Italy Trips

The Vatican Gardens.

Ling Chen


The Vatican Gardens - Brilliant tour only if the weather is good:

Practicalities: Full price ticket: 32,00 Euro. Reduced ticket: 24,00 Euro -children aged between 6 and 18 years and students aged no more than 26 years on presentation of a student identity card (International Student Card) on the day of the visit. The ticket also includes the Vatican museums and Sistine chapel. Doing the conducted tour in the Vatican Gardens gives you the opportunity of access to the museums without waiting in line. Easy reservations through the Vatican site but must do it weeks before. Duration of the tour is about 2 hours. The ticket enables the visitors to continue, on their own, a tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

Days: Every day except on Sundays and Vatican holidays.

Entrance times:8.30 - 9.00 – 9.45 - 10.30 – 11.00 – 11.45 – 12.30 – 13.00.

audio guide: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German.

I recommend taking this CONDUCTED tour in the beginning or end of your day of visit the Vatican Museums. In a hot day - take the Gardens as EARLY as possible. Avoid coming in a very hot and/or humid weather. There is water along your visit route. Note that the sheer numbers of people in the museums is always overwhelming after the serenity of the garden walk. Bear in mind that the Gardens are the only opportunity to view the entirety exterior of Michelangelo's dome on top of St. Peter's Basilica.

You visit the Gardens only with a group and with a Certified Vatican Tour Guide (one guide every 40 participants). You must make reservation in advance (internet, telephone, on spot). Book online before arriving to be able to skip the queues. At the moment of the reservation an advance payment is required. You will pay the balance on the day of the visit.

After the payment is confirmed the applicant will recieve an e-mail with the confirmation of the booking, the voucher containing the reservation code and tour information. The applicant is asked to print off the voucher so as to present it (with its bar-code) on the day of the tour. The reservation will be checked by means of the bar-code present on the voucher. This tour is not for people with limited walking ability or are mobility impaired. 

The tour lasts a couple of hours and takes you past beautiful fountains and sculptures, manicured lawns and flower beds while allowing you the most amazing views of the dome of St. Peter's and the city beyond.

(Italian: Giardini Vaticani) in Vatican City. They are private urban gardens and parks which cover more than half of the Vatican territory in the South and Northeast and they are bounded by stone walls in the North, South and West. The gardens and parks were established during the Renaissance and Baroque era and are decorated with fountains and sculptures. There are several springs under the earth which are not in use.There is a wide variety of flora, and the area is considered a biotope. There are a variety of fountains cooling the gardens, sculptures, an artificial grotto devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes, and olive trees donated by the government of Israel. There are very few buildings in the "green area" such as Radio Vatican with its huge antennas and a variety of medieval fortifications, buildings and monuments from the 9th century to the present day. Some of the excursions in the Gardens pass near the residents of Benedict XVI and the Domus Santa Marta where Pope Francis lives. You also get to see the Papal private rail track and the landing pad for his helicopter.

The Gardens are from the place of rest and meditation of the Roman Pontiff since 1279, when Pope Nicholas III (Giovanni Gaetano Orsini, 1277-1280) moved the Papal residence from the Lateran to the Vatican. Within the new walls, which had erected in defense of his residence, the Pope planted an orchard (pomerium), a lawn (pratellum) and a veegetables garden (viridarium), as can be seen from the epigraph stone now kept in the room at the Palace of the Captains in the Capitoline Museums in the Capitoline Hill. This first unit was built near the hill of Sant'Egidio, which now houses the Palazzetto del Belvedere ed i Cortili and the courtyards of the Vatican Museums. The area where today begins the visit to the Vatican Gardens is located instead in the newer part of the state, on which were built new large gardens that, together with those of the original nucleus, covering about half of the area on which extends the Vatican. The place is quiet and not as many people go here compared to St. Peter Basilica and Vatican Museums. It's fun on a good weather day.

Exit from the Vatican Museums' entrance to the Gardens:

Mosaic from Caracalla Baths - displayed near the entrance to the Gardens:

View to the Vatican Museums:

A small fountain:

Statue of Augustus:

Statue of Pope Leo XIII:

Madonna della Guardia shrine. A replica of The Shrine of Nostra Signora della Guardia ("Our Lady of the Watch") which is a Roman Catholic place of pilgrimage located on the top of Mount Figogna in the Municipality of Ceranesi, about 20 kilometres from the city of Genoa, in the northwest of Italy. In memory of the Grotto of Lourdes:

The Vatican walls built by Leo IV (847 -855) in Piazzale S. Chiara:

A frieze depicting Pope Leo XIII, Bismarck and Prime Minister of Spain in a dispute on isles in the Far East:

Gardens around the Vatican Radio Station - Largo della Radio:

The flowering French Garden:

The French Garden - view to St. Peter Basilica Dome:

A Sea Nymph blows water into the air through seashells in one of two "Siren Fountains" in The Garden Of The Arches:

Exit from the French Garden - facing the Grotta di Lourdes:

Grotta di Lourdes (also Grotta della Madonna di Lourdes) is an artificial cave in the Vatican gardens. It was built in 1902–5 and is a replica of the Lourdes Grotto in France. The context of building this grotto is the vision of the Madonna that a young girl, Bernadette Soubirous, experienced 18 times. Pope Francis, a day after his appointment as the new Pope, visited the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on the afternoon of 15 March 2013 and offered prayers before the statue of the Virgin Mary. The grotto donated to Pope John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, 1958-1963). It is a place where traditionally at the end of May each year the pope comes to pray and greet the faithful who have made their way up the hill in a torch-light procession:

An olive tree more than 200 years old grown near Nazareth was sent as a gift from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Pope Benedict XVI. The tree was planted at Viale Degli Ulivi, or Olive Tree Boulevard, in the Vatican Gardens:

The Frogs Fountain:

Statue of Juan Diego: one of the most special pieces of sculpture in the Gardens is its namesake statue, which was donated by Mexico to Pope Pious XII in 1939. Its figurative program represents the foundation story of Our Lady of Guadalupe: the statue depicts the apparition of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as it was miraculously revealed in Mexico City In the year 1531. The poor native Juan Diego stands, showing the sacred image of the Virgin that had appeared on his vestment, while the Franciscan Bishop Juan de Zumaraga kneels before it, bowing down as a witness to the miracle of the beautiful, sacred image of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Cedar trees:

The Leonine Wall with its two mighty towers:

St. John's Tower:

Statue of John Paul II:

In the end of the Leonine Walls, near one of the towers, further on is a clearing called “capanna cinese”, meaning Chinese hut, where one can admire a bell which is a memento of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. In this area Pope Pius II used to make his daily afternoon walk:

La Madonna del Divino Amore:

The manicured, formal, box-hedged Italian Garden:

St. Peter Dome from the Italian Garden:

St. Peter Statue and Dome - from the Italian Garden:

Fontana dell'Aquilone (Fountain of the Eagle):

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences - seeks to pay honour to pure science, wherever it is found, to assure its freedom and to promote its research. The Academy was founded in Rome in 1603 by Federico Cesi, Jan Heck, Francesco Stelluti and Anastasio De Filiis. It was originally called the Academy of the Lincei, then the Pontifical Academy of the New Lincei. On October 28th 1936, Pope Pius XI granted it new Statutes and the name it has today. The latest Statute was approved by Pope Paul VI on April 1st 1976. The academic body comprises 80 Academicians chosen from among the world’s most famous scientists. The Pope appoints the members of the Academy. It is the only Academy of Sciences in the world that operates beyond national boundaries. It is located in the Casina of Pius IV (Casina Pia) in the Vatican Gardens. The Casina Pio IV (or Villa Pia) is a patrician villa in Vatican City which is now home to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas:

Courtyard of the Academy:

The highly charged Mannerist front of the Casina Pio IV:

Vatican Gardens - Giardino Quadrato (Square Garden) - opened in 2013. And back to the entrance of the Vatican Museums:

Christian Rome - Tour of Four Major Basilicas

Pernilla Loob


San Pietro in Vincoli, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Basilica di San Paulo Fuori le Mura:


This trip leads you to four of the most famous, the biggest and most magnificent Basilicas in Rome. All of them can easily be accessed by the Rome Metro lines.

Start: Cavour Metro station on Line B.

End:     Basilica S. Paolo Metro station on Line B.

Historical perspective:

In A.D. 60 Paul, one of the 12 apostles, arrived in Rome and started to diffuse the Christian religion. The first massacre of Christians was organized by Nero in A.D. 64. As a huge fire consumed large parts of Rome, rumors spread that Nero started the fire to gain space to erect his new palace. Nero, frightened, charged the Christians and organized the massacre to silence them. St. Paul and St. Peter likely died during this massacre.  Christians were burned on high crosses. As a Roman citizen, Paul was executed by decapitation. The conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 314 allowed the expansion of Christianity and the end of the massacres. After the defeat of the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustule, and the end of the Roman Empire, the city of Rome fell under the political control of Christian Popes. Countless churches were built during the following centuries.


Leo I ('the Peacemaker'; 461 - 468):

Leo the First may have been most famous for work he did before ascending to the Papacy: The former aristocrat and then bishop convinced the feared Attila the Hun not to sack Rome. It's possible Leo offered Attila a pile of loot, or the warlord used the meeting as an excuse to turn back, given his own strategic concerns. Another possibility is that the Pope may have played on Attila's superstitious fear of dying soon after the sacking, just as Alaric I (king of a tribe of Goths) did after the despoiling of Rome decades earlier.

Gregory I ('the Great'; 590-604):

The son of a wealthy family in Rome, with two former Popes in his ancestry, Gregory took a life of monastic austerity after periods of time studying law and as prefect of Rome. This combination proved invaluable to the emperor and people of Rome, resulting in Gregory being forcibly removed from cloister life to be elected Pope. Despite his reservations, he was an energetic and practical Pope, becoming heavily involved in the civil ruling of Italy, and defining Papal supremacy in both the east and western empires.

Gregory VII, the reformer (1073-1085):

He established celibacy for members of the clergy. He is famous also for the church's role in the Investiture Controversy in which he excommunicated Henry IV, affirming the primacy of the Papal authority over the emperor for the investiture (choice) of the bishops. Attacked by Henry IV, Gregory VII found refuge in the Castel San'Angelo. The Normans (also known as barbarians) agreed to form an alliance with the Pope and saved him. But the Normans also devastated Rome, so that, scared by the reaction of Roman citizens, Gregory VII was compelled to go into exile.

Sixtus IV (1471-1484):

He was the builder of the famous Sistine Chapel. But he also had dark spots in his story: To help his nephews obtain the coveted charge of Bishops, he organized the murder of Giuliano de Medici during a church service in the Cathedral of Florence.

Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere; 1503-13):

Born to a humble family in 1443, the ruthless and energetic Giuliano della Rovere has gone down in history as the warrior Pope, a man who led his armies into battle dressed in full armour. When the grandiose funerary monument planned for him by Michelangelo came to nothing, Julius was buried simply beneath the pavement of St Peter's.

Leo X (Giovanni de' Medici; 1513-21):

The second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Giovanni de' Medici was created Cardinal when only thirteen. The celebrated portrait by Raphael (of whom Leo was an enthusiastic patron) shows him to have been rather corpulent. He perspired a good deal and during ecclesiastical functions was always wiping his face and hands, to the distress of bystanders. His bull Exsurge Domine of 1520 condemned 41 errors of Martin Luther. His tomb is in Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

Clement VII (Giulio de' Medici; 1523-34):

The bastard nephew of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Giulio de' Medici was declared legitimate and created Cardinal in 1513. He had dark brown eyes, the left one squinting. According to Benvenuto Cellini he had excellent taste-the beautiful but faded portrait by Sebastiano del Piombo (Capodimonte, Naples) makes him look vain and supercilious. Clement's bitter relations with the Emperor Charles V led to the disastrous Sack of Rome in 1527. Trapped for seven months in Castel Sant'Angelo, he grew a beard as a sign of mourning. He refused to allow Henry VIII to divorce Catherine of Aragon. He is also buried in Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

Paul III (Alessandro Farnese; 1534-49):

As Cardinal, Alessandro Farnese fathered four children, but he put away his mistress in 1514. His secular interests were not entirely abandoned, however. He loved masked balls, fireworks, clowns and dwarfs, and in 1536 he revived the carnival, when enormous floats were dragged through the streets of Rome by teams of buffalo. Yet he was a great reformer, and as well as his human children he fathered a number of religious orders, most importantly the Jesuits, in 1540. Paul also established the Congregation of the Roman Inquisition, to extirpate heresy. When he was elected, he claimed he had waited 30 years for Michelangelo-and promptly commissioned the Last Judgement and the new layout of the Campidoglio. He is buried in St Peter's in a beautiful tomb by Guglielmo della Porta.

Paul V (Camillo Borghese; 1605-21):

From a Sienese family, but a self-proclaimed proud Roman, Paul V amassed great power and fortune for himself (and his relatives) whilst Pope, and oversaw a number of substantial projects in Rome: the completion of St Peter's, the rebuilding of a Trajan aqueduct which supplied fresh water to fountains in the city, and the enrichment of the Vatican library. His nephew, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, was one of the great art collectors of the time. Paul is buried in the Borghese chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore.

Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini; 1623-44):

Authoritarian, highly conscious of his own position, and a shameless nepotist, Urban was also learned and artistic. He wrote Latin verses (and indeed spoiled many hymns in the Breviary by rewriting them). Though an unpopular Pope (there was unseemly rejoicing when he died), he gave Rome the art and architecture of Bernini, the young sculptor whom he made architect of the new St Peter's. The Basilica was consecrated in 1626. Urban lies buried there, commemorated by a funeral monument designed by Bernini.

Innocent X (Giovan Battista Pamphilj; 1644-55):

Innocent was elected in 1644, after a stormy conclave (he was opposed by France), and consecrated on 4th October at a particularly splendid ceremony, when for the first time the St. Peter personnel lit up the dome of the Basilica with flaming torches. His ugliness was noted by contemporaries, and Velásquez's famous portrait in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj which inspired several modern versions by Francis Bacon-has caught his disturbing, implacable gaze. His life was blameless, but he was irresolute and suspicious. Innocent died in January 1655 after a long agony; no one wanted to pay for his burial. Later a funerary monument was set up in the church of Sant'Agnese, which has a façade by his favoorite architect, Borromini.

Pius VII (Luigi Barnaba Chiaramonti; 1800-23):

Elected in March 1800, Pius was constrained by political and military events to sign a concordat with Bonaparte in 1801. In 1804 he went to Paris to officiate at the emperor's coronation; he was rudely treated, and Napoleon placed the crown on his own head. In 1809 Pius was arrested by the French and interned. In 1814, after Bonaparte's fall, he returned to Rome amidst general rejoicing. Pius was magnanimous towards Napoleon's family. He died in 1823, after falling and breaking a leg. His funerary monument in St Peter's is by (the Protestant) Bertel Thorvaldsen.

Pius IX (Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti; 1846-78):

Pius was politically maladroit, and to many his name is a byword for intransigence and arch-conservatism. Garibaldi despised him and named his horse 'Papa Mastai'; in Italian his regnal number (Pio Nono) sounds like a double negative, as though he were always saying 'No, no' to the radical reforms that were proposed to him-unsurprising, perhaps, since the radicals wanted his territories. Nationalist armies seized the Papal States in 1860 and Rome in 1870, confining Papal authority to the Vatican. Pius was the last Pope to hold temporal power. On the ecclesiastical level he was a very great Pope, and even his enemies acknowledged his charm. In 1856 he defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception; in 1870 he proclaimed the dogma of Papal Infallibility. After the longest reign in papal history he died in 1878, and lies buried in a simple tomb in San Lorenzo fuori le Mura.

The Itinerary:
From Cavour station we turn left. in the opposite side of the road you'll see staircase. Climb the steps and turn right for a walk of 100 m. On your left is Piazza and the Chiesa of San Pietro in Vincoli. In contrary to the other three Basilicas - the S.P in Vincoli is minor basilica in Rome. It is best known for being the home of Michelangelo's statue of Moses, part of the tomb of Pope Julius II (see list of Popes above). Go early to avoid the tour buses. it was first rebuilt on older foundations[1] in 432–440 to house the relic of the chains that bound Saint Peter when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem, the episode called the Liberation of Saint Peter. The Empress Eudoxia (wife of Emperor Valentinian III), who received them as a gift from her mother, Aelia Eudocia, consort of Valentinian II, presented the chains to Pope Leo I. Aelia Eudocia had received these chains as a gift from Iuvenalis, bishop of Jerusalem. According to legend, when Leo, while he compared them to the chains of St. Peter's final imprisonment in the Mamertine Prison in Rome, the two chains miraculously fused together. The chains are kept in a reliquary under the main altar in the Basilica. The Basilica, consecrated in 439 by Sixtus III, has undergone several restorations, among them a restoration by Pope Adrian I, and further work in the eleventh century. From 1471 to 1503, in which year he was elected Pope Julius II, Cardinal Della Rovere, the nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, effected notable rebuilding. Two popes were elected in this church : Pope John II in 533 and Pope Gregory VII in 1073. The church exterior is nothing special.

San Pietro in Vincoli interior: The Nave has an 18th-century coffered ceiling, frescoed in the center by Giovanni Battista Parodi, portraying the Miracle of the Chains (1706).

The central ceiling fresco of “The Miracle of Chains” by G.B Parodi (1706):

Michelangelo's Moses (completed in 1515) was originally intended to be a part of a massive 47-statue, free-standing funeral monument for Pope Julius II.. Moses is depicted with horns, connoting "the radiance of the Lord", due to the similarity in the Hebrew words for "beams of light" and "horns". This kind of iconographic symbolism was common in early sacred art, and for an artist horns are easier to sculpt than rays of light... Walk from side to side to see various angles:

The fierce power of this remarkable sculpture dominates its setting. People say that you can see the sculptor's profile in the lock of Moses's beard right under his lip, and that the pope's profile is also there somewhere:

The statues of Leah and Rachel flanking Moses were probably completed by Michelangelo's students:

The actual chains that held Saint Peter are also on display. The reputed chains (vincoli) that bound St. Peter during his imprisonment by the Romans in Jerusalem are in a bronze and crystal urn under the main altar:

Other treasures in the church include a 7th-century mosaic of St. Sebastian, in front of the second altar to the left of the main altar, and, by the door, the tomb of the Pollaiuolo brothers, two lesser 15th-century Florentine artists.

Frescos by Giacomo Coppi (1577) in the raised tribune:

Macabre Christian Rome: The contrast between the portrait and the skeletons holding it up could not be more direct, death waits us all:

It is 800- 1000 m. walk from San Pietro in Vincoli to Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. We'll opt for the more quiet and "green" route which is approx. 900 m. (15 minutes) walk. Head north on Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli toward Via delle Sette Sale, 20 m. Turn right onto Via delle Sette Sale, 500 m. It is a narrow road between low walls in both of its sides. Be careful with the traffic. Slight left onto Via del Monte Oppio, 160 m.
On your left Chiesa San Martini ai Monti. Continue straight onto Largo Brancaccio, 75 m. Turn left onto Via Merulana and Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore is on your right. In the middle of the Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore, the square in front of the church, stands a column with a Baroque bronze statue of Mary and child. It was erected in 1614 by pope Paul V in thanksgiving for the remission of the plague. The column was taken from the Basilica of Maxentius at the Roman Forum. The statue was created by the French sculptor Guillaume Berthélot. The obelisk located at the other side of the church, at the Piazza dell'Esquilino, was erected in 1587 by pope Sixtus V as a beacon for pilgrims. It was originally located near the entrance of the Mausoleum of Augustus. A wide staircase behind the obelisk leads to the apse of the church. From here you have a splendid view over the square and its surroundings.

Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Saint Mary Major) is in the back of the Piazza. The church is located on the Cispius, a summit of the Esquiline Hill. Another option to arrive to the Basilica: Get off at the station Cavour and walk about 300 meters (5-10 minutes) on the Via Cavour. You'll see on your right the giant Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. It is located on Piazza del Esquilino, number 34, some five blocks southwest of the Termini station.  According to the 1929 Lateran Treaty, the Basilica is owned by the Holy See and enjoys extraterritorial status. The building is patrolled internally by police agents of Vatican City State, not by Italian police.  Saint Mary Major is one of the only four that today hold the title of major Basilica. The other three are Saint Peter (covered in a special blog in Tipter), Saint John Lateran,  and Saint Paul outside the Walls - covered in this trip blog. All the other Catholic churches that, either by grant of the Pope or by immemorial custom, hold the title of basilica are minor basilicas. The present church was built under Pope Sixtus III (432-440). The church retains the core of its original structure, despite several additional construction projects and damage by the earthquake of 1348. Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the first churches built in honour of the Virgin Mary, was erected in the immediate aftermath of the Council of Ephesus of 431, which proclaimed Mary Mother of God. Pope Sixtus III built it to commemorate this decision. The building of the basilica was influenced also by seeing Mary as a one who could represent the imperial ideals of classical Rome, bringing together the old Rome and the new Christian Rome. When the Popes returned to Rome after the period of the Avignon Papacy, the buildings of the basilica became a temporary Palace of the Popes due to the deteriorated state of the Lateran Palace. The Papal residence was later moved to the Palace of the Vatican in what is now Vatican City. The basilica was restored, redecorated and extended by various popes, including Eugene III (1145–1153), Nicholas IV (1288–92), Clement X (1670–76), and Benedict XIV (1740–58), who in the 1740s commissioned Ferdinando Fuga to build the present façade and to modify the interior. The seventy-five meter bell tower - the tallest in Rome - was built in 1377, shortly after the popes returned from their exile in Avignon. The pyramidal spire was added much later, in the early sixteenth century.

Sculpture of Philip IV king of Spain in the entrance:

The interior of the Santa Maria Maggiore underwent a broad renovation encompassing all of its altars between the years 1575 and 1630. The Basilica of Saint Mary Major is best known for its magnificent interior which still resembles that of an ancient Basilica. It has a length of almost eighty-six meters and is divided into three naves by thirty-six Ionic columns of marble and granite.

Santa Maria Maggiore - side Narthex:

Another highlight in the Basilica is the beautiful coffered ceiling designed by Giuliano da Sangallo and created in the sixteenth century. It is said to be gilded of gold that was brought from the Americas by Christopher Columbus and presented to pope Alexander VI by the Spanish king:

Above the columns, right below the windows is a row of mosaics from the early fifth century. The mosaics depict thirty-six scenes from the Old Testament of heroes and patriarchs beginning with Abraham. Only 27 of the original 42 mosaic scenes remain. These mosaics are notable because they are somewhat realistic representations, often of miraculous events, with landscapes, blue skies, architecture in a kind of perspective, and modeled figures. At the same time, the forms are outlined and fairly flat. The representation on the left and center is of the capture of Jericho, with the walls tumbling down at the sound of the trumpets and with Rahab at the top of the city gate:

God commands Jacob to leave. He announces his departure to his wives Leah and Rachel:

Crossing of the Arc of the Covenant over the River Jordan:

Conquer of Jericho:

Moses on the commandment of God sweetens the watrers of the Mara. The ruler of the Amalekites blocks the passage of the people of Israel:

The Rose Window (1995) was created by Giovanni Hajnal. It depicts Mary as a link between the Old Testament (represented by the seven-branched Menorah of the Temple of Solomon) and the New Testament (represented by the Chalice of the Eucharist). The contemporary character of the Rose Window has caused some controversy. The frescoes on either side of the window depict scenes from the Life of Mary, and below the frescoes are two of the 5th century nave mosaics.
The frescoes were painted over the windows walled up when the facade was rebuilt in 1743:

The Apse is decorated with a magnificent mosaic created in 1295 by Jacopo Torriti. It depicts the 'Crowning of Mary' with Christ and Mary seated on a throne and accompanied by saints. Pope Nicholas IV, who commissioned the work, is shown kneeling alongside Cardinal Giacomo Colonna:

The Papal Altar at the Apse is covered by an ornate Baldachin. The Baldachin is supported by four ancient columns that were taken from the Villa of Hadrian in Tivoli:

The chapel on the right is the Capella Sistina or Sistine Chapel, named for pope Sixtus V who commissioned its construction. The chapel, designed by Domenico Fontana and built in 1587, holds precious relics and contains the graves of popes Pius V and Sixtus V. The Mannerist interior decoration was completed (1587-9) by a large team of artists, directed by Cesare Nebbia and Giovanni Guerra. While the art biographer, Giovanni Baglione allocates specific works to individual artists, recent scholarship finds that the hand of Nebbia drew preliminary sketches for many, if not all, of the frescoes. Baglione also concedes the roles of Nebbia and Guerra could be summarised as "Nebbia drew, and Guerra supervised the teams".

Magnificent gilded bronze Ciborium. Designed in 1590 by Giovanni Battista Ricci and executed by Ludovico Scalzo, it was designed in the shape of the Sistine Chapel (complete with dome) and is supported by four Angels which were created by Sebastiano Torregiani. Crystal reliquary designed by Giuseppe Valadier said to contain wood from the Holy Crib of the nativity of Jesus Christ:

Tomb of Pope Pius V, by Pierre le Gros the Younger (1698). The reliefs depict Papal Wars such as the "Battle of Lepanto" and "Count Sforza Victorious over the Heretics". The body of the Pope is displayed in the glass-fronted coffin:

Tomb of Pope Sixtus V, by Giovanni Antonio Paracca (1591). Unlike the reliefs of Pius V, the reliefs around Sixtus V show scenes of the Papal States at peace. Sixtus V is depicted with the tiara removed, kneeling in prayer, facing the altar and Ciborium (unlike gestures of blessing of other Papal tombs):

The tomb of Pope Clement IX is located near the entrance of the basilica. It was originally located in the choir, thus the somewhat controversial overly-extended position of the hand and arm (to make the gesture more visible from the higher position). It was designed by Carlo Rainaldi and completed in 1669. The statue of the Pope is by Domenico Guidi, Charity (at left) is by Ercole Ferrata, and Faith is by Cosimo Fancelli:

Coffin of Pius V:

Capella Sistina - the Dome:

The Capella Borghese, also known as the Capella Paolina, was built later, in 1611, by Flaminio Ponzio. The chapel is named after Pope Paul V Borghese. According to legend the Madonna in the Borghese chapel, the 'Salus Populi Romani', was painted by the evangelist Lucas and completed by angels. More likely it was created in the Middle Ages, probably around the thirteenth century. The Popes Paul V and Clement VIII are buried in this chapel.

The column in the Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore celebrates the famous icon of the Virgin Mary now enshrined in the Borghese Chapel of the Basilica. It is known as Salus Populi Romani, or Health of the Roman People or Salvation of the Roman People, due to a miracle in which the icon helped keep plague from the city. The icon is at least a thousand years old, and according to a tradition was painted from life by St Luke the Evangelist using the wooden table of the Holy Family in Nazareth. The Salus Populi Romani has been a favourite of several popes and acted as a key Mariological symbol. Roman-born Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) celebrated his first Holy Mass there on 1 April 1899. In 1953, the icon was carried through Rome to initiate the first Marian year in Church history. In 1954, the icon was crowned by Pope Pius XII as he introduced a new Marian feast Queenship of Mary. Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis all honoured the Salus Populi Romani with personal visits and liturgical celebrations.

In the centre - picture of Guido Reni:

Statue of King David was created by Nicholas Cordier.:

The statue of High Priest Aaron was executed by Nicholas Cordier:

Double stairways leading down to the Chapel of the Nativity and the Nativity Oratory of Arnolfo di Cambio, where St. Ignatius of Loyola gave his first mass. Note the magnificent marbles used in the construction. These were taken from the Septizodium of Emperor Septimius Severus which was demolished by Domenico Fontana under the orders of Pope Sixtus V to make use of the stone. The existing Nativity Oratory was moved into the crypt when Domenico Fontana built the Chapel.
It houses what may be the oldest Nativity sculptures in existence, a series of high-reliefs by Arnolfo di Cambio, created between 1288-1291 at the order of Pope Nicholas IV. At the base of the stairs, this statue of Pope Pius IX kneels in the Crypt of the Nativity. It was sculpted by Ignazio Jacometti in 1880 and placed in the crypt by Pope Leo XIII:

Our next destination is Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. You can catch the red line Metro in the direction of Anagnina. Get off at the station San Giovanni (three stations from Termini). A 5-minute walk is required to reach the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano.

If you prefer to walk it is 1.5 km walking. Follow this itinerary: Head northeast on Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore toward Via Carlo Alberto. Turn right onto Via Carlo Alberto, 500 m. This road is full with shops of Far East products. You arrive to an extensive garden, not-so-well-kept: Giardini Nicola Calipari. A Roman ruin in the midst of poorly maintained gardens:

Do not miss this interesting sculpture in the gardens:

With your face southward, take the right wing of the garden and walk to the east. Exit the garden to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, opposite Hotel Napoleon. We continue from the right (south) border of the garden (heading EASTWARD) to Via Emanuele Filiberto. On the third cross-road we cross Viale Manzoni. In this cross-road note, on your left (near the cross-lights) the house with its facade with inscriptions and sculptures. THe rest of the houses in the left side (north) of Via Filiberto avenue are nicely restored or refurbished. Along Via Filiberto you find a lot of small Chinese restaurants. All cheap with reasonable quality of food. This aprt of Rome is a typical part of working, low-class population of southern Rome. When you see walls and antiquities opposite your face - TURN RIGHT to Via Domenico Fontana. In the end of this street you'll see an Obelisk. But, you turn LEFT into a huge square - Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano.

The Lateran Obelisk, in the Piazza, is the tallest in Rome, and the largest standing Egyptian obelisk in the world. The red granite weighs 455 tons and stands 32.18 meters tall (plus base and cross). Originally erected in Karnak, c. 1430 BC, it was brought to Rome by Constantius II in 357 AD:

Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano: The oldest church in Rome and the mother of all Roman Churches. San Giovanni in Laterano was founded in the early 4th c. (312-313). It is the Cathedral of Rome and first among the four Papal Basilicas. The Popes lived in the Lateran Palace until the early 14th century, when Clement V transferred the Papacy to Avignon, France.

Open Church: 07.00 - 18.30 daily. Baptistry (06 6988 6452) 07.30 - 12.30, 16.00 - 18.30 Tue-Sat; 09.00 - 12.30, 16.00 - 18.30 Sun. Cloister 09.00 - 18.00 daily. Museum 09.00 - 13.00 Mon-Sat. Like most of Rome's churches, there is no entry fee.

This fabulous Basilica is a "must see" in Rome. Although it's very popular, it's not overrun with tourists. Superb art all around: sculptures, paintings, mosaics, architecture. It is very, very large - one of those places in which you marvel at the abilities of the old world architects and even builders who somehow managed to put such a massive structure together. The walls are covered with frescoes everywhere, precious artefacts of extremely high quality. Astounding place!

Along with the Lateran palace, it was the site of the original Papal headquarters until the move across the river to St Peter's and the Vatican in the 14th century. Constantine's second wife, Fausta, gave the plot of land to Pope Melchiades to build the papal residence and church in 313. There are few traces of the of the original basilica, which was done in by fire, earthquake and barbarians. It has been heavily restored and rebuilt.  The façade with its 15 huge statues of Christ, the two Johns (Baptist and Evangelist) and 12 Doctors of the Church, is part of the 1735 rebuilding by Alessandro Galilei.

Because the Pope is also the Bishop of Rome, this church is Rome's 'official' cathedral (this is because this church is the seat of the Bishop's residence).

Ancient Roman Bronze Doors:

Roman Statue of Constantine in the Portico:

One of the things that you'll enjoy about visiting this church is its size - you can walk freely and at your leisure without anyone invading your space, so it's a nice break from the madness of Centro Storico...  Its design is outstanding and the marble work on the floors is magnificent along with the whole design of the cathedral. Inside it is not as dark and heavy as many ancient cathedrals and with the light streaming in, it highlights the statues in the niches in the walls. You easily spend an hour here enjoying the Cathedral. The interior bears the stamp of Borromini, who transformed it in 1646; for centuries he was derided for encasing the original columns in stucco, though experts now believe that the ancient supports had been replaced by nondescript ones in the 15th century. A few treasures from earlier times survive: a much restored 13th-century mosaic in the apse, a fragment of a fresco attributed to Giotto (hidden behind the first column on the right) showing Pope Boniface VIII announcing the first Holy Year in 1300, and the Gothic Baldacchino over the main altar.

The central Nave and Baldachino. The Baldachino was designed by Giovanni da Stefano in 1367. It stands over the Papal Altar and by tradition the relic chamber houses the heads of Sts. Peter and Paul. Statues of Peter and Paul are above each of the columns. The apse behind the Baldachino contains the Papal Cathedral and early christian mosaics:

Barna da Siena’s frescoes on the Baldachino, with sculptures of Saints Peter and Paul:

Nave Apostles: In the rear of the nave, there are some of Borromini’s niches. These niches were left empty for decades until Pope Clement XI sponsored a competition in 1703 to select designs for larger than life statues of the Apostles. These sculptures were created by some of the most prominent Baroque artists. St Matthew by Camillo Rusconi:

Relief - The Crossing of the Red Sea by M. Anguier:

Fresco in the South Transept - The Conversion of Constantine:

Altar of the Blessed Sacrament erected by Pope Clement VIII:

The Last Supper - Altar of the Blessed Sacrament:

The Apse mosaics are a composite from several eras. The dark section at the apex of the vault depicting Christ surrounded by nine seraphim dates from the 4th or 5th century, and was carefully preserved and restored in 1880 when the apse was enlarged to accommodate pontifical functions. The central section from the 6th c. shows the crux gammata, a jeweled cross above which flies a dove representing the Holy Spirit. From the mouth of the dove flow the four rivers of the Gospels, from which stags and sheep drink. The rivers flow into the Jordan, which symbolizes baptism. Between the streams is the City of Jerusalem, and in the city, a Phoenix (symbolizing rebirth) is perched on the Tree of Life. St. Peter, St. Paul, and an armed Angel are guarding the city:

To the left of the Apse are Mary, with her hand on the head of Nicholas IV (kneeling at her feet), who was responsible for repairing and altering this section of the mosaics (13th c.). To his left are St. Francis of Assisi, St. Peter, and St. Paul:

The ceiling of San Giovanni in Laterano. The design of the gilded coffered ceiling is attributed to Michelangelo. It was begun in 1562 by Daniel da Volterra and Pirro Ligorio under Pius IV and completed under St. Pius V. It was restored by Pius VI in the late 1700s, and contains three Papal Coats of Arms (Popes Pius IV, St. Pius V and Pius VI):

The organ was designed by Luca Blasi of Perugia in 1598, with angels, cherubs and reliefs by Giovanni Battista Montano. The central pipe is 8 feet tall and weighs over 400 pounds. The central pipe in each group of five is twisted:

Monument of Leo XIII. The Pope is standing in benediction, flanked by a statue of a worker on the left (Leo XIII addressed the condition of the working class and workers rights during his Papacy) and a statue of Faith on the right:

Lateran Lancellotti Chapel. Stucco roses created by Filippo Carcani in 1685. Carcani was a pupil of Bernini and Ferrata. He created the prototypical Baroque-Rococo stuccoed roses:

Chapel of the Crucifixion. On the right: Pope Boniface VIII:

Torlonia Chapel:

Off the left aisle is the 13th-century cloister, with delicate twisted columns and fine cosmatesque work by the Vassalletto family. A small museum off the cloister contains Papal vestments and some original manuscripts of music by Palestrina.

St. John Baptist. The wooden statue of St. John the Baptist in the Confessio (the Crypt under the High Altar):

It is 10 minutes walk to the Metro station of San Giovanni in Laternao (250 m.). With your back to the Basilica - walk straight and turn right to arrive to the Metro (out of the walls). Head east toward Piazza di Porta San Giovanni, 45 m. Slight right onto Piazza di Porta San Giovanni, 65 m. Slight left onto Piazzale Appio, 41 m. Turn left onto Viale Castrense. On your way you'll see the ancient walls and Porta di San Giovanni (there are construction works for the third line of the Metro). You may stop shopping in COIN.

Catch the Metro (Line B, BLUE) and go in the direction of Laurentina. Get off at Basilica S. Paolo (four stations from the Coliseum). From the Metro station of San Paolo, TURN LEFT TWICE, then turn RIGHT - and you'll see the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in front of you. The Basilica's Campanile (clock tower) was originally built in the eleventh century near the front facade. The current tower was built in 1860 toward the east of the Basilica, near the Apse. It holds seven bells, five of which are still original:

The Basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of Saint Paul, where it was said that, after the Apostle's execution, his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae. This first edifice was expanded under Valentinian I in the 370s. In 386, Emperor Theodosius I began erecting a much larger and more beautiful basilica with a nave and four aisles with a transept; the work including the mosaics was not completed until Leo I's pontificate (440–461). In the 5th century it was larger than the Old St. Peter's Basilica. Under Gregory the Great (590–604) the basilica was extensively modified. The pavement was raised to place the altar directly over Paul's tomb. A confession permitted access to the Apostle's sepulcher. As it lay outside the Aurelian Walls, the basilica was damaged in the 9th century during the Saracen invasions. Consequently, Pope John VIII (872–882) fortified the basilica, the monastery, and the dwellings of the peasantry, forming the town of Joannispolis (Italian: Giovannipoli) which existed until 1348, when an earthquake totally destroyed it. The graceful cloister of the monastery was erected between 1220 and 1241. From 1215 until 1964 it was the seat of the Latin Patriarch of Alexandria. On 15 July 1823 a fire, started through the negligence of a workman who was repairing the lead of the roof, resulted in the almost total destruction of the basilica which, alone of all the churches of Rome, had preserved its primitive character for 1435 years. It was re-opened in 1840, and reconsecrated 1855 with the presence of Pope Pius IX and fifty cardinals. Completing the works of reconstruction took longer, however, and many countries made their contributions. The work on the principal façade, looking toward the Tiber, was completed by the Italian Government, which declared the church a national monument. On 23 April 1891 the explosion of the gunpowder magazine at Forte Portuense destroyed the stained glass windows.

The covered portico that precedes the façade is a Neo-classicist addition of the 19th-century reconstruction:

The 20th-century door includes the remains of the leaves from the original portal, executed by Staurachius of Chios around 1070 in Constantinople, with scenes from the New and Old Testament. On the right is the Holy Door, which is opened only during the Jubilees:

The Nave's 80 columns and its stucco-decorated ceiling are from the 19th century:

The Gothic Baldachin in marble at the high altar was created by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1285. Below the altar is the confessio, with the grave of Saint Paul:

The mosaics of the Apse, work by Pietro Cavallini, were mostly lost in the 1823 fire; only a few traces were incorporated in the reconstruction. The 5th-century mosaics of the triumphal arch are original: an inscription in the lower section attest they were done at the time of Leo I, paid by Galla Placidia. The subject portrays the Apocalypse of John, with the bust of Christ in the middle flanked by the 24 doctors of the church, surmounted by the flying symbols of the four Evangelists. St. Peter and St. Paul are portrayed at the right and left of the arch, the latter pointing downwards (probably to his tomb):

Another highlight is the Venetian mosaic in the apse. It was created in 1226 for Honorius III and replaced the original mosaic from the fifth century. The apse mosaic was made by Venetian artists. Christ is flanked by the Apostles Peter, Paul, Andrew and Luke. In the lower zone are Apostles carrying scrolls with the text of Gloria in excelsis. Beneath Christ is a throne with the instruments of the Passion and a cross. In the center of the cross is another depiction of the Teaching Christ. The figure near Christ's feet is Pope Honorius III (1216-1227), who ordered the mosaic:

The triumphal arch across the Nave rests on Ionic columns and is embellished with a mosaic from the fifth century that was restored after the fire. At the center of the arch, in a circle, is a stern looking Christ. Birds (representing the four evangelists), angels, twenty-four elders and, below, the saints Peter and Paul, all flank the figure of Christ.

Frescoes of saints in San Paolo fuori le Mura:

One of the most interesting items that escaped the disastrous fire is the five-and-a-half meter tall paschal candlestick, created around 1170 by Nicolo di Angelo and Pietro Vassalletto. It is decorated with carvings that represent scenes from the bible. It looks really crowded with numerous figures crammed into a small area. At the foot of the candlestick are mythical figures, half-human, half-animal:

Altar of Conversion:

In the old Basilica each Pope had his portrait in a frieze extending above the columns separating the four aisles and naves. A 19th-century version can be seen now. The columns are new; the original ones were all taken from ancient Roman temples. They support a wall with above a series of so-called Tondi: circular paintings of popes. Unfortunately most of these paintings were damaged by the fire of 1823. They have all been restored but some of the inscriptions are lost forever. All 267 popes, starting with saint Peter, are shown. There are now very few Tondi still available, and according to legend, the world will end when the last Tondo is filled:

Saint Lorenzo Chapel - The Last Supper:

Once you are done with the Basilica di San Paulo Fuori le Mura, go back to the Metro station and travel in the opposite direction, to Rebibbia.

Villa d'Este, Tivoli (Rome)

Ling Chen


Villa d'Este, Tivoli:

No other word than sensational. Majestic. Villa d’Este is an outstanding, unforgotten paradise of beauty, splendor and Italian gardening tradition. A grandiose collection of  gardens, fountains, frescoes, grottoes, plays of water, hilly landscape, utmost tranquile atmosphere and antiquity. Villa d'Este is an UNESCO world heritage list.

Visiting Hours: from 08.30 – closed one hour before sunset.
The ticket office closes one hour before the closing of the monument.
The hydraulic organ of the Organ Fountain is active daily, from 10.30, every two hours. The Fontana della Civetta functions daily, from 10.00, every two hours.

Ticket Price:

May - mid-October:   € 11. Reduced: € 7.

mid-October - April:  €  8,  Reduced: € 4.

Villa d'Este by night: from July, 4th to September, 13th every Friday and Saturday from 20.30 to midnight (23.00 last entrance):

- full ticket € 11,00.
- reduced ticket € 7,00 (14-18 years and over 65 upon presentation of identity card).
- free ticket until 13 years.

- WARNING: No credit cards accepted !

How to reach Villa d’Este:

Metro + Bus:

Take the Rome Metro to Ponte Mammolo (Line B). Buy a bus ticket (COTRAL bus line) Roma-Tivoli. Go down one floor and catch the BLUE COTRAL bus to Tivoli (every 10-20 minutes). The service is frequent and convenient. The ride to Tivoli takes approx. 1 hour. The bus driver will notify loudly on Villa d'Este stop. it can be a little scary, as there is no indication of what stop you're at, no signs or anything. When you get to a little hill top village of Tivoli, after a little over an hour on the bus, that is where you get off, and you should see brown signs for the Villa d'Este.

By train:Roma-Pescara Line, Stazione Tivoli;

By car:Autostrada A24, exit: Tivoli;


- Go and spend at least four hours to fully experience Tivoli Villa and Gardens.

- No need for a tour guide.

- Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes.

- Avoid coming in a rainy day. In a very hot day come in early morning or late afternoon. There is a permanent breeze in this hilly place. Cool in the shade of the trees and mist from the many fountains.

- Bring with you a packaged meal. No need for water.

- You'll take tens or hundreds of photos.

- Walk along the Gardens' terraces downward - from up to down in a zig-zag way. That's the only way to cover all the hidden gems.

Some history:

On 9 September 1550, Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este (1509-72) (son of Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia and grandson of Pope Alexander VI) arrived in Tivoli, having obtained the post of governor of the town. The official residence assigned to him in Tivoli, part of the monastery of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, did not suit him. He therefore decided to build a splendid villa with gardens. He had entirely reconstructed to plans of Pirro Ligorio, carried out under the direction of the Ferrarese architect-engineer Alberto Galvani, court architect of the Este. The design is traditionally attributed to Pirro Ligorio (1500-83). The church and monastery stood at the top of a hill, with slopes covered in gardens, vineyards, and a few houses and churches. The Cardinal needed a little over ten years to buy the land and demolish the buildings. Between 1563 and 1565 the land was remodeled to create a steep slope descending to the old monastery and another gentler slope facing the north-east. A terrace was laid out in the south-west, supported by the old wall of the town.

From 1550 until his death in 1572, when the villa was nearing completion, Cardinal d'Este created a palatial setting surrounded by a spectacular terraced garden in the late-Renaissance mannerist style, which took advantage of the dramatic slope but required innovations in bringing a sufficient water supply, which was employed in cascades, water tanks, troughs and pools, water jets and fountains.

During this period the old monastery was converted into a villa and the original cloister was modified to become the central courtyard, its south-east wall being that of the old church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The pace of the decoration work for the palace increased up between 1565 and 1572, the year in which Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este died. Much of the work remained unfinished and many of the fountains for the garden still have to be built

Cardinal Luigi d'Este (1538-86) inherited the property of his uncle but his financial resources only allowed him to complete the work already started and to carry out a few repairs.

Cardinal Alessandro d'Este (it) repaired and extended the gardens from 1605. The maintenance, restoration, and layout works (the rotunda of the Cypresses around 1640) continued under the Dukes of Modena, who were related to the House of Este, until 1641. Cardinal Rinaldo I (1618-72) turned to Bernini (the Fountain of the Bicchierone) in 1660-61 and, starting in 1670, the architect Mattia de Rossi carried out more work, including changes to the palace.

The period when the Villa d'Este was abandoned started with Rinaldo II (1655-1736). In the eighteenth century the villa and its gardens passed to the House of Habsburg after Ercole III d'Este bequeathed it to his daughter Maria Beatrice, married to Grand Duke Ferdinand of Habsburg. However, thanks to the work undertaken by Cardinal Gustav von Hohenlohe (1823-96), the villa was saved from what might have been an irreversible loss. In 1920 the Villa d'Este became the property of the Italian State, which initiated a restoration campaign from 1920 to 1930, and another following damage caused by bombing in 1944.

Hilly scenery around Villa d'Este:

Villa d'Este itinerary:You leave the bus near a splendid square with sculptures and a small park - Arco dei Padri Costituenti di Arnaldo Pomodoro in Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi:

From here follow Via Bosseli, Via della Missione and the brown sign-posts to the Villa. You arrive to a small square, Piazza Trento, where the tickets office of the Villa is located:

A small fountain, Piazza Trento, entrance to Villa d'Este:

The villa:

The villa itself is surrounded on three sides by a sixteenth-century courtyard sited on the former Benedictine cloister. The fountain on a side wall, framed within a Doric, contains a sculpture of a sleeping nymph in a grotto guarded by d'Este heraldic eagles, with a bas-relief framed in apple boughs that links the villa to the Garden of the Hesperides.

The central main entrance leads to the Appartamento Vecchio ("Old Apartment") made for Ippolito d'Este, with its vaulted ceilings frescoed in secular allegories by Livio Agresti and his students, centered on the grand Sala, with its spectacular view down the main axis of the gardens, which fall away in a series of terraces.

After passing the tickets office - you enter a small, frescoed courtyard with nice sculptures. The courtyard, which was just inside the main entrance:

You arrive to the western Belvedere of the Villa with outstanding views on the village of Tivoli with its white-washed houses sloping down the hills. Grand Loggia and View of Gardens:

Exhibition in the Villa's main hall (Grand Sala): European fashion between 1500 and 1600:

To the left and right are suites of rooms, that on the left containing Cardinal Ippolito's's library and his bedchamber with the chapel beyond, and the private stairs to the lower apartment, the Appartamento Nobile, which gives directly onto Pirro Ligorio's Gran Loggia straddling the gravelled terrace with a triumphal arch motif.

Room of Glory - Hunting Roo. (Stanza della Gloria ). The Renaissance paintings by Federico Zuccari can be dated to 1566-68. The portraits are superimposed by four illusionist tapestries, alternating with hunting trophies (wild boar, deer, hare, birds) and festoons of flowers and fruit. Other smaller scenery are depicted in the emblasures of the door and windows. Emerging from the rest is an aristocratic deer-hunting scene, with the beast being chased by the hounds in the waters of a river on which are mirrored Nordic residences and castles.

Room of Nobility - (Stanza della Nobilta). The Renaissance paintings by Federico Zuccari can be dated to 1566-67. On the walls, an illusionist architecture of Ionian columns and polychrome marble encrustations frame allegorical personifications of "Virtue" and the "Liberal arts", of uncertain identification on a "pompeian red" background of refined antiquarian taste. Mock classic busts of illustrious men portray ancient philosophers and legislators such as Plato, Socrates and Pythagoras. In the grotesque decoration of the vault are depicted the allegorical figures of "Honor", "Rerum Natura", "Opulence" and "Immortality." At the center of the vault the "Nobility" towers over an aerial canopy flanked by its handmaids, "Liberality" and "Generosity".

Room of Hercules. This room celebrates the deeds of Hercules, the hero of Tivoli and legendary forefather of the House of Este. The pictorial decorations in this room were the first in the palace- along with those in the adjacent Salon. The "Twelve Labors of Hercules" are portrayed in the lower part of the vault; these were the famous tasks Hercules was assigned to overcome in order to be welcomed among the Gods. A "labor" appears on every wall in an oval portrait set in scenery; there are two other "labors" at the sides. The fresco at the center of the vault represents the epilogue of the myth- the "Apotheosis of Hercules." The hero, who is welcomed in the assembly of the twelve major divinities of Olympus (thanks to his labors) is shown with his back turned, with th eskin of the Lion Nemeo on his back and his arms resting on his bludgeon. References to Hercules, conqueror and thief of the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, is a strong and constant element in the decoration of the villa and gardens.

The Vault:

Salon del la Fontana. ( Sala della Fontana ), the banquet hall of Cardinal Ipollito d"Este. The frescoes were carried out by 6 assistants of Girolamo Muziano (1532-1592):

Tiburtine Room:

Room of Noah ( Sala di Noe ). The room was decorated with frescoes by Durante Alberti between 1570 and 1571 from drawings by Girolamo Muziano. The scenes depict Noah and the floods:

Room of Moses', Title: Moses Striking water from Rock, Date: 1560-1572,

Artist: Durante Alberti and assistants, Medium: Fresco:

Cardinal Ippolito's's chapel: The private chapel of Cardinal Ippolito was a small rectangular area in the most reserved section of the apartment. Its decoration, with the exception of the fresco over the altar, was carried out between 1568 and 1572:

The Altar and the "Madonna della Ghiara":

The Arts and Crafts Room: Presumably intended as a study for the Cardinal on the lower level, this space was richly embellished in gold and silver corami, but probably devoid of pictorial decorations (except at the windows). From an inventory dated 1678, we know only of the presence of a painting on the ceiling, but it is presently missing. A series of twelve figures representing the arts and crafts corporations of Tivoli, flanked by a solemn figure leafing through the book of civic statutes. One can see, in succession, Carpenters, Stonemasons, Blacksmiths, Donkey Breeders, Carters, Grocers, Shoemakers, Merchants and Tailors, Millers, Butchers and Buttari. According to reports, real artisans, merchants and farmers from Tivoli posed for these figures:

We leave the Villa and descend to the Gardens.


The garden plan is laid out on a central axis with subsidiary cross-axes, refreshed by some five hundred jets in fountains, pools and water troughs. The water is supplied by the Aniene, which is partly diverted through the town, a distance of a kilometer, and, originally, by the Rivellese spring, which supplied a cistern under the villa's courtyard (now supplied by the Aniene too). The garden is now part of the Grandi Giardini Italiani.

The Villa's uppermost terrace ends in a balustraded balcony at the left end, with a sweeping view over the plain below. Symmetrical double flights of stairs flanking the central axis lead to the next garden terrace, with the Grotto of Diana, richly decorated with frescoes and pebble mosaic to one side and the central Fontana del Bicchierone ("Fountain of the Great Cup"), planned by Bernini in 1660, where water issues from a seemingly natural rock into a scrolling shell-like cup.

To descend to the next level, there are stairs at either end — the elaborate fountain complex called the Rometta ("the little Rome") is at the far left — to view the full length of the Hundred Fountains on the next level, where the water jets fill the long rustic trough, and Pirro Ligorio's Fontana dell'Ovato ends the cross-vista. A visitor may walk behind the water through the rusticated arcade of the concave nymphaeum, which is peopled by marble nymphas by Giambattista della Porta. Above the nymphaeum, the sculpture of Pegasus recalls to the visitor the fountain of Hippocrene on Parnassus, haunt of the Muses.

This terrace is united to the next by the central Fountain of the Dragons, dominating the central perspective of the gardens, erected for a visit in 1572 of Pope Gregory XIII whose coat-of-arms features a dragon. Central stairs lead down a wooded slope to three rectangular fishponds set on the cross-axis at the lowest point of the gardens, terminated at the right by the water organ (now brought back into use) and Fountain of Neptune (belonging to the 20th century restorations).

The Grand Loggia of Villa d'Este:

View of Tivoli from the Villa's Grand Loggia:

View of South-West corner of the Gardens from the Villa's Grand Loggia: Fountain of Rometta. The Fountain of Rometta is a miniature representation of Rome itself- with some of the iconic structures, a miniature river for the Tiber, and various allegorical representations:

One of the Fish Ponds from the Grand Loggia:

The Gardens from the Grand Loggia:

The Oval Fountain from the Grand Loggia:

The Fountain of Pegasus is in the northeast corner of the garden. It consists of a circular tank, in the center of which is a large rock on which stands the statue of the mythical winged horse Pegasus. The composition recalls the story of Pegasus, who arrived on Mount Helicon and, banging his hoof on the ground, created the fountain Hippocrene, sacred to the Muses:

The Fountain of Europa is in the northeast corner of the garden; it looks like a triumphal arch, formed by two overlapping rows of columns, Doric and Corinthian, which define a niche within which was placed a sculpture of Europa embracing a bull. The Greeks believed that Zeus fell in love with Europa when he saw her and decided to seduce her so he became a white bull. Europa got onto his back and Zeus took her out into the sea to the island of Crete. All that remains in the niche now is a very small water jet:

The Oval Fountain (Fountain of Tivoli)
Taking the eastern stairs down from the Cardinal's Walk, we came to The Oval Fountain. The Oval Fountain is one of the main fountains in the garden, and is located halfway up the hillside on the northeastern side. It marks the beginning of the large waterway which ends to the southwest with the Rometta Fountain. It is the beginning of the complex scheme that runs all the fountains in the garden. Water was brought through an underground aqueduct to a point just above this fountain- the highest point in the garden. Then, as they say, it was all downhill from there. Water conduits radiate out in two directions- on across the garden to the west, ending at the Rometta Fountain, and supplying the Hundred Fountains and the Owl Fountain as well. Another conduit heads northwest to supply the Organ Fountain and the Fountain of Neptune, as well as the Fish Pools and other smaller fountains in the central area of the garden. Water from here even supplies the Diana fountain at the northern side of the garden.

The Oval Fountain (Fountain of Tivoli): Taking the eastern stairs down from the Cardinal's Walk, we came to The Oval Fountain. The Oval Fountain is one of the main fountains in the garden, and is located halfway up the hillside on the northeastern side. It marks the beginning of the large waterway which ends to the southwest with the Rometta Fountain. It is the beginning of the complex scheme that runs all the fountains in the garden. Water was brought through an underground aqueduct to a point just above this fountain- the highest point in the garden. Then, as they say, it was all downhill from there. Water conduits radiate out in two directions- on across the garden to the west, ending at the Rometta Fountain, and supplying the Hundred Fountains and the Owl Fountain as well. Another conduit heads northwest to supply the Organ Fountain and the Fountain of Neptune, as well as the Fish Pools and other smaller fountains in the central area of the garden. Water from here even supplies the Diana fountain at the northern side of the garden:

Upper fountain over the Oval Fountain:

The Cento Fountain (The Hundred Fountains): Beginning in front of the Oval Fountain, there are three waterways symbolizing the rivers Herculaneum, Albuneo and Aniene; these flow in the three superimposed canals of the Cento Fountain. With its long, flowing front, it crosses the whole garden:

Back to the Fountain of Rometta (Little Rome) (we are loyal to our zig-zag policy) - in the south edge of the Hundred Fountains avenue:

Fountain of Rometta designed by Pirro Ligorio and executed by Curzio Maccarone between 1567 and 1570 to represent ancient Rome. On this section of the semicircular theatre there (not shown here) is a stucco statue of the river God Aniene on the Tiburtine mountain summit, who holds in his right hand the circular Temple of Sybil. Below him, half-hidden in a grotto, Apennines holds the mountain from which is born the river whose water merges with the Tiber:

The Neptune Grotto in the lower level:

A Niche near the Fountain of the Owl:

The Fountain of the Owl. In the center of the fountain, there is a niche with a small fountain inside it, and the water comes down from two levels, forming cascades. The niche and fountain are placed between two columns on which grapewines and gold apples rise, reminding viewers yet again about the connection between the House of Este and the legendary Hercules. And there is another small fountain adjacent to the main one:

The Fountain of the Dragons. Pope Gregory XIII made a visit to the Villa; this influenced the Cardinal and one of his designers to create a monument with the four winged dragons. This was because the Boncompagni family used the dragon as their symbol, and Pope Gregory was a Boncompagni:

The Fountain of Neptune and Iris flowers around:

The upper level of The Fountain of Neptune - The Fountain of the Organ:

The Stairs of Bollori. The only flat place in the gardens is the center- where the fish ponds are. North and South of that, the garden is sloped. All of the walkways that go north and south in the gardens thus must have stairs, and the architect to designed them was named Bollori, and so all of the steps along all of the walkways are, collectively, called The Bollori Stairs. These are not just stairs, but they are also integral garden features, for alongside most of them run little narrow watercourses inset into short walls- as if the walkways were framed by falling water. Although they held up quite well for centuries, it is necessary today to restore the travertine steps and the cascading fountains that accompany them:

"Ornamental" rocks in the Gardens:

Fountain of Diana of Ephesus. View of Fontana Della Madre Natura with a statue of Diana of Ephesus, the great nature goddess. Sculpted by Gillis van den Vliete in 1568, the statue was originally part of the Fountain of the Organ, but was relocated in the 17th century as it was felt to be overly pagan in appearance:

Crossing the Fountain of Neptune:

View from the Organ Fountain to the Fish Ponds:

The Organ Fountain:

View of the Fish Ponds from the Fountain of the Organ:

Leave the Villa to the south-east direction, heading to Tivoli, to to the top of a street called Vicolo Todini. Right on the corner you'll notice a police station. Across the street the castle, are the Rocca Pia Castle and the Amphitheatre Bleso. The castle replaced the earlier Callisto II Borgia and derives its name from Pio II Piccolomini, the Humanist Pope who had ordered that the castle be built in Tivoli. Niccolo and Varrone were the two architects entrusted with the construction of the castle. The castle took one year to build and its main purpose was to control the city and to prevent any future revolts or violence. The castle was built at the end of the medieval and communal era of Tivoli. Several changes were made to the city in order to make way for the new castle. The Roman amphitheater was leveled out and medieval walls with a door were constructed in the northern part of the city in order to defend it from invasions.

In Tivoli village - take a few random street scenes along and aroundVia del Trevio:

Rome - from Castel Sant'Angelo to Fontana di Trevi

Pernilla Loob


From Castel Sant'Angelo to Fontana di Trevi:

Main attractions: Castel Sant'Angelo, Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo, Ponte Sant'Angelo, Palace of Justice, Ponte Vittorio Emmanuele II, Ponte Principe Amedeo, Basilica St. Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini, Via Giulia, Piazza Farnese, Palazzo Spada, PIazza Campo de Fiori, Palazzo Cancelleria, Palazzo Braschi, Piazza Navona, Church of Santa Maria dell'Anima, Church of Santa Maria della Pace, Basilica di Sant'Agostino, Piazza della Rotonda and the Pantheon, Fontana di Trevi.

Duration: 1 day. Allow 2 hours in Castel Sant'Angelo. Allow, at least 1 hour to Via Giulia. Allow, at least 1 hour to Galleria Spada / Palazzo Cancelleria / Palazzo Braschi. Allow 1 hour to Piazza Navona and its buildings. Allow 1 hour to Pza. della Rotonda and the pantheon. Allow 1/2 hour to Fontan di Trevi. All in all - a busy day. We left the fountains and the refreshing squares to the end of this route.

Castel Sant'Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel), is a cylindrical building/tower in Parco Adriano east to the Vatican, on the Tiber river bank. Castel Sant'Angelo was designed by the architect Demitriano and built between 123 and 129 A.D. according to the wishes of Emperor Hadrian, to serve as his mausoleum. The building was later used by the Popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. Metro Line A: Lepanto station. Bus lines 80, 87, 280 and 492 will get you close to the Castle. From the center near the Piazza Farnese, it is a very nice walk down the Via Giulia and then, after a right turn at the Tiber, a walk over the Sant'Angelo Bridge.

The tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian was erected between 130 AD and 139 AD.  Hadrian's ashes were placed here a year after his death in 138 AD, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138 AD. The remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217 AD. Hadrian also built the Ponte Sant'Angelo (once the Aelian Bridge) facing straight onto the mausoleum. This bridge still provides a scenic approach from the center of Rome and the right bank of the Tiber, and is renowned for the Baroque additions of statues of angels. Much of the tomb contents and decorations have been lost since the building's conversion to a military fortress in 401 and its subsequent inclusion in the Aurelian Walls by Flavius Augustus Honorius. The Castle was sacked in 410 AD by the Vizigoths and, again, by the attacking Goths when they besieged Rome in 537 AD. Legend holds that the Archangel Michael appeared atop the mausoleum, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590, thus lending the castle its present name. The popes converted the structure into a castle, beginning in the 14th century; Pope Nicholas III connected the castle to St Peter's Basilica by a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo. The fortress was the refuge of Pope Clement VII from the siege of Charles V's. Leo X built a chapel with a Madonna by Raffaello da Montelupo. In 1536 Montelupo also created a marble statue of Saint Michael holding his sword after the 590 plague. Montelupo's statue was replaced by a bronze statue of the same subject, executed by the Flemish sculptor Peter Anton von Verschaffelt, in 1753.

Verschaffelt's is still in place and Montelupo's can be seen in an open court in the interior of the Castle.

The Papal state also used Sant'Angelo as a prison; Giordano Bruno (his statue is in Campo di Fiori), for example, was imprisoned there for six years. Another prisoner was the sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. Executions were performed in the small inner courtyard. As a prison, it was also the setting for the third act of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca; the heroine of the opera leaps to her death from the Castel's ramparts...

This building also attracts less tourists than places like the Vatican or the Colosseum, so the atmosphere is fun and relaxing. There is not big queue but you can always book tickets online.

Castle Sant'Angelo in the night:

The castle is now a museum, the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo. Open Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 09.00 - 18.30. Closed Mondays. 10.50 euros each to enter the Castle. Those between 18 and 25 years of age get in for half price, and visiting is free for EU citizens under 18 and over 65. An audio guide for an additional 5 euros. No need to order tickets in advance. Credit Cards are not accepted. THEY DON'T HAVE CHANGE. Bring small money. Note: if you have difficulty with climbing steps, you probably should skip this site.

The castle has great views on Rome and the Vatican and plenty of room to take pictures. The best part, though, is definitely the Terrace of the Angel at the top of the castle. It provides a panoramic view of Rome as well as Vatican City. Believe me ! one of the best places in Rome to take pictures.

The view from Castel Sant'Angelo towards Vatican City:

There are also neat works of art in the Papal apartments, which in general are interesting to explore. The Castle has five floors. The first has a winding ramp of Roman Construction, the second features the prison cells, the third is the military floor with big courtyards, the fourth is the floor of the popes, and contains the most magnificent art, and the fifth is a huge terrace with a fine view of the city. There is also a weapons room. The small yet precious picture gallery formed through the bequests of the Menotti and Contini Bonaccossi collections and was placed in the rooms of the historical apartments. The heterogeneity of the works is compensated by real value of the authors among which Crivelli, Lotto, Dossi Signorelli who stand out. There is a bit of a steep climb to get up to the first level of exhibits. Many stairs you must climb up.

The Pauline Hall (Sala Paulina):

Courtyard of Honour, once the castle ammunition store:

Hadrian bust:

Cupid and Psyche at Castel Sant'Angelo:

Drunken Satyr:

Lorenzo Lotto - San Girolamo in Meditation (1509):

The castle has a café and bar on site on first level. Note: fill your bottle of water from near the Castle's entrance. It is free and very cold. Clean restrooms inside.

Books stalls along the Tiber river opposite the Castle:

Books stalls along the Tiber river opposite the Castle - Marchelo Mastroiani and Sophia Lauren:

Ponte Sant'Angelo, once the Aelian Bridge (Bridge of Hadrian) completed in 134 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian, to span the Tiber, from the city center to his newly constructed mausoleum, now the towering Castel Sant'Angelo. In the past, pilgrims used this bridge to reach St Peter's Basilica. For centuries after the 16th century, the bridge was used to expose the bodies of the executed. In 1535, Pope Clement VII allocated the toll income of the bridge to erecting the statues of the apostles saint Peter and Saint Paul to which subsequently the four evangelists and the patriarchs were added to other representing statues Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. In 1669 Pope Clement IX commissioned replacements for the aging stucco angels by Raffaello da Montelupo, commissioned by Paul III.

The bridge is now solely pedestrian, and provides a photogenic vista of the Castel Sant'Angelo. The bridge is overrun with hawkers spoiling the beauty of the place somewhat.

The statues on the bridge (Ponte Sant'Angelo which leads to the Castel Sant'Angelo) are just beautiful. Note: all Angels statues look feminine... The ten statues of angels that adorn the bridge were designed in 1668 by the great sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini on the order of pope Clement IX and created by Bernini and his students. The angels all hold a symbol of the crucifixion of Jesus, such as a crown of thorns, a whip, and so on.

Angel with superscription:

Angel with sponge - Antonio Giorgetti:

Angel with thorn crown on Sant Angelo Bridge:

View of St. Peter Basilica from Ponte Sant'Angelo:

Nice park (Parco Adriano) more east to the Sant'Angelo Castle  with a playground. Here, you can see part of the Aurelian Wall memorial inscription of Pope Pius V:

In the east side of the Castle you'll see an impressive building - Corte Suprema di Casszione (the Supreme Court) (Palace of Justice). It fronts onto the Piazza dei Tribunali, the Via Triboniano, the Piazza Cavour, and the Via Ulpiano. The huge building is popularly called in Italian the Palazzaccio (the bad Palace). Designed by the Perugia architect Guglielmo Calderini and built between 1888 and 1910, the Palace of Justice is considered one of the grandest of the new buildings which followed the proclamation of Rome as the capital city of the Kingdom of Italy. The Court of Cassation also ensures the correct application of law in the inferior and appeal courts and resolves disputes as to which lower court (penal, civil, administrative, military) has jurisdiction to hear a given case:

Above the façade looking towards the River Tiber it is surmounted by a great bronze quadriga, set there in 1926, the work of the sculptor Ettore Ximenes from Palermo:

We head now to Ponte Vittorio Emmanuele II. It is the next bridge, to the west (with your face to Castle Sant'Angelo, to the LEFT) of Pont Sant'Angelo. Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II was designed in year 1886 by the architect Ennio De Rossi. Construction was delayed, and it was not inaugurated until 1911. The bridge across the Tiber connects the historic centre of Rome (Corso Vittorio Emanuele) and piazza Paoli with the Vatican City. The bridge commemorating Vittorio Emanuele II of Italy is carried in three arches spanning a distance of 108 metres. At the heads it is decorated with winged statues of the Goddess Victoria on pillars, while the allegorical sculpture groups on the bridge itself symbolize “The Unification of Italy”, “Freedom”, “Oppression Conquered” and “Loyalty to the State”. Although the Ponte Sant’Angelo existed already, this older bridge could no longer cope with the influx of people into the Prati district after Rome had become the capital of a unified Italy.

Ponte Sant.Angelo as seen from the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II:

We continue along the east bank of the Tiber river, leaving behind the Vittorio Emmanuele II bridge. The street along the Tiber (from the east side) is Lungotevere dei Fiorentini. We arrive now to Ponte Principe Amedeo:

We turn LEFT (EAST) to Via Acciaioli, and take the first turn to the RIGHT, Piazza dell'Oro. Here we face, on our right the Basilica St. Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini (St John of the Florentines). Dedicated to St John the Baptist, the protector of Florence, the new church for the Florentine community in Rome was started in the 16th century and completed in early 18th and is the national church of Florence in Rome. Julius II’s successor, the Florentine Pope Leo X de Medici initiated the architectural competition for a new church in 1518 on the site of the old church of San Pantaleo. The main construction of the church was carried out between 1583-1602 under the architect Giacomo della Porta based on the Latin cross arrangement. Carlo Maderno took over from 1602-1620 and directed construction of the dome and the main body of the church completed. However, the main façade, based on a design by Alessandro Galilei was not finished until 1734.

In 1634, the Roman Baroque painter and architect, Pietro da Cortona, was asked by the Florentine nobleman, Orazio Falconieri, to design the High Altar. Some twenty to thirty years later, Falconieri resurrected the choir project but gave the commission to the Baroque architect, Francesco Borromini who changed the design to allow for the burial of Orazio's brother Cardinal Lelio Falconieri. After Borromini died in 1667, the work was completed and partly modified by Cortona and on his death in 1669, by Ciro Ferri, Cortona’s pupil and associate:

Scarlatti Chapel - St. Francis before the Sultan - Pomarancio, 1540-1550:

The Basilica's main façade fronts onto the Via Giulia. This straight street was an urban initiative, carried out in 1508 by the architect Donato Bramante at the instigation of Pope Julius II Della Rovere. It was one of the first important urban planning projects in Renaissance Rome.
Via Giulia was designed by Pope Julius II. It was planned as a new thoroughfare through the heart of Rome and the first European example since Antiquity of urban renewal. Via Giulia runs from the Ponte Sisto to the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, following the tight curve of the Tiber. Meant to make access to the Vatican easier, the street quickly became lined with elegant churches and palaces. And though the pope's plans were only partially realized, it became an important thoroughfare, and a spot along the Via Giulia was long the prime choice of Roman aristocrats. Artists such as Raphael, Cellini, and Borromini made their homes along this expansive avenue and were joined by many others with equally impressive collections as the years passed by. Today the street is very quiet and lined with antique stores. Its modest structures provide one of Rome's elite shopping streets, noted for these antique shops. The street developed as a line of modest houses with gardens behind them, built for private owners or confraternities, sometimes on speculation, broken by more ambitious Palazzi. This is the urban context of the "houses of Raphael", with their ground floor street-front shops. Our course of walking along the straight Via Jiulia is from NORTH-WEST to SOUTH-EAST.

The grand palazzi turned their backs to Via Giulia. In the 1540s Michelangelo had a plan for the constricted gardens of Palazzo Farnese to be connected by a bridge to the Farnese villa in Trastevere on the right bank, Villa Farnesina. The elegant arch still spanning Via Giulia belongs to this other grand unrealized scheme.

At Via Giulia, 62, on our right is the I Sofa' Di Via Giulia Bar and Restaurant. On the opposite side of Via Giulia (on your LEFT), If we take a small detour to the left, parallel, to Via dei Banchi Vecchi, we can see a small sixteenth century decorative work of art on the façade of Casa Crivelli, called “the Puppet House” (Casa dei Pupazzi / Casa Crivelli / Palazzo dei Pupazzi) (Via dei Banchi Vecchi 22/24). This house near Palazzo Sforza Cesarini was built by a goldsmith from Milan Gian Pietro Crivelli for himself and his family, as an inscription says, in 1537-1539. It was decorated with the finest stucco works of high quality remembering decorations of not far Palazzo Capodiferro Spada (see below).

Look at Via Giulia No. 66, Palazzo Saccetti from the XV century. One of the finest palaces in the street. It was built in the mid-1500s by the Sacchetti family with designs by Vasari. It is said that inside are some of the greatest state rooms in Rome. Outside, visitors can photograph its grand stone portal:

Note also the house at No. 167. Here is located one of the most prestigious architecture offices of Rome (Exclusiva):

At Via Giulia No. 187 is the Fontana del Mascheroni (Fountain of the mask), which was commissioned by the Farnese Family. The curious looking fountain was created at around 1626 and replaced an earlier fountain. Its renaissance design integrates an ancient Roman granite bathtub and an ancient mask; the latter gave the fountain its name:

After passing Via in caterina, on your left, you'll see, on your right the Church of Santa Caterina da Siena, Palazzo Falconieri, presently the seat of the Hungarian Academy (Via Giulia, 1). It is a gorgeous white Palazzo belonging to the 16th-century Falconieri family with a sumptuous inner courtyard. Zsuzsa Ordasi - the Academy of Hungary is an aspired to goal for today's Hungarian artists and scholars. Remodeled in the 17th century by Borromini, it houses the Hungarian Academy. It is located between Via Giulia and Lugotevere, with entrances to both.

The facade of Palazzo Falconieri (the Tiber river side):

one of the falcon's heads of Palazzo Falconieri:

Beyond it is  the macabre Church di S. Maria dell’Orazione e Morte. (St.Mary of Prayer and Death), only open on Sunday afternoons for the short time of a religious function

You are now at the back of the most beautiful Renaissance building of Rome, Palazzo Farnese,the façade of which you will discover later on.

A beautiful arch, the Arco dei Farnesi (Farnese Arch) spans the street. Allessandro Farnese, the later pope Paul III wanted to connect his Farnese Palace at the nearby Farnese Square with the Farnese Villa, located across the Tiber River. The arch across the Via Giulia, designed by Michelangelo, is the only section that was completed. Since the connection was never completed, the ivy covered arch serves no real purpose other than to embellish the street:

At No. 185, on our left, we see the sheer BACK side of Palazzo Farnese. Its sheer size and splendor - are better seen from its front in the Farnese square (more to the north-east). Set in the middle of a small piazza, Palazzo Farnese is an impressive testament to the great artists of the Renaissance: Antonio da Sangallo, Michelangelo, Vignola, and Giacomo Della Porta. Considered one of the wonders of Rome, its sheer size has earned it the nickname “the die”. Ownership of the Palazzo Farnese changed repeatedly over the years. In the 18th century, the Palazzo became the property of the Bourbon Kings of Naples and was re-named “Palazzo Regio Farnese”. For a period in 1860, Francesco II of Naples lived there after losing his kingdom. In 1911 it was purchased by France and then sold to Italy, which in turn rented it back to the French under a 99-year lease for a nominal amount. Since 1874 it has been the headquarters of the French Embassy. You can see the French flag in Piazza Farnese. Turn LEFT at Via dei Farnesi - arriving to Piazza Farnese. Here, The Palazzo Farnese blends seamlessly with the splendid piazza around it. Piazza Farnese unfolds symmetrically to the viewer with the austere and massive facade of the Palazzo as a backdrop. There are two fountains, one on each side, made from two large basins originally from the Baths of Caracalla; a lily – the Farnese symbol – has been added to the centre of these. Both basins were originally located in front of the Basilica of San Marco (in the Piazza Venezia), and initially only one was placed in the centre of Piazza Farnese. Completing the piazza is the 18th- century church of Saint Brigida, a Swedish saint who founded a convent on the site in 1300. Facing the Palazzo Farnese is also the 18th- century Palazzo of Gallo di Roccagiovine, begun by Baldassarre Peruzzi; its massive structure and large doors conceal a splendid interior courtyard and monumental staircase. For many years the piazza was the central place for Rome's tournaments, bullfights, and festivals. In addition, the spectacular summer flooding events that later made Piazza Navona famous started here:

Leave Piazza farnese from its nort-east side (near RistoranteCamponeschi). Turn left onto Vicolo dei Venti, 61 m and continue direct onto Via Capo di Ferro. On your left is the Piazza Capo di Ferro with a fountain

and on your right the Spada Gallery. The Palazzo Spada is a palace located at Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13, very close to the Palazzo Farnese. It has a garden facing towards the River Tiber. The palace accommodates a large art collection, the Galleria Spada. The collection was originally assembled by Cardinal Bernardino Spada in the 17th century, by his brother Virgilio Spada and added to by his grandnephew Cardinal Fabrizio Spada. It was originally built in 1540. Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, from 08.30 to 19.30. Closed: Mondays, December 25th, January 1st. The Gallery only: Sundays and, in holidays from 09.00 to 13.00. Full price € 5,00, Reduced € 2,50: EU citizens between 18 and 25 years old and EU full-time public school teachers. All the reductions are only for European Union with providing document. Free admission:
- EU citizens under 18 and over 65 years old
- EU students and teachers of Arts, History of Arts or Architecture courses
- ICOM members
- EU schools with teachers by reservation.

It is forbidden - to take photographs and videos.

The Palazzo was purchased by Cardinal Spada in 1632. He commissioned the Baroque architect Francesco Borromini to modify it for him, and it was Borromini who created the masterpiece of forced perspective optical illusion in the arcaded courtyard, in which diminishing rows of columns and a rising floor create the visual illusion of a gallery 37 meters long (it is 8 meters) with a lifesize sculpture at the end of the vista, in daylight beyond: the sculpture is 60 cm high.

The Gallery is located on the first floor of Palazzo Spada, in the wing that used to belong to Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro. The Cardinal had built the museum over the historical remains of his family's former home that had been established in 1548. Room 1 - The room is called the Room of the Popes because of its fifty inscriptions describing the lives of select pontiffs, as commissioned by Cardinal Bernardino. It is also known as the Room with the Azure Ceiling because the ceiling is covered with a turquoise canvas divided into many little compartments marked "camerini da verno". The ceiling coffers' decorations date back to 1777. Room 2 - This room was created along with Room 3. The upper part of the walls were decorated with friezes in tempera on canvas by Perino del Vaga. The other parts of the walls that were originally painted with panelling are now missing. Room 3 - It is called the "Gallery of the Cardinal". It was designed by Paolo Maruscelli in 1636 and 1637 along with Room II to house the art collection of Bernardino Spada. The ceiling is beamed and french windows lead into galleries one of which has an iron railing overlooking the big garden. Room 4 - This final room was built over a wooden gallery overlooking the big garden. The Room houses paintings by Caravaggisti.

Jan Brueghel the Elder: Landscape with windmills:

Titian: Portrait of musician:

Orazio Gentileschi: David holding the head of Goliath:

Opposite Spada Gallery is the Church of Santa Maria della Quercia. It is located in front of the piazza to which it gives its name:

With your back to the Palazzo Spada and your face to the Piazza Capo di Ferro - continue RIGHT (east) along Via Capo di Ferro and and turn LEFT (45 degrees LEFT) to Vicolo delle Grotto. Here, we recommend on the Restaurant "Da Sergio Alle Grotte" - Vicolo delle Grotte, 27. (see tip below).

Return to Via Capo di Ferro and continue (east) until its end. Turn LEFT to Piazza della Trinità dei Pellegrini. Here you see the Parrocchia Trinità dei Pellegrini (Holy Trinity of Pilgrims):

Head northwest on Piazza della Trinità dei Pellegrini toward and turn right onto Via dell'Arco del Monte. You arrive to a small and picturesque square - Piazza del Librari. Turn LEFT to Via dei Giubbonari. An absolute must is a visit to this road and its nearby historical streets, such as Via dei Baullari or Via dei Cappellari which are lined with an assortment of small shops still bearing the name of craftsmen who once worked there. Walk along this road (north-west) until its end and you arrive to PIazza Campo de Fiori. For centuries Camp dè Fiori was the stage for public executions. Here in 1600 the Dominican Friar, Philosopher, Mathematician and Astronomer Bruno Giordano was burnt alive. A domineering statue stands in the middle the piazza marking the exact spot of his death. 

The lively, noisy atmosphere one breathes in this Piazza contrasts with the austere statue of Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake precisely here. The piazza, in the morning, is heaving with people bustling among the fruit and vegetable stands. At night it sees its restaurants and bars open for business. Come, here, early in the weekdays mornings. In the early morning this open air market is not overly crowded. There is a beautiful flower market that is a little expensive. Throughout are stalls selling fruits, vegetables, spices, many kinds (colored) of pasta, sausage and cheese. There are vendors selling glass wine stoppers and leather goods, and some selling t-shirts and aprons. It is a fun place to walk around early in the morning. The later you come the more garbage left on the marketplace.

At night, the stalls disappear and it becomes a social event. Many restaurants line the Piazza, some of them quite good and more reasonably priced.You can see street musicians play in front of the restaurants, which creates a very "Italian" (or, better, "Brazilian") experience. You can sit at your table and listen to the music, and enjoy your drinks and food:

Take the north-west end of the Piazza and exit onto Via Baullari to see the Palazzo Cancelleria. It is a Renaissance palace situated between the present Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Campo de' Fiori. It was built between 1489–1513[1] by an unknown architect as a palace for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, and is regarded as the earliest Renaissance palace in Rome. The Palazzo houses the Papal Chancellery, is an extraterritorial property of the Holy See and as such is designated as a World Heritage Site.

In front of the Palace - a special courtyard with the original columns from the Theatre of Pompey. This courtyard is very photogenic and impressive. The internal courtyard is surrounded by a 2-story loggias with arches. Above each of the columns was a small decorative stone rose, and a similar but much larger stone rose lay at the center of the courtyard. The double-loggia has been attributed to the famous architect Bramante. Open Hours: Monday-Saturday: 07.30  - 14.00 and 16.00 - 20.00. Closed: Sunday.

Another reason to visit Palazzo della Cancelleria is to see the "Il Genio di Leonardo da Vinci" exhibit. The exhibition The Genius and His Inventions presents about fifty full scales machine designed by Da Vinci. They are fully operational and they can be touched and set in motion.

Head north on Piazza della Cancelleria toward Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
36 m. Turn right onto Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 23 m. Turn left onto Piazza di San Pantaleo. Here, you see the Chiesa (church) di San Pantaleo:

The church was entirely rebuilt in 1680 by Giovanni Antonio De Rossi, but the façade was added in 1805 by Giuseppe Valadier at the expense of the Torlonia family; the interior has a fine ceiling by Filippo Gherardi:

With the face to the white church, on the right side of the church is the Palazzo Braschi. It is located between the Piazza Navona, the Campo de' Fiori, the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Piazza di Pasquino. It presently houses the Museo di Roma, the "museum of Rome" covering the period from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century.  Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 10.00 - 20.00. Tickets: Adults: € 8,50;
Concessions: € 6,50; Roman Citizens only (by showing a valid ID):
- Adults: € 7,50; - Concessions: € 5,50; Palazzo Braschi + Museo Barracco Combined Ticket : Adults: € 11,00; Concessions: € 9,00; Roman Citizens only (by showing a valid ID): - Adults: € 10,00;  Concessions: € 8,00.

The main entrance is on Via San Pantaleo (between Piazza Navona and Corso Vittorio Emanuele). The oval hall inside the main entrance overlooks Via San Pantaleo, and leads to the monumental staircase with its eighteen red granite columns which came from the gallery built by the Emperor Caligula on the banks of the River Tiber. Decorating the staircase there are ancient sculptures and fine stuccoes by Luigi Acquisti inspired by the myth of Achilles.

View to Piazza Navona from Palazzo Braschi:

It is time for refreshing attractions. Our day is approaching a couple of the most "wet", famous, crowded and "refreshing" sites of Rome. The first is in front of us: Piazza Navona.  From the ancient, winding streets of the Centro Storico  you suddenly come upon the breathtaking magnificence of Piazza Navona. Still today a spectacular open air show; an architectural miracle in the heart of the Eternal City, filled with masterpieces in perfect harmony with each other. Of all Rome's Piazzas, this pedestrian square is one where the liveliness of Roman life is most tangible. It has long been a meeting place for the inhabitants of Rome. In past, in addition to the market, processions and spectacles where held here. This piazza, which displays the genius of Bernini and Borromini, is one of the finest Baroque Masterpiece in papal Rome. Its harmony and colors, combined with its elegance, give it a charm that is enhanced by the surprising contrast of architecturally sober houses alternating with a number of monumental Buildings. Today, it's still lively with painters and street performers that put on their shows for tourists and passersby, new spectators. This piazza, which displays the genius of Bernini and Borromini, is one of the finest Baroque Masterpiece in  Rome. Its harmony and colors, combined with its elegance, give it a charm that is enhanced by the surprising contrast of architecturally sober houses alternating with a number of monumental buildings.  

in the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought here in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius:

At the southern end is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575) to which, in 1673, Bernini added a statue of a Moor, or African, wrestling with a dolphin:

At the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune (1574) created by Giacomo della Porta. The statue of Neptune in the northern fountain, the work of Antonio Della Bitta, was added in 1878 to make that fountain more symmetrical with La Fontana del Moro in the south:

At the southwest end of the piazza is the ancient 'speaking' statue of Pasquino. Erected in 1501, Romans could leave lampoons or derogatory social commentary attached to the statue:

Palazzo Pamphilj, also spelled Palazzo Pamphili, is a palace facing onto the Piazza Navona in Rome. It was built between 1644 and 1650. Since 1920 the palace has housed the Brazilian Embassy in Italy, and in 1964 it became the property of the Federative Republic of Brazil:

The church of Sant'Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi, Carlo Rainaldi and others is opposite the Fountain of the Four Rivers:

Piazza Navona from North to South:

Do not miss the Tre Scalini restaurant-Gelatteria. Tartufo is the big hit to get here. Order at the counter to go and eat it in the Plazza. Order with the cashier and then take your receipt to the guy behind the Gelato counter. The Tartufo is 10 Euros, but, sometimes, yo get it even half the stated price. This is a rich, chocolate ice-cream with whipped cream and 2 little cookies or cherries on top. Once-in-life experience:

I can recommend the Gelateria Tre Fontane in the north end of Piazza Navona. Mini scone or plastic cup - 1 flavor - 2 euros, 2 flavors - 3 euros (see Tip below).

We leave the Piazza Navona from its north-east side, near Cafe Nettuno, to Via dei Lorenesi. At the cross-road with Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima, on your left is the Church of Santa Maria dell'Anima (Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima, 64). Open weekdays 12.00 – 24.00. Santa Maria dell'Anima is one of the many medieval charity institutions built for pilgrims in Rome.

Tomb of Pope Hadrian VI 1524-29 into the church:

The Nave:

The Ceiling:

From Via dei Lorenesi you continue walking direct onto Vicolo della Pace. Then, you slight to the LEFT onto Via della Pace. On your right
you see the Santa Maria della Pace Church (Via Arco della Pace, 5) with its colossal pillars:

Return to Piazza Navona and find a bus to return to your hotel, guest house or apartment. If you have still a time to continue to TWO additional  attractions in Rome - it is 10-minutes, 600-850 m. walk to the Pantheon and Fontana di Trevi. EXit Piazza Navona from the most north-eastern road. Turn left onto Via Agonale, 46 m. Turn right onto Piazza delle Cinque Lune, 42 m. Slight left onto Via di Sant'Agostino, 39 m. Turn left onto Piazza di Sant'Agostino to see the Basilica di Sant'Agostino. It is one of the first Roman churches built during the Renaissance. The façade was built in 1483 by Giacomo di Pietrasanta, using travertine taken from the Colosseum. It is a fine, plain work of the early Renaissance style:

The most famous work of art presently in the church is the Madonna di Loreto, an important Baroque painting by Caravaggio:

From here it is 600 m. walk to the Pantheon. Head south on Piazza di Sant'Agostino toward Via di Sant'Agostino, 13 m. Turn left onto Via di Sant'Agostino, 60 m. Turn right onto Via della Scrofa, 48 m. Turn left onto Largo Giuseppe Toniolo, 52 m. Continue onto Via Del Pozzo Delle Cornacchie, 78 m. Turn right onto Via della Rosetta, 49 m. Continue onto Piazza della Rotonda, 52 m. Turn left to stay on Piazza della Rotonda and you face the Pantheon.

The basin of the fountain, in the square, was designed in 1575 by Giacomo della Porta for Pope Gregory XIII. In 1711, during the pontificate of Pope Clement XI, Filippo Barigioni completed the fountain by adding the obelisk. It was dedicated to Pharaoh Ramesses II. A reminder of Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is the snake you can see in the obelisk. The dolphins and the snake are a work by Vincenzo Felici.

The Pantheon is the best-preserved ancient building in Rome. The Pantheon was initially erected in 27 BC by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, son-in-law of Emperor Augustus, when he was consul for the third time. It was completely rebuilt in AD 123 by Emperor Hadrian, who maintained the old inscription celebrating Agrippa; he was personally involved in the design of the temple. It was restored in 202 by Emperor Septimius Severus. The temple stood on a high podium, whereas today it is at a level which is lower than the rest of the square and this makes it less imposing. Its fine state of preservation is due to the building's conversion to a Christian church in 608, when it was presented to the Pope by the Byzantine Emperor Phocas. Open 08.30-19.30 Mon-Sat, 09.00 - 18.00 Sun, 09.00 -13.00 public holydays.

Three columns on the left side fell and were replaced by Pope Urban VIII and Pope Alexander VII, with columns found near S. Luigi dei Francesi and which belonged to baths built by Emperor Alexander Severus. This explains their different colour (pink rather than grey) and capitals.

The dome of the Pantheon is larger than that of St. Peter's or that of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, yet because it is not supported by a high drum it does not fully convey the sense of its dimension. The shape of the main hall is a cylinder covered by a half of a sphere; the height of the cylinder is equal to the radius of the sphere. The dome was covered with gilded bronze tiles; these were removed and shipped to Constantinople at the request of Byzantine Emperor Constans II. The diameter of the hemispherical dome is exactly equal to the height of the whole building; it could potentially accommodate a perfect sphere. At the exact centre of the dome is the oculus, a circular hole 9m in diameter, the only source of light and a symbolic link between the temple and the heavens.

The interior underwent many changes meant to give it an appearance more appropriate for a church; in particular in 1747 the original decoration was replaced by stuccoes; part of it has been restored; many coloured marbles were used for it and in particular porphyry; the windows gave light to a corridor in the circular walls.

The building is still officially a church, and contains the tombs of eminent Italians, including the artist Raphael. Above Raphael’s tomb is a sculpture of the Madonna del Sasso created by Raphael’s student Lorenzetto:

The other important tombs are those of: Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy. The tomb consists of a large bronze plaque surmounted by a Roman eagle and the arms of the house of Savoy. The golden lamp above the tomb burns in honor of Victor Emmanuel III, who died in exile in 1947.

Another tomb is of Umberto I, Victor Emmanuel’s successor:

It is 700 m., 10 minutes walk to the Fontana di Trevi. Head east on Piazza della Rotonda and turn left to stay on Piazza della Rotonda, 54 m. Continue onto Via del Pantheon, 51 m. Turn right onto Via delle Colonnelle, 66 m. Continue straight onto Piazza Capranica, 36 m. Continue onto Via in Aquiro, 53 m. Turn right onto Via della Guglia,
50 m. Turn left onto Via dei Pastini, 39 m. Via dei Pastini turns slightly right and becomes Piazza di Pietra, 59 m. Continue onto Via di Pietra,
87 m. Continue onto Via delle Muratte, 200 m. Continue straight onto Piazza di Trevi and Fontana di Trevi:

The Vatican - St. Peter Basilica

Spencer Peers


Vatican City - St. Peter Cathedral:


The St. Peter Basilica is so amazing you could spend all day wandering round and not get bored. The church opens at 7.00 in the morning. Get up early and turn up at 07.15-07.30. No one is there so you walk straight in. The Basilica has several masses going on at different altars but generally the place is empty. You get to experience and walk around this amazing Cathedral without hundreds of people around you. The tourists buses start to arrive at 09.00. The entrance to the Dome opens at 08.00 which is a must. Pay the extra 2 euro person which takes you to the first landing. Then there is another 300 stairs up to the top. The stairs get very narrow and steep so not for larger people or the unfit. At the top you get a beautiful view of Rome. You also get a great view of the extensive,endless Vatican Gardens. It would be very crowded up here during the day so once again come early and you find that it is enjoyable. Another option: go to the "back" north entrance after midday for less crowds.


1. Start your visit in the Basilica interior with the ascent to the Cupola or Dome. It is quite exhausting to climb the narrow 311 steps (even with using the lift option). Since the sun is rising from the east, in the morning, you'll get marvelous views down towards the Vatican Gardens (when you are already on the roof).

2. You'll notice that we repeat several monuments into the St. Peter Basilica - more than once. That, exactly, what will happen to you strolling around the Basilica interior. After criss-crossing the enormous interior - you'll face several monuments more than once. It is very easy to lose your planned path and to keep in a disciplined planned-ahead route. We offer here, more than one route in the Basilica immense interior. With two or three round itineraries - you are supposed to face the same statue, monument or the same chapel - 2 or 3 times.

Duration: 3/4 - 1 day.

Around the Walls: As it the smallest country in the world and you can walk around the Vatican wall in 1-1.30 hour.

Opening Hours - Interiors:

Winter : 1 Oct - 31 Mar: 08.00 - 18.30.

Summer: 1 Apr - 30 Sep: 07.00 - 19.00.

Opening Hours - Dome - Cupola:

Winter : 1 Oct - 31 Mar: 08.00 - 17.00.

Summer: 1 Apr - 30 Sep: 08.00 - 18.00.

Free admission to the Basilica (except of the Dome).

Dome Tickets prices: Lift up to the terrace level and continue on foot (320 steps) ticket € 7.00. Climb 551 steps on foot ticket € 5.00.

Blog Content:

1. The Basilica Exterior:

    1.1 East facade.

    1.2 North facade.

    1.3 South facade.

    1.4 Portico.

    1.5 The Dome.

    1.6 The Swiss Guard.

    1.7 The Basilica doors.

2.  The Basilica Interior:

     2.1 Quick round tour in the Nave and the Chapels (clockwise       


     2.2 The Nave.

     2.3  The Aisles and the side Chapels.

     2.4   Thirty Nine Tombs and Monuments in the Basilica.

3.  The Catacombs / the Crypt. (photos not allowed !).

4.  Climbing to the Dome / Cupola / Basilica roof.

5.  St. Peter Square (piazza). ( incl.: Papal Audience, attending masses, Vatican Apartments, fountains and statues in the square).

1. St. Peter Basilica Exterior:

St. Peter Basilica Facades:

The square is outlined by a monumental colonnade by Bernini, its open arms symbolically welcoming the world into the Catholic Church. Between the obelisk and each fountain is a circular stone that marks the focal points of an ellipse. If you stand on one of these points, the two rows columns of the colonnade line up perfectly and appear to be just a single row.

The grand East Facade of St Peter's Basilica, 116 m wide and 53 m high. Built from 1608 to 1614, it was designed by Carlo Modeno. The central balcony is called the Loggia of the Blessings and is used for the announcement of the new pope with "Habemus Papum" and his Urbi et Orbi blessing. The relief under the balcony, by Buonvicino, shows Christ giving the keys to St. Peter.

The facade is topped by 13 statues of apostles in Travertine stone. The dome was designed by Michelangelo and completed in 1593. The facade is topped by 13 statues in Travertine. From left, the statues represent: Thaddeus, Matthew, Philip, Thomas, James the Elder, John the Baptist, Christ the Redeemer (in the center), Andrew, John the Evangelist, James the Younger, Bartholomew, Simon and Matthias. St. Peter's statue in this set is inside.

On top of the colonnade are 140 statues of saints, crafted by a number of sculptors between 1662 and 1703. To the right of the southern gate of the colonnade is St. Macrina, grandmother of the Cappadocian fathers, followed by some founders of religious orders: St. Dominic, St. Francis, St. Bernard, St. Benedict, and St. Ignatius of Loyola. Some of the apostles are at the far end of the colonnade, outside the square and down the street.

Statues of Popes and saints on the Colonnade of St. Peter's Square, and Michelangelo's Dome:

Two clocks are on either side; the one on the left is electrically operated since 1931, with its oldest bell dating to 1288. Stretching across the facade is the dedicatory inscription: IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAVLVS V BVRGHESIVS ROMANVS PONT MAX AN MDCXII PONT VII (In honor of the prince of apostles; Paul V Borghese, pope, in the year 1612 and the seventh year of his pontificate).

Eastern Colonade at sunset:

Evening view of the grand east facade:

Night view of the grand east facade:

North Facade:

South facade and colonnade of St. Peter's Square:

Between the façade and the interior is the portico. Mainly designed by Maderno,

it contains an 18th century statue of Charlemagne by Cornacchini to the south,

and an equestrian sculpture of Emperor Constantine by Bernini (1670) to the north:

The Dome of St. Peter's was designed by Michelangelo, who became chief architect in 1546. At the time of his death (1564), the dome was finished as far as the drum, the base on which domes sit. The dome was vaulted between 1585 and 1590 by the architect Giacomo della Porta with the assistance of Domenico Fontana, who was probably the best engineer of the day. Fontana built the lantern the following year, and the ball was placed in 1593. The great double dome is made of brick and is 42.3 metres in interior diameter (almost as large as the Pantheon), rising to 120 metres above the floor. In the early 18th century cracks appeared in the dome, so four iron chains were installed between the two shells to bind it. The four piers of the crossing that support the dome are each 60 feet (18 meters) across. Uniquely, Michelangelo's dome is not a hemisphere, but a parabola: it has a vertical thrust, which is made more emphatic by the bold ribbing that springs from the paired Corinthian columns, which appear to be part of the drum, but which stand away from it like buttresses, to absorb the outward thrust of the dome's weight. Above, the vaulted dome rises to Fontana's two-stage lantern, capped with a spire

Dome morning view:

Dome evening view:

The Swiss Guard: A small force maintained by the Holy See, it is responsible for the safety of the Pope, including the security of the Apostolic Palace. The Swiss Guard serves as the de-facto military of Vatican City. Today the Papal Swiss Guard have taken over the ceremonial roles of the former units. At the end of 2005, there were 135 members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard:


Door of the Sacraments by Venanzio Crochetti (1965), the regular entrance:

The "Holy Door" is the Northern most entrance at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It is cemented shut and only opened for Jubilee Years. In bronze by Vico Consorti (1950), which is by tradition only opened for great celebrations such as Jubilee years. Above it are inscriptions. The top reads PAVLVS V PONT MAX ANNO XIII, the one just above the door reads GREGORIVS XIII PONT MAX. In between are white slabs commemorating the most recent openings. Pope John Paul II opened the holy door in the jubilee years of 1983-84 and 2000-01:

The door in the center is by Antonio Averulino (1455), and was preserved from the old basilica. It was too small for its new space, so panels were added at the top and bottom. Known as the Filarete Door after the artist's nickname, it has six panels that depict: Jesus and Mary enthroned; St. Paul with the sword; St. Peter giving the keys to the kneeling Pope Eugene IV; St. Paul sentenced by Nero; martyrdom of St. Paul; martyrdom of St. Peter on Vatican Hill; St. Paul appearing to Plautilla, to give her back the veil she had lent him to blindfold his eyes. The bas-reliefs between the framed panels show scenes from the pontificate of Eugene IV, and representatives at the Council of Ferrara-Florence, summoned in 1438 to reunite the Churches of the East and of the West:

The Door of Death (the Door of the Deads) is the far left door into the basilica. Its name derives from its traditional use as the exit for funeral processions as well as its subject matter. In preparation for the Holy Year of 1950, Pope Pius XII held a competition for three new bronze doors. This one was sculpted by Giacomo Manzù in 1961-64. Large relief panels depict the death of Jesus (top right), death of Mary (top left); violent death of Abel, serene death of Joseph, death of first pope, death of Pope John XXIII, death of first martyr Stephen, death of Gregory VII (in exile defending the Church), "death improvised in space" (meaning unclear to this author) and death of a mother at home:

2. St. Peter Basilica Interior:

2.1 Nave / Aisles / Transepts Monuments (clockwise walk) - quick round browsing (see details - later below):

From the entrance walk LEFT. Moving around the basilica in a clockwise direction they are:

The Baptistery:

the Chapel of the Presentation of the Virgin with the body of St. Pius X:

the larger Choir Chapel, the Clementine Chapel with the altar of Saint Gregory, famous for "Gregorian Chant":

the Sacristy Entrance, the left transept with altars to the Crucifixion of Saint Peter, Saint Joseph and Saint Thomas with a mosaic after Achille Funi, 1963:

Altar of the Sacred Heart with a 1923 mosaic after Carlo Muccioli:

the Chapel of the Madonna of Colonna,

the altar of Saint Peter and the Paralytic,

the apse with the Chair of Saint Peter: In the northwestern (right front) corner of the nave is the bronze statue of St. Peter Enthroned, now attributed to late 13th-century sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio: (Note: see our paragraph of the Catedral - below):

the altar of Saint Peter raising Tabitha, the altar of the Archangel Michael, the altar of the Navicella, the right transept with altars of Saint Erasmus, Saints Processo and Martiniano, and Saint Wenceslas, the altar of Saint Basil,

Altar of St. Basil with a 1751 mosaic after a painting by Pietro Subleyras:

the Gregorian Chapel with the altar of the Madonna of Succour,

Chapel of St. Sebastian (Tomb of Pope Innocent XI) and the body of Blessed Innocent XI (1676-1689) under the Altar of St. Sebastian in the right aisle:

and the Chapel of the Pietà.

2.2 The Nave:

Immediately inside the central doors, a large round porphyry slab is set into the floor. Here Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Emperors knelt for their coronation in front of the high altar of the old basilica.

Along the floor of the nave are markers with the comparative lengths of other churches, starting from the entrance. Along the pilasters are niches housing 39 statues of various saints. See pictures of Nave Monuments - further below.

The insides of the pilasters that separate the nave from the side aisles have niches filled with statues of saints who founded religious orders. There are 39 of these in total throughout the church, spaced evenly in the nave and two transepts (see 2.4). Just to your right as you enter the basilica is St. Teresa of Avila, a beloved Spanish saint who founded the Order of Discalced Carmelites.

In the northwestern (right front) corner of the nave is the bronze statue of St. Peter Enthroned (or Sitting St. Peter), now attributed to late 13th-century sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio (some still date it back to the 5th century). It is robed and crowned on high festivals, and its outstretched foot is smoothed down due to centuries of pilgrims' caresses.

chair above Sitting St. Peter statue:

View down the central Nave to the Baldacchino and the yellow-windowed Cathedra of St. Peter, both by Bernini:

Central Nave looking east to the entrance:

2.3 The Aisles:

Right Aisle and Right Transept:

In the right aisle, the first major sight is Michelangelo's beautiful Pietà (see clockwise browse - above), located immediately to the right of the entrance. The sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary cradling the dead Jesus in her lap after the crucifixion, and was completed when Michelangelo was just 24. After it was vandalized with an axe in 1972, the sculpture was placed behind protective glass:

Up the aisle is the monument of Queen Christina of Sweden, who abdicated in 1654 in order to convert to Catholicism:

Further up are the monuments of popes Pius XI and Pius XII, as well as the altar of St Sebastian:

Halfway to the transept is the large Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, entered through a Baroque wrought-iron grill designed by Francesco Borromini (1599-1667). Here the Blessed Sacrament (consecrated bread and wine) is exposed for the continuous adoration of the faithful. A notice reads: "Only those who wish to pray may enter." It is a rare place of silence and stillness in the tourist-filled basilica, and for many Catholics it is their favorite space:

Inside the chapel, the sacrament is enshrined in a tabernacle of gilded bronze designed by Bernini (1674) and based on a more famous work by Bramante. It has statuettes of the twelve Apostles on the cornice and one of Jesus on the miniature dome. It is encrusted with deep blue lapis lazuli and is flanked by two angels in gilded bronze (added later), kneeling in reverent prayer. Behind the altar is an oil painting by Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) of the Trinity, the only canvas painting in the whole basilica:

St. Elijah pointing to the light entering the apse. This was the third Founder Statue placed in St. Peter’s Basilica, and it finally established the Carmelites as a valid Order:

St. Andrew the Apostle:

Further down the right aisle are the monuments of Pope Gregory XIII (completed in 1723 by Carlo Rusconi)

and Gregory XIV.

The right transept of St. Peter's contains three altars, of St Wenceslas, St. Processo and St. Martiniano, and St. Erasmus.

St. Jerome Chapel: where the right aisle runs into the Pier of St. Longinus is the body of Pope John XXIII (d. 1963), displayed in a glass case beneath the Altar of St. Jerome. The pope was beatified (a step towards sainthood) in 2000. When the tomb was opened in order to move his body to the basilica in 2001, it was found to be uncorrupted and was therefore placed in a glass case. This location was chosen because the pope was a specialist in the church fathers and a devotee of St. Jerome in particular:

Bernini's Baldacchino:

At the crossing of the transepts is the central focus of the interior, the Baldacchino. This monumental canopy shelters the papal altar and the holy relics of St. Peter. Artistically, it also serves to fill the vertical space under Michelangelo's great dome. Made of 927 tons of dark bronze (removed from the Pantheon's roof in 1633) accented with gold vine leaves, the Baldacchino stands 90 feet (30 meters) tall. The Baldacchino was created by Lorenzo Bernini from 1624 to 1633 under the direction of Barberini Pope Urban VIII, who added Baroque embellishment to much of Rome. The spiral columns derive their shapes from the columns of the Baldacchino in the original St. Peter's Basilica built by Constantine, which legend has it came from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. Cherubs are repeated throughout the monument, giving an overall effect of the Ark of the Covenant. Symbols of the Barberini family can be seen throughout, including a golden sun and bees. Thus, in addition to being a beautiful work of art, the Baldacchino symbolizes the union of the Old Testament wisdom of Solomon, the Christian tradition of Constantine, and the rebirth of a triumphal church under the guidance of the Barberini family.

Underside of Bernini's Baldacchino, directly above the high altar in St. Peter's Basilica:

Cherub Angels overlooking the Baldacchino:

The Confessio:

At the foot of the Baldacchino and papal altar is the sunken Confessio, a 17th-century chapel named in honor of the confession of St. Peter that led to his martyrdom here. The Confessio is better seen from the crypt (or Grottoes) below, where there is a glass wall looking into it. Although the Baldacchino and papal altar stand over Peter's tomb, the tomb itself cannot be seen either from here on in the crypt. Peter's tomb is on the other side of the Niche of the Pallium at the back of the Confessio, and can only be seen in the special Scavi tour of the ancient necropolis. The niche contains a silver coffer that seems like a good place for Peter's relics, but actually contains fabrics (each known as a "pallium") woven from the wool of lambs blessed on the feast of St. Agnes (Jan 21) and given to patriarchs and metropolitans as a reminder of the Church's unity. Behind the coffer is an early 8th-century mosaic of Christ, placed here by Pope Leo III (795-816). In his left hand Christ holds a Bible open at the Gospel of John, which bears the Latin inscription, "I am the way the truth and the life, the one who believes in me shall live.":

Four Piers:

Surrounding the Baldacchino are four great piers that support the huge dome of St. Peter's Basilica. Each pier has a large niche at its base, which is filled with a colossal statue of a saint representing each of the basilica's four major relics (Reliquae Maggiori):

NW pier - St Helena, Constantine's mother, holding a large cross (representing the relic of the True Cross found by the saint in Jerusalem):

NE pier - St Longinus, the Roman soldier who thrust a spear in the side of Christ at the crucifixion, converted, and was later martyred (the relic is the spear):

SE pier - St Andrew, with his trademark diagonal cross upon which he was martyred (the relic is Andrew's head, which was returned to the Greek Orthodox Church in 1964):

SW pier - St Veronica, with the veil Christ used to wipe his face on the way to Calvary, leaving his image imprinted on it (representing the relic of Veronica's veil):

The statue of Longinus is by Bernini (in 1639) and the others are by his followers. The relics themselves are kept in the podium of the Pier of St. Veronica and are displayed only during Holy Week. The Vatican makes no official claims as to the authenticity of these relics —and in fact other Catholic churches claim to possess the same ones.

The balconies above the niches are flanked by the 4th-century spiral columns of the Baldacchino in the Constantinian St. Peter's, and contain reliefs depicting the relics.

Bernini Canopy (again):

Canopy and Dome:

Apse and High Altar of St. Peter (After a mass in the Apse of St. Peter):

Apse and High Altar of St. Peter - mosaic presenting Punishment of Aneias and Saphira:

At the far west end of the basilica is the tribune, which centers on the Cathedra of St. Peter. The enormous gilded bronze monument was designed by Bernini in 1666 to enclose an oak throne donated by Carolingian ruler Charles the Bald upon his coronation in St. Peter's in 875. The legs of the throne are decorated with finely pierced ivory bands made in the School at Tours. The 18 ivory plaques on the front of the chair were added slightly later, and show the 12 Labors of Hercules and six monsters.

Bernini's monument is topped by a yellow window featuring the Holy Spirit as a dove surrounded by 12 rays, symbolising the apostles. To the right of the chair are St Ambrose and St Augustine (fathers of the Latin church), and to the left are St Athanasius and St John Chrysostom (fathers of the Greek church).

On the right wall of the chapel is the monument to Pope Urban VIII by Bernini:

and the left wall has the monument to Paul III.

Left Transept and Left Aisle:

At the end of the left aisle, west of the transept, is the Chapel of the Column. This contains the Altar of Our Lady of the Column on the south side. The altarpiece is an ancient image of the Virgin Mary that was painted on a marble column in the central nave of the original basilica. In 1607 it was placed on this altar designed by Giacomo Della Porta, framed by the marble and alabaster columns. In 1981, John Paul II had a mosaic reproduction of it set on the external wall of the palazzo facing St. Peter's Square, which is illuminated at night. Under the altar is a 4th-century sarcophagus that holds the remains of Popes Leo II (682-83), Leo III (795-816), and Leo IV (847-55).

To the left of the altar in the same chapel is the Altar of Pope St. Leo the Great (440-61) by Alessandro Algardi, 1645-53. This is the only altarpiece of marble relief in the basilica. Leo was a highly influential pope and was the first to be buried in St. Peter's. The marble bas-relief depicts Leo's famous meeting with Attila the Hun, who was going to attack Rome until Leo convinced him otherwise, with St. Paul supporting him in the sky.

Heading back towards the entrance, between the Chapel of the Column and the left transept is the monument to Pope Alexander (Chigi) VII (d. 1667) by Bernini, 1671-78. The door below symbolizes the Gate of Death, above which a skeleton lifts a fold of red marble drapery and holds an hourglass. He is flanked on the right by a statue representing Truth or religion, who rests her foot on a globe — specifically placed upon the British Isles, symbolizing the pope's problems with the Church of England. Three other figures represent Charity, Prudence and Justice.

The left transept contains the altars of St. Peter's Crucifixion, St. Thomas and St. Joseph and the body of St. Boniface IV.:

Just beyond the left transept as you head back to the entrance is the monument to Pope Pius VIII (1829-30) by Pietro Tenerani, 1866. This pope was imprisoned in 1808 during the French domination of Italy for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to Napoleon. On a happier note, he approved the decrees of the Council of Baltimore (October 1829), the first formal meeting of US bishops. The Pope is shown kneeling in prayer, accompanied by a statue of Christ enthroned and statues of Sts. Peter and Paul. The allegories are Prudence and Justice. The door under the monument is the entrance to the Sacristy and Treasury Museum. In front of the monument is a mass schedule for the basilica.

East of the left transept is the Clementine Chapel, which contains the Altar of Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604). The altarpiece, a mosaic reproduction of a 1625 painting by Sacchi, depicts a miracle in which St. Gregory used a knife to cause blood to flow from a corporal cloth. Beneath the altar is the tomb of Gregory, which can be seen through a grille:

The last chapel before you leave is the Presentation Chapel, which centers on the Altar of the Presentation of Mary. The altarpiece, which shows the young Mary being presented in the Temple by her parents, is a mosaic by Cristofari of 1726-28, based on a painting by Romaneli done in 1638-42. Below the altar is the body of Pope St. Pius X (1904-1914), the last pope to be canonized. His face and hands are covered in silver. Pius X is known for his emphasis on religious education, and for his opposition to modernism. He allowed children to take communion, and encouraged the sacrament to be practiced daily.

At the same chapel - Monument in memorial of Pope John Paul XXIII:

After the chapel and on your right is the monument to Pope Benedict XV (1914-22) by Pietro Canonica, 1928. The Pope is shown in fervent prayer, kneeling on a tomb which commemorates the First World War, which he described as a "useless massacre." The tomb is covered in olive branches, symbols of peace. Above the statue is Mary, presenting Jesus, Prince of Peace, to the world in flames:

On your left as you leave is the Monument to the Royal Stuarts, a pyramidal masterpiece by Antonio Canova. It commemorates King James III, the "Old Pretender" to the English throne who lived in exile in Rome. Also commemorated are his two sons, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Henry. It marks the spot in the grottoes below where the three last members of the royal House of Stuart lie buried.

Next to this is the tomb of Maria Clementina Sobieska (by Pietro Bracci, 1739), a princess who received the rare honor of burial in St. Peter's normally reserved for popes and saints. The wife of James Stuart, she earned this honor through her crusade for the Catholic faith. The main statue is the personification of Charity (or Love of God), and an angel holds a portrait of the deceased in mosaic:

On the left just inside the entrance is the baptistery, where a porphyry cover from a 4th-century sarcophagus is used as the baptismal font. It previously covered the tomb of emperor Otho II (973-983) in the Vatican Grottoes.

Partial List of 39 monuments of Saints:

Saint Peter's tomb:

Monument to Pope Leo XI (1605) by Algardi, 1644:

Monument to Pope Leo XII (1823-1829):

Tomb of Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115) by Bernini, ca 1635:

Monument to Pope Innocent XII (1691-1700) by Filippo della Valle, 1746:

Monument to Pope Gregory XIII by Camillo Rusconi, 1723. Wisdom raises the drapery revealing science:

Monument to Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) by Luigi Amici, ca 1850:

Monument to Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758) b Pietro Bracci, 1769:

Tomb of Clement XIII (1758-1769) by Antonio Canova, 1792:

St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, by Andrea Bolgi, 1635:

Bernini’s last work in the St. Peter’s Basilica, The tomb of Pope Alexander VII:

Monument to Pope Pius VII (1800-1823) by protestant sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen ca 1830:

Monument to Pope Pius VIII (1829-1830) by Pietro Tenerani, 1866:

Monument to St. Pius X (1903-1914) by Pietro Astorri, 1923:

Monument to the Stuarts (James III, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Henry) by Antonio Canova, 1829:

Monument to Maria Clementina Sobieska (1702-1735) by Pietro Bracci, 1742:

A list of all the Popes buried at St. Peter's since St. Peter:

3. St. Peter's Catacombs:

Note: There is no way from the Catacombs back to the Basilica interior space. There is only bi-directional way out of the Basilica. BUT, still you can sneak your (illegal) way back to the interior entrance.

The crypt underneath the church shouldn't be missed. It contains architectural fragments from earlier churches on the site and the tombs of many popes, including the simple tomb of John Paul II. NO PHOTOS allowed in the Crypt or the Catacombs.

the way to the Catacombs:

But the focus of pilgrims and tourists alike is the tomb of the very first pope: St. Peter. These prized relics have been the goal of millions of pilgrims since the early centuries of Christianity, and have a good likelihood of authenticity. A glass wall at the end of the crypt provides a view of the reliquary below the altar, which may well contain the actual bones of St. Peter. A chapel stretches out behind the shrine into the crypt for services at this holiest of shrines.

Here are over 100 tombs within St. Peter's Basilica located in the Vatican beneath the Basilica, of which their are about 91 popes. A visit to the the catacombs is a must. After visiting the Basilica don't miss the chance to visit the Sacred Grottoes or Crypt where the tombs of many Popes and other dignitaries are interred. The Crypt lies beneath the Church and contained the tomb of John Paul II up until his beatification in May of 2011. At the end of the Crypt lies a glass wall which offers a view down to the tomb of St Peter which is located directly below the Papal Altar.

The way out from the Catacombs:

The way out from the Catacombs and from the Basilica:

4. Climb The Dome and Roof of St. Peter's Basilica:

On your way out as you exit from the crypt is the entrance to the dome and roof, in the northern courtyard between the church and Vatican Palace. There is an admission charge and often a line, but it is a very worthwhile experience. There is an elevator option as far as the dome (for an extra euro), and from there on it is stairs only. You have TWO options:

- Lift up to the level terrace and you can walk (320 steps): ticket 7 euros.
- Climb 551 steps on foot: ticket 5 euros.

Whichever way you choose to go the effort expended will be deemed well worth it. The views are spectacular.
You can see clear out to the sea and to the Alban Hills, Frascati and the Sabbine Mountains. Closer to hand of course are the rooftops of Rome laid out like a carpet for all to see.

At first glance the figure seems large, but not so difficult to climb. In fact the only problem is that while climbing the staircase becomes very tight and angled to one side. But when you get to the top you suddenly understand that even if they were 1000 steps it's still worth to climb. You have the view of Rome, you can see the Vatican Gardens and you have the best view of the St. Peter's square.

The views from the gallery around the cupola of Michelangelo's dome provide an impressive sense of the enormity of the church, a look at the top of the Baldacchino, and a closer view of the cupola's inscriptions and medallions. Once-in-life experience.

Waiting the elevator to the Dome - that what you see around:

After getting off the elevator, don't rush to the staircase, but take a few moments to absorb the astonishing beauty of the cupola from within - and look down - the main altar. It's one of those moments where the cliche "thank god for religion" is most true - and real.

climbing up the stairs to the Cupola:

This balcony going round the cupola allows you to admire the beautiful decorations and the magnificence of the inside of the cupola in a close up. Watch the play of light entering the church from the top.

under the Cupola - view of the Dome:

Under the Cupola - view down to the Basilica Nave:

Under the Cupola - marvelous mosaics around the walls:

From the gallery, stairs continue to the roof, where you step out on the east side of the dome. This provides a sweeping view of St. Peter's Square and Vatican City from behind the huge statues on the facade.

views of Rome - while climbing up the stairs to the roof:

More stairs lead up to the lantern at the top of the dome, which provides even more impressive views.

The roof of St. Peter’s Basilica is accessed either by elevator or stairs (the first level). However by climbing the interior staircase 170 steps to the base of the dome, you can get a lovely view of the dome up close and personal and look down below to see the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica. Magnificent! But the real money-shots are the views one gets by climbing the one person wide, one way, semi-claustrophobic, 330 stairs that lead up to the balcony of the lantern. From here, you get amazing views of the Vatican Gardens and sites of Rome. Climbing it is no small feat so if you aren’t in the best shape, and not sure you can tackle this climb - just take the elevator to the first level and skip the rest. Follow the one way rule on the climb up the last 330 stairs. Trying to get by other people on that narrow, curving stairway is a nightmare. Once you are up, you can really see the whole Vatican, the hills of Rome, the whole St. Peter's Square; it is beautiful:

Views of Rome from the Basilica roof:

Views of St. Peter Piazza from the roof:

Views of the Vatican Gardens from the Basilica roof:

Down the stairs from the roof:

Down on the balcony of the elevator level:

Papal Audience:

The Papal Audiences are held on Wednesday mornings at 10:30 AM either in St. Peter's Square or in the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall. In order to get tickets to the Papal Audience you will need to make your request in writing or by Fax to the Prefecture of the Papal Household. Tickets are free and need to be picked up either on the day prior to the Audience or on the morning of. If you happen to be in Rome on a Wednesday and if the Papal Audience is going to take place I can tell that this is quite a spectacle to behold. When we attended, the Audience was held inside the Papal Hall and the atmosphere was something akin to a sporting event. There was singing and dancing by people from all over the world who came dressed in their native garb. Flags were waving and there were spontaneous eruptions of song and mucic, it was quite a morning. Regardless of religion go to St Peters square on a Wednesday morning when the Pope is in Rome the out door service is quite amazing and if you are lucky you will get very close to the Pope when he makes his tour.

Post Office on the left side of the basilica if you are facing the front of the church. Remember before you leave to buy a postcard and send it off to someone at home with the Vatican stamp on the front.

Other services: Philatelic and Numismatic Office, Vatican Telephone Service, Vatican Pharmacy, Vatican Television Centre, Vatican Information Service.

Attend Mass in St Peter's Basilica:

There are many masses daily and attending one is an experience that you won’t want to miss. Before entering the area where the mass was being held we were warned by the Vatican security that this is a mass and not a photo opportunity for tourists, so please show the due respect when attending a mass here. You find timetable of masses in the formal Vatican web site.

There are many altars in St Peter's Basilica and the mass will be in one of them. The Papal altar located under Bernini's Canopy is only used for masses given by the Pope.

Papal Apartments:

The Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major, an ancient Roman Catholic Marian basilica of Rome:

5. Piazza St. Peter, St Peter's Square - designed by Bernini and built between 1656 and 1667. There's a lot to capture and sink in. Huge beautiful columns around the whole Piazza. A lot of sculptures, a decent size fountain and a Egyptian obelisk. But all this provides more appeal to the focal point which is the St. Peter Basilica itself. Located directly in front of St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is the monumental Piazza of St Peter which was designed by Lorenzo Bernini. While there is much to see in the square itself, it is also a great spot to just sit and people watch as you take in the marvels of this important gathering place. Of particular note in the square are the Colonnades and Statues, the matching Bernini Fountains, the Obelisk, and of course the Papal Apartment which is visible up and to the right.

In the center of the square is a 25.5-meter-tall obelisk, which dates from 13th-century-BC Egypt and was brought to Rome in the 1st century to stand in Nero's Circus some 275 yards away. It was moved to its present location in 1585 by order of Pope Sixtus V. The task took four months and is said to have been done in complete silence on pain of death. If you include the cross on top and the base, the obelisk reaches 40m.

Near the stairs to the basilica at the front of the square are colossal statues of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome. These were ordered by Pope Pius IX on Easter 1847, who wanted to replace the existing smaller ones. The new statues had been commissioned by the previous pope for St. Paul Outside the Walls. Peter was sculpted by Giuseppe De Fabris in 1838-40 and stands 5.55m in height, on a pedestal 4.91m high. Paul was sculpted in 1838 by Adamo Tadolini, and is also 5.55m in height, on a pedestal 4.91m high.

St. Peter Statue with his keys to the kingdom on the NORTH side (on the left as you walk to the square):

Look also (now, before you enter the Cathedral, or, later when you exit the Basilica) for St. Paul Statue with his key to the kingdom on the SOUTH side (on the left as you walk to the square):

There are two beautiful fountains in the square, the south/left one by Carlo Maderno (1613) and the northern/right one by Bernini (1675).

St Peter's, Bernini's Colonnade and Maderno's Fountain:

Fountain on the north side of St. Peter's Square, designed by Bernini in 1675:

Rome - from Piazza della Repubblica to Villa Borghese

Spencer Peers


From Piazza della Repubblica to Villa Borghese:

Highlights: Fontana delle Naiadi, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Museo Nazionale Romano, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Santa Susanna, Quattro Fontane, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, Piazza del Quirinale, Palazzo Barberini, Piazza Barberini, Via Veneto, Santa Maria della Concezione, Porta Pinciana, Parco della Villa Borghese, Museo e Galleria Borghese, Piazza Bucarest, Belle Arti, Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia.

Start: Repubblica Metro station. Be careful crossing the street in this area.

End: Piazza del Popolo / Piazza Villa Giulia.

Weather: The park of Villa Borghese deserves nice weather. Otherwise - any weather is good.

The itinerary:

Piazza della Repubblica is next to the Termini station. Piazza della Repubblica, once called piazza dell'Esedra (a name still in use by many elderly people), is one of Rome's busiest spots, a wide crossing located very close to Rome's central train station, former site of the huge Baths of Diocletian, whose surviving exedra gave the place its old name. This piazza is not a tourist attraction but still worth of visiting. The fountain is quite famous, and there are some nice restaurants around this area. You can easily get connected to other part of the city from the Metro station. From the square starts one of the main streets of Rome, Via Nazionale. The porticos around the piazza, built in 1887–98  were in memory of the ancient buildings on the same sites, while the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri on the piazza is based on a wing of the baths of Diocletian (with its architect Michelangelo). Be there early in the morning or end your day here, get something to drink and sit where the fountain is and just enjoy the view and the noise of the water:

Fountain of the Naiads: The fountain in this square was originally connected to the aqua Marcia aqueduct and commissioned in this site by Pope Pius IX in 1870. Completed in 1888, it originally showed four chalk lions designed by Alessandro Guerrieri. These were then replaced in 1901 with sculptures of Naiads by Mario Rutelli from Palermo. The Naiads represented by 4 Nymphs: the Nymph of the Lakes (recognisable by the swan she holds), the Nymph of the Rivers (stretched out on a monster of the rivers), the Nymph of the Oceans (riding a horse symbolising of the sea), and the Nymph of the Underground Waters (leaning over a mysterious dragon). In the centre is Rutelli's group (1911/12), symbolizing the dominance of the man over natural force and replacing a previous sculpture:

There is very nice Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Saint Mary of the Angels and Martyrs) here in one side of the Piazza, made of red/yellow bricks. In 1911 the facade of the Basilica was returned to the original brick structure so that it would be more in keeping with the interior of the ancient Baths.

On 28 February 2006 the 2 old wooden doors were replaced by 2 bronze ones by the Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj. This was his final work and is considered one of the most important pieces of sculpture of recent decades. Overlooking the Esedra Square the door to the right, with it's back to the fountain depicts the Mystery of the Annunciation by the Angel to the Virgin Mary: the Angel is on high on the left panel with the Virgin Mary listening down below on the right panel. The door on the left portrays the Resurrection: the left panel depicting the Risen Christ who is represented by the figure of a man with a Cross engraved on his body, symbolising Christ's sharing in us:

The basilica is dedicated to the Christian martyrs, known and unknown. By a brief dated 27 July 1561, Pope Pius IV ordered the church "built", to be dedicated to the Most Blessed Virgin and all the Angels and Martyrs.
It was also a personal monument of Pope Pius IV, whose tomb is in the apsidal tribune that culminates the series of spaces. Michelangelo worked from 1563 to 1564 to adapt a section of the remaining structure of the baths to enclose a church. At Santa Maria degli Angeli, Michelangelo achieved an unexampled sequence of shaped architectural spaces with few precedents or followers. There is no true facade; the simple entrance is set within one of the coved apses of a main space of the baths. The great vaulted transept gives a striking display of the magnificent scale of Roman constructions, 91 meters long, Michelangelo made the transept 27 meters wide, thus providing vast cubical spaces at each end of the transept. Santa Maria degli Angeli was the official state church during the Kingdom of Italy (1870-1946). More recently, national burials have been held in the church. The church hosts the tombs of General Armando Diaz and Admiral Paolo Thaon di Revel, who were the commanders responsible for winning World War I on the Italian front.Also today the Basilica is used for many ceremonies, included the funeral of soldiers killed abroad. The walls of this enormous building arise from waters heated by a sophisticated system which uses the heat from the rays of the sun and underground passages to enable the flow of water. The passageways are made from bricks which retain heat. The imposing presence of the baths can still be seen through the eight original rose pillars of granite. They measure 14m in height and are more than one and a half metres in diameter. You can easily spend hours here. But you can also get a sense of it in ten minutes:

The Chapel of San Bruno now houses the great mechanical organ of Formentelli from the Millenium Jubilee. It was a gift to Pope John Paul II from the city of Rome . The organ has an impressive 77 ranges, 3 attachments, a total of 5400 pipes, 4 keyboards and pedals:

The Chapels which focus on the theological themes of the crucifixion of Christ, His death and His resurrection and His appearance to Mary Magdalene are surrounded by funereal monuments made in the style of Michelangelo. They are of important artistic and ecclesiastical figures who serve to remind us of the immortality of life, of the arts and of the act of charity:

The Meridian Line in Santa Maria degli Angeli is a combination of science and faith. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Pope Clement XI commissioned the astronomer, mathematician, archaeologist, historian and philosopher Francesco Bianchini to build a meridian line, a sort of sundial, within the basilica and it was completed in 1702. The meridian line was restored in 2002 for the 300 years anniversary of its construction, and it is still operational today. From around 10:54 AM in late October to 11.24 AM February - the sun shines through a small hole in the wall to cast its light on this line each day. The ray of light moves slowly along pursuing the path of the sun. It follows the long straight line which cuts through 44m of the floor of the Basilica. After overlapping the line briefly it passes over and begins to slowly move away. The projection of light announces the arrival of midday. Try to go on a sunny day when you can see it in action:

The Polish-born sculptor Igor Mitoraj (who created the new bronze doors) made as well as a statue of John the Baptist for the basilica:

In April 2010, a five metres high bronze statue of Galileo Galilei Divine Man (designed by 1957 Nobel laureate Tsung-Dao Lee) was unveiled in a courtyard within the complex. The statue was a donation from China Center of Advanced Science and Technology and World Federation of Scientists:

The Museo Nazionale Romano houses one of the most important collections in the world of ancient Greek and Roman art. Open every day from 9.00 to 19.45.Last admission at 19.00. Closed Mondays (except Easter Monday and during the "Culture Week"), 25 December, 1 January.
Tickets: Single ticket valid for 3 days at 4 sites (Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Baths of Diocletian - where we are now) - Full price: € 7.00, Reduced price: € 3.50 for European Union citizens ages 18 to 24 and for European Union teachers. Free: Visitors 17 and under and European Union citizens over 65. Your ticket covers all four museums/buildings. The audio guide, which costs £5, is yours to enjoy but only for 2 hours! You will be fined £5 if you don't return it within 2 hours. The nicest thing about this museum is that all the exhibits have explanations in both Italian and English.

The collection is divided into 4 distinct buildings (Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Baths of Diocletian). Two of them are near Piazza della Repubblica.

The most ancient part of the collection is housed in the Terme di Diocleziano (Via E. de Nicola 78) complex (where Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri stands) - in its most eastern edge. Turn RIGHT from the front of the Basilica and walk along the iron bench. Original seat of the Museo Nazionale Romano (National Roman Museum) since its institution in 1889, the Baths and the Charterhouse are currently undergoing a restoration process that has thus far permitted the reopening of a part of the monumental complex and of the two sections of such a composite museum, the Section of Proto-history of the Latin Peoples and the Epigraphic Section, this one pertaining to Written Communication in the Roman World. Arranged on the second floor of Michelangelo’s Cloister, the Protohistoric Section of the National Roman Museum collects the archaeological testimonies of the most ancient stages of the culture emerged all over ancient Latium in the Late Protohistory from 11th-10th centuries to the early 6th century BCE (end of the Bronze Age, Early Iron Age and Orientalizing period). The Roman National Museum boasts one of the most important and rich epigraphic collection of the world with a holding of some 10.000 inscriptions. Note: Aula Ottagona is currently closed.

Armor and weapons found in a 5th century BC tomb:

Christ as the Good Shepherd an AD 4th century marble engraving:

The courtyard of the branch of the Museum housed at the Baths of Diocletian:

The second building of the Roman Museum is Palazzo Massimo - built in the 19th century (Largo di Villa Peretti 1). From the Piaza della Repubblica continue onto Via delle Terme di Diocleziano, 140 m. Via delle Terme di Diocleziano turns slightly left and becomes Largo Villa Peretti, 50 m. Turn right onto Piazza dei Cinquecento and the Palace is on the right. This nineteenth-century palace in Neo-Renaissance style, close to the Termini Train Station, houses one of the world's most important collections of Classical art. On the four floors of the museum, sculptures, frescoes and mosaics, coins and jewels document the evolution of the Roman artistic culture from the late Republican age through Late Antiquity (2nd c. BCE - 5th c. CE) along an exhibition path in which Ancient Roman history, myths and everyday life live anew. In the rooms of the ground floor are exhibited splendid Greek originals discovered in Rome such as the Boxer at Rest,

the Hellenistic Prince and the Dying Niobid from the Horti Sallustiani (Gardens of Sallust):

as well as portraiture of the Republican and Imperial ages, culminating in the statue of Augustus Pontifex Maximus (High Priest).

On the first floor are displayed celebrated masterpieces of statuary, among them being the Lancellotti Discobolus (Discus Thrower), the Maiden of Antium and the Hermaphroditus Asleep, as well as magnificent sarcophagi such as the Sarcophagus of Portonaccio, with a battle scene carved in high relief. On the second floor, frescoed walls and pavement mosaics document the domestic decor of prestigious Roman dwellings.

The basement houses the sizeable numismatic collection, besides grave ornaments, jewels and the Grottarossa Mummy:

We return to Piazza della Repubblica. We recommend using the restrooms in the Grand Hotel - in the north side of the square:

Behind the Grand Hotel we head north-west from the Repubblica Square onto Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando. Continue straight onto Piazza di San Bernardo, 7 m. Slight right onto Largo Santa Susanna (parking lot), 24 m and turn right onto Via xx Settembre to see, on your right the Moses Fountain. The fountain was installed on request of pope Sixtus V to mark the end of the Acqua Felice, an ancient aqueduct that had been restored in 1587 to provide the neighborhood with fresh water. The fountain is officially named Fontana dell'Acqua Felice, after the Pope, whose real name was Felice Peretti. The Fountain of Moses was built in 1587-1588 by Domenico Fontana, who designed a blind triumphal arch with three large niches. In the central niche stands a large statue of Moses, flanked on either side by reliefs depicting biblical scenes. In front of the large classical columns that frame the niches stand four water spouting lions. They are copies of Egyptian lion statues; the originals can be found in the Vatican Museums. The central figure of Moses lends its name to the monumental fountain. The imposing statue was created by Prospero Antichi. According to local lore the sculptor tried to measure up to Michelangelo, who created a statue of Moses in the nearby San Pietro in Vincoli church. But the sculptor made the mistake of not creating a model and he carved the statue out of a block of marble that was lying on the ground instead of standing upright. As a result its proportions where not correct. When the statue was revealed to the public it was ridiculed and Prospero Antichi is said to have committed suicide out of sorrow:

Aaron Leading the Israelis (hebrews) to Water of the Red Sea:

Gideon Leading his Israeli (hebrew) people across the River Jordan:

Immediately behind the Fountain, still in Via XX Settembre - we see the Santa Maria della Vittoria church (Our Lady of Victory) (Via XX Settembre 98). Open: Mornings - 07.00 - 12.00, afternoons - 15.30 - 19.00. It stands to the side of the Fontana dell'Acqua Felice (Moses Fountain). And the church mirrors the Church of Santa Susanna across the Largo (with your face to the Santa Maria della Vittoria church - on your left, WEST). The church is the only structure designed and completed by the early Baroque architect Carlo Maderno, though the interior suffered a fire in 1833 and required restoration. Its façade, however, was erected by Giovanni Battista Soria during Maderno's lifetime, 1624–1626, showing the unmistakable influence of Maderno's Santa Susanna nearby:

The church itself is beautifully decorated in a Gothic style. It has very soft almost dim lighting and is well worth a visit. Its interior has a single wide nave under a low segmental vault, with three interconnecting side chapels behind arches separated by colossal corinthian pilasters. The interior was sequentially enriched after Maderno's death; its vault was frescoed in 1675 with triumphant themes: The Virgin Mary Triumphing over Heresy and Fall of the Rebel Angels executed by Giovanni Domenico Cerrini.

The church is known for the masterpiece of Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. This sculpture, created in 1647–1652, depicts a vision of St. Theresa of Avila in which an angel pierced her heart and, in doing so, filled her with the love of God. Teresa has just been stabbed with God's arrow of fire. The angel pulls out the arrow and watches her reaction.It is considered to be almost pornographic:

Another sculpture: The Dream of Joseph (left transept) by Domenico Guidi:

Saint Vittoria, Virgin and Martyr:

The main altar area is stunning:

The Ceiling is spectacular:

The church of Santa Susanna stands WEST to the Santa Maria della Vittoria church. As for Spring 2014 - it is temporarily closed. Santa Susanna English-Language Library is OPEN, though the Church is closed. This is the only English speaking church in Rome.

We walk in Via XX Settembre in the SOUTH-WEST direction (with our face to santa Susanna) we continue walking in Via XX Settembre to the LEFT. Walk along Via XX Settembre and apss 5 roads on your right until you arrive to Piazza di san Bernardo. Cross the Piazza and continue walking along XX Settembre, apssing Via Firenze on your left - until you arrive to the cross-road with Quattro Fontane. On the four corners of this intersection stand four fountains. They are a bit dirty and don't get the attention of other attractions. They are still lovely to admire once you get past the graffiti and dirt. Be careful: no sidewalks around 2 of them and the The local traffic doesn't slow down. They were commissioned by Pope Sixtus V and built at the direction of Muzio Mattei in the late 1500's. The figures of the four fountains represent the River Tiber (the symbol of Rome); the River Arno the symbol of Florence; the Goddess Diana; the symbol of Chastity; and the Goddess Juno, the symbol of Strength. The fountains of the Arno, Tiber, and Juno are the work of Domenico Fontana. The fountain of Diana was designed by the painter and architect Pietro da Cortona:

Via XX Settembre changes its name to Via del Quirinale - beyond Via delle Quattro Fontane. We continue walking south-east along Via del Quirinale and after 2-3 minutes of walk, on our LEFT,  we see the St Carlino of Four Fountains Church (Via del Quirinale, 23). The Church of Saint Charles at the Four Fountains (Italian: Chiesa di San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane also called San Carlino) is a Roman Catholic church in Rome, Italy. The church was designed by the architect Francesco Borromini and it was his first independent commission. It is an iconic masterpiece of Baroque architecture, built as part of a complex of monastic buildings on the Quirinal Hill for the Spanish Trinitarians, an order dedicated to the freeing of Christian slaves.

In a small room off the sacristy there is, over the door, an anonymous 18th century portrait of Francesco Borromini with the following inscription: "Knight Francesco Borromini of Como, illustrious architect of this church and convent of St. Charles at the Four Fountains, and outstanding benefactor, died in Rome 1667."

With the exception of Innocent X (1644-1655), Borromini was not favoured by the popes of his day. He often worked for the religious orders, and his buildings reflect the self-denying life of the monks rather than the grandiosity of the papal church. Borromini is said to have had a difficult, introverted personality, and his pathological melancholy increased with the years. He became more and more isolated, full of doubts and uncertainties, avoiding all contact with other people and burying himself in his work. In the summer of 1667 he came down with stomach trouble. One day he collected together all the drawings which he had guarded so jealously throughout his working life, and burned them to prevent them from falling into the hands of his adversaries and rivals. A few days later he suffered an acute nervous crisis, and after a mild dispute with his servant his despair grew so violent that he threw himself on his sword. He survived for a day, and after receiving absolution from his confessor he died on 3 August 1667.

We continue walking in Via del Quirinale, leaving behind us the St Carlino of Four Fountains Church. Immediately following this church is a garden - Giardino di ant'Andrea al Quirinale. Beyond the garden (on the opposite side of the street, ON YOUR LEFT) there is another church: Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, Via del Quirinale, 29, built for of the Jesuit seminary on the Quirinal Hill. The church of Sant'Andrea, an important example of Roman Baroque architecture, was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Borromini friend and rival) with Giovanni de'Rossi. Bernini considered the church one of his most perfect works; his son, Domenico, recalled that in his later years, Bernini spent hours sitting inside it, appreciating what he had achieved.

The high altar niche is well lit from a hidden source and becomes the main visual focus of the lower part of the interior:

Two minutes walk further along Via del Quirinale and we arrive to the Piazza del Quirinale. The Piazza del Quirinale and the Palazzo del Quirinale sit atop Quirinal Hill, the highest of the seven hills of Rome. From this highest point in the city you have a splendid view towards the Saint Peter's Basilica.

Aside from the view, however, there are several things to be seen around the square, which boasts buildings on three sides and a clear view of the city down below from the fourth side.

Obelisk and Fountain of Castor and Pollux:
The first structure in the piazza that usually catches the eye is the huge obelisk with fountain that sits in the middle. This is known as the Dioscuri Fountain and features 5.5-meter-tall sculptures of Castor and Pollux as horse tamers. These statues - Roman replicas of Greek originals from the fifth century BC - once stood at the entrance of the baths of Constantine. The 14-meter-tall central obelisk once held a place of honor at the entrance to the mausoleum of Augustus. The statues were placed here in 1588 by pope Sixtus V. The obelisk was added in 1786 and the fountain's granite basin was added in 1818. The basin was designed by Rafael Stern who used an ancient Roman shell that once stood at the Roman Forum where it was used as a trough.

Quirinal Palace:

At the perimeter of the piazza is the Palazzo del Quirinale, the residence of the president of Italy. In 1583, Pope Gregory XIII had the Palazzo del Quirinal built for use as a papal summer residence. It became the official royal residence after the unification of Italy in 1870 and later the presidential residence. The facade visitors can see from the piazza was designed by Domenico Fontana and the Great Chapel of the palace was crafted by Carlo Maderno.

Entrance to Palazzo del Quirinale:

Sentry at Palazzo del Quirinale:

Inside Palazzo de Quirinale:

Adjacent to the president's palace is the Palazzo della Consulta, built by Ferdinando Fuga in 1734 for pope Clement XII and the Papal court. This ornately decorated palace is now occupied by the Corte Costituzionale, the Italian Supreme Court.

We head, now, to Palazzo Barberini by tracing back our steps. Head BACK northeast on Via del Quirinale (210 m) and turn LEFT (north-west) onto Via delle Quattro Fontane. Walk for 2 minutes and you'll see, on your right the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica or Palazzo Barberini (Via delle Quattro Fontane 13). A fine collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings in a palace designed by Bernini with the assistance of Borromini and decorated by Pietro da Cortona. Palazzo Barberini houses the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, National Gallery of Ancient Art. Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, from 8.30 to 19.00. Full price € 7,00, Reduced € 3,50. Note: You have to pay for bag storage so travel light. Another note: the gardens and the staircases - are FREE. For Euro 7 it's a reasonable price for what they have and Rome museums nowadays: Seven euro admission fee is bargain for masterpieces from Caravaggio ("Judith and Holofernes"),("Narcissus"), Rafael ("La Fornarina"), Canaletto, a huge fresco on the ceiling by Cortona (could take hours to admire). More Bernini and Caravaggios than Borghese - and you can stay as long as you like, much cheaper, more magnificent building. The Galleria is also home to some lesser known but stunning Holbeins (great Henry VIII portrait!), Raffaellos, Tintorettos, and Tizianos. The museum is climate-controlled, beautifully lit and has truly excellent interpretation labels in Italian and English. DO NOT MISS the Bernini stair (the "Scala Grande") which you can walk up and down and the Borromini stair (circular; accessible for just a short stretch) at the other end of the building. NO PICTURES ALLOWED into the two museum apartments.

Façade: view from the left wing:

Famous sculpture in Palazzo Barberini entrance grounds:

Raphael's "La Fornarina" (the baker's daughter). In 1514, Raphael became engaged to Maria Bibbiena, the niece of Cardinal Medici Bibbiena who was Raphael’s patron. Raphael had to be persuaded into the engagement, and that he eventually agreed simply to please his benefactor the Cardinal. But Raphael’s loveless engagement to Maria may have been the longest in history. Raphael stalled, bedding other women for six long years, until Maria died in 1520, still unmarried. The woman who apparently won the heart and passionate desires of the playboy artist was of far lower social stature than the Cardinal’s niece. Whether or not Raphael was “a ladies’ man,” he did have one great love, Margherita Luti or La Fornarina, “the baker’s daughter”. Raphael was one of the first artists of the Italian Renaissance to consistently draw female figures from female models rather than the usual garzoni or young male assistants. Luti was likely not only Raphael’s mistress, but also his model, posing for many of the hundreds of his drawings that survive. Margherita’s seated pose in this painting is quite sensational, especially for the 16th century. Not only is she barely clothed, but notice that one hand is clasping her breast while the other is placed, um, between her legs...

Caravaggio - Narciso. This is one of only two known Caravaggios on a theme from Classical mythology, although this reflects the accidents of survival rather than the historical reality. The story of Narcissus, told by the poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses, is of a handsome youth who falls in love with his own reflection. Unable to tear himself away, he dies of his passion:

Caravaggio - Judith and Holofernes. The Book of Judith tells how Judith saved her people by seducing and killing Holofernes, the Assyrian general. Judith gets Holofernes drunk, then seizes his sword and decapitates him

Henri VIII by Hans HOLBEIN, Hans the Younger (b. 1497, Augsburg, d. 1543, London). This painting was one of a group of English portraits carried out by Holbein and his school. Though German, Holbein was court painter to King Henry VIII of England, and the prototype for this image is his lost mural that once decorated the Privy Chamber of Whitehall Palace in London. Carried out in 1537, that wall painting depicted the king with his third wife Jane Seymour, the only one of Henry's queens to bear him a male heir. Of the numerous paintings derived from that prototype, including a copy at Windsor Castle, this is without doubt the one of highest quality. The closest example to the prototype, on the other hand, is the portrait in the Thyssen collection in Madrid, which this version approaches especially in the rendering of the details of the collar. This Palazzo Barberini portrait depicts the king in the same costume that he wore for his April, 1540, wedding to Anne of Cleves:

"La Maddalena" by Piero di Cosimo:

Guido Cagnacci (1601–1663) - Maddalena svenuta:

Bronzino - Portrait of Stefano IV Colonna:

Reni - Portrait of Beatrice Cenci (!). Possibly by Elisabetta Sirani c. 1662
previously thought to be by Guido Reni. How comes ? The best known image of Beatrice is a popular portrait supposed to have been by Guido Reni. It is now thought to be by an artist of his circle, the daughter of his long time assistant, Elisabetta Sirani. Beatrice Cenci was – to take a sample of soundbites over the centuries – a ‘goddess of beauty’, a ‘fallen angel’, a ‘most pure damsel’. She was also a convicted murderer. This is a charismatic combination, not least here in Italy, and her name has lived on, especially in Rome, where she was born and where she was executed in 1599. The story as it comes down to us has the compactness of legend. It tells of a beautiful teenage girl who kills her brutal father to protect her virtue from his incestuous advances; who resists interrogation and torture with unswerving courage; and who goes to her execution unrepentant and borne along on a wave of popular sympathy. There have been many literary treatments of the story, the most famous of which is Shelley’s verse-drama, The Cenci, written in 1819. Other writers drawn to the subject include Stendhal, Dickens, Artaud and Alberto Moravia:

Taddeo Zuccari - Parnasus:

Original portrait of Erasmus by Flemish painter Quinten Metsys:

Pietro da Cortona Cieling:

Two stairs lead to the main apartment. The larger one was designed by Bernini, whereas Borromini was entrusted with the smaller one: this has an elliptic shape. The use of ellipses rather than circles is one of the elements which characterizes baroque versus Renaissance architecture. After taking in the facade, you can enter the building at its center. To the LEFT you'll see Bernini's lovely staircase and, to the RIGHT, one of Borromini's greatest achievements, an oval (helicoidal, actually--you'll have to look that up) staircase.

Bernini Grand Staircase:

Borromini Staircase:

(left) Main stairs by Bernini; (right) stairs by Borromini:

Italian garden and rear part of Palazzo Barberini:

Climbing the gentle center stairs offers access to what is known as a "gardino segreto"--a secret garden, hidden from public view. Like the staircases, the garden is accessible at no charge:

The Secret Garden:

Inner Courtyard:

Exiting Palazzo Barberini - we turn right (north-west) in Via delle Quattro Fontane. We walk (again, north-west) along this road until we arrive to Piazza Barberini. It was created in the 16th century but many of the surrounding buildings have subsequently been rebuilt. Today, the piazza is large crossroad for Rome's traffic and, since 1980, has accommodated a station on Line A of the Rome Metro, called Barberini – Fontana di Trevi. At the centre of the piazza is the Fontana del Tritone or Triton Fountain (1642–3) sculpted by Bernini.

Another fountain, the Fontana delle Api (1627–1629), also by Bernini is in the nearby Via Vittorio Veneto but it has been reconstructed somewhat arbitrarily following its removal from its previous position on the corner of a palace where the Piazza Barberini meets the Via Sistina.

We take the north exit of the Barberini square along Via Veneto road (where, actually, the Bees Fountain stands). On your right is the (off Piazza Barberini)  church of S. Nicola da Tolentino which is decorated with the Pamphilj dove and Fleurs-de-Lis. Undoubtedly these symbols allow for a proper decoration of a church and by so doing lose their original identifying purpose of associating the Pamphilj name with the building. Inside this church the Pamphilj chapel has a very interesting family coat of arms by Alessandro Algardi which is shown next to the plate by Filippo Juvarra:

Immediately on your right, when you start climbing in Via Veneto is the Convento dei Cappuccin, Museum and Crypt of Capuchins, Via Vittorio Veneto 27. Admission: 6 euros. NO PHOTOS allowed. If you do not have your shoulders covered or legs above the knees, they avoid your entrance. Do not come with full stomach. Five rooms beautifully decorated by bones, skulls and entire bodies, some with the skin left.

Guido Reni - San Michele arcangelo:

we start climbing up in Via Veneto. It might be a little exhausting in a hot day - but the road is very shady. Via Veneto was renamed Via Vittorio Veneto after the battle which occurred near that town in November 1918 and which marked the end of WWI on the Italian front; the previous name however is still commonly used. Via Veneto is one of the most famous, elegant and expensive streets of Rome, Italy. Federico Fellini's classic 1960 film La Dolce Vita was mostly centered around the Via Veneto area. Some of Rome's most renowned cafés and five star hotels, like Café de Paris, Harry's Bar, Regina Hotel Baglioni, The Westin Excelsior, Rome as well known haunts for celebrities in Rome, are in Via Veneto.The Embassy of the United States, housed in Palazzo Margherita, is located along the avenue.

Harry's Bar in Via Veneto:

In the end of Via Veneto - you see the Porta Pinciana which is a gate of the Aurelian Walls in Rome. The gate was built under the emperor Honorius in the early 5th century, by adapting a previous smaller service entrance. The two side passages are a modern addition. The gate remained closed until the early 20th century.

With your face to the gate - walk 50 m. to the left (south-west) to enter the Villa Borghese gardens. The following photo points, exactly to the entrance point:

Villa Borghese is a large landscape garden in the well-known, English manner in Rome. Containing a number of buildings, museums, attractions and temptations. It is the third largest public park in Rome  after the ones of the Villa Doria Pamphili and Villa Ada. The area started as a vineyard in the sixteenth century. In 1605 cardinal Scipione Borghese, a nephew of pope Paul V, turned the vineyard into a park. Landscaper Domenico Savino da Montepulciano designed a very formal park with geometric shapes, the first such park in Rome. A villa was built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio after a sketch from the cardinal himself. The park was later laid out in a more natural way. At the end of the eighteenth century an artificial lake was created in the middle of the park. On the island in the lake, a small Ionic temple was built. It is dedicated to Aesculapius, the god of healing. In 1903 the city of Rome obtained Villa Borghese from the Borghese family and opened the park to the public. The eighty hectare/148 acre-large park now featured wide shady lanes, several temples, beautiful fountains and many statues. In 1911 the World Exposition was held in this park. Several of the pavilions built by some of the participating countries still exist. The most impressive of these is the British School, built after a design by Edwin Lutyens (see below). Other buildings represented Austria, Denmark, Egypt and Sweden.

There are, at least, five famous Villas in the Borghese Gardens:

  • The Galleria Borghese is housed in the Villa Borghese itself.
  • The Villa Giulia adjoining the Villa Borghese gardens was built in 1551 - 1555 as a summer residence for Pope Julius III; now it contains the Etruscan Museum (Museo Etrusco). It was built by Pope Julius III in 1551-1553 on what was then the edge of the city. Today it is publicly owned, and houses the Museo Nazionale Etrusco, an impressive collection of Etruscan art and artifacts.

  • The Villa Medici houses the French Academy in Rome, and the Fortezzuola a Gothic garden structure that houses a collection memorializing the academic modern sculptor Pietro Canonica. It is next to Trinità dei Monti (in the end of the Spanish Steps). The Villa Medici, founded by Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany is now property of the French State.

  • The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna located in its grounds has a collection of 19th- and 20th-century paintings emphasizing Italian artists. It is located at Via delle Belle Arti, 113, near the Etruscan Museum. With its neoclassical and Romantic paintings and sculptures, it marks a dramatic change from the glories of the Renaissance and ancient Rome. Its 75 rooms house the largest collection of works by 19th- and 20th-century Italian artists

  • Architecturally the most notable of the 1911 exposition pavilions is the English Pavilion designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (who later designed New Delhi), now housing the British School at Rome.

The Borghese Gardens include, also, the Zoo, recently redesigned, with minimal caging, as the Bioparco, and the Zoological Museum (Museo di Zoologia).

I guess that most of the visitors will prefer to stroll among the gardens, paths and ponds - enjoy their crisp, clean air and the refreshing sights around. An amazing park with wonderful sculptures and fountains, it truly is a place to let your mind rest in a busy city. It is a huge park with large walkways, natural settings, statues and a very leisurely place to visit. Like most of Rome it is a blend of picnickers, bicycles, scooters, Segways, golf-carts, and any other riding device known to man. Most people don't go into the gallery and don't feel they missed much. The majority go and see the softer side of the city here.

The English landscape garden:

Borghese Gardens - Piazzale dei Cavalli Marini (Square of the Marine Horses):

Via Leopoldo Lotrono, Largo Giovanni:

The Lake and the Temple of Asclepius:

There is restroom near Casina de Raffaello. The Casino Del Lago cafe, in the northwest part of the park, is a good place to enjoy a reasonably priced lunch in a very relaxing outdoor setting.

Villa Borghese had two "secret spaces": one, shrouded by trees, is the garden of bitter oranges (Giardino dei melangoli). The oranges are planted in pots, and at the time we were there, start of may, they were flooded by a sea of irises. Borghese Gardens were redesigned in the "English" style from the 18th into the 19th century, and clearly imitate an English landscape garden, in contrast to the baroque gardens immediately around the villa:

the second "secret garden" "The Flower Garden", is the beautifully laid out formal garden.

A third secret garden stretches in front of the Aviary, accompanied by the Meridiana (Sundial) mansion. This Baroque aviary or Vivarium was designed by Girolamo Rainaldi.

The Secret Gardens are not the only charming corners of Villa Borghese: the Valley of Plain Trees,

Piazza di Siena

and the Gardens of Muro Torto

as well as the Bio Park (Zoo), which was added later, make it a wonderful place to explore. Cost: €15 adults (€12 children). Hours: Jan–Mar, daily 09.30–17.00; Apr–Sept, weekdays 09.30–18.00, weekends 09.30–19.00; Oct, daily 09.30–18.00; Nov–Dec, daily 09.30–17.00. Very expensive. Adult - 37.50 euros, adult + child: 62.50 euros...

In the 1700s were built the fake Roman ruins of the Temple of Faustina,

the Temple of Diana,

and the Clock Building (Casino dell'Orologio) was set up:

Goethe Monument:

Viale Pietro Canonica (here, you find the buses stations to get out from the park). Catch bus 116 or bus 61 to get off.

Dubbed the 'park of museums', the Villa Borghese park is also home to several museums. The most famous is the Museo e Galleria Borghese, housed in the Villa Borghese, the building after which the park is named. Ticket reservation needed (Tel. +39 06 32810). Open times:
Monday: closed. from Tuesday to Sunday: from 08.30 to 19.30.
Closed the 1st of January, 25th of December. Access up to half hour before the closing time.

It has a collection of sculptures with some important works by Canova and Bernini, including the latter's masterpiece 'Abduction of Proserpina by Pluto'. The Galleria Borghese also houses a collection of paintings from several masters including Titian, Rubens and Raphael. The two hours allowed for the visit are not enough to thoroughly appreciate the paintings and statues collected by the Borghese. Visits to the Galleria Borghese are by ticket only and should be booked in advance. A two hour time slot is allowed to visit the gallery and this is far of being perfect. It doesn't allow enough time to view and enjoy a stunning collection of paintings by some of the great masters - including several works by Caravaggio and sculptures by Bernini. It does not leave you feeling saturated, exhausted and overwhelmed by the end of the visit. The gallery is situated in the beautiful surroundings of the Villa Borghese

Entrance to Villa Borghese:

Apollo e Dafne (1622-25) - Gian Lorenzo Bernini:

Rome - from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo.

Spencer Peers


From Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo:

Highlights: Church of Jesus, Via del Corso, Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, San Marcello al Corso church, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza Colonna, Piazza di Monte Citorio, Giolitti, Galleria Alberto Sordi, Via dei Condotti, Piazza di San Silvestro, PIazza di Spagna, Spanish Steps, Keats House, Palazzo di Propaganda Fide, Trinita' dei Monti church, Via Margutta, Piazza del Popolo, basilica santa maria del Popolo, Il pincio, Ponte Cavour (the Tiber).

Start: Piazza Venezia. By underground (metropolitana): Linea A: the closest station is Piazza Barberini. From there go to the first Atac (bus) stop on Via del Tritone, and take one of the following buses: 95, 175, 492, 62 or 630. Get off at the stop in Via del Corso, where it crosses Via Minghetti, and walk for 150 metres, south,  towards Piazza Venezia.

End   : Via Tomacelli / Piazza del Popolo.

Duration: 1 day. I dare guessing that Via del Corso will consume far more time than planned. The street shops and the Gelati (ice-cream) spots around - are irresistible magnets. Don't spend time in shopping. We have a wealth of sites to explore today.

Weather: one of very few itineraries that can be walked in EVERY weather (except the Pincio hill that deserves a nice weather).

Orientation: We start with Piazza Venezia but we leave its in-depth exploration to the "From Vittorio Emmanuele Monument to the Campidoglio" trip. This is very busy day. Consider allowing time for the Pamphilj museum (if not detracted by the entrance price), Via del Corso shops and the aristocratic avenues around (again, prices !), the Santa Maria del Popolo cathedral (artistic treasures) and the climb to the Il Pincio Hill with its extensive views of Rome. There are so many sites not included in this trip and are very close to the sites included (the Quirinale, The Borghese Gallery and Park - to remind few of them). Don't worry - most of them are covered in our other Tipter trips of Rome.

The Itinerary: Before we walk from Piazza Venezia to Via del Corso - we'll turn to Chiesa del Gesu (Church of Jesus) in the Piazza del Gesù. Standing in Piazza Venezia with our face to Via del Corso (north) - turn left (WEST) to Via del Plebiscito, along Palazzo Venezia, to Piazza Gesu and its church. Open: 07.00 -12.30, 16.00 -19.45. FREE. In front of us stands a Baroque-style masterpiece creation from the 16th century. A church with great photo opportunities for those looking for some colorful and beautiful church shots. It is the mother church of the Jesuits order. Officially named Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Gesù all'Argentina (Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus at the Argentina).  The church served as model for innumerable Jesuit churches all over the world. First conceived in 1551 by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits Society of Jesus, and active during the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent Catholic Reformation, the Gesù was also the home of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus until the suppression of the order in 1773. The church  reflects the grandiose wealth and power of the Jesuits order in the contra-reformation period in Europe. Although Michelangelo offered, out of devotion, to design the church free, the endeavor was funded by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, grandson of Pope Paul III. The main architects involved in the construction were Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, architect of the Farnese family, and Giacomo della Porta. Construction of the church began at 1568 to Vignola's design. Vignola was assisted by the Jesuit Giovanni Tristano, who took over from Vignola in 1571. When he died in 1575 he was succeeded by the Jesuit architect Giovanni de Rosis. Giacoma della Porta was involved in the construction of the cross-vault, dome, and the apse. 

Direction of the façade: west. The façade of the church is divided into two sections. The lower section is divided by six pairs of pilasters with Corinthian capitals, while the upper section is divided with four pairs of pilasters:

Outstanding interior. It's off the beaten track for most tourists and long may it remain so. But, you won't disappoint. You enter immediately into the body of the church - a single nave without aisles.

Your attention is focused, immediately, on the high altar.

In place of aisles there are a series of identical chapels behind arched openings.

Every inch of the church is covered with beautiful art. The entire church is stunning but the most beautiful is the sublime ceiling fresco: the Trionfo del Nome di Gesù (Triumph of the Name of Jesus), the ceiling fresco by Giovanni Battista Gaulli. The church members of staff are smart enough to put the mirror on the nave to reflect the details of the ceiling, so you can watch through without any effort or neck pain... Many people think that this is the most beautiful church ceiling in Rome:

Return to Piazza Venezzia and turn LEFT (north) to Via del Corso. Via del Corso. in ancient times called via Lata, and now connects Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo. 

At no. 305 (3 blocks from Piazza Venezia, on your left) stands Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

Full price: €11,00 (audio guide included – subject to availability), concessions or groups, children and young adults between 6 and 26 years old: €7.50. Photos allowed for personal and not commercial use. Flash and tripods are not allowed. For security reasons it is not possible to make videos. You need to add 4 Euros for the right to take photos. Open: every day 09.00 - 19.00. Last entry 18.00. Closed: 25th December, 1st January, Easter. Open to the public November 1st, April 25th, May 1st, June 2nd.

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj courtyard:

Do use the guide as it is done by a member of the Pamphilj family who often tells personal anecdotes and his descriptions help personalize the visit. The commentary on the paintings is excellent as well. The State Rooms are filled with masterpieces while the Gallery of Mirrors with windows on both sides and extravagantly painted ceilings reminds one of Versailles.  There are works by: Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian and the Brueghel family.

Caravaggio's Rest on the Flight into Egypt:

Titian's Salomé with Head of John the Baptist, c. 1515:

Olimpia Aldobrandini by Algardi:

The major attraction here is the astonishing (!) portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velasquez which is in a room on its own with a Bernini bust of Pope Innocent:

Further north along Via del Corso, on your right, is the San Marcello al Corso church. Devoted to Pope Marcellus I. San Marcello al Corso, facade by Carlo Fontana:

On the next turn to the right, Via dell'Umiltà, you leave Via del Corso - in order to have a glance at the Fontana di Trevi. We visit this fountain and Navona Fountain several times along our trips in Rome. Trevi Fountain looks different - along different parts of the day and in different kinds of weather. The atmosphere changes with the natural light. It is a very busy site and difficult to take good pictures without a million other tourists in the shot. But, everyone is enjoying the majestic fountain. It is 10-15 minutes detour from our main route. Along Via dell'Umiltà you cross Gallerai Sciarra. Both, Fontana di Trevi and Galleria Sciarra are described in the "Rome Colosseum,Imperial Forums and Markets, Fontana di Trevi" trip. Turn left to Via di San Vincenzo - to arrive to the magnificent fountain. We recommend coming to Fontana di Trevi in the morning hours - when the lion's part of the fountain is sun-lighted. Despite it being a real busy, touristy place, it is a wonderful experience. May I tell you a secret ? At 07.00 or even at 08.00 - the place is completely EMPTY. The artwork and structure are breathtaking. It is spectacular at night when lit up. You cannot resist throwing 3 coins in !!! The Romans collect about 1.25 million dollar a year from the fountain ! Tourists throwing coins into the fountain during the week and, at the same time, the workmen are vacuuming it up during the nights or the weekends. Another secret: There is a miniature fountain on the left side of the Trevi Fountain and legend states that if a couple drinks from the “small fountain of lovers” there, they will be forever faithful to each other...

It is 5 minutes walk (300 m.) back to Via del Corso. From Trevi Fountain head west on Piazza di Trevi toward Vicolo del Forno. continue onto Via delle Muratte ( along market road), 200 m and turn right onto Via del Corso. 50 metres further along Via del Corso and you see Piazza Colonna on your left. On your way along Via del Corso you'll see signpost to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and McDonald's. It is named for the marble Column of Marcus Aurelius which has stood there since 193 CE. The bronze statue of Saint Paul that crowns the column was placed in 1589, by order of Pope Sixtus V. 

Piazza Colonna north side is taken up by Palazzo Chigi, formerly the Austro-Hungarian empire's embassy, but is now a seat of the Italian government. The west side is taken up by Palazzo Wedekind (1838) with a colonnade of Roman columns:

The east side is taken up by the 19th century public shopping arcade Galleria Colonna (since 2003 Galleria Alberto Sordi), the south side is taken up by the flank of Palazzo Ferraioli, formerly the Papal post office, and the little Church of Santi Bartolomeo ed Alessandro dei Bergamaschi (1731-35). The fountain in the Piazza (1577) was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII from Giacomo Della Porta who was assisted by Rocco De Rossi. In 1830 it was restored, and had two sets of dolphins side by side, with tails entwined, sculpted by Achille Stocchi, set at either end of the long basin. The central sculpture was then substituted with a smaller sculpture and spray:

Head west on Piazza Colonna toward Via dei Bergamaschi, continue onto Via della Colonna Antonina and turn right onto Piazza di Monte Citorio. It is named after the Monte Citorio, one of the minor hills of Rome. The piazza contains the Obelisk of Montecitorio and the Palazzo Montecitorio. The Obelisk of Montecitorio (Italian: Obelisco di Montecitorio) is an ancient Egyptian, red granite obelisk  (595-589 BC) from Heliopolis. Brought to Rome in 10 BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus.It is 21.79 metres high, and 33.97 metres including the base and the globe. In the background (north) is the Palazzo Montecitorio, the Italian Chamber of Deputies building. You can use the restroom of Colonna Palace Hotel - in the square.

After using the luxury services of Colonna palace Hotel we head to a Gelateria which is a Roman legend for tens of years - the Giolitti, Via Uffici del Vicario 40. Head west on Piazza di Montecitorio toward Via degli Uffici del Vicario and turn left onto Via degli Uffici del Vicario. There is no place, around the globe, which gets the “Best ice cream anywhere in the world” title more than this "institute". It makes the most amazing smooth, flavored ice cream you have had anywhere (even in the USA).  Usually, Giolitti is very crowded and is also visited during guided tours. You've to wait along long queue. We've been there, around 11.00 and it was... empty.  Loads of amazing flavors. Huge portions. Price is fine for what you get. It's euro2.50 for a 2-scoops cone. Pay at the counter before going to the Gelato bar to choose your ice cream. 

We return to Piazza Colonna and Via del Corso and enter the eastern side of the Colonna square - the Galleria Alberto Sordi. It was constructed, as Galleria Colonna  and was built in 1914 on the site of Palazzo Piombino. The building is in the Art Nouveau style:

Zara - in Galleria Alberto Sordi:

We walk further north in Via del Corso. We pass Via di S.Claudio on our right. In the next cross-roads we turn LEFT to Via del Parlamento and to Piazza del Parlamento - a formless square. Here we see, again, the Palazzo Montecittorio or Palazzo Parlamento (its front side):

Piazza del Parlamento - Banca del Campania building on the north side of the square:

We return to Via del Corso and turn left to continue walking northward along the street. We pass Via della Vite on our right. Now, we arrive to three parallel, consecutive, famous roads, all of them ON OUR RIGHT, all of them leading to the Spanish Square (piazza di Spagna): (from south to north): Frattina, Borgognona and Condotti. All the three are very luxurious, dotted with boutiques and shops of the most famous designers in the world: Gucci, Armani, Dior etc'.  If we take Via dei Condotti, for example, we 'll pass grandiose shops of: Max mara, Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Biagiotti Group, Bulgari, Gucci and Dior.

Note: at the cross - roads of Via dei Condotti and Via Belsiana - we'll turn RIGHT to Via Belsiana to make a short detour at Piazza S.Silvestro and have LUNCH at Via della Mercede (see later). When you walk along Via dei Condotti and you cross Via Bocca di Leone - turn right or left for a few minutes to appreciate the pricey boutiques along this road as well. Continuing along Via dei Condotti (noth-east), at No. 86 (on your left) you see Antico Caffè Greco (or, simply, Cafe Greco). It is an historic landmark café which opened in 1760. It is perhaps the best known and oldest bar in Rome. Within Italy only Caffè Florian in Venice (established in 1720) is older. Historic figures including Goethe, Byron, Franz Liszt, Keats, Henrik Ibsen, Hans Christian Andersen, Felix Mendelssohn, Stendhal, Wagner and many others have had coffee there. Today, it is a central hub writers, politicians, artists and notable people in Rome.

Wherever you are now - return to the cross - roads of Via dei Condotti and Via Belsiana. Turn EAST (RIGHT - with your back to Via del Corso) to Via Belsiana to make a short detour at Piazza S.Silvestro and have LUNCH at Via della Mercede at a budget, descent pizzeria/restaurant. Head SOUTH on Via Belsiana toward Vicolo Belsiana, turn right onto Via Frattina, turn left onto Via del Gambero, turn left onto Piazza di San Silvestro. The Basilica of Saint Sylvester the First is also known as San Silvestro in Capite. It is located on Piazza San Silvestre, on the corner of Via del Gambero and the Via della Mercede, and stands adjacent to the central Post Office, while across the Piazza stands Santi Claudio e Andrea dei Borgognoni. Built in the 8th century. It is the National church of Great Britain. The Latin words "in capite" refers to the canonical title of Pope Sylvester the First, to which in capite means in First, in Chief, or in Head. By honorific coincidence, the basilica is also famous for enshrining a fragmented head purported to be Saint John the Baptist, putatively kept as a relic, in a chapel to the left of the entrance. The main reason of visiting this church - is its charming courtyard and its handsome tower.

With your face to the Basilica and your back to the Piazza turn RIGHT (EAST) in Via della Mercede. At No. 46/47 (on your right) there is budget restaurant (not easy to find in the vicinity of Via dei Condotti...). Pizza House / Pizza a Taglio. We had lunch there, twice, and enjoyed the quality of the food, the generosity of the portions and the prices. Main portion of 1/4 chicken with a side-dish  and cold water - 6 euros.

Continue walking eastward in Via della Mercede until it meets Via di Sant'Andrea delle Fratte. Turn LEFT in Via di Sant'Andrea delle Fratte - to arrive to PIazza di Spagna at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. It is one of the most famous squares of Rome. It owes its name to the Palazzo di Spagna, seat of the Embassy of Spain. Lovely place to go at sunset. For restroom: with your face to the steps -  Babbingtons on the Left and Maccas on the right.

In the middle of the square is the famous Fontana della Barcaccia, dating to the beginning of the Baroque age. It is so named because it is in the shape of a half-sunken ship with water overflowing its bows. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII and was completed in 1627 by Pietro Bernini and his son Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The shape was chosen because, prior to the river walls being built, the Tiber often flooded and in 1598 there was a particularly bad flooding and the Piazza di Spagna was flooded up to a metre. Once the water withdrew, a boat was left behind in the square.

On spring 2014 the fountain was under repair and cleaning. A depressing sight and real disappointment.

The spectacular 135-step Spanish Steps were  inaugurated by Pope Benedict XIII during the 1725 Jubilee. They were built in order to connect the Bourbon Spanish embassy (down) (from which the square takes its name) to the Church of Trinità dei Monti (up). They were designed by Alessandro Specchi and Francesco De Sanctis after long discussions about how to urbanize the steep slope on the side of the Pincian Hill in order to connect it to the Trinità dei Monti church. The final key was the one proposed by Francesco De Sanctis: a great staircase decorated with many garden-terraces where the scenic effects increase more and more while approaching to it. In effect, the creation of long, deep perspectives culminating in monumental wings or backdrops was typical of the great Baroque architecture. The last time the Spanish Steps were restored - was in year 1995. it's worth climbing the 135 steps to the top for a nice view of the city. It is the widest staircase in Europe and still it feels like it's not big enough for the amount of people who congregate there. Lots of people hanging around, many people like to go and sit on the steps at night after dinner. There are many sellers (who do not understand the word "NO") trying to give roses away and say they are free and then when you have taken them will ask you for money and they can be quite aggressive when you dismiss them so just try to walk past them (the same holds for Piazza di Popolo). From the base of the steps, the view is wonderful with azaleas placed throughout and the height of it all. BTW, Go up the steps and turn right and there is another flight of steps almost identical but not as wide and nobody sits there:

Spanish Steps from Via dei Condotti:

Spanish Steps and Trinita del Monti Church:

At the right (east) corner of the Spanish Steps there is the house of the English poet John Keats, who lived there until his death in 1821. In November 1820, the English poet John Keats, who was dying of tuberculosis, came to Rome at the urging of friends and doctors who hoped that the warmer climate might improve his health. Nowadays it has been changed into a museum dedicated to him and his friend Percy Shelley, full of books and memorabilia of English Romanticism. The English poet John Keats could hear the sound of the fountain's water flowing soothingly from his deathbed. The museum houses one of the world's most extensive collections of memorabilia, letters, manuscripts, and paintings relating to Keats and Shelley, as well as Byron, Wordsworth, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Oscar Wilde, and others. It is located on the second floor of the building situated just to the south of the base of the Spanish Steps. Open: Monday to Saturday 10.00 to 13.00 and 14.00 to 18.00, Sunday: Closed. The museum is open on most holidays (Italian and English). The museum is closed on the following days: 8 December, 23-31 December, 1 January. Admission prices: Adults (up to the age of 65) €5.00, uUnder 18s and over 65s €4.00:

At the left corner there is the Babington's tea room, founded in 1893. The shop was founded in 1893 by Isabel Cargill and Anne Marie Babington, two English women, with the intention of catering for the many English-speaking people in Rome. At the time of the founding of Babington's, tea in Italy could be bought only in pharmacies. The interiors are in the late 19th century style. The food is mostly traditional English fare:

The Palazzo di Propaganda Fide (in English : Palace of the Propagation of the Faith) is at the southern end of Piazza di Spagna. Its southern facade is in front of the basilica Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, whose cupola and the bell were the work of Borromini. The main facade was created by Bernini (1644), and the front side of the via di Propaganda by Borromini (1646). This setting aside of Bernini's work was a request of Pope Innocent X, who preferred Borromini's style. The work was completed in 1667:

After climbing the 135-138 steps we arrive to Piazza Trinita' dei Monti and Trinita' dei Monti church. A lovely, famous, little, French church on top of the historic Spanish steps, with a beautiful view of Rome from the top. A must visit if you have the chance. After walking up the many stairs to reach the top of the Spanish Steps, the atmosphere in the church is romantic and the view is breathtaking.

A very peaceful place. Worthwhile to visit the small church while the Mass is held. The acoustic is really good, much better than in the big Basilicas and the Chorals are really splendid.

Piazza Trinita dei Monti - view of Villa Borghese park:

Trinita dei Monti church interior- Cesare Nebbia - Christ falling under the Cross (1589 - 1590):

We descend the Spanish Steps the whole way down to Piazza di Spagna. Take the north-west end of the Piazza and continue onto Via del Babuino for 90 m. and TAKE GLANCE AT the left onto Via Vittoria (connects between Via del Corso and Via del Babuino. Very quiet and relaxing road: a total contrast to all other roads around. You may try the Il Gabriello restaurant at Via Vittoria, 51: good food, not pricey (but not cheap), friendly, polite and tranquile.

We continue north-west along Via del Babuino - heading to Piazza del Popolo. Not at No. 150 A the Canova Tadolini sculpting atelier:

Via del Babuino was, once, very aristocratic street but it had been replaced by other roads arounds - one of them is Via Margutta. From Via del Babuino turn RIGHT toward Via dell'Orto di Napoli and, then, turn LEFT onto Via Margutta.  Via Margutta originally was home to modest craftsmen, workshops and stables, but now hosts many art galleries and fashionable restaurants. After the film Roman Holiday became popular, Via Margutta developed into an exclusive neighborhood, where various famous people lived, such as film director Federico Fellini. You'll appreciate walking along this road:

Head northwest on Via Margutta toward Vicolo del Babuino (250 m), continue (LEFT, WEST) onto Via della Fontanella (80 m) and turn right onto Via del Corso to face this house at No. 522:

Continue north-west along Via del Corso - arriving, at last to Piazza del Popolo. A power spot, a one-of-a-kind majestic experience. The name in modern Italian literally means "People's Square". For centuries, the Piazza del Popolo was a place for public executions, the last of which took place in 1826. The piazza lies inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, once the Porta Flaminia of ancient Rome, and now called the Porta del Popolo. Beyond this gate lies the Piazzale Flaminio and the start of the Via Flaminia. The gateway was reworked to give its current appearance by Bernini for Pope Alexander VII in 1655, to welcome Queen Christina of Sweden to Rome following her conversion to Roman Catholicism and her abdication:

Looking from the north (illustration, right), three streets branch out from the piazza into the city, forming the so-called "trident" (il Tridente): the Via del Corso in the centre; the Via del Babuino to the left (opened in 1525 as the Via Paolina) and the Via di Ripetta (opened by Leo X in 1518 as the Via Leonina) to the right. Piazza del Popolo was the starting point of the Via Flaminia, the road to Ariminum (modern-day Rimini) and the most important route to the north. The layout of the piazza today was designed in neoclassical style between 1811 and 1822 by the architect Giuseppe Valadier. An Egyptian obelisk of Sety I (later erected by Rameses II) from Heliopolis stands in the centre of the Piazza. Three sides of the obelisk were carved during the reign of Sety I and the fourth side, under Rameses II. The obelisk, known as the obelisco Flaminio or the Popolo Obelisk, is the second oldest and one of the tallest obelisks in Rome (some 24 m high, or 36 m including its plinth). The obelisk was brought to Rome in 10 BC by order of Augustus and originally set up in the Circus Maximus. It was re-erected here in the piazza by the architect-engineer Domenico Fontana in 1589 as part of the urban plan of Sixtus V:

The twin churches (the chiese gemelle) of Santa Maria dei Miracoli (1681) and Santa Maria in Montesanto (1679), begun by Carlo Rainaldi and completed by Bernini and Carlo Fontana, define the junctions of the three roads pouring onto the square. Close observation of the twin churches reveals that they are not exact copies of one another, but they vary in their details and in their symmetrical balance in Baroque fashion.

Until year 2012 the Piazza del Popolo was congested with traffic. Today, it is a pedestrian zone full with musicians playing, performance artists, rose sellers, bubble blowing, Segways rolling and benches to sit on. Very often with big screens set-ups and evening's music activities:

Fountains by Giovanni Ceccarini (1822–23), with matching compositions of a central figure flanked by two attendant figures, stand on each side of the piazza to the west and east, flanked by neoclassical statues of The Seasons (1828). The Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) stands on the west side, Neptune with his trident is accompanied by two dolphins:

Rome between the Tiber and the Aniene (Fontana della dea di Roma) on the east side, against the steep slope of the Pincio: Dea Roma armed with lance and helmet, and in front is the she-wolf feeding Romulus and Remus:

There's yet another church at the Piazza del Popolo, the Santa Maria del Popolo. It is not easy to recognise this immense Baislica... With your face to the Porta del Popolo (the wall's gate), to the north, it is on the right side of the square, of the gate and the wall. The cathedral is hemmed in between Porta del Popolo (the ancient Porta Flaminia) and the Pincio hill.

It is located right near the Porta del Popolo where it was built in 1477 at the site of an eleventh-century chapel. It is in the small building on the left of the photo below:

In 1099, a chapel was built by Pope Paschal II to Our Lady. The chapel was enlarged and became a church by will of Pope Gregory IX in 1235, and was given to the Augustinian friars, who still oversee it, in 1250.Santa Maria del Popolo was reconstructed by Baccio Pontelli and Andrea Bregno in 1472-1477 on the orders of Pope Sixtus IV and was given to the congregation of Lombard friars in Rome. In 1655-60 the façade was modified by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who was asked by Pope Alexander VII to update the Renaissance church to a more modern Baroque style.

The church contains many impressive works of art, including Rome's oldest stained-glass windows. There are works by several famous artists for example Raphael, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Caravaggio, Alessandro Algardi, Pinturicchio and Donato Bramante. The most famous are two of Caravaggio's most powerful works.

The apse was designed by Bramante. The oldest stained glass window in Rome can be found here, made by French artist Guillaume de Marcillat. Pinturicchio decorated the vault with frescoes, including the Coronation of the Virgin. The tombs of Cardinals Ascanio Sforza and Girolamo Basso della Rovere, both made by Andrea Sansovino, can also be found in the apse:

The Chigi chapel - created by Raphael - and the Della Rovere chapel - embellished with fifteenth-century frescoes - are particularly noteworthy.

The Basso Della Rovere Chapel was built by Girolamo Basso della Rovere in 1471-84. The painted decoration is attributed to Pinturicchio and his workshop. The highlights of the chapel are the great fresco of the Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints Augustine, Francis, Anthony of Padua and a Holy Monk above the altar, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary:

Chigi Chapel: Banker Agostino Chigi commissioned Raphael to design and decorate a funerary chapel for him in 1513. The chapel is a treasure trove of Italian Renaissance and Baroque art and is considered among the most important monuments in the basilica. The dome of the centralized octagonal chapel is decorated with Raphael's mosaics, the Creation of the World. In the central medaillon we can see God in the act of creating the World. The statues of Jonah and Elijah were carved by Lorenzetto. The chapel was later completed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Fabio Chigi. His additions include the sculptures of Habakkuk and the Angel and Daniel and the Lion.

Habbakuk and the Angel by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Agostino Chigi's pyramidal wall tomb:

Jonah by Lorenzetto, Chigi Chapel:

The Cybo Chapel (Cappella Cybo) is the second side chapel in the right-hand aisle of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. The chapel is regarded one of the most significant sacral monuments erected in Rome in the last quarter of the 17th century.

The chapel with the altarpiece of Carlo Maratta:

The Cerasi Chapel holds two famous canvases painted by Caravaggio - Crucifixion of St. Peter and Conversion on the Way to Damascus (1600–01). These are probably the most important works of art in the basilica. Situated between the two works of Caravaggio is the altarpiece Assumption of the Virgin by Annibale Carracci. The famous chapel is packed with tourists equipped with cameras. It is, most of the time, darkened. You have to wait until one of the visitors will donate a coin - for lighting up the small chapel.

Crucifixion of St. Peter:

Conversion on the Way to Damascus:

After visiting Basilica santa maria del Popolo we exit the cathedral, turn LEFT (EAST) and start climbing the Il Pincio hill: first, the stairs up then the road of Vialle Gabriele D'Annuncio.

The sight of the Piazza del Popolo from the top of the stairs is superb:

Note: there is a restroom on the left side, on top of the stairs - but it closes at 16.40 exactly...

The Pincian Hill (Ii Pincio) lies to the north of the Quirinal, overlooking the Campus Martius (Camp Mars). It was outside the original boundaries of the ancient city of Rome, and was not one of the Seven hills of Rome, but it lies within the wall built by Roman Emperor Aurelian between 270 and 273.

After climbing the stairs we arrive to Piazza Napolone I. The Piazza Napoleone was set from a distance, as Napoleon never visited Rome. It is a grand open space that looks out over Piazza del Popolo, also laid out by Valadier, and provides views to the west, and of the skyline of Rome beyond:

View from Piazza Napoloene I to Vittorio Emmanuele monument:

In the gardens of il Pincio, it was Giuseppe Mazzini's urging that lined the garden paths with busts of notable Italians. Several villas and their gardens still occupy the hill, including the Borghese gardens, linked to Il Pincio by a pedestrian bridge that crosses the via del Muro Torto.The Muro Torto is the winding stretch of the Aurelian Wall, pierced by the Porta Pinciana:

Views of Piazza del POpolo from Il Pincio hill gardens:

Views of Rome from Il Pincio hill gardens:

Statue under the lookout balcony in Il Pincio hill:

After spending one hour walking around the hill, gardens, soaking up Rome views we go down to city river - the Tiber. To walk down find the  Viale Adamo Mickievicz and start walking down to the city along this road. Viale Adamo Mickievicz turns slightly left and becomes Viale della Trinità dei Monti (230 m). Slight right onto Via di San Sebastianello (230 m), turn left onto Piazza di Spagna (58 m), turn right to stay on Piazza di Spagna (38 m), continue onto Via delle Carrozze (280 m), turn left onto Via del Corso (75 m) and turn right onto Via Tomacelli. You'll face Chiesa (church) San Carlo al Corso on your right with pretty fountains around:

You can continue to Ponte Cavour (5-7 minutes walk) - but, better catch a bus along Via Tomacelli to your accommodation in Rome.

Piazza Venezia, Vittorio Emanuele Monument, the Campidoglio, Eataly.

Spencer Peers


1/2 day or 1 day - From Piazza Venezia to Piazza de Campidoglio. Evening in Eataly.

Start: Piazza Venezia. Subway Line B: Colosseo. Buses: H, 30, 40, 60, 62, 63, 64, 70, 81, 85, 87, 95, 119, 160, 170, 175, 186, 271, 492, 571, 628, 630, 716, 810, 850.

End   : Piazza Venezia.

Orientation: A circular route. Our focal point, today, is one of the most impressive squares and viewpoints in the world. You can combine this itinerary with: The Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill, the Colesseum (only ONE of them), the Imperial Forums and Markets tour or with the Eataly mall (see Tip below). In case you decide to visit the Capitoline Museums and/or make in-depth visit in the Vittorio Emanuele Monument and the Santa Maria in Aracoeli Basilica - this itinerary will extend into one full, impressive day. Again, exploring the area in detail can take an entire day (or more) but if you are pressed for time, admiring the area and its structures can be a visually fulfilling as well. Just don't do it in a very hot day in summer, the Roman heat can be very punishing.

We start in Piazza d'Aracoeli:  a square near Piazza Venezia, placed at the base of the Capitoline Hill. It is in the south-west corner of Piazza Venezia. The fountain, in this square, built in 1589 by Andrea Brasca, Pietreo Gucci and Pace Naldini on a design by Giacomo Della Porta, one time rose on two steps repeating the lines of the lower basin and was surrounded by a logline receiving the water. In 1800 the steps were removed and replaced by little columns. The fountain has two basins with different shapes; the smaller one sustains a group of putti pouring water from a vase.

On the WEST side of the square stands Palazzo Muti-Bussi. The palace - in possession of the family Muti-Bussi, was built by Giacomo della Porta about in 1585. It has six façades. The big front door of the main entrance is decorated with a scroll bearing the saltire mauls of the Mutis coat of arms and lion heads. At the first floor, over the entrance door, is a balcony with a beautiful view over Piazza d'Aracoeli and the majestic staircase and relevant façade of the church with the same name (see below). Recent archeological investigations located ancient Roman walls in the cellars of the palace.

Nearby, also west to Piazza d'Aracoeli stands Basilica San Marco (48 Piazza San Marco). Built in year AD 336, rebuilt several times until 1744. Architect(s): Leon Battista Alberti, Giuliano da Maiano, Carlo Maderno. Artists: Isaia da Pisa, Antonio Canova, Pietro da Cortona. The side entrance is through the Palazzo Venezia. The early 4th-century Basilica di San Marco stands over the house where St Mark the Evangelist is said to have stayed while in Rome. Its main attraction is the golden 9th-century apse mosaic. The Basilica was probably founded by Pope St Mark in 336 in honor of his own patron, st Mark the Evangelist, and if so it is one of Rome's oldest churches. The brick bell-tower was added to the right hand corner of the nave just inside the entrance in 1154, and can be seen peeping over the façade. It has three storeys above the nave roof, separated by dentillate brick cornices and with an arcade of three arches separated by white marble columns on each face. Also, the fabric is decorated with roundels of dark green serpentine.

Madama Lucrezia is one of the "talking statues" of Rome, and is located next to the basilica entrance. It was once the bust of a statue of the goddess Isis, to whom a temple was dedicated in Rome not far from its current location:

The inside of the church is clearly Baroque. The apse mosaics, dating to Pope Gregory IV, show the Pope, with the squared halo of a living person, offering a model of the church to Christ, in the presence of Mark the Evangelist, Pope Saint Mark and other saints. The wooden ceiling, with the emblem of Pope Paul II, is one of only two original 15th century wooden ceilings in Rome, together with the one at Santa Maria Maggiore.
The tomb of Leonardo Pesaro (1796) by Antonio Canova.

In the portico are several early Christian grave stones, as well as the gravestone of Vannozza dei Cattanei, the mistress of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia.

In front of the Basilica San Marco you see Fontanella della Pigna. This little fountain was planned in 1927 by Pietro Lombardi as decoration for the Pigna quarter. That is why it was originally named after the colossal vertex now housed in the Vatican. The monument is characterized by a stylised base. The water is collected in small basins protected by four small columns:

THe Basilica San Marco is, actually, incorporated into the mass of the Palazzo Venezia (Via del Plebiscito, 118) complex. The Palazzo faces Piazza Venezia

and Via del Plebiscito.

It currently houses the Basilica and the the National Museum of the Palazzo Venezia. The Palazzo di Venezia (formerly Palace of St. Mark). The original structure of this great architectural complex consisted of a modest medieval house intended as the residence of the cardinals appointed to the church of San Marco. In 1469 it became a residential papal palace, having undergone a massive extension, and in 1564, Pope Pius IV, to win the sympathies of the Republic of Venice, gave the mansion to the ambassadors of La Serenissima on condition that a part of the building should be kept as a residence for the cardinals—the Apartment Cibo—and that the Venetian Republic should provide for the building's maintenance and future restoration. The Museo di Palazzo Venezia, housed in the building, contains galleries of art, predominantly pottery, tapestry, statuary from the early Christian era up to early Renaissance. Opening Times: Tuesday/Sunday 08.30 - 19.30, Closed on Monday. Ticket office close at 18.30. Tel. 0039 06 678013. Tickets: Full price € 5,00, Reduced € 2,50 (- EU citizens between 18 and 25 years old, - EU full-time public school teachers). Free admission: - EU citizens under 18 and over 65 years old, - EU students and teachers of Arts, History of Arts or Architecture courses, - ICOM members, - EU schools with teachers by reservation. From 1 June 2014 - photos allowed.

Benito Mussolini had his office in the Palazzo Venezia in the Sala del Mappamondo, and used its balcony overlooking the Piazza Venezia to deliver many of his most notable speeches, such as the declaration of the Italian Empire, 9 May 1936, to crowds gathered in the Piazza Venezia below. In late 2010 Mussolini's unfinished "most secret" bunker was discovered beneath the building. In 1910, due to the erection of the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the Italian Government enlarged the Piazza Venezia and built a replica of the Palazzo Venezia in yellow brick on the opposite side of the square. This building hosts now the offices of the Assiscurazioni Generali di Venezia.

Just one sentence about this museum:  Worth a visit ONLY if you like collections of small bronze figures as well as porcelain and ceramics. In other words: NOT INTERESTING. No one particular exhibit stands out.

From the National Museum of the Palazzo Venezia head north-east on Via del Plebiscito toward Vicolo Doria, 90 m. Turn right onto Piazza Venezia
130 m. Turn left onto Piazza della Madonna di Loreto, 53 m. Please obey the cross-light and be careful in crossing these bustling roads around Piazza venezia. Turn left to stay on Piazza della Madonna di Loreto.
Vittorio Emanuele Monument / The Vittoriano will be on the left. Also known as Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland). Opening hours  MON-SUN 09.30 - 16.30 (last entrance hour 16.00):

Statue of Victor Emmanuel II (on the right - One of the Quadrigae):

A marble monument around the corner on Piazza Venezia. The Vittoriano, a huge white monument is built of pure white marble from Botticino, Italy, and was erected in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of unified Italy. It was inaugurated in 1911 and then completed in 1935. The construction was a bit controversial, as a large area of Capitoline Hill was destroyed along with some historic areas. The interior of the monument has been closed to the public for many years. This monument has very small reviews in most guidebooks but is actually really beautiful and amazing to visit. The sheer size of the monument dedicated to the first King of Italy is amazing. You can go in for FREE and the views from the balconies stretch quite far. To date, the Vittoriano is the largest monument in white marble Botticino (Brescia) ever created, and features stairways, Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas:

View to Piazza Venezia:

View to Cathedral of Gesu:

View to Palazzo Venezia:

You can then pay 7 Euros to travel in a lift to the very top and from here you can see the whole of the Rome from the Vatican to the Colosseum. The (guided) visit to the roof lasts about 90 minutes and costs 7 euros. A glass elevator will bring you to the top of the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument.This superb view is in front of you at the moment of arrival. It's really breathtaking panorama. Colosseum is on the right. The ticket office is next to the elevator after the bar just behind the Memorial site. 

The entrance to the elevator up to the top roof:

View from the Vittoriano on the Colosseum:

At the foot of the Statue of Victor Emmanuel II is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, inaugurated in 1921. Guards of honor, alternatingly selected from the marine, infantry and air divisions, stand on guard here day and night.

inside the bombastic building you can't avoid the Monumento neo-imperial grandiosity. So enjoy the patiently-collected (but, rather dry) Institute of the History of the Risorgimento contents. It contains a vast documentation about Italy's struggle for independence from the 18th century to the WWI:

Columns of the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele ll in Rome:

Completing our visit in the front court / sqaure of the monument (facing Piazza Venezia), the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Museum - we trace back to the extensive back balcony with its wonderful views on the south and south-west of the Citta Storico (Palazzo Vanezia, Gianicolo Hill, Teatro de Marchelo, Capitol Hill, the Roman Forum, The Trajan Column and Basilica Ulpia. the Monument itself):

The top of the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument is also connected to the Capitoline Square, saving you another climb of the Capitoline Hill.

Note: if you come from Piazza Venezia - this your itinerary heading to the Capitoline Hill. It is 7 minutes, 450 m. to Piazza del Campidoglio. Head south on Piazza della Madonna di Loreto toward Via dei Fori Imperiali,,8 m.  Turn LEFT onto Via dei Fori Imperiali, 110 m. Turn RIGHT onto Via di San Pietro in Carcere, 65 m. Slight right to stay on Via di San Pietro in Carcere, 220 m. Turn right onto Piazza del Campidoglio, 50 m. Now, Now, the Capitoline Hill can be reached from the foot of the hill by ascending the majestic Cordonata stairs. The views from the top of the stairs are stunning, but its a lot of stairs to walk:

One can also ascend the far-less steep steps of the Capitoline just to the right of the church:

The Capitoline Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome. Capitoline Hill is the smallest but highest of the Seven Hills of Rome. Legend claims that Rome was founded on Capitoline Hill by Romulus in 753 B.C. Romulus and his brother, Remus, were children of the god Mars and Silvia, the princess of Alba Longa who had been forced to be a vestal (young virgin girls who were guardians of the Vesta's temple). The king of Alba Longa, uncle of Romulus and Remus, attempted to kill them, but Silvia left them to fend for themselves, in the hopes that they would survive. According to the legend, they were "adopted" by a she-wolf, who nurtured them. Years later, Romulus brought together outlaws to attack the Sabine and kidnap their women and by doing so founded Rome. During ancient times, the Capitoline hill was covered with temples facing toward the Roman Rorum. From 500 to 1540, the hill was in ruins and all that remained was a pasture for goats and other animals. The Capitoline contains few ancient ground-level ruins, as they are almost entirely covered up by Medieval and Renaissance palaces (now housing the Capitoline Museums) that surround a piazza, a significant urban plan designed by Michelangelo. Ancient seat of the most important temple of the state cult and symbol of Rome “caput mundi”, the Campidoglio has always maintained its importance in the life of the city as centre of the City Government since the 12th century and with the presence of the Capitoline Museums, the most ancient in the world.

 Santa Maria in Aracoeli Basilica (St Mary of the altar in the sky) is accessed from the Campidoglio or from the Vittorio Emmanuele Monument. The Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven  is a titular basilica in Rome, located on the highest summit of the Campidoglio. Note: The church is located right next to Vittorio Emanule Monument and can be easily accessed from the Monument. This church is tucked behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The church is not big, but very old and full of beautiful decorations and details. One can also ascend the far-less steep steps of the Capitoline just to the right of the church.

Note: You can attend services at Santa Maria in Aracoeli Monday to Saturdays at 8am; Sundays at 8am and noon. The Choir is out if this World.

The entrance to the Basilica:

The compartmented ceiling was gilded and painted (finished 1575), to thank the Blessed Virgin for the victory. This coffered wooden ceiling sustains comparison with those of the great Basilicas of Rome like Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo fuori le Mura. The ceiling was a gift of Marcantonio Colonna who fought against the Turks at the victorious battle of Lepante in 1571:

The church is built as a Nave and two aisles that are divided by Roman columns, all different, taken from diverse antique monuments:

Main Altar of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli:

Near the main the Altar:

Memorial Window with two angels symbolizing Popes PIus II and Gregory XIII:

Among its numerous treasures are Pinturicchio's 15th-century frescoes depicting the life of Saint Bernardino of Siena in the Bufalini Chapel, the first chapel on the right. Other features are the wooden ceiling, the inlaid cosmatesque floor, a Transfiguration painted on wood by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta, the tombstone of Giovanni Crivelli by Donatello, the tomb of Cecchino dei Bracci, designed by his friend Michelangelo, and works by other artists like Pietro Cavallini (of his frescoes only one survives), Benozzo Gozzoli and Giulio Romano. It houses also a Madonna and a sepulchral monument by Arnolfo di Cambio in the transept.

Central fresco by Pinturicchio in the S. Bernardino Chapel (1486):

Another fresco of Pinturicchio in the Bufalini Chapel:

In the lunette above the side entrance of Santa Maria in Aracoeli Jacopo Torriti has left us a beautiful Madonna and Child:

Statue of Pope Gregory XIII:

Another picture in the church:

Chapel of Saint Helena:

Look for the stained glass window with Barberini bees and other elements:

The church was also famous in Rome for the wooden statue of the infant Jesus (Santo Bambino), carved in the 15th century of olive wood coming from the Gethsemane garden and covered with valuable ex-votos. Many people of Rome believed in the power of this statue. The statue was stolen in February 1994, and never recovered.[citation needed] Nowadays, a copy is present in the church. It is housed in its own chapel by the sacristy. At midnight Mass on Christmas Eve the image is brought out to a throne before the high altar and unveiled at the Gloria. Until Epiphany the jewel-encrusted image resides in the Nativity crib in the left nave.

Statue of Leo X in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli:

Statue of Paul III in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli:

Exiting the Basilica - enjoy, again the marvelous views from the top of the stairs, leading to the church, and from the shining marble balcony connecting it with the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument:

There is easy access (without using the stairs up and down) from Vittorio Emanuele II Monument (the back side), the Santa Maria in Aracoeli Basilica and the Campidoglio. But, here, we recommend using the TWO systems of stairs (down the steep one and up the graceful, more comfortable one) for soaking more spectacular views and sights of Rome and the Capitoline Hill.

We prefer to go down through the steep 153 stairs down. The ceremonial ramp and staircase designed by Michelangelo, passing a monument (on the left) to Cola di Rienzo, the 14th century tribune of the people, and statues of the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux), the Emperor Constantine and his son Constantine II. Enjoy the spectacular sights all around:

and we start climbing the more convenient stairway (back to the top) of the Capitoline Square. Again, enjoy the convenient walk up and the vibrant atmosphere along the stairs and the changing views of the Capitoline Hill - the closer we approach the top of the hill:

The Piazza Campidoglio square, considered one of the most elegant in Europe. In 1536, Pope Paul III decided to restore the entire city to receive the Emperor Charles Quint, whose army devastated Rome in 1527. The square was designed by Michelangelo in 1540 who created the splendid access ramp, new facades for the preexisting buildings (Palazzo Senatorio at the centre and the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the right), and added the Palazzo Nuovo on the left, giving it the trapezoidal shape that never fails to communicate a sense of harmony and equilibrium to visitors. Together, Palazzo Nuovo and Palazzo dei Conservatori house the Capitoline Museums, while Palazzo Senatorio is home to Rome's city council. The orientation of the square helps us understand the evolution of the city that at Michelangelo’s time had already turned its back to the remains of ancient Rome, the place of the past, of a historical phase that was concluded, to face the new centre of power and rule of the day, the Vatican. The original of the bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius, whose copy is placed at the centre of the square is preserved in the Museum and escaped destruction in later times only because the personage on horseback was identified with Constantine, the first Christian emperor.

We are in Piaza Campidoglio (the Capitoline Square). On the left: Palazzo Nuevo (housing one of the Capitoline Museums). Palazzo Nuovo was built in the XVII century under the guidance of Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo. The smaller building of Capitoline Museums was opened to the public in 1734 by Pope Clement XII. This Palace contains mostly fine selections of Greek and Roman sculptures as Discobolus. Portrait busts of Greek politicians, scientists and poets can be seen in Hall of the Philosophers:

on the left: Palazzo Nuevo. In the centre stands the Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue (replica). The statue, which had been badly damaged by air pollution, was restored in 1990 and protected against further decay, and is exhibited at the Museo Capitolino. This work, one of the largest achievements of antique sculpture, symbolizes strength and peace. The Emperor has his right hand raised in a gesture of peace, and under the raised right hoof of each horse was originally the figure of a defeated king with bound hands:

Palazzo Senatorio (Senatorial Palace) at the centre. The Palazzo dei Senatori, situated at the far end of the Piazza del Campidoglio, above the Forum, was built in the 16th century on the remains of the Tabularium, the record office of ancient Rome, and is now the seat of the Mayor and Municipal Council of the city. The double staircase leading up to the entrance was designed by Michelangelo, who also set up here two ancient statues of the river gods of the Nile and Tiber. In the center is a fountain with an ancient statue of Minerva, which was revered as an image of Rome. The facade is the work of Giacomo della Porta and Girolamo Rainaldi; the handsome bell-tower, modeled on a medieval campanile, was added by Martino Longhi between 1578 and 1582:

The Minerva fountain decorated with the sculptures of two river gods: Tiber and Nile - in front of Palazzo Senatorio. (right/1st - The Nile, left/2nd - the Tiber):

The Palazzo dei Conservatori, built by Giacomo della Porta in 1564-75 to the design of Michelangelo, contains reception rooms used by the municipality of Rome on ceremonial occasions, and also houses part of the Capitoline Museum. Notable exhibits in the museum include fragments of a colossal statue of the Emperor Constantine, 12m/40ft high, and two statues of captive Barbarian princes (in the courtyard); the Capitoline She-Wolf, an Etruscan work of the sixth century (the hindquarters were damaged by lightning in 65 B.C.; the figures of Romulus and Remus were added at the Renaissance); parts of the Fasti Consulares et Triumphales, a list of consuls and their victories; and the "Boy with a Thorn", a Hellenistic copy in bronze of a 5th century original. One room in the palace, the Sala delle Oche, is named after the geese whose cackling was said to have saved Rome from capture by the Gauls in 385 B.C. The palace also contains the Capitoline Picture Gallery (Pinacoteca Capitolina), eight rooms with paintings by Titian ("Baptism of Christ"), Tintoretto ("The Passion"), Caravaggio ("John the Baptist"), Rubens ("Romulus and Remus"), Veronese ("Rape of Europa"), Lorenzo Lotto ("Portrait of a Bowman") and Velázquez ("Portrait of a Man"). On the top floor of the Capitoline is one of the most popular restaurants in Rome. Not because of the food (which is typical museum food) but because of the great views.

The Capitoline Museum in Rome, founded by Pope Sixtus IV in 1471, is the oldest public art collection in Europe and has a rich stock of classical sculpture. In the Palazzo Nuova of the Capitoline Museum, built about 1650 on the model of the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the opposite side of the square, the following pieces of sculpture are outstanding: the "Dying Gaul", a Roman copy of the figure of a dying warrior from the victory monument erected by King Attalus of Pergamon in the third century B.C. after he had defeated the Galatians; the "Wounded Amazon", a copy of a work by Cresilas (fifth century B.C.); the "Capitoline Venus", a Roman copy of the Cnidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles; and two Hellenistic works, "Amor and Psyche" and the "Drunken Old Woman". Also of the greatest interest are the collections of 64 portrait heads of Roman Emperors and members of their families and 79 busts of Greek and Roman philosophers and scholars. The recently restored equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius stands behind glass in the courtyard of the Capitoline Museum. 

Capitoline Museums consist of two palaces, the entrance ticket is valid for both. Museum + Exhibitions (1564-2014 MICHELANGELO - A Universal Artist 27 May - 14 September 2014): Combined Ticket: - Adults: € 13,00; - Concessions: € 11,00. Roman Citizens only (by showing a vaild ID):
- Adults: € 11,00; - Concessions: € 9,00. The entry fee is not cheap. You can use the Roma Pass on too.

Beautiful building with a great collection of Roman statues, busts, art , tablets and other artifacts. Two of the best are the statue of the She-Wolf (Lupa Capitolina) (room 4) with Romulus and Remus. Capitoline Wolf, (Lupa Capitolina) on display at the Capitoline Museums. The sculpture is somewhat larger than life-size, standing 75 cm high and 114 cm long. The wolf is depicted in a tense, watchful pose, with alert ears and glaring eyes watching for danger. By contrast, the human twins - executed in a completely different style - are oblivious to their surroundings, absorbed by their suckling:

and the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius:

Bust of Augustus (Source: Wikipedia):

A Roman copy of the Cnidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles:

Head of emperor Constantine at the Capitoline Museum in Rome. Found in 1486 with the other eight fragments of the body visible in the courtyard (one hand, two feet, parts of the arms) in the small apse on the west side of the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum (Palazzo dei Conservatori, courtyard):

Bronze Statue of Innocent X  1645-50 by Alessandro Algardi (Hall of Horatii and Curiatii, Palazzo dei Conservatori):

Victory of Alexander the Great over Darius" 1635 by Pietro da Cortona (Room of the Triumphs, Palazzo dei Conservatori):

Statua di Amore e Psiche:

Pinacoteca Capitolina - Gallery of Pictures:

Veronese - Rape of Europe (room 3):

"St. John the Baptist", 1595, a masterpiece by Caravaggio (room of Saint Petronillia):

The museum collections are presented really well. There are many great works to see. The building itself is beautiful with amazing ceilings and decoration. There is a spectacular viewing terrace accessed via the cafe and will allow you to see right across Rome to the Vatican.

From the underground tunnel there is another viewing area overlooking the Forum.

From the Campidoglio, looking south-east - you see Via di San Pietro in Carcere and get a great birds eye view down onto the Roman Forum and Via dei Fori Imperiali. With your face to Palazzo Senatorio and Minerva Fountain, turn left and after a few steps you reach the terrace looking out over the valley of the Roman Forum:

Your way down to the Forum is past a public drinking fountain with some of the sweetest water in Rome and the She-Wolf statue:

and you'll find a stair that winds down along the Forum wall, passing close by the upper half of the Arch of Septimius Severus (great for close-up perusal of its reliefs), and then out around to the Forum's main entrance.

From here you can easily continue to the Imperial Forums and Markets, the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill, the Colosseum, - or head back to Piazza Venezia.

Rome Colosseum,Imperial Forums and Markets, Fontana di Trevi

Spencer Peers


The Colosseum, Imperial Forums and Markets, Trevi Fountain.

Start: Colloseo Metro (line B, the blue line):

End   : Fontana di Trevi.

Duration: 3/4 - 1 day.

Orientation: easy-pace walking day. We combined the Trevi Fountain after spending half a day with historical, archeological sites. The way from Piazza Venezia / Via dei Fori Imperiali or from the Imperial Markets/Forums to the Fountain is through atmospheric, typical Roman-character part of the Centro Storico: cobbled, narrow roads, picturesque piazzas and lanes with quiet and elegant houses and churches.

Note: the blog contains text and photos from a couple of days browsing Rome: 5/5/2014 and 9/5/2014. The photos indicate, incorrectly, year 2013.

Colosseum Opening hours:

Last Sunday of October to 15 February: 8.30 - last admission at 15.30 - exit at 16.30.

16 February to 15 March: 8.30 - last admission at 16.00 - exit at 17.00.

16 March to last Saturday of March: 8.30 - last admission at 16.30 - exit at 17.30.

Last Sunday of March to 31 August: 8.30 - last admission at 18.15 - exit at 19.15.

1 September to 30 September: 8.30 - last admission at 18.00 - exit at 19.00.

1 October to last Sunday of October: 8.30 - last admission at 17.30 - exit at 18.30.

Closed 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.

Colosseum Prices: Tickets can also be bought at the ticket offices of the Palatine Hill located in Via San Gregorio No. 30 and Piazza Santa Maria Nova No. 53, near the Via Sacra (200 metres from the Colosseum) and allow entrance to the Palatine Hill and to the Roman Forum as well.

Full price: 12 euros. Reduced Fee: 7 euros for European Union citizens between 18 and 24 years old and for European Union teachers. Free Entrance: Visitors 17 and under and European Union citizens over 65 years old. The combined ticket is valid for 2 consecutive days and includes: The Roman Forum, the palatine Hill and the Colosseum.

Audioguide: 5 euros, videoguide: 7 euros.

Pre purchased tickets can be of great advantage as line to get it can be very long.

Colosseum Tips:

+You buy a combined ticket (12 euros for Spring-Summer 2014) for the three highlights: The Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum. Do buy your ticket in the Forum (entrance opposite the Colosseum Metro station - in the Via Sacra) or in the Palatine Hill entrance (Via Gregorio, south-west to the Colosseum). The combo ticket is valid for all 3 sites, for TWO-CONSECUTIVE days. The queue for tickets in the Colosseum is huge. The queue for tickets in the Roman Forum is far smaller and the queue in the Palatine Hill is the shortest.

+We recommend "packaging" the Forum and the Palatine Hill for your first day and the Colosseum (and other Imperial forums and markets) - for the second consecutive day. You can, easily, pack all 3 sites - into one long (summer) day. If you leave the Colosseum for your second day - start with with the Colosseum in the morning and continue to the other forums and markets later. If you are doing all three sites in one day - leave the Colosseum for the late afternoon hours with the sunset special light. A special experience. In any case you stride into the Colosseum with your combo ticket, straight on, without waiting for buying tickets in the long queues. During the late afternoon hours you'll face less visitors, in the Colosseum - than all other parts of the day.

+ the visit in the Colosseum is the shortest one. The Forum deserves 3 1/2 - 5 hours, the Palatine Hill will require 2 1/2 - 4 hours and the Colosseum will require, at most, 2 hours.

+ Get there early. Have already pre-booked tickets online. Get there before 10.00 or else the entire place will in inundated with tour groups.

+ OR: Head over in the afternoon when the crowd will be less.

+ Recommend visiting 2-3 hours before sunset.

+ Guided tour allows you into other areas that are off bounds.

+ Underground tour tickets ( 2 euros) are purchased at the booth where audio-guides are hired. You get a chance to stand on the reconstructed section of the arena floor, walk underground to view the maze of tunnels and corridors of the Colosseum, and climb up to the third tier.

+ Tip for families with children: book your tickets in advance directly via the "co-op culture" website. You can book a group tour directly with their tour guide which is much cheaper than external conducted tours. Children are free and only pay a booking fee for the tour so 2 adults and 2 kids comes to 55 euros, including the tour of the underground area and 3rd level. These areas are restricted and you can't book them online so phone the booking line and do it in advance. They speak good English and charge your credit card in advance. You can then print out your booking confirmation and walk past the huge queues to the fast track ticket office to collect your tickets. The only disadvantage of directly booking the tour with the Colosseum is that they don't guide you round the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill but you can still enter those without additional charge with your combo ticket for 2-consecutive days.

+ Beware the pickpocketers.

+ The sight of Colosseum is amazing during the day and absolutely breathtaking at night.

+ The Colosseum is "decorated", for years, with scaffoldings around its exterior structure.

Colosseum Background: When in Rome do as the Romans do.... and go to the Colosseum. It is the largest amphitheatre not only in the city of Rome but in the world. The Flavian Amphitheatre, or, more commonly, the Colosseum, stands for monumentality. visitors are impressed with its size, its majesty, and its ability to conjure up the cruel games that were played out for the pleasure of the Roman masses.  Also today there are masses: It is completely packed with people every day in the summer months. The monument is electrifying. The queues are equally colossal...

Colosseum - General: Architectural marvel of antiquity and symbol of the Eternal City throughout the world, the Flavian Amphitheatre is the largest structure for entertainment with gladiators and wild animals ever built by the Romans. Erected in 8 years (72-80 AD) by the Flavian dynasty on the place previously occupied by the artificial lake of Nero’s Golden House, using 100.000 square metres of travertine and 300 tons of iron, the Colosseum was inaugurated with 100 days of games. The 60.000 spectators that it could hold entered through the 80 numbered arches at street level and, after spending the entire day there, could leave in under 20 minutes. The programme offered hunts with wild animals in the morning, executions of condemned criminals at midday and gladiator combat in the afternoon, and in warm weather the audience was protected from the sun by a awning consisting of 240 sails maneuvered by sailors of the imperial fleet. The underground section at the centre of the arena was used to keep the cages with the animals and the equipment for the games. The floor was placed above that and was made of wooden flanks covered with a layer of sand. Walking through the corridors of the Colosseum today we cannot help but notice its ambiguous and almost paradoxical attraction as, on one hand it seems to represent the best of the Roman civilization in the grandiosity of its architecture, and on the other it seems to express its darker side in the cruelty of the shows that were offered here.

Inside the Colosseum:

Rome Colosseum 2nd floor:

Archeological artifacts unearthed in the Colosseum - in an exhibition in the Colosseum:

Underground tour tickets ( 2 euros) are purchased at the booth where audio-guides are hired. You get a chance to stand on the reconstructed section of the arena floor, walk underground to view the maze of tunnels and corridors of the Colosseum, and climb up to the third tier:

After the GUIDED visit of the underground you go up to the 2nd and 3rd floor, where one can enjoy a magnificent view of the Arch of Constantine and of via dei Fori Imperiali:

Without the GUIDED tour, accessible on two levels offering a wide overview onto its interiors, but also brief glimpses of the city from its outer arches. The view you have from the top on to the Forum is just something impossible to describe.

Arch of Titus from the Colosseum:

Venus Temple in the Via sacra from the Colosseum:

The Roman Forum entrance from the Colosseum:

Be aware of "Glidiators" outside the Colosseum site. They demand a huge amount of money for one photo...:

Horse carriages outside the colosseum:

Via dei Fori Imperiali:

With your back to the Colosseum and your face to the north-west walk along Via dei Fori Imperiali and keep to the right side of the street. Mussolini issued the controversial orders to cut through centuries of debris and junky buildings to reveal many archaeological treasures and carve out this boulevard linking the Colosseum to the grand 19th-century monuments of Piazza Venezia. The vistas over the ruins of Rome's Imperial Forums from the northern side of the Via dei Fori Imperiali boulevard make for one of the most fascinating walks in Rome.

First sights you'll see from the boulevard include the ones already explored during your visit in the Roman Forum: colonnades that once surrounded the Temple of Venus and Roma. Next the back wall of the Basilica of Constantine/Maxentius.

Shortly, on the street's north side, where Via Cavour joins Via dei Fori Imperiali are the remains of the:

Nerva's Forum or Transitorio: The Forum of Nerva was the fourth and smallest of the imperial fora. Its construction was started by Emperor Domitian before the year 85 AD, but officially completed and opened by his successor, Nerva, in 97 AD, hence its official name. It is also referred to as the “Transient Forum” (Forum Transitorium) from its function and location between Forum of Augustus and Forum of Vespasian, Your best view is from the railing that skirts it on Via dei Fori Imperiali. It is actually in Largo Romolo e Remo Roma - where is the northern entrance to the Roman Forum.

It was built by the emperor whose 2-year reign (A.D. 96-98) followed that of the paranoid Domitian. You'll be struck by just how much the ground level has risen in 19 centuries. The only columns surviving are the so-called "Two Colonnacce" (ugly columns) with a relief in the attic representing "Minerva and frieze with female figures linked to the myth of Arachne". This forum was once flanked by that of Vespasian, which is now completely gone. It's possible to enter the Forum of Nerva from the other side, but you can see it just as well from the railing.

The next forum you approach is the:

Forum of Augustus: The Forum of Augustus is very well seen also from Via Alessandrina - from elevated wooden platforms, temporarily built along the Allessandrina road and the Forum of Augustus. You can see this site entirely from the main road (via dei Fori Imperiali). It is somewhat confusing as Augustus's Forum is wedged between those of Nerva and Trajan (see below). There doesn't seem to be any separation until you sort it out with a map or the minimal signage around. The Forum is dominated by a Temple to Mars. The Forum of Augustus was built to both house a temple honoring Mars, and to provide another space for legal proceedings, as the Roman Forum was very crowded.This was built to commemorate the emperor's victory over the assassins Cassius and Brutus in the Battle of Philippi (42 B.C.). Fittingly, the temple that once dominated this forum - its remains can still be seen - was that of Mars Ultor, or Mars the Avenger, in which stood a mammoth statue of Augustus that, unfortunately, has vanished completely. You can enter the Forum of Augustus from the other side (cut across the tiny footbridge). There is night light & voice spectacle (21.00, 22.00, 23.00) about Ancient Rome inside Foro di Augusto through every evening (15€): During the evening-night hours the Forum of Augustus, the forums and markets nearby are lit with lights that will stress out even more fantastic their splendour:

Nerva Statue in Via Alessandrina - opposite the Form of Augustus:

Augustus Statue in Via Alessandrina - opposite the Form of Augustus:

Continuing north-west along the railing, you'll see next the vast semicircle of Trajan's Market.  From Nerva's Forum: Head northwest on Via dei Fori Imperiali, after 50m. sharp right to stay on Via dei Fori Imperiali, after 25 m. turn left onto Via Alessandrina. Walk in Via Alessandrina 250 m. north-west  and continue onto Piazza Foro. After 50 m. Trajan's Market will be on the left. Admission is 8€. Entrance is at the Column of Trajan, a prominent landmark clearly visible (we shall return to this column - later below).

Another way: Head northwest on Via dei Fori Imperiali toward Piazza della Madonna di Loreto - 18 m. Turn right onto Piazza della Madonna di Loreto - 30 m.  Turn right onto Piazza Foro Traiano - 110 m.  Turn right to stay on Piazza Foro Traiano. Here, you see the market from its back side.

The surviving buildings and structures, built as an integral part of Trajan's Forum and nestled against the excavated flank of the Quirinal Hill, present a living model of life in the Roman capital and a glimpse at the continuing restoration in the city, which reveals new treasures and insights about Ancient Roman architecture. Thought to be the world's oldest shopping mall, the arcades in Trajan's Market are now believed by many to be administrative offices for Emperor Trajan. The shops and apartments were built in a multi-level structure, and it is still possible to visit several of the levels. Highlights include delicate marble floors and the remains of a library.

Its teeming arcades, stocked with merchandise from the far corners of the Roman Empire, long ago collapsed, leaving only the ubiquitous cats to watch over things. The shops once covered a multitude of levels. In front of the perfectly proportioned semicircular facade, designed by Apollodorus of Damascus at the beginning of the 2nd century, are the remains of a great library. Fragments of delicately colored marble floors still shine in the sunlight between stretches of rubble and tall grass.

Walk eastward in Piazza Foro Traiano toward Via di Sant'Eufemia 59 m.  Continue straight onto Via Magnanapoli. Take the stairs 130 m. Continue onto Largo Magnanapoli 32 m. Enter the roundabout 10 m. Tower of Milizie (in Via Quattro Novembre) will be on the right. The actual construction of the tower probably dates to the time of Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) under the Aretino family. This 12th-century structure was part of the medieval headquarters of the Knights of Rhodes. The view from the top (if it's open) is well worth the climb. From the tower, you can wander down to the ruins of the market, admiring the sophistication of the layout and the sad beauty of the bits of decoration that remain.

When you've examined the brick and travertine corridors, head out in front of the semicircle to the site of the former library; from here, scan the retaining wall that supports the modern road and look for the entrance to the tunnel that leads to the  Forum of Trajan. It is, actually, south-west to the Tower of Milizie, between the Tower and Trajan's Market (which is also south-west to the Tower). It's entered on Via IV Novembre near the steps of Via Magnanapoli. Once through the tunnel, you'll emerge in the newest and most beautiful of the Imperial Forums. The site now lies some fifteen feet below street level, as can be seen here, where one almost is at eye level with the capitals of the columns. Designed by the same man who laid out the adjoining market. There are many statue fragments and pedestals that bear still-legible inscriptions, but more interesting is the great Basilica Ulpia, with gray marble columns rising roofless into the sky. You wouldn't know it to judge from what's left, but the Forum of Trajan was once regarded as one of the architectural wonders of the world. Constructed between A.D. 107 and 113, it was designed by the Greek architect Apollodorus of Damascus. By the way, you can arrive to the Trajan Forum, Market and column something northward (descending) from the Piazza del Campidoglia and Capitoline Hill (and bypassing the southern edge of Piazza Venezia).

Panoramic view of the forum with the Trajan's Column on the far left:

Trajan's Column and the ruins of the Basilica Ulpia:

Beyond the Basilica Ulpia is the Trajan's Column that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. The detail of the carving is stunning. This column is in magnificent condition. It's great feature is the immense spiral bas relief carvings that progresses to the top illustrating the wars. Built to commemorate the Emperor's victorious campaigns against the Dacian's in the early 2nd Century AD. The structure is about 30 metres in height, 35 metres including its large pedestal. The emperor's ashes were kept in a golden urn at the base of the column. If you're fortunate, someone on duty at the stairs next to the column will let you out there. Otherwise, you'll have to walk back the way you came. It is not possible to get close to the column, but it is still an impressive sight from the distant sidewalk. The column is hollow and includes an internal staircase to the top but this is not operative:


Trajan Column from Palazzo Valentin:

The next stop is the Forum of Julius Caesar. This is the last of the Imperial Forums. It lies on the opposite side of Via dei Fori Imperiali, the last set of sunken ruins before the Vittorio Emanuele Monument. Although it's possible to go right down into the ruins, you can see everything just as well from the railing. This was the site of the Roman stock exchange, as well as of the Temple of Venus, a few of whose restored columns stand cinematically in the middle of the excavations.

The Forum of Caesar and the Temple of Venus Genetrix:

We completed the historical/archeological part of the day. We'll find a typical, budget place to dine and continue to Trevi Fountain through interesting part of historical Rome. Return to the Via Alessandrina road and walk until its north-west end. Continue direct to Piazza Foro Trajiano when the Basilica Ulpia and Trajan's Column and Palazzo Valentini with its fountain on your left:

Continue in the same road, now, named Via di Sant'Eufemia until its end. turn left into the Via 4 Novembre and, immediately, right, onto the quaint, impressive Piazza Santi Apostoli. The Palaazo Colonna and Chiesa dei Sani Apostoli on your right:

Pass Via dei Santi Apostoli on your left and a few steps further, on your left try your fortune for dining at Antica Birreria Peroni bar-restaurant, Via di San Marcello, 19. This is a typical, Roman, crowded, noisy and very informal restaurant with reasonable prices and GOOD food. It is full with locals, dining on long,common tables with very busy, but still, polite and patient, hurrying waiters. The food is down to earth but excellent. it is exactly the type of local place you would want to go for the local scene. It is very difficult to find a non-touristic restaurant in this area - so close to the Imperial sites, Piazza Venezia and Trevi Fountain. Open: 12.00-24.00:

Head north on Via di San Marcello toward Via dell'Umiltà. Turn right onto Via dell'Umiltà and, immediately, turn left onto Piazza dell'Oratorio. You arrived to Galleria Sciarra - one of the less known gems of Rome but, still, a stunning surprise. Situated very close to the Trevi Fountain on Piazza dell' Oratorio, this gorgeous and utterly surprising arcade is easily missed. The arcade is named after the building's original owner, Prince Maffeo Sciarra, who in the late 1880s commissioned the architect Giulio De Angelis to design a glass-domed galleria to serve as a fashionable shopping centre for Rome. Painter Giuseppe Cellini decorated the space and the frescoes he produced are a wonderful example of the influence of English pre-Raphaelite art on Italian artists at the end of the 19th century, in their mixing of Renaissance decoration with images of contemporary women: Misericors -is cutting her long hair and thus making a sacrifice, Fidelis - points to her faithful heart, with a dog symbolically placed at her feet, Amabilis - stretches out her arms in welcome.

Cross the Galleria Sciarra from south to the north, continue northward along Via di Santa Maria in Via. Immediately after leaving the Galleria Sciarra you see, on your right, this relief:

Take the first turn to the RIGHT - Via delle Muratte. It is long, busy, colorful market road - leading you to Trevi Fountain and Piazza. Be careful with most of the restaurants around: touristy, over-rated and not-so-good service. The only one which deserves your attention is the Al Moro, Vicolo delle Bollette 13.

Trevi Fountain (Italian: Fontana di Trevi) is a fountain designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. Standing 26.3 metres high and 49.15 metres wide. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. The fountain has appeared in several notable films, including Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, and is a popular tourist attraction. The Trevi Fountain is situated at the end of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus. Legend holds that in 19 BC thirsty Roman soldiers were guided by a young girl to a source of pure water thirteen kilometers from the city of Rome. The discovery of the source led Augustus to commission the construction of a twenty-two kilometer aqueduct leading into the city, which was named Aqua Virgo, or Virgin Waters, in honor of the legendary young girl. Competitions had become the rage during the Baroque era to design buildings, fountains and even the Spanish Steps. In 1730 Pope Clement XII organized a contest in which Nicola Salvi initially lost to Alessandro Galilei – but due to the outcry in Rome over the fact that a Florentine won, Salvi was awarded the commission anyway.[8] Work began in 1732 and the fountain was completed in 1762, long after Salvi's death, when Pietro Bracci's Oceanus (god of all water) was set in the central niche. Salvi died in 1751 with his work half finished. The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini, who substituted the present allegories for planned sculptures of Agrippa and "Trivia", the Roman virgin. It remains one of the most historical cultural landmarks in Rome. The central figure of the fountain, standing in a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He rides a shell-shaped chariot that is pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. Every day some eighty million liters of water flow through the fountain. The water is reused to supply several other Roman fountains, including the Fountain of the Four Rivers, the Tortoise Fountain and the Fountain of the Old Boat in front of the Spanish Steps. Tradition has it that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the fountain's water basin. You should toss it with your right hand over your left shoulder (or left hand over your right shoulder) with your back to the fountain. You're not allowed to look behind you while you're tossing the coin but the fountain is so large it's basically impossible to miss:

From Trevi Fountain it is 12 minutes, 600 m. walk to Piazza Venezia or 4-5 minutes walk to Via del Corso. Both of them - with plenty of buses from and to all parts of Rome.

Rome Palatine Hill

Spencer Peers


The Palatine Hill:

Start: Colosseum Metro station.

End: Circo Massimo Metro station or Colosseum Metro station.

Orientation: Enjoy wonderful views over the city. The views from Palatine Hill are breathtaking. History as old as Caesar Augustus. People say it is better than the Roman Forum. We advised you (in the Roman Forum trip) buying the combined ticket (Forum, Palatine Hill, Colosseum) in the Forum entrance. So, our advice is that you allow the first 1/2 day (from early morning) visiting the Forum - and, immediately, after completing your visit there - head to the Palatine Hill for the remainder of the day. The Palatine Hill is the only quiet, tranquil area in the midst of the usually overcrowded Forum and Colosseum. The last section of this Palatine Hill trip, the Vigna Barberini (artificial platform/terrace, opened to the public in October 2009), with its SPECTACULAR views over the Colosseum and the Forum - is the most rewarding during the whole day !

Access: There are four routes of access to the Palatine. The first leads from Via San Gregorio Magno through the gateway designed by Vignola as the entrance to the Farnese Gardens. The other three start from the Forum: the Clivus Capitolinus, which leads past the Arch of Titus; the flight of steps at the House of the Vestals; and the large vaulted passage at Santa Maria Antiqua. We enter the palatine Hill through the SECOND way (see the Roman Forum trip) and exit the Palatine Hill through the FIRST one. If you choose to open with the Palatine Hill:

Palatine Hill Entrance: As the entrance ticket to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill also includes the Colosseum most people will visit all three at the same time. The ticket kiosk at the Colosseum has by far the longest queues and for other reason we suggest you start and buy your ticket at the Forum (better solution for taking photos and more comfortable with hot weather) or the Palatine Hill entrance in San Gregorio road (if the Forum entrance is too busy). The ticket gate for the Palatine Hill often has no queues at all and is midway down the road Via di San Gregorio that runs from the Colosseum along the base of the Palatine Hill less than 5 minutes walk from the Colosseum.

Starting your visit in the Palatine Hill: Enter from San Gregorio. From the Palatine Hill entrance walk uphill exploring the Palatine Hill is more gradual than from the Roman Forum with more shade. After performing a circuit of the Palatine Hill you will get a great birds eye view down onto the Roman Forum as you descend into it, getting a good initial orientation in the process.

From the Roman Forum to the Palatine Hill:

With your back to the Forum and face to the Arch of Titus, turn TWICE RIGHT (follow the Palatine Hill signposts) to start "climbing" to the Palatine Hill. As you enter the Palatine, don't follow the ramp up the hill that is directly in front of you. Instead, climb the stairway to your right, stopping on the first platform to see the view over the forum. Climb more steps, stopping to see the fishpond and the moss covered waterfall and pausing at various stages to see the views. At the top there is an overlook of the forum from the balcony between the twin pavilions of the Vignola aviary that is heart-stopping, (and that's why this is the recommended route.).

Tips (apply to the Forum as well):

+Never when the ground is muddy or wet.

+Do not take a hot day. Ideal to browse on a fine day with the sun out !

+There is no food in the complex. Bring your own if you are visiting over lunch.

+Bring bottles of water or fill them with fresh water springs not far from the Arch of Titus at the entrance.

+Children ? maybe, only with ages 16 upwards...

+Go early and avoid the crowds. Then, buy your ticket and start with the Forum. Leave the Palatine Hill for the late afternoon hours in hot days. Around 12.00 all the tourists from the Colosseum start showing up. Buy your combo ticket at the Palatine Hill only if it is too crowded in the Forum entrance. As you walk past the very long line waiting to buy tickets at the Colosseum, you will be very glad you have your ticket and can walk straight into the Colosseum.

+Go late afternoon hours (during the summer) when the sunlight is soft - if you visit the Palatine Hill only. 

+If you rush, don't waste time coming here. To truly appreciate the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, you need to slow down, make sense of the history and sights around you - from whatever source that you prefer. Allow, to the Forum and the Palatine Hill, at least, 5-6 hours - if you are unencumbered with children.

+ Keep in mind that the Palatine Hill is is extremely badly signed.

Admission: The standard admission ticket covers all three monuments, The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Current admission price for tickets bought in Rome at the site is 12 euros. You can order tickets in advance for which there are booking fees (at least 2 euros). Opening hours are from 8.30 am to one hour before sunset. With the Roma Pass this triple-sites combined ticket and Castel Sant Angelo are a great combination to use your free entrances on.  With Roma Pass you can't get audio guide unless you queue...

Background: It was on the Palatine Hill that Rome first became a city. Legend tells us that the date was 753 B.C. The new city originally consisted of nothing more than the Palatine, which was soon enclosed by a surprisingly sophisticated wall, remains of which can still be seen on the Circus Maximus side of the hill. When the last of the ancient kings was overthrown (Lucius Tarquinius Superbus or Tarquinius II) (510 B.C.), Rome had already extended over several of the six adjoining hills and valleys. As Republican times progressed, the Palatine became a fashionable residential district. So it remained until Tiberius -- who, like his predecessor, Augustus, was a bit too modest to call himself "emperor" out loud - began the first of the monumental palaces that eventually covered the entire hill. The palace of Tiberius was the first to be built here; others followed, notably the gigantic extravaganza constructed for Emperor Domitian.

We assume that you've completed your half-day tour of the Roman Forum. We devote the second half of the day to the Palatine Hill (Cole Palatino). The sun, now, is in the west and we'll get spectacular views of the Forum from the top (and on our way to the top) of the Palatine Hill. We return to whole way to the Arch of Titus. With our face to the Arch of Titus and our back to the Roman Forum we turn RIGHT (south). On our right is the Via Nova. Here we can take marvelous photos of the whole Forum from the lookout point in the end of the Via Nova:

We shall turn right and climb the stairs to the Orti Farnese or Farnese Gardens. We continue climbing the stairs to the Aviary and Teatro del Fontanone:

Head up the steps that lead to the top of the embankment to the north. Once on top, you'll be in the (Orti Farnesiani) Farnese Gardens: created in 1550 on the northern portion of Palatine Hill, by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. They were the first private botanical gardens in Europe (the first botanical gardens of any kind in Europe being started by Italian universities in the mid-16th century, only a short time before). They're constructed on top of the Palace of Tiberius, which was the first of the great imperial palaces to be built on this hill. It's impossible to see any of it, but the gardens are cool and laid out nicely. Though little of the Farnese Gardens survives today, some remnant structures may be seen. The stairs to the Farnese Gardens pass by the Nymphaeum, an artificial grotto dedicated to the nymphs of the springs. Stairways continue upwards to the Aviaries of the Farnese Gardens.

Follow the signs for the House of Livia. It is completely north-west to all sites and also north-west to the Palatin Museums. The building, believed to be the residence of Livia (58 BC – 29 AD), the wife of Augustus, is currently undergoing renovation. While closed most of the time, the House of Livia will sometimes open for brief periods, so check by phoning or online at The House of Livia (Augustus' wife) was part of the palace of Augustus and is so called because the inscription "Livia Augusta" was found on a lead pipe in one of the rooms. Augustus himself may have lived in these apartments. Although the external buildings were simple, in keeping with the unpretentiousness of the first Emperor, the interior, as seen from the atrium and four rooms, reveals the comfortable lifestyle of the Romans at the time of Christ. Central heating was conducted through ceramic pipes in the walls, and the rooms were decorated with elegant paintings in the Pompeian (second period) style. Livia was the wife of Rome's first, and possibly greatest, emperor, Augustus. She is one of the maon heroes of Robert Graves' book "I Claudius". Augustus married Livia when she was six months pregnant by her previous husband, whom Augustus "encouraged" to get a divorce. As empress, Livia became a role model for Roman women, serving her husband faithfully, shunning excessive displays of wealth, and managing her household. But she also had real influence: As well as playing politics behind the scenes, she even had the rare honor (for a woman) of being in charge of her own finances. Here, atop the Palatine, is where she made her private retreat and living quarters. The delicate, delightful frescoes reflect the sophisticated taste of wealthy Romans, whose love of beauty and theatrical conception of nature were revived by their descendants in the Renaissance Age.

Livia and Augustus House (the south wing):

View of Rome from Livia's House:

The Archaic Cisterns opposite Livia's House:

At the most northern-West corner of the palatine hill is the Temple of Cybele or Magna Mater, the Great Mother. Not much to see. The Temple of Cybele in the Farnese Gardens was built in 204 B.C. to house the "Black Stone" of the goddess, following guidance given by the Sibylline Books. Rock-cuttings found in front of the temple represent the earliest evidence of human settlement on the Palatine (ninth-eighth centuries B.C.), a dwelling site of the early Iron Age which has been christened the "House of Romulus".

The real attraction in the Palatine Hill are the views and the quiet atmosphere around. The views over the Roman Forum and the other ruins are great, especially on a sunny evening with the sun setting. To know about the historical structures, ruins one should have a guide or accompany with Tipter blog or someone who know these places. The ruins are beautiful in themselves, but the vistas between them make for some magic snaps. At one moment you are struck by a view of the dome of Saint Peter Basilica in the distance and then you find yourself looking down to find the impressive ruins of the Forum laid out below.

View to Gianicolo Hill from Farnese Gardens:

View to St. Peter Basilica from Farnese Gardens:

View to Vittorio Emanuele Monument from Farnese Gardens:

View to the Roman Forum from Farnese Gardens:

From the lookout balcony we pass by the Domus Tiberiana which is under excavations and closed to the public. We see the Rose Garden (Boni Garden) with, again, lookout area and marvelous views to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum:

Flavian Palace:

Along with the so-called Domus Augustana (below), this is part of the complex constructed between 80 and 92 AD. This area of the palace consists of the public spaces of the palace. In this section of the complex lay a large basilica, the Aula Regia (essentially a room for state affairs), a dining room, Lararium and a peristyle courtyard from which the apartments radiate. At the southern end was an oval Nymphaeum, which survives remarkably well. Finally, between the Nymphaeum and the edge of the palace above the circus maximus lie two rooms usually associated with the libraries of the nearby Temple of Apollo which Domitian restored and incorporated. This part of the palace is on ground that slopes away toward the forum on which earlier buildings existed. Thus beneath the Domus Flavia are many preserved rooms (though none currently open to the public.) In general, the Domus Flavia part of the palace is not as well preserved as the private apartments to the southeast. The Domus Augustana, or House of Augustus, was an enormous and lavish palace by the Flavian Palace on Palatine Hill. This palace was used as Emperor Domitian’s private home, while the nearby Flavian Palace was for state functions. Visitors enjoy the spectacular views of Rome from these ancient ruins. Along with Domus Flavia, the Domus Augustana, is described as being some of the most impressive sites of ruins in ancient Rome. The palace was known for its fountains, one which was a large central fountain in the courtyard, and another, the oval fountain, which visitors can view from the nearby Domus Flavia’s dining area.

Domus Flavia and Circo Massimo:

Toward the Circus Maximus, slightly to the left (south-west) of the Flavian Palace, is the Domus Augustana: In modern terms, the name Domus Augustana has been applied often to one particular section of the palace. There may possibly have been structures here under the the Julio-Claudian emperors (particularly part of the Domus Transitorium of Nero), though the remains that can be seen above ground level now date predominantly from the time of Domitian, where a rebuild was ordered after the fire of 80 AD destroyed a lot of the current structures. This massive complex occupies the south-eastern quarter of the Palatine hill. This is where the imperial family lived. The remains lie toward the Circus Maximus, slightly to the left of the Flavian Palace. The new building that stands here -- it looks old to us, but in Rome it qualifies as a new building - is a museum. It stands in the absolute center of the Domus Augustana.  At any of several points along this south-facing gazebo of the Palatine Hill, you'll be able to see the faraway oval walls of the Circus Maximus.

Continue with your exploration of the Palatine Hill by heading across the field parallel to the Clivus Palatinus (south-east to the Flavian Palace and the Domus Augustana) until you come to the north end of the Hippodrome, or Stadium of Domitian: The Stadium was commissioned around 80 AD by the Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus as a gift to the people of Rome, and was used mostly for athletic contests. While this is known as the 'stadium' of Domitian and is distinctly Hippodrome in form, it is not a venue for any variety of games. This is, in fact, a grand ornamental garden in circus shape constructed as part of the Flavian palace complex. At the semi-circular end close to the Circus Maximus may have been the Imperial box for viewing games in the circus. Each end of this 'stadium' contained a semicircular fountain and the whole complex was enclosed with an arcade. The gardens were restored by Septimius Severus after the arcading collapsed. Further repairs to the gardens were carried out by Theodoric and Athalaric. The stadium is impressive. As you look down the stadium from the north end, you can see, on the left side, the semicircular remains of a structure identified as Domitian's private box:

The Baths of Septimius: On the far side of the Stadium of Domitian lies the last of the Imperial complexes built on the Palatine. On the south-east corner Septimius Severus constructed an extension to the palace over substructures apparently dating from the time of Domitian. While the foundations nearer the stadium are definitely pre-Severan, the further ones and the superstructures date from the Severan period. A new monumental private baths was constructed on the top with perhaps other private rooms including a tribune from which the races in the circus could be viewed. In addition to the baths of Severus, an extension toward the circus housed a second bath complex constructed by Maxentius. This area is perhaps one of the most impressive areas of the Palatine and it is very frequently NOT open to the public. Below this complex lies the Septizodium constructed by Severus as part of the complex.

Near the east wing/side of the Stadium of Domitian - you can find restroom with very few queuing up.

From the stadium DO NOT take the immediate way down to the exit/entrance. Follow the signpost to Vigna Barberini. The new area of Rome’s Palatine Hill has been opened to the public in October 2009, providing a new viewing platform from the “Vigna Barberini” artificial terrace. The name comes from the Barberini family vineyards that would have once adorned this area of the Palatine Hill, and the terrace is situated on the part of the hill overlooking the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine.It is the first time in history that this part of the Roman ruins of Palatine Hill has been opened, and now from the Vigne Barberini you can pass through to the Arch of Titus. The ‘Vigne Barberini’ has been left mostly as is, and provides another little secret garden in this corner of Rome. NOT TO BE MISSED. Very few tourists know about this secluded part of the hill:

The Aqueduct that comes up the wooded hill used to supply water to the Baths of Septimius Severus, whose difficult-to-understand ruins lie in monumental poles of arched brick at the far end of the stadium. he Aqua Claudia in its original form did not cross the valley between the Caelian and Palatine hills until the constructions of Domitian on the hill. In order to supply his new palace complex with water, Domitian extended the Aqua Claudia across the valley on two levels of arches. With later strengthening under Septimius Severus, these remains (while small) are quite impressive to stand beneath. They lie close to the edge of the Palatine opposite the Caelian hill:

You've now seen the best of the Forum and the Palatine. To leave the archaeological area, continue walking eastward along the winding road that meanders steeply down from the Palatine Hill to Via di San Gregorio. Near the exit/entrance you'll find another extensive, well-kept restroom. If you want to avoid the Circus Maximus (almost nothing to see there...) - continue southward along San Gregorio to hit the Circo Massimo Metro station. On your way out - you can get a closer sight of the Arch of Constantine. Its side opposite the Colosseum - might be under restorations:

If you are still fit - head to the Circus Maximus, Via del Circo Massimo, south of the palatine Hill. From the exit of the Palatine Hill in San Gregorio - head south on Via di San Gregorio toward Piazza di Porta Capena, 300 m.  Continue straight onto Piazza di Porta Capena, 56 m.  Continue onto Viale Aventìno, 120 m. Turn right onto Via del Circo Massimo, 260 m. The Circo Massimo Metro was on your left.

Little to nothing of it is left. A stretch of grass and some mud, which is let down. The Circus Maximus (Latin for greatest or largest circus, in Italian Circo Massimo) is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium. The Circus lies in a valley formed by the Palatine Hill on the left and the Aventine Hill on the right, next to the Colosseum. The site is now a public park in the centre of the city. It is often used for concerts and meetings. The Rome concert of Live 8 (July 2, 2005) was held there, as was the Italian World Cup 2006 victory celebration. The English band Genesis performed a concert before an estimated audience of 500,000 people in 2007. This was filmed and released as When in Rome 2007.

Its elongated oval proportions and ruined tiers of benches will make you think of Ben-Hur. Today a formless ruin, the victim of countless raids on its stonework by medieval and Renaissance builders, the remains of the once-great arena lie directly behind the church. At one time, 250,000 Romans could assemble on the marble seats, while the emperor observed the games from his box high on the Palatine Hill.

 it was the most impressive structure in ancient Rome, located certainly in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods. Emperors lived on the Palatine, and the great palaces of patricians sprawled across the Aventine, which is still a nice neighborhood. For centuries, the pomp and ceremony of imperial chariot races filled this valley with the cheers of thousands.

When the dark days of the 5th and 6th centuries fell on the city, the Circus Maximus seemed a symbol of the complete ruination of Rome. The last games were held in 549 on the orders of Totilla the Goth, who had seized Rome in 547 and established himself as emperor.

The Circus Maximus viewed from the Palatine Hill: