The street shrines (edicole sacre), which one sees throughout the heart of Rome, are known locally as Madonnelle. The shrines are most commonly situated at street corners and, as their name suggests, they mostly depict images of the Madonna, with or without her Son.
In the days before gas and electricity, the shrines, which were lit up at night by small oil lamps, provided almost the only form of lighting in the streets of Rome.
The Madonnelle vary enormously in form and scale, from small, painted images to large and extravagant concoctions in stone. The shrines are often protected from the elements by a metal baldachin, a tent-like canopy.
The surviving Madonnelle (of which there are 500 or so) mainly date back to the 18th and 19th centuries.
Blogging about Rome,
its art, history and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
Search Walks in Rome: