Unexpected Rome: The Church of Santa Barbara Dei Librari

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)

10 thoughts on “Unexpected Rome: The Church of Santa Barbara Dei Librari

  1. dena says:

    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.

  2. Georgette says:

    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!

    • Natalie says:

      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!

  3. Sherry Neal says:

    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!

    • Natalie says:

      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!

  4. Pingback: Four churches you’ve never heard of that you need to visit – Romeing Around

  5. Constantine says:

    Beautiful photos of the church. The apartment that my wife and I rented in 2016 had a window that faced the church and its small piazza. I felt what you felt every time I looked out the window to stare at the beautiful scene in front of me. I included a photo of the church and the piazza in an album I posted on my Facebook page (A Virtual Tour of Rome).

  6. Gunnar Skjolden says:

    I was fortunate enough to find this tiny church open during Christmas once. They had a wonderful small presepe, the nativity scene, in front of the altar – a beautiful miniature copy of the square outside, all details, even the shabby, worn signboards outside the shops and the the tattered facades. In the middle of it all the manger with baby Jesus and his mother and Joseph. The church really brings the gospel to the neighbourhood!

  7. Patrick Pregiato says:

    This is my favorite church in Rome too! I love all the little churches in Rome. I can’t remember the others but at least I have pics. I’ll be back in Roma this year and will go straight to via dei Giubbonari to see Santa Barbara and eat at Salumeria Roscioli, a short distance away.

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