The Caserma di Giacomo Acqua is located in Piazza del Popolo, in front of the basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, in one of the most visited locations in the capital both for its tourist attractiveness and because during the year it hosts numerous public events such as concerts or rallies.
Piazza del Popolo is in fact the junction of some of the most important streets in the historic centre of Rome. This is where Via del Babuino (connecting the square to Piazza di Spagna), Via di Ripetta (leading to the Ara Pacis) and Via del Corso (connecting Piazza Venezia and the Fori Imperiali) converge.
On the other hand, the Aurelian Walls, with the entrance of Porta del Popolo, separate the square with Piazzale Flaminio, another fundamental junction of the city where Via Flaminia and Viale del Muro Torto meet.
However, Piazza del Popolo has not always been so central to the life and urban planning of Rome. As a plaque placed on the building in 1909 in memory of two patriots – Targhini and Montanari – executed there for conspiring against the Papal State in the early 19th century reminds us, for many centuries the square was the place where executions were carried out.
The current appearance of the square is due to the architect Giacomo Valadier, who carried out a thorough renovation at the end of the 19th century.
Today, the barracks is the headquarters of the Lazio Carabinieri Regional Command. It first housed the Pontifical Carabinieri Corps and then the Royal Carabinieri.
Since 1928, it has been named after officer Giacomo Acqua, who was the first of the Royal Carabinieri to enter Rome after the Breach of Porta Pia. With its façade, the Barracks is one of the cornerstones of the square, the result of the arrangement that reformulated its spatial and architectural connotation from the early 19th century onwards.
The building also houses works and frescoes granted by the Academy of Fine Arts of Rome and two works from the collections of the Ostia archaeological park: the headless statue of Venus and that of Zeus.
Following a stratigraphic investigation, Vivenda was able to highlight how the interior and exterior surfaces had undergone maintenance work over the years that had significantly compromised their integrity. The restoration work was therefore carried out to restore the initial state of all the elements of the façades and roofs of the complex, through the use of materials and techniques equal to the originals.
For the plasters, the smooth, the “faux-brick” and those with both smooth and cushion-shaped ashlars, the restoration was carried out in relation to the examinations of the state of conservation, by means of appropriate methodologies, such as manual percussion, useful for precisely defining the areas of intervention, possible granulometric examinations and qualitative and quantitative analyses.
Vivenda endeavoured to restore the cohesive capacities of the detached face and where the integrity was highly degraded, to completely rebuild with original techniques and materials. All the plastered surfaces, string-course cornices and window frames were cleaned.
The crowning cornices also underwent restoration, with the reconstruction of the damaged parts and eventual consolidation with the filling of the detachments through the use of hydraulic injection mortars composed of natural lime, free of soluble salts, mixed with aggregates and anti-shrinkage additives.
The mortar used was processed to the correct level of any roughness according to the old finish, ready for painting.
For the top and intermediate areas on the elevations, total replacement was carried out with anti-drip safeguards on the façades below. Alternative waterproofing works were carried out for dripline deterioration and for flaking.