Despite the particular situation of the past year, we were lucky enough to be able to experience and visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world: Rome! We had the chance to see the city in a different light: it was quiet and almost deserted, sad but charming at the same time. And since it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, in this vlog we decided to take you with us to explore not only the most renowned places, but also the hidden gems of the Capital!
ROME: what to do and what to see in the Eternal City
Among the most renowned places there are:
L’ALTARE DELLA PATRIA (ALTAR OF THE FATHERLAND)
This monument, considered the symbol of the Italian Republic, is truly majestic and also known as “The Typewriter”, because of its shape. Many associates it with Fascism since it overlooks Piazza Venezia (Venice Square) and Mussolini used to deliver his speeches from Palazzo Venezia‘s balcony. However, it has nothing to do with the dictator! In fact, it was built to celebrate the Unification of Italy and the first king of the new country, Victor Emmanuel II.
The Trevi Fountain is not only one of the symbols of the city, but also one of the most famous Italian monuments . This fountain remains white and clean, without birds coming close to it because it is electrified. In fact, it generates small electrical discharges that frighten birds but do not harm them.
SAN PIETRO IN VINCOLI CHURCH
In this church there is one of Michelangelo’s most famous statues: the Moses. Originally, the statue was destined to St. Peter’s Basilica, but because of some disagreements between the Pope and the artist…it was located here!
PIAZZA DI SPAGNA
Behave yourselves when you’re here! Eating and drinking is forbidden on the Spanish Steps (to keep them as clean as possible), as well as sitting down to admire the gorgeous Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Leaky Boat). In short, the only thing you can do is walk up the 135 steps and enjoy the view from the top! Which is incredible, by the way!
Speaking of the Pantheon, there is an interesting fact about it! Apparently, the oculus (the circular opening) at the centre of the dome was built so that the rain could not get in thanks to the ascensional flows generated inside which smash the water drops in smaller particles.
Its original name was Flavian Amphitheatre. In Roman times, it was considered one of the 7 gates of Hell. Partly because of the tens of thousands of people who died there, as you can imagine, and partly because the blood of those who died in the arena was used for propitiatory rituals.
THE ROMAN FORUM
Visiting the Roman Forum is one of the most incredible experiences you could possibly have in Rome! If you didn’t go inside because you were thinking “we can see everything from outside since it’s outdoors, there’s no need for the ticket”, you couldn’t be more wrong! It’s so big that it took us a whole afternoon to visit everything.
The area comprising the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill is officially the most visited tourist attraction in Italy (before the pandemic, at least). Furthermore, near the Roman Forum, you can also find the place where Jiulius Caesar was supposedly killed.
Rome is the European city with most “urban green spaces”, but if you want to be fully surrounded by nature, make sure to go to Villa Borghese! There, you should definitely do these things:
1) take a stroll along the several paths and walkways
2) rent a rowing boat on the lake in the middle of the park and see up close the Temple of Aesculapius
3) visit Galleria Borghese, full of incredible and spectacular works of art by Bernini, Raphael, Canova or Caravaggio
4) go see the peculiar water clock, called like this precisely because its hands are moved by water.
5) admire Piazza del Popolo from above, from Pincio terrace
GIANICOLO HILL (The JANICULUM)
Another stunning view in Rome is the one from the Gianicolo Hill. However, we have to warn you: work out a little bit a couple of weeks before going there, because you will have to walk up a lot of stairs in order to enjoy the view! It’s really tiring, but is worth it! If you go all the way to the top, try to do so around noon, so that you can witness the cannon ceremony, when a cannon is loaded and fired exactly at 12 o’ clock.
Getting to the Gianicolo’s belvedere is super easy: you just have to pass through one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Rome: Trastevere. It’s an historic neighbourhood situated in the centre of the city. Here you can find many delicious restaurants and nice and unique narrow streets always packed with tourists (not this year though).
ST. PETER’S SQUARE
It seems that St. Peter was buried in this area and this is reason why Emperor Constantine decided that the first Basilica, which was completed in the year 333, had to be built right in this place. St. Peter’s Square is famous for its colonnade, consisting into two arms of columns arranged in multiple rows and symbolizing an embrace to Rome and to the world (this is how it was designed by its creator Gian Lorenzo Bernini). Furthermore, if you want to take a look at the square from above, you can climb the basilica’s dome, but it’s not a great idea if you are claustrophobic!
ST. PETER’S BASILICA
The majestic St. Peter’s Basilica is the biggest church in the world (it’s as big as two football fields!). Inside, the extraordinary presence of frescoes, gold, statues and whatnot would leave anyone speechless. 22 Popes, 14 architects and countless artists and builders among the most famous in the world have made history in the 120 years of its construction. Here lies one of Michelangelo’s most renowned statues: the Pietà. It’s the most popular attraction in the Church and for this reason is proctected by a glass.
Another incredible experience is visiting the Vatican Museums and we were so lucky to be able to do so almost completely by ourselves. Walking those halls, usually packed with people, in the utmost tranquility, being able to look at each detail without being pushed around or solicited to move forward was indescribable. As for the Sistine Chapel, keep in mind that videos and photos are forbidden and controls are pretty strict.
Among the lesser-known areas of Rome everyone should visit at least once we can find:
THE NON-CATHOLIC CEMENTERY
The non-catholic cementery is in the Testaccio district (behind the Pyramid of Cestius) and holds the tombs of many non-catholic artists, poets and philosophers (mainly British and German). Among others: Keats, Shelley, Goethe’s son, but also Antonio Gramsci and Andrea Camilleri, the “father” of Inspector Montalbano!
It’s the perfect place for a one-day getaway outside Rome. You can get there by train and it’s really interesting because it’s on 3 different levels. The first one is where you get off the train. On the upper level (which can be reached by climbing up several steps), you will find the little town full of breathtaking views, while on the lower one, you will find the lake and all the restaurants and bars overlooking it. A must-try here is the porchetta, a local dish!
THE EUR DISTRICT
The Eur district is far from the city centre and for this reason it doesn’t really look like one of those neighbourhoods built in the past, but on the contrary it is a very modern one. It was built to celebrate 20 years of Fascism for the 1942 World’s Fair, hence the decision to name it EUR, which is the acronym for “Esposizione Universale Roma”. Among the nicest things to see here you can find: the park with its waterfalls, the Square Colosseum (The 2.0 version of the Colosseum) and the St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Church.
THE COPPEDÈ DISTRICT
The Coppedè District is an hidden gem located in the Parioli neighbourhood north of Rome. It’s an extremely small area, but is full of palaces with their own unique style. Here there is the Piper club, considered the temple of Italian Beat and the city’s most famous club during the 60s. Pink Floyd performed on its stage when they were still an unknown emerging group, followed by the Genesis, David Bowie and Nirvana years later…
Not far from Piazza del Quirinale, this villa presents itself as a hanging garden, enclosed by walls. After changing several owners, the villa was given to Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, hence its name. His trusted architect added the palace stairs, loggias and a continuous facade on the garden, which was later embellished with trees, avenues, statues, vases, monuments, seats and fountains.
THE JEWISH GHETTO
One of the most fascinating neighbourhoods in Rome. In 1555 Pope Paul IV imposed that all jewish people had to live solely in this area, whose doors were opened at dawn and closed at night. Clearly, there is nothing left from that period, but it’s still a fascinating neighbourhood, rich in history, culture and good food! A must-try here are the pastries and the fried artichokes.
Now, if you are curious and you want to get to know more about Rome and its history, make sure to check our video dedicated to the history of Rome from the origins to the downfall of the Empire.
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