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Among the eeriest and most intriguing remains of the ancient Etruscans are these well-preserved cemeteries in Cerveteri and Tarquinia. Use of the historic resting places occurred between the first and ninth centuries, providing insight into early Mediterranean burial practices. Best visited as a pair, the two necropolises house similar artifacts though they remain stylistically distinct, much to the delight of their visitors. Visitors can compare spacious tombs resembling ancient homes at Cerveteri to rock-cut graves and painted resting places in Tarquinia. The National Museum of Cerveteri is another wonder here, which displays important pieces like the Sarcophagus of the Spouses and uses top-rate technology to ensure everyone has the most engaging and educational experience possible.
A bygone beacon of the Roman Empire, the Foro Romano was the nucleus of social, political and economic life in this historic city. Located between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, it was a revered meeting place that witnessed the alpha and omega of a thriving empire. Triumphal processions raked the regal roads of this plaza, while morbid silences hung in the air after trials and executions that were carried out. Among the priceless vestiges that remain today, the most salient ones include the Regia, the royal residence, the Temple of Vesta and the Temple of Saturn. Toward the northwest, the Umbilicus Urbis indicates the symbolic heart of Ancient Rome, and the northern aisle of the Basilica of Maxentius still stands in grandeur. While their transient glory is lost to the ravages of time, what is left behind is not less than awe-inspiring. Worn columns, near-crumbling facades of ancient marble, and stoic triumphal arcs still dominate the ruins' antiquated skyline.
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.
The Rome that we see today is built on the ruins of one of the largest empires of the ancient world that now sleeps beneath the paved streets and highways. Discover the secrets and mysteries of this civilization by embarking on a tour of the Sotterranei Di Roma (Underground Rome). The well-preserved archeological site explores the foundations of the city, hydraulic systems, caves, tunnels and labyrinths. In-depth exploration is open to the members of the Centro Ricerche Speleo Archeologiche while guests can register for guided tours which are organized regularly. Visit the website for more details.
Reorganization of Piazza del Campidoglio began in 1539 as part of a plan undertaken by Pope Paul III. It was the first square created as part of a plan conceived by Michelangelo in which a space was created between Palazzo Senatorio and Palazzo dei Conservatori bounded by a new symmetrical building. The square is in the shape of a trapezoid with the Palazzo Senatorio on the longer side (the seat of the city council's administrative offices) and the Capitoline Museums on either side. Michelangelo also designed the monumental flight of steps that leads to the square on either side of which were the Dioscuri designed by Giacomo della Porta. The pavement in the center designed by Michaelangelo on which stands the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, survived the Middle Ages as it was thought, that it represented the Emperor Constantine, the protector of the Christian religion.
The origins of this theater run back to 23 BCE, when Augustus had it built in honor of Marcus Claudius Marcellus, his nephew and adopted son. The theater had space for 20,000 people, and was used for games and celebrations. The construction fell into ruin during the following centuries due to plunder and fire: in fact it became a sort of quarry from which materials were taken for the construction of buildings, churches and so forth. Restoration began in about 1300 when the Savelli family bought the ruins. The same family performed further work two centuries later, and this was continued by the Orsini who acquired the complex in order to enlarge their own building: they restored part of the theater. Today, concerts are organized here, and this is the only way of seeing it from the inside.
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.
Also called Madonna dei Monti, the church of Santa Maria ai Monti celebrates the Virgin Mary. It was constructed under Pope Gregory XIII. A photograph of the Virgin had astonishingly appeared in a convent nearby. Every year, on April 24 a procession carries this image across the town. Inspired by the church of Gesú, the church has a similar form and its corners have statues of the prophets and the ceilings and walls contain murals and paintings by master artists of those times. The dome has a great structural beauty which leaves one awestruck.
The Fountain of the Four Rivers is in the center of Piazza Navona. It was built between 1648 and 1651 from marble and travertine by Bernini. The fountain represents a large rock, which seems to emerge from the water on which an Egyptian obelisk from the Roman era stands. The rock is inhabited by allegorical animals and plants and decorated with the coat of arms of the Pamphili family. Four large statues represent rivers of the then-known areas of the world: the Danube for Europe, the Ganges for Asia, the Rio de la Plata for America, and the Nile for Africa. The last is covering its eyes so as not to see the iniquities taking place before it in the square, the commerce practiced by merchants and tradesmen.
During the Christmas season Piazza Navona is packed with stalls selling toys, sweets and decorations for the nativity scene or Christmas tree, making it a favorite spot for children. Its unusual shape recalls the time of Domitian, who built a stadium for equestrian displays here. The Fountain of the Rivers, with the obelisk, and the Fountain of the Moor, with the God of the Sea, at the center of the square, are both sculpted by Bernini.
The magnanimous proportions of the Colosseum have long been a source of wonder. Originally envisioned in 70 CE, the construction of this grand structure was completed in 80 CE. At that time, it is believed that this vast amphitheater could seat upwards of 50,000 spectators at once. The Colosseum also features on the Italian version of the five-cent Euro. Deemed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colosseum was designed to be a horse racing circuit and arena for animal fighting and gladiatorial battles, although it has also hosted significant religious ceremonies in its early days. A symmetrical wonder set in the historic landscape of Rome's heart, the enormous ruin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered by many to be an iconic symbol of Italy.
This church is an impressive structure and attracts many for its miraculous properties. The image of Mother Mary that is kept here is believed to have cured a child of his deformity. It was constructed in 1610 CE by Octavian Matte and designed by Francesco da Volterra. The beauty of the structure lies in its simplicity. There is artwork in the main hall, carried out by Carlo Saraceni and Gerrit Honthorst. The church was also used as a medical facility to treat wounded soldiers in the war against France.