminia and another road led off along the Cremera to Veii.

The territory of Prima Porta includes the urban zone 20L Prima Porta and part of the urban zones 20I Santa Cornelia and 20M Labaro.


Northward, the zone borders with the municipalities of Formello, Sacrofano and Riano.

To the east, the zone borders with Zona Marcigliana (Z. III), whose border is marked by the river Tiber, up to the Fosso di Monte Oliviero.

To the south, Prima Porta borders with Zona Labaro (Z. LVII), from which is separated by the Fosso di Monte Oliviero, then by Via della Giustiniana, up to the river Cremera.

Westward, the zone borders with Zona La Giustiniana (Z. LIV), whose boundary is outlined by the Valchetta stream, and with Zona Isola Farnese (Z. LV), from which is separated by the Fosso Pantanacci.


Via della Giustiniana and a medieval tower

The majority of the roads and squares of Prima Porta are named after towns of Lombardy and Latium, while some streets near the border with Zona Labaro are dedicated to Italian tapestry artists. Odonyms of the zone can be categorized as follows:

Places of interest[edit]

Civil buildings[edit]

The Arch of Malborghetto

Religious buildings[edit]

The new church of Santi Urbano e Lorenzo
The old church of Santi Urbano e Lorenzo
it is a subsidiary place of worship of the parish of Santi Urbano e Lorenzo a Prima Porta.
it is a subsidiary place of worship of the parish of Sant'Alfonso de' Liguori.
Parish church erected on 1 October 1975 according to the decree "Pernotum quidem est" of Cardinal Vicar Ugo Poletti.
  • Church of Santi Elisabetta e Zaccaria, in Via Sulbiate. A 21st-century church (2007–09).
  • Cimitero Flaminio, in Via Flaminia. A 20th-century cemetery (1941).
  • Church of San Michele Arcangelo al Flaminio, in Via Flaminia. Church inside the Cimitero Flaminio.
it is a subsidiary place of worship of the parish of Santi Urbano e Lorenzo a Prima Porta.

Archaeological sites[edit]



  1. ^ Roma Capitale – Roma Statistica. Population inscribed in the resident register at 31 December 2016 by toponymy subdivision.
  2. ^ Suetonius, Galba 1.
  3. ^ F. Nardini, Roma antica IV, Roma 1820, p64f.
  4. ^ From Cimiteri Capitolini, checked on May 4, 2012
  5. ^ "Pope Francis celebrates All Souls' Day Mass in Rome catacombs".
  6. ^ See Marina De Franceschini, chapt. 4. Villa di Quarto di Montebello, pp. 12-15.
  7. ^ See Marina De Franceschini, chapt. 5. Villa del Cimitero Flaminio, pp. 15-24.
  8. ^ See Marina De Franceschini, chapt. 6. Villa della via Tiberina, pp. 25-27.
  9. ^ {{See Marina De Franceschini, chapt. 7. Villa di Livia a Prima Porta, ad gallinas albas, pp. 27-45.
  10. ^ See Marina De Franceschini, chapt. 8. Villa della Terma presso Prima Porta, pp. 45-47.


  • Marina De Franceschini (2005). Ville dell'Agro romano. Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider. ISBN 978-88-8265-311-8.


42°00′N 12°29′E / 42.000°N 12.483°E / 42.000; 12.483