Rome is the capital of Italy and the largest city in this country.
There are lots of sights to enjoy in this city. Here you can see ancient ruins, churches (there should be around 900 of them!), palaces, museums et al.
I have visited Rome many times, but I still haven' t seen some things.
I will show you some things to see in Rome in this post.
One of the landmark in Rome is the Colosseum. It was originally known as Flavian Amphiteatre. The Colosseum was built on the site of an artificial lake belonged to Nero Domus Area' s gardens.
Its building was begun under emperor Vespasian in 72 A. D. It was inaugurated by Titus in 80 A. D. and completed by his brother Domitian in 82 A. D.
From second half of the VI century the Colosseum was used for other purposes than a stadium. For example it was occupied by the Frangipans; a family who built their fortress here in the XIII century. In 1750 pope Benedict XIV transformed it into a place where to commemorate the Christian martyrs. Moreover it was plundered to build other constructions in Rome.
This stadium is 188 per 150 meters large and has 80 arches used as entrances. So that people could enter or exit in a few minutes. It could hold up to 80.000 spectators.
Various games were held inside the Colosseum. For instance; fights between gladiators and fights between men and exotic animals. Most of the gladiators were slaves or prisoners of war. Even dramas and executions were held inside this stadium.
Sometimes the Colosseum was flooded for mock sea battles.
Entry to the Colosseum was free for all Roman citizens, but they were seated according to rank.
The Roman forum was the political, economical and religious center of Rome during the republic. Originally this site was a marsh. It was also used as cemetery. The Romans drained the area and built several temples and other buildings there.
The forum was later abandoned and filled in by a thick layer of earth, becoming a pasture known as Campus Vaccinus. Some temples were turned into churches.
There are several ruins you can find in the forum.
The regia. This was the residence of the kings. The curia; the meeting place of the senate. The rostra that was used as a tribune for orators. There are some temples, as the temple of Antonio and Faustina It was built in 141 A. D. by Antonius Pius in honor to his late wife Faustina. It was turned into the church of Saint Lorenzo in Miranda in the middle age.
There are two triumphal arches at the forum; the arch of Titus and the arch of Septimus Severus.
Once you visited the Forum you can walk up to the Palatine. This is a hill overlooking the Roman forum.
The Palatine was where Rome began as a village; supposedly founded by Romulus in the 8th century B. C. It was a residential district for the wealthy and aristocratic people in Roman time; as well as a number of emperors.
On this hill you can spend some time at the Orti Farnesiani. These gardens were built over the ruins of Tiberio' s palace in the XVI century by the cardinal Alessandro Farnese; pope Paolo III' s nephew. Their construction was finished in the XVII century.
On the Palatine you can visit some buildings; as Livia' s house (there are frescoes inside), but you must book a guided tour.
I recommend to take a good book with you or rent an audioguide to visit these sites; in order to know what you will see.
The Capitoline hill. In ancient Roman times there were various temples on this hill. There was the tabularium (the public Roman archive) and the mint of the Republican age as well.
Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitol square) is situated on the top of this hill. Michelangelo was commissioned to create this square in 1536, but much of the work on this square was done in the 17th century.
Michelangelo designed the new facades for the two buildings; Palazzo Senatorio and palazzo dei Conservatori. He designed a new palace; Palazzo Nuovo. In the center of the square is a statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius. It is a replica. Palazzo Senatorio houses the office of the mayor of Rome. Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo are used as museums. There are mostly ancient statues there.
You have to climb a long stairway to go up to piazza del Campidoglio; the Cordonata. This was designed by Michelangelo as well. At its top there are two big statues of Castor and Pollux.
The Pantheon is a well preserved Roman temple turned into a church. Originally it was built by Augustus' son in law Marcus Vespasianus Agrippa in 27 B. C. Between 118 and 125 A. D. it was completely rebuilt by Hadrian. It was dedicated to all the gods.
After other restorations it fell in a state of neglect until 608, when it was given by emperor Phocas to pope Boniface VIII who transformed it into the church of Saint Mary and Marthyrs.
The Pantheon is 43 meters both in diameter and in height. The only source of light inside this building is a hole on its dome.
It is the resting place of several important Italians.
Piazza di Spagna. This square takes its name from the Spanish embassy of the Holy See (of the Vatican) that was located here.
Piazza di Spagna is known for the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti (Spanish Steps). This long staircase was built between 1721 and 1725. It links the square with the square where the church of Trinità dei Monti is situated. At the bottom of the stairs there is a fountain called "la Barcaccia". It was designed by Pietro Bernini and his son, Gian Lorenzo.
Piazza Navona was built on the site of the Domitian stadium. Here athletic games named "agones", chariot races and other sports were held. Since the 17th century until mid 19th century it was partially flooded for mock naval battles (naumachias). This square also served as a marketplace from 1477 to 1869.
There are three beautiful fountains here. One of these is the fountain of the Four Rivers. It was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and was built by some of his pupils in 1651.
The huge statues part of this fountain represent the four rivers known at that time. The Gange, the Danube, the Nile and the Rio de la Plata. The other fountains are; the Fountain of the Moor and the Fountain of the Neptune.
In piazza Navona there are two churches; the church of Saint Agnese in Agone and the church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. This square is surrounded by several restaurants, cafes and shops. A Christmas market is held every year here.
There are several viewpoints in Rome. You have to know this city was built on seven hills. One of the viewpoints is situated on the Pincian Hill. This hill overlooks piazza del Popolo. To get there you have to climb the flight of stairs you see and you will arrive up to this hill; at piazzale Napoleone. From this large square you will enjoy a very beautiful view of the city.
The Pincian hill is not one of the seven hills. It is part of Villa Borghese (a park). This site was a favourite site by the ancient Romans who built villas and gardens here. The name Pincius comes from one of the families that settled here; the Pincii.
This hill was laid out between 1809 and 1814 by the architect Giuseppe Valadier.
The Trevi fountain. This large fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi from an earlier plan by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, but it was completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762. The central figure of this monument is Neptune; god of the sea. He rides a shell shaped chariot drawn by two sea horses. One of them is calm and the other one wild. They simbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. To the sides are statues of abundance and salubrity.
This fountain is situated at the end of an aqueduct built in 19 B. C. and it lies where three roads intersect. Hence the name; Trevi (tre vie means "three roads" in Italian)
A legend says that if you throw a coin into this fountain, over your left shoulder you' ll come back to Rome.
Saint Ignatius church. This church was built between 1626 and 1685. It is dedicated to Saint Ignatius of Loyola; the founder of the Jesuite order.
This was the second church on this spot. Its main highlight is the troemp l' oeil frescoes painted in 1685 by Andrea Pozzo. One of these is on the ceiling of the nave. It depicts the entry of Ignatius into paradise. The other is a fake dome on canvases which was meant to be a temporary work. This was painted due to the lack of funds. To appreciate the troemp l' oeil effect of these works there are two yellow spots on the floor where you have to stand on.
Campo de Fiori is a nice square with some cafes, restaurants and shops. Every morning, until 1. 30 p.m. a food market is held here. There are also clothes on sale here.
According to a legend, the name of this square derives from Flora; a woman loved by Pompeo, or maybe because there was a field of flowers in XV century in this area. Campo de' Fiori (in Romanesque dialect) means literally field of flowers.
The big statue you see in the center of the square represents Giordano Bruno. He was a philosopher burnt at stake for heresy in the 1600.
There are some nice spots in Rome!
..and also lots fountains!
There are many statues too.
Trastevere is a district in Rome on the west bank of the Tiber. Its name derives from the Latin word "trans Tiberim" that means beyond the Tiber.
Here there are some churches to visit. Be sure not to miss Santa Maria in Trastevere church and its ancient mosaics. You could also visit Santa Cecilia and San Crisogono churches.
Another thing to do in Trastevere is to get lost and enjoy this beautiful neighborhood.
There are lots of restaurants, cafes and various shops in Trastevere.
Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the curches you can visit in this area.
It is said it was Saint Callistus who founded a church where this church is located; in 22 A. D. The church was rebuilt in the IV century. It was enlarged in the IX century. Then it was rebuilt in the XII century and modified between 1550
Inside you can see various beautiful mosaics. The ones on the apse were made in the XII century. Below them are mosaics scenes depicting the life of the Virgin. These date back to 1291.
The facade of the church is decorated with 12th - 13th century mosaics.
There is an old pharmacy in the Trastevere area; the Farmacia della Scala. It was opened to the public (for the popes; their families and for wealthy people) in 1700.
This pharmacy is not far from Santa Maria in Trastevere church. It is housed into the same building of the Farmacia della Scala (the new pharmacy).
It is quite difficult to visit this old pharmacy. First you have to convince the priest who lives there to let you in ... If you' ll succeed, you will be offered a guided tour of the place.
I discovered L' Insalata Ricca restaurant by change. I was looking for my favourite restaurant; Tosca. Unfortunately they closed it down. It was located next door to L' Insalata Ricca.
This restaurant has three dining rooms where around 150 people can be seated. It has several outside chairs and tables to use if the weather is fine.
Here several kind of salads are served; in large bowls. If you don' t fancy a salad for lunch or dinner you can have pasta, other kinds of first courses and several meat dishes.
L' Insalata Ricca is a chain of restaurants. These are located in several areas of Rome. I went to the one in largo dei Chiavari.
Habana Cafe is a restaurant, but also a place where you can listen to live music at night.
I discovered this restaurant after having checked the prices of the restaurants near the Pantheon. I thought the prices in that area were quite high.
At Habana Cafe there are three kinds of menu at fixed price. For instance; you can have an appetizer ( salad, or cold cuts for instance), a first course and a drink for 10 euros only. If you order "a la carte" you won' t spend much.
There is a dining room inside this restaurant and a outdoor area where to stay if the weather is fine.
There is a castle in Rome; Castel Sant' Angelo.
It was built around 123 d. C. as a tomb for emperor Adrian and his successors. It was completed by Antoninus Pius in 139.
The name Castel Sant Angelo comes from the legend of Saint Gregorio Magno who had a vision of an angel appearing on the fortress, and announcing the end of the plague.
In the fifth century the castle was converted into a fortress and incorporated into the city defensive walls. During the middle ages it was occupied by many noble families. In 1377 it came under full papal control. In the XIVth century, pope Nicholas III linked the castle with a covered passageway to the Vatican; the so called passetto di Borgo. So the popes could seek refuge in the castle if the Vatican was besieged. From the late 1400 the papal apartments were built inside the castle. Castel Sant Angelo was also used as a prison and execution place.
The castle is made of five levels. On the forth you can visit some papal rooms. There are some nice covered passages around the castle where you can enjoy some beautiful views over the city and rest a bit.
There are some facilities inside the castle; as a cafe restaurants, the toilets and a lift for disabled people.
Saint Peter' s basilica is located on the site where Saint Peter was buried between 64 and 68 A. D. The current church was built from 1506 to 1626 due to the bad state of the previous one. Several artists worked on this church between these centuries; as Bramante, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is a huge church; (218 per 133.30 meters) and full of beautiful works of art. The basilica has 45 altars and 11 chapels.
One of its highlights is Michelangelo' s Pietà . It is located in the first chapel on the right. He sculpted it when he was 25. Another main sight is Bernini' s canopy. It is situated over the papal altar.
Once you visited the church you can climb to the top of the dome (cupola). It was designed by Michelangelo in 1547 but it was finished by his pupil; Giacomo della Porta, after Michelangelo' s death. From the top of the dome you can see a great landscape of Rome.
Before entering the basilica you see a very large square. It was designed by Bernini and built between 1656 and 1667. It is a elliptical esplanade bordered by four rows of columns topped with 96 statues of saints.
This church is located in Città del Vaticano. It is a small country inside Rome.
At the crossroad between via XX Settembre and via delle Quattro Fontane you can see four large fountains. These were commissioned by pope Sisto V between 1588 and 1593.
Two of these are carved with two bearded men and should represent the rivers Arno and the Tiber. The other two fountains perhaps represent faith and force. Here you see two statues of the goddesses Diana and Juno.
These fountains were restored several times. I think the last time of their restoration was in 2015.
Don' t miss the church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane.
They say this little church would stay inside a pillar you see in Saint Peter' s Square. It is also called San Carlino; due to its small size (ino in Italian is used as a diminutive for nouns). This church takes its name from the four fountains that stand nearby.
This church was Francesco Borromini' s last work. His nephew completed it in 1667, due to Borromini' s death. It was incorporated in the convent of the Spanish Trinitarians who commissioned the work.
Unfortunately I visited this church late in the evening, so it was quite dark inside and I couldn' t take some decent pics.
Another church you should visit is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
According to a legend; in august 352 A. D. a rich man and pope Liberius had a similar dream about the Virgin who told them to build a church where they would have found snow in Rome. The next day Pope Liberius spotted snow on the top of the Esquiline hill. Soon he made a church built there.
A re enactment of the snow fall is held every year on august 5 inside the Paolina chapel with a fall of flowers petals.
This church was rebuilt between 432 and 440. It was modified and enlarged in the XIII century.
Inside you can see a series of mosaics lining the nave and covering the triumphal arch before the altar that date back to the 5th century. There are mosaics in the apse that date to the XIII century as well. The ceiling dates from the 16th century. It is said to be gilded in gold that was bought from America by Columbus. Inside the church there is Bernini' s tomb.
Another thing not to miss in this church is the cappella Sistina. This stunning chapel was commissioned by pope Sisto V in 1587 as his burial place.
Hotel Domus Praetoria is a hotel i like much. It occupies part of an old palace. I think it is made of 16 rooms.
Last time I booked a room at Domus Praetoria I had a twin room with bathroom en suite. It had a tiny balcony. My bed was comfortable and the furniture simple.
My room was on the backside of the hotel; so it was quiet. A daily market just ouside of the entrance of the hotel is scheduled except on sunday. It starts very early in the morning.
Breakfast consisted in fresh pastries and bread. Jam, yoghourt, cereals and orange juice. Hot beverages as coffee, cappuccino and hot chocolate were served by a girl at our table.
The reception at Domus Praetoria is open 24 hours on 24. The personnel at this hotel was very kind and helpful. Wi fi was complimentary.
Termini station is the main train station in Rome. It was built on two levels. The station has lots of facilities, as luggage storage, a police station, a tourist office, a post office, ATMs and a disability office.
At Termini train station you can take a train to lots of destinations in Italy and abroad as well.
There are various restaurants (one of my favourites as well; Gusto), cafes and shops inside this station.
Just outside the Termini train station there is the major bus terminus.
Gusto is a self service restaurant inside Termini train station. Here you can find a good choice of first courses; as pasta, rice and soups; some second courses and vegetables. Appetizers as cold cuts are available as well. There is a good selection of desserts too.
At Gusto there is a menu of the day offer. You can have a first and a second course with some vegetables for 10.90 euros (2014 price).
You can do several day trips from Rome. For instance you can go to Orvieto (in the Umbria region) and to Tivoli.
In Tivoli you can visit Villa d' Este.
This villa was commissioned by Ippolito d' Este; son of Lucrezia Borgia in the late 1500. It is listed as UNESCO world heritage site.
Its interiors are decorated with beautiful frescoes, but this mansion is mostly known for the gardens. These have five hundred fountains, built in various shapes. Some of these are activated during the day. Check the time at the entrance. There are several notice boards with some historical information about the fountains.
Inside Villa d' Este there is a room where you can watch a video about the villa and the gardens before your visit. Other facilities here are the toilets, a self service cafe and a museum shop.
You can go to Tivoli by direct bus from the bus station Ponte Mammolo. Take the metro and get off at Ponte Mammolo metro station.