Santa Maria in Trastevere is the first Roman church to be consecrated to the Madonna. Its foundations were laid in approximately AD 400, when Christianity was only just beginning to take root in Europe. The present edifice is dated 1300 and contains beautiful mosaics by Pietro Cavallini, especially those dedicated to the life of the Virgin Mary. There is a magnificent life-size icon, La Madonna della Clemenza, from as early as the 7th Century. The nave is formed from granite columns taken from ancient Roman edifices. The 12th-century mosaics of the façade, depicting the Madonna and child and ten women holding lamps, are not to be missed. The portico was renovated in the 18th Century by Carlo Fontana and the balustrade is decorated with statues of Popes, baroque additions which do not detract from the church's original medieval aspect.
Palazzo delle Esposizioni with its statues and Corinthian columns, designed by Piacentini, hosts temporary exhibitions of paintings, sculpture and graphics, which are changed every three months. There is also a small cinema that shows foreign-language films and the occasional theatrical performance at Palazzo delle Esposizioni. In addition, there is a well-stocked bookshop, a design shop, a bar and a restaurant on the terrace. Next to the complex is the Visual Arts Research and Documentation Center, an archive that contains data on contemporary Italian and international art.
People come by the millions each year to receive the Pope's blessing, traditionally given on Sundays at noon. St Peter's has undergone many transformations since the original Constantine basilica of 320 CE. The top of its majestic dome (designed by Michelangelo), provides the best vantage point from which to marvel at Bernini's magnificent colonnade surrounding the square, the gilded bronze canopy above the altar and Michelangelo's Pietà (1499). Bramante, Pietro da Cortona and Canova are just a handful of the many other artists who worked together on this monumental basilica's decoration and design.
The collection housed in this Neo-classical building includes works from the 19th and 20th Centuries. The 19th-century works are mostly those of the Macchiaioli (Florentine impressionist painters), a movement similar to puntinismo (pointillism), a style based on the use of spots of color to create paintings whose subjects were distinguishable only from a certain distance. Among the 20th-century artists represented here are De Chirico, Carrà, Sironi, Casorati, and Marini. The museum often organizes temporary exhibitions and has its own restaurant, Caffè delle Arti.
Vatican City is amongst the most important historical sites in the world. Being the seat of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, it is also the home of the Pope. As the smallest state in the world, the Vatican has figured in key events throughout history. Occupying about one half kilometer (0.31 miles) of Rome, the Vatican City is further significant because of its fabulous architecture, religious, and artistic treasures. It was Pope Julius II della Rovere in the 16th Century who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the history of creation on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Among countless other notable events in the history of this important city are the convening of the College of Cardinals, at the death of a reigning Pontiff, for the purposes of electing a new Pope. No visit to Rome is complete without an excursion to this magnificent location, a place so steeped in history and tradition that you will never forget it.
Capitoline Hill is located near the Foro Romano and Campus Martius. The hill is one of the seven hills that were located in the ancient city, and was the center of all the activities of the empire. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, the most revered temple at that time stood here, and its ruins are still visible. Housed here are the Musei Capitolini and City Hall.