Unexpected Rome: The Church of Santa Barbara Dei Librai

My favorite church in Rome stole my heart based on its facade alone.

Sandwiched between encroaching buildings, the church sits at the apex of a small piazza.

santa-barbara-dei-librai in Rome

I paused to take a photo of its perfect 2-story exterior wedged between much higher structures a few Saturdays ago, and did one of those cartoon gasps.

The green door that is nearly always shuttered, was actually open.

Altar of Roman church

Inside, pews start at the narrow entrance to maximize use of the minuscule space.

The church widens slightly to accommodate 3 more rows of pews as you advance towards the simple altar.

Santa Barbara dei Librai in Campo De Fiori

The patterned black-and-white marble floors draw the eye down, but if you are lucky enough to pass by when the church is open, take the time to look up and admire the deep blue frescoed ceilings.

Church by campo de fiori

There are also, naturally, large-scale old paintings that seem to impose and dominate the limited wall space.

Colored marble church

However, none of this is what makes the church of Santa Maria dei Librai special.

The best thing about this tiny church by Campo de’ Fiori is the rainbow marble that covers the interior.

Red, orange, purple, green – the bubbled walls are a riot of pastels.  Circles in varying sizes cut through the marble walls, making each color in the spectrum blend together perfectly in this tiny, tranquil church.

(Oh, plus when you’re done you can get some of the city’s best fried fish at Dar Filettaro next door).

Santa Barbara dei Librai
Largo dei Librari,
00186 Roma, Italy
(Centro Storico)


  • Reply Jan A. January 4, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Ciao Natalie e Buon Anno!
    Probabilemente ho passato questa chiesa tante volte e mai pensavo di far vederla. Sbaglio io.
    Che bella.

    Jan A.

  • Reply dena January 5, 2017 at 12:43 am

    Natalie ,
    thank you so much for posting pictures of the church , I had read about it in one of your blogs post years ago , I planned places to visit and food to try that you posted , you were a student than , and I went there in August 2011 and it was closed , so I didn’t get to see inside, but yea great food outside and sweet sitting area.

  • Reply Georgette January 6, 2017 at 8:52 am

    I can’t even tell you how many times I have passed this place and gasped. That’s the thing about Rome, it’s always got some awesome prize just around the corner. Great post Natalie!

    • Reply Natalie January 6, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      Apparently it is open every day… but I find that hard to believe based on the number of times I have been by myself! I love this piazza, and the church is really the jewel of it all. Thanks, Georgette!

  • Reply Sherry Neal January 21, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Natalie, I am currently in Rome on a solo trip and I happened upon this church while waiting for my reservation at Riscioli. Because of this blog, I knew to check it out and it’s beautiful inside! I then sat at the bar on the piazza and had a glass of wine while admiring it. Later that night, my food tour guide brought me to this same square to try the Bacallo! Thank you for the information on this blog. I love it!

    • Reply Natalie January 22, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Sherry! So so so glad that you were able to visit the church AND eat baccala later that night!

      Thank you for the great complement 🙂 Enjoy Rome!

  • Reply Four churches you’ve never heard of that you need to visit – Romeing Around March 13, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    […] Santa Barbara dei Librai- Even passing this church everyday on my way from the tram to Italian class, Santa Barbara never became any less particular to me. Sandwiched between a cafe on one side and a pizza shop on the other, this gem is hidden in plain sight.  It’s charm is best captured in this blog post. […]

  • Leave a Reply