There is an ancient Italian word, which entered the Roman dialect with a certain custom: fratta.
The fratta is an inaccessible place, full of brambles and brushwood.
Today there is a splendid basilica near Piazza di Spagna, which today is in the heart of the city, but which in medieval times was an inaccessible place and located outside the town, precisely between the fracts. This is the reason why the Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte bears this very peculiar name.
In it, next to the altar, we find two marble angels, a late work by the great Gian Lorenzo Bernini
They were sculpted around 1669 on a commission by Pope Clement IX Rospigliosi, and were intended to decorate, together with eight other angels, the ancient bridge that crosses the Tiber in front of Castel Sant’Angelo.
Of great scenographic effect, these two angels bearing the symbols of the Passion of Christ, should have constituted a sort of celestial procession along the access path to St. Peter's Basilica.
It happened, however, that the Pope considered them too beautiful to be exposed to rain and snow, and he decided to give them to his beloved nephew, Giacomo Rospigliosi, to be taken to Pistoia, his hometown.
After their transfer to Pistoia, for about sixty years, there were no more news of the two angels.
They reappeared, just as mysteriously, only in 1729 at Palazzo Bernini.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini's nephew, Prospero, donated them to the Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, which was opposite the family palace, and therefore also the parish of reference of the family itself.
For centuries the fratte have given way to the city, but the angel with the Crown of Thorns, and the one with the Title of the Cross are still there, with those wings made of that marble that no one, like Gian Lorenzo Bernini, could life and lightness.
Their incredible beauty and poignant expression are a real pearl set in the center of Rome.