The street shrines, 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 Christ).
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 size and style, from small and simple painted images to large and extravagant concoctions in stone. The shrines are often protected from the rain by a metal baldachin, a tent-like canopy. Many of the shrines are placed high up on walls, well above eye-level, and are all too easily missed.