MAY 04,2014 - MAY 04,2014 (1 DAYS)
From Forum Boarium to Gianicolo Hill and down to the Tiber river and the Vatican:
Start: Piazza della Bocca della Verità.
End: Ponte Principe Amadeo Savia Aosta (on the Tiber river) or the the Vatican, St. Peter square.
Duration: 3/4 - 1 day.
Distance: 8 - 9 km.
Orientation: In a hot day it might be strenuous to climb the Gianicolo Hill. Part of the experience in Gianicolo Hill is looking at the 270 degrees
panoramic view of Rome after every bend - while climbing the hill. So, I recommend climbing the hill on foot and NOT taking a bus or a cab. Gianicolo Park is quiet, peaceful and tourist free when compared to the centre of Rome. It's nice to come to Janiculum after you have seen some of the attractions up close because this place will give you an exciting all-inclusive perspective.
You can start with Gianicolo Hill in the morning but the sun (shining from the east) will be on your eyes - spoiling Rome views and your photos. Consider visiting the Janiculum hill during the afternoon hours and arriving the Vatican a bit after sunset. Go at sunset. This must be one of the most spectacular city views that one will ever find. At night, and it is safe to walk up the hill from Trastereve, it can be even better.
Preparations: It is 1 km. or 10-15 minutes walk from Piazza Venezia to Piazza della Bocca della Verità. Head southwest on Via di San Marco, turn left to stay on Via di San Marco, continue onto Via di San Venanzio, turn right to stay on Via di San Venanzio, continue onto Piazza D'Aracoeli, slight right onto Via del Teatro di Marcello for 300 m., slight left to stay on Via del Teatro di Marcello, continue onto Via Luigi Petroselli 150 m and continue onto Piazza della Bocca della Verità. Otherwise: take bus 44, 81,83, 170 or 716 (2-3 stops) from Piaza Venezia - down to Piazza della Bocca della Verità, Bocca della Verità.
The Forum Boarium is the ancient name to a compact area near the Tiber river, 1 km. down from Piazza Venezia - formally in the Aventino quarter. The Piazza della Bocca della Verità includes several attractions compacted in a very small area: The fountain, Temple of Hercules, Temple of Fortuna Virilis, church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Bocca della Verita and Palazzo Diaconale di Papa Niccolò I.
The Forum Boarium was the cattle forum venalium of Ancient Rome. It was located on a level piece of land near the Tiber between the Capitoline, the Palatine and Aventine hills. As the site of the premier port of Rome (Portus Tiberinus), the Forum Boarium experienced intense commercial activity. The Forum Boarium was the site of the first gladiatorial contest at Rome which took place in 264 BC as part of aristocratic funerary ritual for the dead. The site was also a religious center housing the Temple of Hercules Victor, the Temple of Portunus, and the massive 6th or 5th century BC Great Altar of Hercules.
The fountain, in the middle of Piazza della Bocca della Verità was commissioned by Pope Clement XI: it was designed by Carlo Francesco Bizzaccheri and its subject recalls Fontana del Tritone by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The basin has the shape of a star and the tritons support a shell with inside a mountain; a star and a mountain were the heraldic symbols of the pope, whose coat of arms was designed on both sides of the fountain:
The Temple of Hercules or Hercules Olivarius (Hercules as protector of the olive trade), is a circular peristyle building dating from the 2nd century BC. It consists of a colonnade of Corinthian columns arranged in a concentric ring around the cylindrical structure, resting on a tuff foundation. It is the earliest surviving marble building in Rome. For centuries, this was known as the Temple of Vesta:
The Temple of Portunus (north-west to the Temple of Hercules) is a rectangular building built between 100 and 80 BC. The four Ionic columns of the portico are free-standing, while the six columns on the long sides and four columns at the rear are engaged along the walls of the cella. This temple was for centuries known as the Temple of Fortuna Virilis:
Across the street (Piazza della Bocca della Verità) is the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin famous for its Bocca della Verità and with its bell tower. Open: Summer: daily 09.00-20.00, Off-season: daily 09.00-17.00. Restored to its early medieval appearance, the attractive facade has a porch with seven open arches and seven windows. Rising to the right is a tall, slender Romanesque bell-tower added in the 12th century. The church was built in the 8th century during the Byzantine Papacy over the remains of the Templum Herculis Pompeiani in the Forum Boarium. Since it was located near many Byzantine structures, in 7th century this church was called de Schola Graeca, and the street south to the square is still called della Greca. Greek monks escaping iconoclastic persecutions decorated the church around 782, when pope Adrian I promoted its reconstruction. Because of its beauty, the church received the adjective "cosmedin" (from Greek kosmidion), which means - ornament. A sacristy and an oratory dedicated to St. Nicholas were added in the 9th century, by order of Pope Nicholas I, who also built a papal residence. It was here, in Santa Maria in Cosmedin that Popes Gelasius II, Celestine III, and Antipope Benedict XIII were elected. After being acquired by Benedictines and a period of decay, in 1718 the church was brought up to a Baroque style, mainly expressed by a new façade, by Giuseppe Sardi in 1718. The Baroque additions, however, were removed in the restoration of 1894–1899 together with the coat-of-arms of Pope Clement XI. A scene from the 1953 romantic comedy movie Roman Holiday was filmed in Santa Maria in Cosmedin. In the scene, "Joe" played by Gregory Peck shocks the "Anya/Princess Ann" played by Audrey Hepburn by pretending to lose his hand in the Bocca della Verità. Penetrate through the crowds of teen-agers waiting to put their hands into the over-rated Bocca della Verita. Go inside this beautiful renaissance church with its landmark bell-tower, and enjoy the simple architecture of this very old building:
The current interior has a nave with two aisles: these are divided by four pilasters and eighteen ancient columns. It does not have the grandeur of many of the Rome Basilicas constructed in later centuries, but is well worth a visit with many significant historical connections.
Paintings from the 8th-12th centuries, in three layers, are preserved in the upper part of the nave and in the triumphal arch. The main altar is a red granite piece from 1123. In a side altar on the left of the church is kept the flower crowned skull of St Valentine:
Now, be careful not to be ripped off. Beneath the altar of the basilica is an 8th-century crypt. The "priest" will ask for a donation before permitting you to enter. I don't believe he is a priest. I think he is a pretender or, at least, it is a scam ! The crypt was built by Pope Hadrian I (772-95) to house the many relics he had taken from the catacombs. Shaped like a tiny basilica, it has three aisles divided by columns, a transept and an apse. The side walls have 16 round-headed niches with marble shelves to display the relics for pilgrims. The crypt was built by hallowing out the solid podium of the ancient Roman temple; thus the floor and ceiling are made of the podium's large tufa blocks. The crypt DOES NOT house nor Pope Hadrian I tomb, neither his relics:
Now, to the main attraction. In the entrance of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, on the left side, stands the Bocca della Verita, the Mouth of Truth. Everyone who goes to Rome wants to see this place, either for its worldwide reputation, either for taking the typical photo with the hand inside the Bocca della Verita. The problem: you have to pay 1€ to take one (and only one) photo, you can't repeat it even if the photo isn't good. Another possible problem: the queue, but try to go there around lunch time, when there are less people visiting. You can look through the fence or closed gate and see the stone and we could easily take pictures without having to wait in the line to put our hand in the Mouth. Do not take the risk. Supposedly, if you lie, your hand disappears !:
Palazzo Diaconale di Papa Niccolò I: On the right side of the church Pope Nicholas I (858-67) built a small palace which he used as a temporary residence; it was fortified with an external wall for fear of raids by the Saracens; later on it was converted into a small monastery and some of the rooms were assigned to the deacon of the church:
From Piazza della Bocca della Verità and the Forum Boarium we head to Trastevere via Ponte Palatino (Palatino Bridge) on the Tiber river. It is 400 m. (7-8 minutes walk) to the bridge. Exit the Piazza della Bocca della Verità from the north-west to Lungotevere dei Pierleoni (section of the the Tiber ring street), turn RIGHT onto this bustling road and walk northward approx. 350 m. Sharp left onto Ponte Palatino and cross it westward into Trastevere. You see also the Ponte Rotto (the broken bridge) (covered in our trip "From the Jewish Ghetto to Trastevere"). The Palatine Bridge, also known as the English Bridge (Ponte Inglese), is a bridge that connects the Lungotevere Aventino to the Lungotevere Ripa in the Trastevere district. It was constructed between the years 1886 and 1890 and is one of Rome’s longer bridges, albeit not one of the more picturesque ones. The Ponte Palatino was designed by Angelo Vescovali. It has a length of 155.5 meters and is 18.4 meters wide. The Ponte Palatino is just south of the Isola Tiberina. The Ponte Rotto (“Broken Bridge”) in Rome is the modern name of what used to be the ancient Ponte Trionfale. The Ponte Trionfale was constructed by Nero in order to connect the Circus of Nero (Circo di Nerone), then near what is now the Vatican, with what was at the time known as the Campo Marzio. The bridge was called Trionfale, because the Via Trionfale (which later became the Via Sacra) led across it. The Via Trionfale was called thus, because it was the street through which the soldiers marched back to Rome after yet another victory on the battlefield. The Ponte Rotto was destroyed in the 6th century as a defensive measure against the Ostrogoths. The ruins of the Ponte Rotto can sometimes be seen, but only during low tide.
We'll leave, now, the Tiber and walk into the heart of Trastevere. still in a part not covered in the Ghetto-Trestevere trip. Head west on Ponte Palatino toward Lungotevere degli Alberteschi, 140 m. Sharp LEFT onto Lungotevere degli Alberteschi, 17 m. Turn right onto Piazza Castellani, 10 m. Turn right onto Via della Lungaretta.Turn LEFT (SOUTH) and walk along the Via della Lungaretta until you arrive to Piaza Sidney Sonnino. The most immediate and intrusively apparent feature is the presence of Viale di Trastevere with its heavy traffic, tram lines and platforms, part of the late nineteenth century improvements to the functioning of the new national capital. The commercial developments from the 1930s on the eastern side of the boulevard are generic buildings of their period, set back slightly to create a wide pavement in front of them with lines of plane trees breaking up the space. The insertion of the road, though, was required to acknowledge the presence of historical remains in the objectification of the 'Casa di Dante' as a relic of the medieval city.Right to the square is Ponte Garibaldi which is the main entrance to Trastevere. There is a small Tourist Information stall in the square. Between the point we stand and Ponte Garibaldi we see a brown tower from the 13th century, adjacent to a small palace from the 15th century, housing the Dante Institute - and, therefore, called 'Casa di Dante':
From Piazza Sidney Sonnino, further southward, the Via della Lungretta becomes more interesting. The Via della Lungaretta runs exactly where, in the 2nd century BC, the Via Aurelia Nova was located. The ancient Via Aurelia Nova started at what was then called the Ponte Emilio (and is now known as the Ponte Rotto, or Broken Bridge). It went up the Gianicolo (Janiculum) hill and subsequently continued towards the Forum Aureli (now Montalto de Castro). Initially the name was changed into the Via Trastiberina and later, under Pope Julius II, into the Via della Lungaretta. The Via della Lungaretta is one of Rome’s most photogenic streets. The part east of the Viale Trastevere is more of an alley with several small shops (a.o. an English language used bookstore), while the part on the other side of the main street is wider and is full of restaurants.
After 150 m. walk in Via della Lungretta we arrive to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere - already covered in the Ghetto->Trastevere trip. We won't continue southward - since these part of Trastevere are covered in the Ghetto->TRastevere trip. We shall exit the Piazza santa Maria in Trastevere through its north side. Head north on Via della Fonte D'Olio toward Vicolo del Piede, 42 m. Turn left onto Vicolo del Piede, 53 m. Turn right onto Via della Paglia, 110 m. Turn left onto Via Giacomo Venezian, 170 m. Turn right onto Via Luciano Manara, 74 m. Turn left onto Via Francesco Sturbinetti, 36 m. Continue onto Via Agostino Bertani. Turn RIGHT onto Via Goffredo Mameli and walk northward along this road
until it meets Via Garibaldi. On your left - Fontana del Prigione (Fountain of Prison) in Via Goffredo Mameli. The fountain came here from far away, Villa Montalto of Sixtus V in the zone of present Stazione Termini. It is one of very few records remained after that beautiful rich villa. When it was destroyed in 1877 the fountain was deposed in a store of the commune. Then it was brought out to the light and put in via Genova, and in 1928 was transferred here, in Via Goffredo Mameli on the slopes of the Gianicolo (or Janiculum) Hill:
TURN LEFT onto Via Garibaldi and start climbing (a bit exhausting) this twisting street on your way UP to the Gianicolo Hill. Interesting chunk of history, and lovely views all around. With every bend you see marvelous vies of Rome. Be careful, Via Garibaldi has no pavements. You cut your way up the hill by using the stairs (on your left) - Scala Giovanni Iacubucci. Along the way up, on your right - Gianicolense Mausoleum Monument (Mausoleo Ossario Gianicolense/ Monumento Ossario Gianicolense), built in 1941 to honor those fallen in the defense of Rome in the 19th century, as well as several foreign research institutions, including the American Academy in Rome. The monument was created by Jacobucci in 1941 on the place where lost their lives numerous defenders of Rome (Caduti per Roma) in times of siege of 1849, raisings of 1867 and 1870. On the top of the each side there is an inscription "Roma o Morte", i.e. "Rome or Death". Inside of the sarcophagus in the center of the monument was buried Goffredo Mameli (1827-1849), the hero of Roman Republic. He is an author of Fratelli d'Italia, the poem which in 1946 became the hymn of Italy with the music of Michele Novaro. An altar in red granite of Baveno (on the Lago Maggiore) is surrounded by a four-sided portico in travertine without cover. Under the portico is a crypt with the memorial - burial chamber of the fallen, among whom are Goffredo Mameli and Righetto.
Continue several steps along Via Garibaldi and visit the church of San Pietro in Montorio, built on the site once thought to be where St. Peter was crucified and buried. See the Tempietto, a small shrine built by Bramante to mark the supposed site.
Opposite the church is Belvedere Nicollo Scatoli with spectacular views of Centro Storico of Rome. From left to right the largest Catholic Marian church Santa Maria Maggiore, the fortified tower Torre delle Milizie, the little dome of the mother church of the Society of Jesus the Chiesa del Gesu, the dome of the Sant'Andrea della Valle, the National Monument, the tower of the city hall and the dome of the 17th century parish San Carlo ai Catinari (the last one not shown in this photo):
From Via Garibaldi we TURN RIGHT to Passeggiata di Gianicolo. Again, we see wonderful views of Rome.
Despite the climb along this tree-lined road I fell in love with this wonderful avenue:
Numerous busts of the volunteers took part in the defense of Rome stand along the road. White busts of Garibaldi's Italian patriots line the shady park drive:
on the top of the Gianicolo Hill, in the middle of the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi square in 1895 was erected an equestrian Monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi, by E.Gallori. We are in the highest point of the Janiculum hill. Around the base are 4 bronze groups: in front, "Charge of Manara's Bersaglieri" (Rome, 1849); behind, "Battle of Calatafimi" (Sicily, 1860); at the sides, "Europe" and "America". The statue itself is 7m high. The placement of the monument gave rise to several politic interpretations, as it was inaugurated in the period when relationships between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See were still suspended. The official version declared that the Hero directs his own glance to the Vatican. After the Lateran Treaty in 1929, the statue was turned to Janiculum for want of Vatican itself. A very popular Roman legend underlines that, in this way, now the horse offers its back to the Holy See. The monument has been restored by the Municipality of Rome in 1990:
The panoramic views are magnificent of Rome city. From the square opens one of the most beautiful views on Rome:
At the midday, from the balcony of the Piazzale takes place the everyday shot of the cannon giving a sign of the exact time. This tradition began in December 1847, when the cannon of the Castel Sant'Angelo was giving the official time of Rome and the sign to all the bell-towers to start ringing. On 24 January 1904 this custom was brought to Janiculum and continued till 1939. In 1959 the popular TV program, Il Musichiere, appealed to the authorities to continue the midday cannon tradition. The Commune of Rome accepted this request and on 21 April, 1959 fired the first shot. A traditional puppet theater holds performances here for kids on weekend mornings and evenings.
At the distance of approx. 50m. along the Passeggiata can be seen the equestrian Monument to Anita Garibaldi, erected in 1932 by the sculptor M.Rutelli, granted to Rome by the Brazilian Government in honor of her Brazilian origin, and incorporating her tomb:
A right turn here leads to the Passeggiata del Gianicolo, which runs along the ridge of the Gianicolo (or Janiculum) Hill towards the Vatican. Walk down along Passeggiata del Gianicolo. a few hundred metres further on and you see the Lighthouuse from the Italian community in Argentina, which shone (in the past) the colors of the Italian flag:
Further down, around the sweeping corner is a hospital for children where is appears currently there is no car park so cars are parked on the road either side. The road down is steep and unpathed from the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. Although stepping cuts in the ground it is not suitable to anyone that would have difficulty going down steps. After 10-15 minutes of walk down the hill - you get a nice view of Castel sant Angelo:
The Passeggiata di Gianicolo changes its name to Via Urban VIII and, further, to Via del Giancolo and, later, to Via della Lungara. Arriving to the Tiber river we face Ponte Principe Amadeo Savia Aosta.
We don't cross the bridge and continue walking northward along Lungotevere Sassia. The views, around, are wonderful. You get spectacular sight of Castel Sant Angelo (especially, in sunset hours):
Continuing north along Lungotevere Sassia (on our left - Ospidale Santo Spirito in sassia) we arrive to Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, again, with impressive views of the Sant Angelo Castle:
We turn LEFT to Via Pio X and again LEFT to Via della Conciliazione, arriving to Via Pio XII - and you see the Basilica St. Peter. Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, who had signed the accord with Vatican on behalf of the King, resurrected the idea of a grand thoroughfare symbolically connecting the Vatican to the heart of the Italian capital. To fulfill this vision, Mussolini turned to the prominent Fascist architects Marcello Piacentini and Attilio Spaccarelli. The main idea was a grand boulevard that would nonetheless obscure the majority of the Vatican buildings per Bernini's intentions. The vast colonnaded street required the clearance of the whole "spina" of Borgo placed in between the Basilica and the Castle. The construction of the road was only a small feature in the reconstruction of Rome ordered by Mussolini, which ranged from the restoration of the Castel Sant'Angelo, the clearance of the Mausoleum of Augustus, to the vastly more complicated site of the Via dell'Impero through Rome's ancient imperial remains. His plan was to transform Rome into a monument to Italian fascism. Construction of the road continued long after Mussolini's death and the abolition of Italian Fascism. The obelisks along the road were installed in time for the Jubilee of 1950. Since its completion, the road has acted as the primary access point to St. Peter's Square, and by extension to the Vatican City itself. At times, such as during the funeral of Pope John Paul II, it has acted as an extension to the square itself, allowing a greater number of visitors to attend functions conducted there:
Our sole purpose is having a prompt glance at the Piazza St. Pietro and the Basilica during the late evening, sunset hours. We devotes two special trips to the St. Peter Basilica, to St. Peter square and to the Vatican Museums: