The 17th-century San Carlo ai Catinari Church (Chiesa di San Carlo ai Catinari) is dedicated to Saint Carlo Borromeo and known for its sumptuous baroque interiors. The church features stucco decorations, three-dimensional depictions of the cardinal virtues, and Antonio Gherardi's Chapel of St. Cecilia, which features a dome illuminated by hidden windows.
Guided tours of the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere often include a stop at San Carlo ai Catinari (Santi Biagio e Carlo ai Catinari), along with the nearby Turtle Fountain (Fontana delle Tartarughe) and the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Trastevere. You can easily pair a visit to this neighborhood with a tour of Rome's most famous sights, including Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and Campo de' Fiori.
The church was designed by Rosato Rosati and has an elegant marble facade by Giovanni Battista Soria. Inside, the elaborate stucco ceiling decorations and paintings of the cardinal virtues around the base of the dome pop out of their frames, making them appear three-dimensional. These are attributed to Domenichino, while other important works by Pietro da Cortona, Giovanni Lanfranco, and Guido Reni decorate the altar and chapels.
Things to Know Before You Go
Visitors must wear clothing that covers the shoulders and knees to enter the church.
Walking tours of Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto offer little shade, so bring a hat and sunscreen if visiting in summer.
There are stairs at the entrance to the church, so it is not accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
Photography without a flash is allowed inside the church.
How to Get There
Set about halfway between the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle and the Tiber river near the former Jewish Ghetto, Chiesa di San Carlo ai Catinari is located at Piazza Benedetto Cairoli 117. Take bus 40 or 64 from the Termini train station.
When to Get There
Rome's churches offer a cool respite during the heat of the day, so if visiting in summer, time your visit for midday when the temperatures outside soar.
The phrase “ai Catinari” refers to the workshops on a nearby street that once specialized in making clay basins, or “catini.” A small street across from the facade of the church is still called the Vicolo de’ Catinari, or Basin-makers’ Lane.