Walks of Rome to discover the highlights and best Itineraries in Rome . Rome walking tours to visit Rome, guided sightseeing tours. Official sightseeing in RomeRome highlights – Walks of Rome – Itineraries and walking tours to visit Rome
Walks of Rome – Itineraries and walking tours to visit Rome
Starting from the Piazza Venezia one passes in front of the Capitol; beyond the stairway leading to it it begins the Via del Mare. The overhanging rock is commonly called The Tarpeian Rock because from it according to the tradition traitors to the country were flung to death. At its base are two cages containing a she wolf and two eagles, symbols of the origin and of the power of Ancient Rome. At the curve, opposite, rises the Theatre of Marcellus completed in the year 11 B.C. by Augustus who gave it the name of his son-in-law: it could contain 12,000 spectators. Abandoned already in the 4th century it was transformed in the XII century into a fortress and later into a palace. Works of restoration and consolidation, in particular the addition of a powerful brickwork spur on the left side took place in 1926-1930. The stage was on the western side towards the Tiber River; the outer wall, as in the Colosseum had two stories with superimposed arches flanked by half columns of the Doric and Ionic orders and above was an attic storey. On the right of the theatre we can see the remains of the temple of Apollo and further on those of the portico of Octavia, whose main entrance can be seen beyond the short ascent. The portico of Octavia was built by Augustus on the place of an earlier one and dedicated to his sister Octavia ( 23 B.C.); it contained within its rows of pillars the temples of Jupiter and Juno, a library and a school or a meeting hall. Beyond the portico of Octavia we can see what remains of the old Ghetto. At the time of the Roman Empire the Jews lived for the most part in the region beyond the Tiber, later on they established themselves this side of the river. For a long time they had to live inside the Ghetto; after the 1870 this rule was abolished and the Ghetto quarter was partly pulled down and modern buildings were erected in the place of the old ones. In 1904 a new Synagogue from designs by Costa and Armanni in the vicinity of the Tiber. In the middle of the river we see the Island of the Tiber (Isola Tiberina).
The legend tells us that at the time of the ejection of the Tarquins, the people threw into the water the sheaves of wheat of wheat belonging to them. On the island could be seen the temple of Aesculapius, (founded in 292, an aim of many pilgrimages), those of Jupiter, Faunus, Flora and the statue of Semo Sancus. Two bridges unite the island to the town: the Fabricus Bridge, the most ancient one still nearly intact, built in 62 B.C. and the Ceastius Bridge, rebuilt in 1892. Walks of Rome – Itineraries and walking tours to visit Rome
We reach the Farnese Square with two fountains adorned by great granite basins taken from the Baths of Caracalla. The Farnese palace begun in 1514, for Cardinal Alexander Farnese ( the future Paul III) by Antonio da San Gallo the Younger ( who built the facade, the vestibule and the two first floors of the courtyard), continued after his death by Michelangelo ( cornice, window in the middle of the facade and 3rd storey of the courtyard) and finished by G. della Porta ( loggia at the rear facade), is the most perfect work of Renaissance civil architecture. The place is since 1911 the seat of the French Embassy.
From the Farnese Square one reaches the Piazza Campo de’ Fiori; the centre of the town life in the XVth and XVIth centuries; it was also the place of execution for heretics and on the place where the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned alive there stands a monument in bronze by E. Ferrari ( 1889). To the east of the Square rose the Theatre of Pompeo, the first brick theatre erected in rome in 55 B.C.: the carved facade of the buildings in the Piazza di Grottapinta still show the shape of the cavea (auditorium).
We move towards Piazza del Pantheon with a fountain (1575) in the middle surmounted by an obelisk. On the south side of the square rises the Pantheon the best preserved monument from the Imperial Rome; its particular shape: a rotunda preceded by a portico constitutes one of the rare examples of this kind. The name indicates that the temple was dedicated to several gods together and probably to the seven planetary divinities. It is the only large building of Rome completely preserved in its main structure. The portico has 16 monolithic Corinthian columns of red and grey granite. On the entablature one can read the inscription relating to Agrippa, the step-son of Augustus who built it in 27 B.C. (Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, built this monument during his third consulate), and the small inscription underneath reminds us of the restoration due to S. Severus and to Caracalla. Eight columns from the façade, the others divide the portico into three naves primitively vaulted, of which the side ones end in two niches which previously contained the statues of Augustus and Agrippa. The pavement is formed of slabs of marble and granite. The threshold is in African red marble, the frieze and the architrave of white marble, the door, between two Corinthian columns, is covered with bronze. The marvellous effect of the interior is due to the perfect harmony of its proportions; it is a circular hall surmounted by a cupola, the height and the diameter of which are the same ( 43 meters- 142 feet), the light penetrates only by an aperture at the summit of the cupola, which spreads uniformly a soft light ” as if heaven were looking down into the interior of this place of worship ” ( Hawthorne). The building is in concrete covered with bricks and decorated with coloured marble; the five rows of coffers of the cupola were once covered with gilt bronze; the floor is paved with slabs of precious granite and porphyry marble. In its lower part the wall is pierced by seven niches, alternatively rectangular and semicircular, which were once occupied by the statues of pagan gods, each niche is faced by two fluted columns of antique yellow and pavonazzetto marble with Corinthian pilasters. Between the alcoves we see 8 aediculae, transformed into Christian altars, flanked by small columns of porphyry, of granite or antique yellow marble and surmounted by triangular tympanums. The attic above the architrave is covered since 1747 with painting imitating marble and has replaced the primitive decoration in large panels of coloured marble. Right side, the 1st niche, over the altar is an Annunciation attributed to Melozzo da Forli, 2nd niche contains the tomb of the 1st king of Italy, Vittorio Emmanuel II ( died in 1878). Left side, 2nd niche contains the tomb of king Humberto I ( assassinated in 1900), after the designs of Cirilli; above, the tomb of Queen Marguerite ( died in 1926). On the right, under the altar where stands the statue of the Virgin by Lorenzetto, lies the tomb of Raphael (1483-1520) with a famous inscription by Cardinal Bembo; on the right of the altar are the epitaph of Mary Bibiena, the fiancé of artist and the tomb of the painter A. Carracci. Other celebrated artists are buried here, particularly in the first niche on the left: B. Peruzzi, Perin del Vaga, Giovanni da Udine etc.
We reach now Piazza Navona, which preserves the shape of the ancient Stadium of Domitian ( the N. end is semi circular and the S. end straight) the houses are built on the site of the ancient seat of the stadium, of which remains have been found under the church of St Agnese and at both ends of the Piazza. The square is adorned with three fountains; that in the centre forms with the facade of the church of St. Agnese and the Pamphili palace near-by an architectonic ensemble which is a real masterpiece of baroque art. The central fountain called the Fountain of the Rivers or of Bernini who erected it in 1647-1652 is composed of an obelisk, a roman imitation of the Egyptian ones, found in the Maxentius circus, which is supported by a pierced rock on which are seated four status representing the four greatest rivers on the four continents: the Nile and the Rio della Plata on the north side and the Ganges and the Danube on the south side; the animals and plants which adorn the fountain symbolize the fauna and flora of these continents.
Further down we reach the beautiful Piazza Colonna, the heart of the city and the busiest spot. In the centre, behind the graceful fountain from the XVII century erected by Della Porta, rises the column of Marcus Aurelius, from which the square takes its name: it has the same style of that of Trajan and was erected in honor of the emperor Aurelius for his victories against the German and oriental population on the NE side of the Roman Empire ( 171-175 AD). The column, 95 feet high, is made up of 28 marble blocks on which are sculpted the main episodes of those wars; on the summit we see now the statue of St. Paul placed there in 1589. On the left side of the square is the Ferraioli Palace, that was once the residence of Fesch, Napoleon’s uncle; on the right the Chigi Palace, begun in 1562 by Della Porta, continued by Maderno and Della Greca, acquired by the Italian state in 1922 and nowadays housing the Italian Government and next to it is one corner of the Parliament House. The west side of the square is closed up by a building provided with a portico of ancient columns brought here from the Etruscan town.
From Piazza Colonna we go up to the Trevi Fountain, by Salvi, finished in 1762. The background is a big structure, similar to a triumphal arch, with a large central niche and two small ones divided by four Corinthian columns; at the sides the S facade of the Poli Palace. In the central niche is the statue of Neptune, by P. Bracci, standing on a huge shell drawn by two Tritons; in the side niches are the statues of Health and Fecundity, by Valle; in the foreground a wide basin juts out, with a main central cascade and several smaller ones, amidst artificial rocks and water sprays. One of the reliefs up between the columns illustrates the story of the construction of the aqueduct that feeds the fountain, according to which a virgin pointed out to Roman engineers the springs of the water, called after this legend “virgin water“.
We end our walking tour with Piazza di Spagna ( the square of Spain), a very characteristic square that still preserves the aspect which the XVIIth and XVIIIth gave it. It used to be the centre of the foreigners’ quarter ; here were the main hotels and boarding houses where famous visitors lodged, such as the poets John Keats and George Byron. The monumental stairway, a very beautiful work in baroque style, was erected in 1721-1725 by A. Specchi and F. de Sanctis at the expense of the French Ambassador Gouffier. At the summit the church of the Trinita dei Monti and on the right of the stairway is the house in which the English poet John Keats died in 1821, containing nowadays a little museum and a library. In the southern part of the square rises the column of the Immaculate Conception erected in 1854 to commemorate the dogma of the immaculate conception of the virgin. To the right is the palace of the Spanish embassy, which has given the square its name. At the end of the square stands the palace of Propaganda Fide, by Bernini and Borromini, built for the College for the Propagation of the Christian Faith.