The following itinerary is designed to give the visitor an overall view of this many faceted city. This route offers distinctive monuments, as well as panoramic views from the portico of the Altare della Patria as well as Campidoglo hill. In short, it gives you an historic 'excursus' through the beginnings of the empire up to today.
This walking tour starts and ends in Piazza Venezia and requires at least half a day, with brief stops in the museums.
This quadrangle shaped plaza dominated by the majestic Palazzo Venezia and the imposing Vittoriano memorial is considered to be the heart of Rome. All of the major boulevards: Via del Corso, Via Nazionale, Via dei Fori Imperiali, Via del teatro di Marcello and Corso Vittorio Emanuele converge here.
How to get to Piazza Venezia: buses 30, 62 63, 64, 70, 87, 186, 492, 628, 810, 916
This imposing structure, with its architectural mix of palatial lines with those of a medieval fortress, was built between 1455 and 1464 when it was commissioned by Cardinal Pietro Barbo, who later became Pope Paul II. The exquisite workmanship, whose author is unknown, is often attributed to the architect Leon Battisti Alberti. Of particular note are the: the angular tower, which emanates from the fašade, the lacework contours and the guelphen-cross shaped windows, which open into the piano nobile (main floor). From the second half of the 16th century to 1797, the building served as the headquarters for the Venetian ambassadors, hence the name. In 1797 it became the Austro/Hungarian embassy to the Vatican, until 1916 when it passed into the hands of the Italian government. It presently houses the Museo di Palazzo Venezia.
Via del Plebiscito, 118
Internet site: www.romecity.it
Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia
The museum is divided into three large sections, following the architectural flow of the Palace.
1. The Cybo Apartment: This section offers a rich array of objects from the medieval era subdivided into geographical areas. Within the collection are paintings from the 13th-18th centuries, including works by Pisanello, Sansovino and Giorgione. One room of the apartment has been installed with a frescoed ceiling from 1553 by Giorgio Vasari, recovered from the Loggia of Palazzo Altoviti, torn down in 1888 to make way for the Tiber river embankment.
2. Palazetto Venezia: This section houses a collection of Renaissance era bronzes, from such artists as: Giambologna and Del Riccio, and terra cotta models. Not to be missed are the Testa del Moro, l'Angelo col Titolo, by Bernini, for his works in Piazza Navona and Castel Sant'Angelo respectively.
3. Passagio dei Cardinali: This area, which was originally the fortress's battlement, then subsequently covered-over in the 18th century, now serves as a link between the preceding two museum sections. The passage itself houses a vast collection of foreign and domestic ceramic and porcelain pieces, from the 8th-19th centuries; including works from Faenza, Capodimonte, Deruta, Meissen, Sevres, and St. Petersburg.
Via del Plebiscito, 118
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 8:30 A.M.-7:00 P.M.; closed Mondays, Christmas day, New Year's day, May 1st, August 15th
Admission fee charged
Tel.: 06 67998865
THE VITTORIANO MONUMENT
This Greco-italic monument, conspicuous for the blinding whiteness of its white marble construction materials, was designed and built by G. Sacconi between 1889 and 1911. It celebrates the unification of Italy and is dedicated to King Vittorio Emanuele II, immortalized in the centrally positioned, bronze, equestrian statue, which sits atop a platform representing the principal Italian cities, and is accessible by two lateral stairways. Higher-up is another platform with 16 columns flanked by two bronze chariots.
This level offers a spectacular panorama of the city. From there, a central stairway takes you to the Altare della Patria (altar to the fatherland), by A.Zanella. In the centre is his statue depicting Roma. On the sides are two bas-relief sculptures: on the left is Il Trionfo di Lavoro (the triumph of work), and on the right, Il Triunfo della Patria (The triumph of the Fatherland). The tomb of the Unknown Soldier lies at the foot of Roma. There are two museums within the Vittoriano complex: Il Museo Centrale del Risorgimento and the Museo Sacrario delle Bandiere delle Forze Armate.
Museo Centrale del Risorgimento
Piazza del Risorgimento, 46
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 A.M.- 6:00 P.M. closed Mondays
Tel.: 06 6780664/6793398
Internet site: www.risorgimento.it
This museum contains documents, artefacts and paintings illustrating the evolution of Italian society from the 18th century through the Jacobean Republic, unification, and up until the beginning of the Great War. It was reopened to the public in 2001, thanks to the collaboration of the Luce Institute, which offers newsreels depicting soldiers' lives on the front lines and sailors' lives on naval ships, as well as certain battles from the First World War.
Museo Sacrario delle Bandiere delle Forze Armate
Via dei Fori Imperiali
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 9:30 A.M.-3:30 P.M., Saturday and Sunday 9:30 A.M.-7:30 P.M., closed Monday, Nov. 1st, Christmas Day, New year's Day, Apr. 25th, May 1st
Tel.: 06 4735002
This museum houses all war flags pertaining to the Italian Naval, Land and Air forces, from the country's unification to present day. The oldest flags in the collection are the Army's 'I fanteria Re' from 1848 and the navy's 'Fregata garibaldi (1860-1894)
One of the seven hills, on this, Rome's history began. It was the original political and religious centre, and seat of the acropolis. Its twin, 50-meter summits were home to the ancient temples of Juno (now the site of Saint Mary d'Aracoeli church) and Jupiter Capitoline.
This plaza is accessible in three ways: by the Santa Maria d'Aracoeli stairway, the tortuous Via delle Tre Pile, and between them, the only vehicle accessible street, designed by Michelangelo, is the majestic Cordonata. Flanked by two ornamental gardens, on the left, stands the statue of the famous tribune Cola di Renzo, who, on that very spot, faced the crowds after the Papacy riots in 1354. The foot of the Cordonata is guarded by two Egyptian lions, while on the summit's panoramic terrace and balustrade, towers the statue dedicated to Castor and Pollux along with trophies, statues and columns dating back to the Imperial era.
The plaza, designed by Michelangelo in 1536 occupies the flat area between the two peaks. The majestically ingenious design of the pavement, of black and white marble, which intertwines to form a flower and star in the middle, creates an illusion, converting its trapezoidal shape into an oval. Despite its modest dimensions, the unity of composition illustrates perfectly the regal concept of Renaissance public space. In the middle of the star sits a bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius from the 2nd century A.D. Traces of ancient guiltwork can still be seen on the statue. Legend has it, that when the last of the guilt has worn off, the world will end.
Rising above the plaza is the Senatorial Palace, built by Giacomo della Porta and Girolamo Rinaldi, on the foundations of the ancient Tabulorium or state archives. The palace is overseen by the Capitoline tower, by Martino Longhi del Vecchio (1582). The wise hand of Michelangelo may also be seen in the double stairway opposite the palace and its two perfectly symmetrical lateral buildings (Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo), placed obliquely, in such a way as to give the illusion of a much larger space.
Palazzo Nuovo - Tabularium - Palazzo dei Coservatori - Pinacoteca
Piazza del Campidoglio
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 9:00A.M..-8:00 P.M.; closed Monday, Christmas Day, new year's day, May 1st
Entrance fee charged
Tel.: 0667102475, reservations: 06 39967400
Internet site: www.museicapitolini.org
Pope Sixtus IV founded this museum, considered to be the oldest in the world, in 1471, with his donation to the people of Rome, of the Laterine bronzes (the She-wolf, the Spinario, Camillus and of the head of Constantine from the colossal sculpture, with the globe of power in his hand). Originally placed around the fašade in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, they were the first of many works, subsequently added over the centuries, from different excavations around the city. Notable among these are: the guilded-bronze statue of Hercules, from the Foro Boario, Fragments of Constantine's massive statue which was originally located in the basilica di Massenzio, three reliefs depicting the deeds of Marcus Aurelius, and the so called 'Brutto Capitolino'. Another important addition was donated in 1566 by Pope Pius V, who wished to rid the Vatican collection of all 'pagan idol' images.
The result of renovations by Michelangelo, who brought numerous statues here. The collection was enriched with such outstanding works as: the Roman copy of a Helenistic original 'Venus of Cnido' 2nd century B.C.), 'Fauno' (rosso antico), the Centaurs, the dove mosaic taken from the Villa Adriana of Tivoli and the staue of Galata Morente.
After 1870 the number of works on display increased, thanks to excavations in the area of Roma Capitale and donations by Castellani, of Greek, Etruscan and Italic vases; also the installation of the 'Medagliere Capitalino' collection.
Accessible through a subterranean tunnel, which runs under the piazza, and overlooking the Roman Forum, this area houses the ancient public archives of the people of Rome. Don't miss the temple of Veio, built in the foundations of the Senatorial Palace.
Palazzo dei Conservatori
A pleasant stroll away from the Tabularium a spacious courtyard filled with many valuable ancient sculptures. The main stairway rises to the building's original nucleus, with its frescoes by Orazio and Curiazi, The history of Rome, played out on these walls, is by Cavalier Arpino and his associates, dating from 1595-1640.
Reopened to the public in 1999, this gallery houses paintings in chronological order, from the late medieval era to the 18th century. The bulk of the collection is from the Veneto and Ferrarese schools. Outstanding among them are: The Baptism of Christ by Titian, The Rape of Europe by Veronese and The Holy family by Dosso Dossi. There are also two works by Caravaggio (San Giovannino and Buona Ventura), as well as mythical pieces by Pietro Cortona (The Rape of the Sabine Women, The Sacrifice of Polissena and The triumph of Baccus). Also of note is a large number of works by Guido Reni, among them, a painting of Young Saint Sebastian and several from his later years. On its own, is a monumental altarpiece, which was commissioned by Pope Gregory XV (1622-23), by Guercino, depicting Saint Petronilla. Among the foreign artists represented are: Rubens and associates (canvas with Romulus and Remus being nursed by the she-wolf; 1617-18), allegories by Vouet, and portraits by Van Dyck (1627-29) and Velasquez (1630).
SANTA MARIA IN ARACOELI
This 5th century basilica, according to legend, was built on the Campidoglio site where the Sibylline appeared to Augustus, predicting the coming of the Saviour. In the 10th century, it passed into the hands of the Benedictines, and in 1250 to the Franciscans, who remodelled it in Romanesque-Gothic style. The church's bare, terracotta fašade rises from the set of stairs, found to the right of the Museo Capitolino. Inside are three naves, divided among 22 columns. On the lateral entrance door hangs a 13th century mosaic of the Madonna and child. The intricate ceiling from 1575, is engraved with images commemorating the victory at Lepanto. To the right of the central door is a monument to cardinal Albret by Andrea Bregno (1435), and close by is Giovanni Crivelli's tombstone by Donatello (1432).
Inside the Bufalini chapel, frescos by Pinturicchio illustrate the life of St. Bernard as well as the stigmata of St. Francis. On display at the far end of the main nave, are two mosaic parchments by Lorenzo and Giacomo Cosma. A beautiful 12th century Byzantine Madonna can be found on the altar of the Capella Maggiore. In the centre of the left-hand transit, in an area with eight columns, now known as the St. Elena chapel, is where Augustus' original shrine to the Sibylline stood. In a small chapel, on the left hand side of the sacristy, sits a small statue of Jesus, to which letters of devotion are addressed, from all over the world.
Wether of Rome