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.
Designed by Nicola Salvi for Pope Clemente XII, the Trevi Fountain was completed in the second half of the 18th Century. A towering likeness of Oceanus forms the centerpiece of the Baroque fountain, with Abundance and Salubrity on either side, while the rococo-style Poli Palace provides the perfect backdrop. Tritons guide the chariot of Oceanus, and all around the water flows, its gushing sound rising to a crescendo befitting the all consuming power it represents. Tradition has it that throwing a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain guarantees a swift return to Rome. Anita Ekberg's dip in the Trevi Fountain was immortalized in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, and Italian actor Toto even sold it to an American, passing himself off as its owner. Featured in numerous movies since, Trevi Fountain has long inspired the passions of the human race and continues to be revered the world over as one of Italy's most triumphant sculptural works.
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 and religious sites in the world; it is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of the Pope. The smallest state in the world, it occupies only about 0.44 square kilometers (0.17 square miles) near the center of Rome and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Vatican has figured in key events throughout history and is further significant because of its superlative architectural, religious, and artistic attractions. 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 - just one of the Vatican's world-renown cultural and artistic jewels. Others include St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums. Among countless other notable events, the Vatican also hosts the convening of the College of Cardinals upon 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 steeped in history and tradition.
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.
Originally commissioned by Marcus Agrippa, and subsequently rebuilt by Hadrian, the Pantheon is a monumental homage to the architectural finesse and ingenuity of the Romans. Massive bronze doors guard the entrance to the central space, sheltered by the graceful arch of the Pantheon's dome. The temple was transformed into a church in the early 7th Century by Pope Boniface IV, and has remained well-preserved as a result. The building's primary source of light is the oculus, a circular opening at the dome's apex, rimmed with the original Roman bronze used at the time of its construction. Many famous Italians are buried in the Pantheon, including the Renaissance painter, Raphael, and King Vittorio Emanuele I.