Rome

Rome feels like a second home for us.

We have been traveling to and staying in Rome since we were maried. For us, it is not a mater of having to visit specific sights, but deciding where we want to go on an individual day. Once the pressure of sights to see passes, it is easier to enjoy the city and being there.

Our walks take us to iconic locations. We would typically make our way to Trevi Fountain, however, last year (2017) we are starting to feel it is not worth visiting because of the crowds. It is so crowded it is unbearable. There is also a new level of annoyance. If you sit on the edge of the fountain, the police blow a whistle. With the crowds, there is a non-ending noise. Although, since it is ony a few blocks from the best pen store in Rome, Novelli Pen, we will probably going by the fountain every year we are there.

We then leave on Via delle Muratte, which is an interesting and busy small street as it is on the way to the Patheon. But we turn on the second left at Via di Santa Maria in Via. This takes us through the Galleria Sciarra Colonna and then to the small street of Via di San Marcello. This is a short stop, but this small galleria is quite elegant and restoration is now complete.

On via di San Marcello we visit with our friend Marco Parascenzo at Novelli Pen. We have a tradition with Marco to go to lunch at L'Archetto, on via dell'Archetto, 26 for a great pasta.

From there we make our way back to the Via del Corso and we walk along Via di Pietra past the columns of the Temple of Hadrian at the Piazza di Pietra. We continue along Via dei Pastini. If we cut down to the Via dei Seminario that takes us by the Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio, the Sant'Ignazio. - go in and look up at the ceiling. These routes take us to the Pantheon.

It is then a few more blocks, which takes us past the Sant'Eustachio as well as some pretty impressive government offices complete with police guards to the Piazza Navona.

Hard to believe but it was only on our most recent trip that we spent some time in Trastevere. There are some quaint streets.

So that is just one of our regular walks. There are other places we vist, and so many places to see in Rome, but this walk is one of our traditions.

 

 

Let's Explore Rome

Trevi Fountain

Trevi FountainWe have been returning to Rome ever since we were married. A trip to Rome has always included walking by the Trevi Fountain, sitting on the ledge of the fountain and throwing a coin over our shoulder. The saying goes that this will ensure you will return to Rome. It must have worked as we have been returning year after year.

Now in 2017 I find myself travelling at run rise or late in the evening to catch the fountain. During the day, the crowds around the fountain are unbearable. Forget about sitting on the edge and throwing a coin. Now if you sit on the edge a whistle is blown and you are told to get off. A lot of whistling blowing on our last visit.
The fountain is the end of the Acqua Vergine, an update on an ancient aqueduct that supplied water to Rome in 19 BC.

In 1629 Pope Urban VIII requested Gian Lorenzo Bernini to renovate the original fountain. We could be looking at another Berini classic, but the Pope died, Bernini never completed his work. Pope Clement XII awarded the work to Nicola Salvi. Work began in 1732, however, Salvi died in 1751. Enter another artist, the fountain was finished by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762.

Famed director Federico Fellini shot his fountain scene for the movie La Dolce Vita. When actor Marcello Mastroianni died in 1996, the fountain was draped in black and the water turned off to honour the star, Marcello Mastroianni.

In 2015 the fountain was drained and extensive repairs undertaken. Crowds will came, even when with the barricaded. The visit could look through a plexiglass window.


Galleria Sciarra Colonna

Galeria Sciarra ColonnaThis is one of my favorite places in Rome. We walk through this galleria on our way to Novelli Pen to visit our friend Marco Parascenzo. Over the years we have always stopped in the galleria to admire the painting and decorations. I remember on our first visits to Rome it was semi abandoned with an eerie feel. But restoration work took place and now it is stunning, and sadly for me, very popular.

The former family palace of Prince Maffeo Sciarra Colonna sat on what is now Via del Corso, block over from the Galleria. Owning the land behind his palace in 1870 he decided to build a retail galleria. Gallerias were becoming popular in Eruope. He thought that its central location, in fashionable area, would be ideal for a shopping arcade. Across from the galleria he built the theatre Quirino.

Evern with more people wallking through the galleria, there is a beautiful feeling of solitude when you walk into the inner courtyard. The Prince spared no expense for its decoration, he awarded a commissioned to the painter Giuseppe Cellini. Architect Giulio De Angelis was responsible for the design of the galleria that includes a cast iron glassed canopy and elegant designs on of the supporting structures. Every inch of the interior of the arcade is painted and decorated. There are large frescoes portrayed scenes of family life having a moral intent, long Latin inscriptions celebrated the virtues of motherhood -- “Little one Begins or child to know from the smile of the mother”. There are also various coat of arms of the family (Colonna/Barberini) as well as the initials of Maffeo Sciarra on the interior walls.

The galleria, however, failed and this was coupled with the overall financial trouble of the Prince. He went broke and had to sell art collection and eventually not only the galleria but even his family palace.

Today the family palace, located on Via del Croso is a bank. We have walked by it many times and until now, never knew the history of the Prince, or the beautify Galleria Sciarra Colonna which stands around the corner.

The galleria remains a private building, and it is closed on Sundays.

 

Sant'Ignazio

Sant'lgnazio - Rome

The church is dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola, the founder the of the Jesuit order located in Rome. The church was built in the period of 1626 to 1650.

Inside therre are impressive Corinthian pilasters, marble of various colours, stucco reliefs and lots of gilding. Andrea Pozzo painted much of the interior. The ceiling fresco is known as The Apotheose of S. Ignazio. The Trompe'loeil (a method of paintings that means to trick the eye, creates a three dimensional depth) painting across the ceiling is impressive.

The painted ceiling is one of the best examples of Trompe'loeil painting and is noted in most books on art.

As you move your eye around the edges you will see the four continents referenced: Europe, Asia, Africa and America. There are enough chapels and naves, sculptures and a dome to make this chruch well worth a visit.

 

Pantheon

Pantheon

How many times can I go the Pantheon? I let you know when I reach my limit but in the many years we have stayed in Rome, it is still a location that fascinates me.

Accordining to information released at the end of 2017, starting in 2018 you will be required to purchase a ticket for entry.

During the day the crowds in the Piazza dell Rotunda are thick, and at night you will find many walking around the piazza. But arrive first thing in the morning it is a sight to see.

Walk around the exterior walls of the Pantheon for glimpse of its grand achitecture.

Here is a structure that is meant to remain. It was built by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to the gods of Rome in 27 BC. Fires in Rome destroyed the building. Rebuilt by Domitian and then again struck by fire in 110 AD. In 126 AD by Emperor Hadrian rebuilt the structure.

The structure was consecrated as a church, and this saved the building from destruction, a fate of many ancient Roman buildings during the medieval period.

The external marble has been stripped but inside, the marble, although restored, is beautiful. It is a remarkable building, and there it stands, some 2,000 years and it still has the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.

The oculus, the whole in the centre of the dome, is the only source of light for the interior and sunlight moves around the interior of the building like a sundial. The whole is always open and there is a drainage system under the floor for rainwater to leave the building.

Pope Urban VIII has the bronze ceiling of the portico melted down and used for work on the Castel Ant'Angelo among other locations.

The inside has the tombs on people that include painter Raphael, composer Corelli and architect Peruzzi as well as Vittoria Emanuelle II and Umberto I, two Kings of Italy.

 

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

The space was originally the ancient Roman Stadium of Domitian. A piece of the foundation can been seen in an excavation area long the outside. It was in the 15th century, when the City Market moved from the Campidoglio to the Piazza Navona that it became a high profile public space. The market was moved to the Campo de'Fiori in 1869.

It is a Baroque architectural delight. In the centre stands the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Along one side is the Sant'Agnese in Agone church designed by Francesco Borromini and Girolamo Rainaldi.

At the north end is the Fountain of Neptune, Rome, created by Giacomo della Porta. It was added in 1878 to make the overall piazza more balanced as there is also a fountain at the south end, La Fountana del Moro.

In 2005 we planned a group event, the Amalfi Event. The grand plan is that we would all enter the Piazza Navona, by a different entrance and meet at the fountain. Great plan. Unfortunately a serious rain storm hit Rome that evening and we all met, huddled under the canopies of the cafes and line the piazza and drank Prosecco for the evening!

 

Spanish Steps

Spanish StepsI am not sure why we always return to the Spanish Steps but sure enough, at one point on a visit to Rome we are there!. Good to have some traditions.

The steps are noted to be the longest and widest staircase in Europe. The 138 steps were built between 1723-1725.

Today, here is another of the mega crowd locations in Rome. However, if you stay in the area, and walk over very early in the morning, then they do look good in the soft morning light and there is a peace about the place.

 

St Peter's Basilica

The line-ups to get into St. Peter's now make it an event to enter and enjoy this truly remarkable basilica. But on our 2017 visit, I headed off first thing in the morning you will miss the crowds. Just do not go there on a Wednesday morning. Literally thousands come to see the Pope.

We can remember of our first trips to Rome where we would just walk over to the Vatican, walk up the steps and into the Basilica. Now it is a little more complicated. Dress appropriately. Don't wear gym type shorts or you will be denied entry. . Bare shoulders or bare thights do not cut it.

The inside is massive. It is the largest interior of any Christian church and can hold 60,000 people. Below is the burial site of Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.

The dome rises to a height of 136.5 metres above the floor and is the tallest dome in the world. It is just a bit smaller than the dome on the Pantheon and the Cathedral in Florence. Originally designed by Michaelangelo, it was finished with some alteration in design in 1590, after his death. When you look up, the letters around the base of the dome are each 6 and a half feet high and read: ...you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. ... I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

On my 2017 stay in Rome I decided it was time to take the climb and I went to the top of the dome. Well worth it although it is a climb that requires you to be fit. The stairs that take you to the top are built in the space between the outer and inner dome. At times you are literally leaning to the right pushing against the inner walk as you climb the narrow stairs.

 

Basilica of St. John Lateran

Basilica of St John LateranWhile St. Peter's Basilica is the big draw in terms of churches in Rome, the Basilica of St. John Lateran should not be overlooked. The basilica is located outside the boundary of the Vatican City but within Rome, and holds special status as property of the Holy See. It is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome and contains the papal throne. It ranks above other Roman Catholic Churches, including St. Peter's Basilica.

The structure of the basilica is built on the remains of a structure from Roman times, and the Lateran Palace has changed a number of times, eventually being converted as well as enlarged to become the cathedral of Rome, the official seat of the popes as bishops of Rome.

One of the sights I like very much is the Benedictine Monastery and its cloisters which date back to the 13th century and show Romanesque and Gothic style. (See Travels to Cloisters).

Cloisters Basilica of St John Lateran

Large, impressive, and the cloisters bring it your visit form one of walking through a large impersonal cathedral to a personal experience in a peacefull environment.

There were some fires and over the hundreds of years some decline in the building. When the Popes returned to Rome from Avignon, France they concluded that the basilica was no no longer appropriate and resided in other locations in rome until moving to Palace of the Vatican.

Inside the basilica, along both sides, are sculptures of the apostles. Although the space for the sculptures was part of the original design, they were only added in 1703 by Pope Clement XI. They are massive and tower above you as you walk or sit in one of the chairs.

We did not, but you could climb the Scala Sancta, the Holy Stairs, moved from Jerusalem in 326 A.D, .that Jesus Christ climbed in Jerusalem during his trial. Wood covers the 28 marble stairs and you have to go up the stairs on your knees. If that is not for you, there are other staircases open to the public.

The Baptistery is outside (northeast) the Cathedral connected by a covered walkway. Eight columns topped by marble Corinthian capitals are inside along with mosaics from the 5th century. The large octagonal basin was used for full immersions during baptism.

Take the Metro, Line A, to the San Giovanni Station.

Colosseum

ColosseumWe remember our earlier stays in Rome when we could just walk up to and into the Colosseum. There were no ticket gates or lineups. Now it is all very different.

Today you buy tickets, wait in lines, follow a set route to walk the various levels of the Colosseum.

This was the largest Roman amphitheatre built and it dates from 70 or 72 AD being completed in 80 AD. It could hold some 50,000. It still stands despite the work of those who stole it stones and the damage due to earthquakes. The most damage by earthquakes occurred in 1349 when a large portion of the south wall collapsed. Stones were taken and used for buildings in Rome. Not only where stones removed, but the bronze clamps that held the stonework were removed and today the building has the pockmarks of the former clamps.

It is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Vespasian lived to see three levels of the Colosseum built, with the top level completed by his don Titus in 80 AD.

I must admit, my visit to the Colosseum in 2009, with the tickets, a 20 minute wait to get in, and the crowds inside was not a moving as some of our previous visits, it is still one of the must-see structures of Rome. Despite the people, find a spot where you can be alone for a moment and look out at the inside structure. It is very impressive.

In 2007 the Colosseum was added to the one of the the lists of New Seven Wonders of the World.

The Colosseum is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Vespasian lived to see three levels of the Colosseum built, with the top level completed by his don Titus in 80 AD.

I must admit, my visit to the Colosseum in 2009, with the tickets, a 20 minute wait to get in, and the crowds inside was not a moving as some of our previous visits, it is still one of the must-see structures of Rome. Despite the people, find a spot where you can be alone for a moment and look out at the inside structure. It is very impressive.

In 2007 the Colosseum was added to the one of the the lists of New Seven Wonders of the World.

Basilica San Paolo fuori le Mura

Basilica San Paolo Fuori le Mura CloistersThis is an impressive basicilia with a rich history. We specifically went to see the cloisters which were built between 1220 and 1241. The San Paolo is easy to get to. Just take the Metro and get off at the San Paolo stop. More information on the cloisters and the bascilica is on the Travels to Cloisters web site.

You can take the metro with only a short walk of a few blocks to visit the Basilica. If your time in Rome is short, grab a taxi.

 

Piazza del Popolo

The name is the piazza of the people. Of note on this piazza are the two churches that sit across from each other. The Santa Maria dei Miracoli and the Santa Maria in Montesanto stand on either side of Via Del Corso. Del Corso leaves the Piazza del Popolo and travels down towards the Via Venezia. They look like they are mirrors of each other but they are both different sizes and shapes. Looking towards via del Corso, the Santa Maria, on the left, is smaller. Being smaller it has an oval dome while the Santa Maria dei Miracoli on the right has a circular dome.

Piazza del PopoloIn Roman days, this was the start of the Via Flaminia, the road to what is now Rimini on the east coast, to the north. The ancient via Flaminia was one of the most important roads into Rome, so this is where many would have entered the city. On the north side of the piazza is the Porta del Popolo. The gate, or port, was built in 1562 (Pope Pius IV).

The piazza as it stands today was designed in 1811 to 1822. The Egyptian Obelisk of Sety, is the second oldest, and tallest that stands in Rome. It is from Heliopolis and dates from the era of Ramese II and came to Rome in 10 BC. It originally stood in the Circus Maximus and then moved to the Piazza (Pope Sixtus V).

The Trident is the reference to the three streets that branch out from the north of the piazza: in the centre: (1) via del Corso was the ancient via Lata that led to Piazza Venezia; (2) via Ripetta goes past the Mausoleum of Augustus and leads to the Tiber River; the (3) Via del Babuino (named after a grotesque sculpture of Silenus - given the label the Baboon, leads to the Piazza di Spagna.

The aqueduct Vergine Nuova (1820) brought water into the piazza for the fountains.

The area of Rome from the Piazza del Popolo up to the Spanish Steps is one of the areas enjoyed by movie director Fellini. One of his favorite places was the Café Canova.

Piazza del Campidoglio

Piazza del Campidoglio

Locataed on the Capitoline Hill, Campidoglio sits between the Roman Forum and the Campus Martius. This is one of the seven hills of Rome.

Now the primary sights on the h ill are the Medieval and Renaissance palaces that now house the Capitoline Museums. Between the two palaces is the piazza designed by Michelangelo. in 1536 to 1546.

A copy of Marcus Aurelius stands in the piazza. Go into the museum to see the original work.

The palaces hold the oldest public galleries in the world. The collections in the museums have been open to the public since 1734. When visiting, besure to use the underground walkway what connects the two museums. Each of the museums hold different collections.

The grand stairway, the Cordonata, was designed by Michelangelo to be wide enough for horse riders would ascent the hill without dismounting.

Next to the piazza is the impressive church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli.

 

Palazzo Mattei di Giove

Palazzo Mattei di Giove

The Palazzo Mattei di Giove, located at Via Caetani 32, is the most prominent among a group of Mattei houses in Rome.  Designed at the beginning of the 17th Century. The outside facade is more of a Florentine look, but the couretyard is a tribute to ancient Rome. Many busts and reliefes. The palazzo is now the home of the Centre for American Studies, The State Record Library, the Historical InTrtitute for Modern & Contemporary Age and the Library of Modern and Contempory History.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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