Author: Lorena Ferraroli
How to resume in just 10 steps the magnificence of this city? Every street, every path and every angle are rich of art and culture, reminiscences of a glorious past from 753 BC to nowadays. The aim of this article is simply to give you a little taste of this city, and maybe to grow the desire to visit it as soon as possible.
The name comes from the two Greek words “pan” (all) and “theon” (gods). Originally, the Pantheon was a small temple dedicated to all Roman gods. Built between 25 and 27 B.C. by the consul Agrippa, Prefect of the Emperor Augustus, the present building is the result of subsequent and heavy restructuring. It was rebuilt in its present shape by the Emperor Hadrian. Under his reign Rome reached its maximum splendour and the present structure is probably the fruit of his eclectic genius and exotic tastes. In fact, the Pantheon combines a clearly Roman, cylindrical structure with the splendid outer colonnade of Greek inspiration and it is the oldest standing domed structure in Rome. At the centre of the dome there is the Oculus, a big hole, the only source of light that does its best with the midday light.
- Trevi’s fountain
Measuring some 20 meters in width by 26 meters in height, Trevi Fountain is the largest and most famous fountain in the city. The origins of the fountain go back to the year 19 B.C., in which period the fountain formed the end of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct. The first fountain was built during the Renaissance, under the direction of Pope Nicholas V. The final appearance of the Trevi Fountain dates from 1762, when after many years of works at the hand of Nicola Salvi, it was finalized by Giuseppe Pannini. Little known fact, the name of Trevi derives from Tre Vie (three ways), since the fountain was the meeting point of three streets.
- Piazza Navona – fontana dei quattro fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers)
In the centre of Piazza Navona, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi was designed by Bernini in 1651. The four statues represent the most important rivers of the continents where Christianity had spread: the Nile, Danube, the Ganges and Rio de la Plata.
The Colosseum is the main symbol of Rome. It is an imposing construction that, with almost 2000 years of history, will bring you back in time to discover the way of life in the Roman Empire. The construction of the Colosseum began in the year 72 A.C under the empire of Vespasian and was finished in the year 80 during the rule of the emperor Titus. With its magnitude, the Colosseum became the greatest Roman amphitheatre, measuring 188 meters in length, 156 meters in width and 57 meters in height. During the Roman Empire and under the motto of “Bread and Circuses” the Roman Colosseum (known then as Flavian Amphitheatre) allowed more than 50,000 people to enjoy its finest spectacles. The exhibitions of exotic animals, executions of prisoners, recreations of battles and gladiator fights kept the Roman people entertained for years. Sometimes, is reported, it was even flooded to create great naval battles (naumachie).
- Trajan’s market
Situated on Via dei Fori Imperiali, Trajan’s Market is an archaeological complex that currently holds the Museum of Imperial Forums (Museo dei Fori Imperiali). It is considered Rome’s first “shopping center”. The complex, made of red brick and concrete, had six levels in which there was once up to 150 different shops and apartments. When you visit the Imperial Forum Museum, you can stroll through Mercati di Traiano’s various levels, as well as admiring several exhibitions that show the Imperial Forums’ different aspects. The exhibitions are comprised of models and videos that accompany the various remains that are left from the Imperial Forums to try to transport visitors to classical Roman times.
- Altare della Patria
This monument was inaugurated in 1911 as a tribute to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy after the unification. Inside the building there is the Institute for the History of the Italian Risorgimento and the Central Museum of the Risorgimento. Since 1921 it holds the tomb of the unknown soldier, a place in which the eternal flame shines and which is always guarded by two soldiers. One of the greatest attractions of the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele is the panoramic view that can be seen from the terrace located at the same height as the chariots. The perfect time to admire this panoramic view is just before the sunset, when the rays of the sun gently tinged the city with rosy reflections.
- Senate’s library
The Library’s foundation dates to 1848, the year in which a deliberative Senate (Senato del Regno) was established in Turin as part of the constitutional arrangements conceded by King Carlo Alberto. As benefits its dual character as the working library of a branch of the Italian Parliament and as a library with a long history, its rich collections of printed books and other classes of material constitute a major cultural resource. In recent years, its value to scholars has been greatly enhanced by the introduction of various types of digital resources, by the expansion of reference services, and by extending open access to publications on a wide range of specialist topics. The library of the Senate opened its doors to the public in 2003, and it is a real inspirational place to work and study.
- St. Louis of the French’s church
This is the official national church of France in Rome, at the indicated times you can attend to a very immersive mass (always in French obviously!) intercut with liturgical chants that create a great spiritual atmosphere. Besides this, the church hosts three Caravaggio paintings hanging in the Contarelli Chapel in the front left corner of the church. They were painted in the first years of the 1600s and all are centred around the life of St. Matthew, like the “Saint Matthew’s vocation”, famous for Caravaggio’s innovative studies on the light. Just amazing!
- St. Peter’s basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest temples for Christendom and one of the largest churches in the world. Besides, it is where the Pope presides many liturgies all year round. The construction of the new basilica began in 1506, when the old basilica had been torn down, and was finished in 1626. The basilica was called St Peter’s after one of Jesus’s twelve disciples known as Saint Peter, who became one of the founders of the Catholic Church and was executed in Rome and buried where the Basilica now stands. Visitors will be amazed by the huge dimensions…it can accommodate 20.000 people! On the inside will find extremely impressive pieces of art, including St. Peter’s Baldachin, a large bronze baldachin designed by Bernini, The Pietà, a sculpture by Michelangelo and the statue of St Peter on his throne. St Peter has his right foot worn down due to the touches of the devoted.
- Vatican museums
The Vatican Museums are the public art and sculpture museums in the Vatican City. They display works from the immense collection amassed by popes throughout the centuries including several of the most renowned Roman sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century. The Sistine Chapel with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze di Raffaello decorated by Raphael are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums. In 2017, they were visited by six million people, which combined makes them the 4th most visited art museum in the world.
The Fire in the Borgo is the most complex of the four episodes in the Stanza dell’Incendio di Borgo. It is full of references to classical antiquity, to medieval architecture at the time of the affirmation of the Church, and to themes used by contemporary artists. It celebrates the intercession of Leo IV, by whose grace a fire which spread through the Borgo, a popular section of Rome near the Basilica of St Peter, was extinguished.