Things to Do in Rome - page 5
Once the largest and grandest of Rome’s private residences, the ancient ruins of the Villa of the Quintilii (Villa dei Quintili) are still an impressive sight today. Located along the legendary Appian Way (Via Appia), the lavish villa includes two impressive entrances, intact mosaic tiles and marble floors, and the remains of its private luxury baths, dating back to 151 AD.
Tour the ruins on a half-day trip from Rome to admire the rooms and artifacts on display, or cycle along the ancient Appian Way to visit the ruins and other ancient landmarks, like the Caracalla Baths and the Mausoleum of Caecilia Metella.
Shopaholics in Rome, head for Via Condotti, where even the window-shopping is worth the trip.
Via Condotti (its complete name is Via dei Condotti) is a street in central Rome that dates back to the ancient Roman era. It was a fashionable address as far back as the 18th century, when the Caffe Greco opened and was frequented by the likes of Goethe, Byron, Liszt, and Keats. The cafe remains open – and popular with visitors – to this day.
Most of Via Condotti is known for its fashion boutiques. Major names in fashion have shops along the street, including Gucci, Valentino, Armani, Prada, Ferragamo, Dolce & Gabbana, as well as many other designers – Italian and otherwise.
With a long-standing reputation for elegance and a starring role in Federico Fellini's 1960 film La Dolce Vita, Via Veneto (officially Via Vittorio Veneto) was once the stomping ground of international actors, celebrities and paparazzi. Today, the stylish thoroughfare remains one of Rome’s most glamorous addresses, running between Piazzale Brasile and Piazza Barberini in central Rome, and lined with luxury hotels, chic bars and streetside cafés.
Start your explorations at lively Piazza Barberini, home to the magnificent 17th-century Palazzo Barberini, then stroll north along Via Veneto, passing landmarks like the Capuchin Church of the Immaculate Conception and Palazzo Margherita, now home to the U.S Embassy. Be sure to pay a visit to famous cafés like Harry’s Bar, Café de Paris and Doney too, where former customers include big names like Audrey Hepburn, Tennessee Williams and Coco Chanel.
One of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome, the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem (Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme) houses several relics from the Holy Land brought to Rome around 325 AD. The relics are said to be parts of the cross from the Passion of Jesus Christ — carried from Jerusalem by the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine I, the St. Empress Helena. The church name comes from the Jerusalem soil that was laid on the floor of the basilica, as a way of moving part of the holy city to Rome. Though it was once the Palazzo Sessoriano, the palace of the St. Empress Helena, it was later converted into a small chapel.
It has since been renovated and restored over the centuries to its Baroque style facade that exists now. Today visitors can see three relics enshrined: pieces of the True Cross, a nail from the crucifixion, thorns from the crown, and small pieces of the tomb of Jesus and the Holy Sepulchre. There is also a full size replica of the Shrine of Turin.
The ancient Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati (Basilica dei Santi Quattro Coronati) is dedicated to four unnamed saints, all martyred. The name means “four crowned saints,” meaning they were martyrs.
The church was first built in the 6th century, but mostly destroyed in the 11th century. The rebuilt church was much smaller, preserving the original apse. In the 13th century, the Chapel of San Silvestro and a cloister were added – the former decorated with frescoes, and the latter with intricate inlaid stonework designs. The four saints to whom the church is dedicated are buried in tombs in the crypt.
Italy is known for its fashion and design: Some of the world’s most recognized luxury clothing and home decor labels are proudly “made in Italy.” If you love elegant Italian style, head to Castel Romano Designer Outlet to shop for famous designer brands such as Valentino and Versace at a deep discount.
The Baths of Diocletian (Terme di Diocleziano)—the largest public baths in Imperial Rome—once covered 32 acres (13 hectares). Though much of the original complex was destroyed or integrated into later churches and palaces, what remains still offers a sense of the vast structure, which hosted up to 3,000 bathers in its heyday.
Commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508, the grand Via Giulia is one of Rome’s most elegant thoroughfares, running for almost 1km between the Piazza dell'Oro and Piazza San Vincenzo Palloti. It’s a picturesque walkway, with its timeworn cobblestones framed by monumental arches, historic churches and Renaissance-era buildings, and the smattering of cafés and restaurants offer ample opportunities for people watching.
Highlights of Via Giulia include the ivy-covered Arco Farnese, designed by Michelangelo; the adjoining Palazzo Farnese; and the 17th-century Fontana del Mascherone. Other architectural gems include the Palazzo Falconieri, the baroque Santa Maria dell'Orazione Church; and the Palazzo Sacchetti, while the street has also earned a reputation for its quality antique shops.
This island, sandwiched between Rome and Naples off Italy’s western coast, was long considered one of the Tyrrhenian Sea’s best-kept secrets. These days, however, the secret’s out: Visitors can’t stay away from Ponza’s dramatic coastal cliffs, crystal-clear water, and sea grottoes.
The Triton Fountain (Fontana del Tritone) is not on the scale of Rome’s most famous water feature, the Trevi Fountain, but it’s well worth a visit. Located in bustling Piazza Barberini, Fontana del Tritone was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII and carved by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, whose baroque sculptures also appear in St. Peter’s Basilica.
More Things to Do in Rome
Leading from the Capitoline Hill to the Colosseum via the first-century AD Arch of Titus as it traverses the Forum from west to east, the Via Sacra (Sacred Way) was once the main thoroughfare of Ancient Rome. With its origins stretching back to at least the fifth century BC, it was later paved and later still, in the times of Nero, lined with colonnades. The street was backed by Ancient Rome’s temples, civic buildings and the palaces of the wealthy; it was here that festivals were held, where prostitutes came to solicit clients and where crowds gathered to gossip and gamble along its route. Via Sacra was also scene of triumphal processions to celebrate military victories, when slaves and prisoners were dragged to market. Today the road forms part of the open-air museum that is the Forum; over the centuries this has been ravaged by fire, plundered for its stone and used as cow pasture but still retains something of its ancient majesty among scattered boulders, shattered arches and broken columns.
Tucked away in a piazza just off one of Rome’s busiest thoroughfares in theCentro Storico, the Baroque Basilica di Sant'Andrea della Valle was designed by Giacomo della Porta and eventually completed by a succession of other Baroque masters—including Carlo Maderno and Borromini—in 1663. It is famous for providing the setting for the opening of Puccini’s operaTosca.
The frescoed dome was the handiwork of Carlo Maderno and at 528.5 ft (16.1 m) it is the second largest in Rome after St Peter’s. Underneath this mighty cupola, the church is liberally scattered with the extravagant marble chapels and tombs of wealthy 16th-century Italian aristocrats, including the Strozzis, the Barberinis and several popes. Great names like Michelangelo and Bernini had a hand in designing these sarcophagi, and together with the gilt ornamentation and nave frescoes from the greatest artists of the day adorning the walls, plus the marble patterning of the floors, they come together in creating a highly decorative church interior awash with color.
Sant’Andrea delle Valle is within an easy stroll of the lovely ancient squares of Campo de’ Fiori—a lively morning market is held here—and Piazza Navona, famous for its Baroque fountains by Bernini.
Near the main square in the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome, Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, is the Piazza di San Cosimato, where a local outdoor food market takes place six mornings a week.
The market at Piazza di San Cosimato has been there since the early 20th century, and although it’s smaller than some of the other popular outdoor markets in the city, it has a dedicated following. Some of the vendor families have occupied a stall at the market since its early days, with stalls and locations handed down through generations.
Along with the usual stalls offering fresh local produce, fresh fish and meat, and locally-made cheeses and cured meats, there is a used book seller at the market.
Take a food tour of the Trastevere district in the morning to see the market in full swing. It’s the perfect place to stock up on food for the pantry if you’re renting an apartment in the area.
The Baroque Basilica di Sant'Andrea delle Fratte—while small—houses impressive religious artifacts and artworks worthy of a visit. The 17th-century church is home to a single nave and three chapels that include paintings by Borgognone and ornate frescoes and stuccoed angels by Marini. Of particular note are the sculpted angels on each side of the presbytery, created by Bernini.
The church's striking dome and tower, designed by Borromini, contrasts its modest interior, and serves as a beacon to those traversing Rome's top attractions. Located between the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, the church is a highly-recommended stop along the way.
You can visit the church, which honors St Andrew, as part of a city walking tour of sites dedicated to Mary and different saints.
The National Roman Museum (Museo Nazionale Romano) has four branches in Rome, but the main seat is Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, where one of the world's most important collections of classical art covers four floors, including sculptures, frescoes, mosaics, coins, and jewels dating from the late Republican period to the end of the Roman empire.
Best known for its Cornaro Chapel—home to Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s stunning masterpiece, The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa—theChurch of Santa Maria della Vittoria (Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria) has one of the most ornate marble interiors in Rome. Designed by baroque architect Carlo Maderno, the church is adorned with white and gilded stucco angels and putti, as well as 17th-century frescoes.
The Doria Pamphilj Gallery (Galleria Doria Pamphilj), located in Rome, Italy, is one of the largest and most magnificent palaces in the center of the city. It is home to the Doria Pamphilj family, and some members of the family still live in one section of the palace. The original building dates back to the 15th century, though it has been renovated several times. A visit to the gallery provides a glimpse into aristocratic life in Rome. Many private rooms are now open, including a ballroom, a chapel, and living quarters, all decorated with elaborate paintings and sculptures.
The art gallery itself contains approximately 400 pieces from the 15th to 18th centuries. Some of the more famous pieces include a portrait of pope Innocent X by Velázquez and two busts of the same pope, created by Bernini. The Gallery of Mirrors is one of the most lavish rooms in the palace and includes frescoes depicting the Labors of Hercules.
Since opening its doors in 2006, the Ara Pacis Museum (Museo dell'Ara Pacis) has caused more than its fair share of controversy, with its modernist glass and travertine façade splitting public opinion. The futuristic building, the work of architect Richard Meir, was one of Rome’s first major post-war architectural works and was built to house one of the city’s most significant ancient artworks.
Whatever your opinion of the museum itself, there’s no disputing the magnificence of its star exhibit – the Ara Pacis, or Altar of Peace, which dates back to 9 BC. The elaborate Roman sculpture is a gigantic marble altar towering over 35 feet (11 meters) high and built by the Emperor Augustus to symbolize peace in the Roman Empire. Today, the protected monument is preserved and displayed in its full glory, with the original structure augmented by reproductions of the panels already on display in the Villa Medici, the Vatican and the Louvre.
Set on the idyllic shores of Lake Bracciano, the beautifully preserved Odescalchi Castle (officially called Castello Orsini-Odescalchi but also known as the Bracciano Castle) was built during the late 15th century by Napoleone Orsini and is considered one of Europe’s most impressive Renaissance fortresses.
Not far from the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the little Santa Prassede, a 9th-century church with stunning mosaics inside.
The Basilica of Santa Prassede was started in the late 8th century (there’s an even older church dedicated to Santa Prassede underneath it) and completed in 822 AD. The saint entombed here, Santa Prassede (or Saint Praxedes), was the daughter of the first Roman who St. Peter converted to Christianity.
The mosaics on the interior of the church are Byzantine, dating from the early 9th century, and are reminiscent of those in Venice’s St. Mark’s Basilica and the churches of Ravenna. They’re dazzling in gold and bright colors.
Among the other things to see inside the church is a bust for a tomb that was sculpted by Bernini when he was only 17 years old, and the original crypt near the altar. This is where the bones of Saint Praxedes (and her sister, Saint Pudenziana) were placed when the church was completed. There is also a reliquary containing what is said to be a piece of the pillar on which Jesus was flogged before being crucified.
Montecitorio Palace (Palazzo Montecitorio) is the seat of the Chamber of Deputies, one of Italy’s two houses of parliament. Designed by Bernini, the palazzo was completed by Carlo Fontana under Pope Innocent X in 1650. It has one of the most elegant and striking baroque facades in Rome and a splendid 20th-century art nouveau interior.
The whole of Palatine Hill could be considered an open-air museum, with its remains of palaces and villas dating from the Roman Empire. Within this area, however, there is also a dedicated Palatine Museum (Museo del Palatino) where you can see the wealth of ancient Roman artifacts unearthed from the hillside over decades of excavation.
Located near Piazza Navona, the 15th-century Basilica di Sant’Agostino is home to the Cavalletti Chapel, where visitors flock to view Caravaggio’s Baroque masterpiece, La Madonna di Loreto, along with The Prophet Isaiah by Raphael, La Madonna del Parto statue by Sansovino, and the sumptuous high altar by Bernini.
This Byzantine church set near the banks of the Tiber charms with decorative elements including a pre-Roman crypt and Cosmatesque marble floors and altar. TheBasilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin (Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin) is best known as home to the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità), located beneath its front portico.
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