Things to see and do - Rome
Postcard From Rome :
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Postcard From Rome
Postcard From RomePedestrian, 10 km, 3 days
A walk in the most popular and charming places of the "Eternal City" that allows you to discover the attractions of Rome.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
Inaugurated in 80 AD, the Flavian amphitheatre or Colosseum is the biggest in the Roman world (527m in circumference and 57m high). Three levels of arcades enclose this impressive arena built on part of the site occupied by Nero's Golden House. 50 000 spectators could watch its circus games, gladiator fights and even naval combats.
Designed and partially built by Michelangelo from 1536, the square is bordered by three palaces and a balustrade overlooking the statues of the Dioscuri; in the centre Michelangelo placed the statue of Marcus Aurelius (today a copy stands in its place, the original is in Palazzo Nuovo). From Via del Campidoglio there is a view over the ruins of the Forum Romanum.
Preceded by a fine flight of steps built in thanks after the plague in 1346, the church's façade is flat and austere. It is built on the site where the Tiber Sibyl is said to have announced the coming of Christ to Augustus. Inside, the first chapel on the right has frescoes by Pinturicchio (c 1485).
Often copied, this is the Jesuit church par excellence. It combines the solemnity and simplicity of the Counter-Reformation with some incredibly exuberant interior decoration from a century later, at the very height of Baroque movement. Baciccia's frescoes painted on the nave vault and the chapel of St Ignatius by Andrea Pozzo are wonderful. Some like it and some don't (Stendhal hated it), but it should be seen!
The Pantheon is the best preserved Classical building anywhere; a pagan temple, it was converted into a church in the 7C. It is entered through a portico supported by sixteen monolithic granite columns, all original save the three at the left-hand end. The interior is a masterpiece of harmony and grandeur, dominated by its original dome (as wide as the building is tall). Embellished by alternating rounded and triangular pediments, the side chapels house the tombs of Raphael and kings of Italy.
Piazza Navona retains a long narrow layout, as dictated by Domitian when he had a stadium built here in 86 AD for games. Traffic is banned, making it a pleasant and lively meeting place where in the evenings street artists of all kinds can be seen performing.
This makes for a magnificent scene, bristling with columns, triumphal arches, battered walls, temples converted into churches, and crisscrossed by paved streets, bearing witness to 12 centuries of history. Before starting a detailed exploration of the site, visitors should view it from atop the Capitoline Hill or the tabularium, forming a terrace in the Musei Capitolini overlooking the old city. From here, the forum can be seen in its melancholy majesty redolent of bygone great civilisations.
It is universally known since Anita Ekberg bathed in it, wearing an evening dress, in Dolce Vità. The monumental Trevi Fountain is a late Baroque masterpiece, erected by Nicola Salvi in 1732, on Pope Clement XII's orders. Its water comes from a 20 km-long canal, built by Agrippa in 19 B.C. The day-long crowd will force you to be patient before being able to throw two coins into it, as it is believed that this action will ensure your return to Rome.
Rome's most elegant square with tall façades in warm tones derives its name from the Spanish embassy based here in the 17C. It is dominated by its famous Trinità dei Monti steps (the Spanish Steps), near to which stands the Barcaccia Fountain (17C) by Bernini. A couple of private houses are worth noting: n°26, where the Romantic poet Keats lived, and n°31, home to Giorgio de Chirico.
Symbolising Roman elegance, this square is bordered by graciously fronted palaces, is decorated with ancient statues and an obelisk, and is adorned by a fountain. Sixtus V placed the Dioscuri from the Baths of Constantine here. Later, Pius VII erected an obelisk from the entrance to Augustus' mausoleum between them. Finally, Pius IX completed the decor with the addition of a handsome ancient basin.
This attractive and popular quarter teems with bohemian youth and trendy nightowls. Its little paved streets, houses with lopsided façades and workshops give it a village feel. Nearby, the slopes of the Janiculum Hill lead up to the botanical garden from where the view over Rome is breathtaking. Don't miss the basilica on the lovely Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, or the Villa Farnesina, a spectacular exercise in Renaissance refinement.