Visit the smallest sovereign country in the world, its largest Church and fascinating Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces by Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini, discovering history, culture and secrets of the Papal State. The Vatican City is about 108 acres large; it has a railway station, a radio station, beautiful gardens, and about 100 Swiss Guards which are protecting it.
Tour will start with Vatican Museums, one of the largest Museums in the world with its 5 miles of galleries, through the Gallery of Candelabra, ... More decorated by hundreds of ancient statues, the Gallery of Tapestries, with some beautiful Flemish and roman tapestries with odd prospective illusions, and the Gallery of Geographical Maps, decorated with maps showing Italy from south to North, in 1500s. Then we’ll reach the hearth of the Renaissance quarters, once used as the apartment of Popes, decorated by Raphael, and the private papal chapel, the amazing Sistine Chapel. The ceiling shows the creation of the world and it was painted by the genius of Michelangelo in only 4 years. This place has been always used as the private chapel of Popes and for the Conclave, the election of Popes.
We’ll leave the Chapel from the special exit for tour guides, to reach St. Peter’s Basilica the largest church in the world, built on the tomb of the Apostle Peter, crucified up side down, as a criminal, by the emperor Nero, during pagan times.
The church was built in over 120 years, and it holds the most beautiful masterpieces of Bernini and the famous sculpture ‘Pietà’ by Michelangelo.
The old Rome: Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps
Time for a quick lunch in one of the typical roman trattoria and we’ll be ready for a nice stroll in the downtown, an open air museum. Leaving St. Peter’s we’ll pass in front of the imposing Castle St. Angel, Papal fort and jail, to reach one of the most gorgeous squares of Rome, Piazza Navona, a large piazza surrounded by cosy cafes and restaurants. Piazza Navona is keeping the shape and size of the structure which lies underneath: the stadium of Domitian, where Romans were holding sport competitions in ancient times. Nowadays the square is full of street artists making portraits and caricatures to the tourists. In the middle of the square the beautiful fountain of four rivers by Bernini. Next stop at Pantheon the best preserved ancient temple of the entire Mediterranean area, with its widest dome in Rome; actually Michelangelo didn’t dare to build a widest one for St. Peter’s, so the Pantheon measures 43 metres of diameter and St. Peter’s is only 42,60! Then we’ll admire and throw the 3 coins in the famous Trevi Fountain, celebrated in famous movies such as ‘Roman Holiday’, ‘Three coins in the fountain’, ‘La dolce Vita’. A quick stop for a homemade ‘gelato’, the best in town is in this area and then last stop will be at the fancy shopping area of Spanish Steps, ready to fulfil all our fashion desirers.
Ancient Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Capitoline Hill, Piazza Venezia
Join this amazing tour and experience 2758 years of ancient ruins and intriguing history. Visit the Colosseum, the astonishing structure which is still standing in Rome after centuries of barbarians’ invasions and decadence, where the emperors used to kill enemies of nation, gladiators, and animals. The amphitheatre was completed in only 8 years, it could hold about 54.000 spectators, and it was inaugurated by the emperor Titus with an event which lasted 100 days.
We’ll reach the ancient downtown of the city of Rome, the Roman Forum, the public square of Rome, enriched by statues, temples, arches, symbols of the imperial power.
We’ll follow the triumphal route on the Sacred Way, admiring the Titus Arch, built as memory of the victory against Judea; the well preserved Temple of Antoninus and Faustine, the circular temple of the sacred Vestal Virgins, the only priestess in town in ancient times, the tomb and temple of Julius Caesar, the ancient Senate building, and the top of the Capitoline hill reaching the square designed by the genius of Michelangelo on smallest hill of Rome now site of the city hall.
Then we’ll end up in Piazza Venezia, where we’ll find the most imposing building in Rome, the Victor Emmanuell II monument, symbol of the Unification of Italy in 1870 dedicated to our first king. The building is so huge and massive that Romans nicknamed it ‘the Wedding Cake’. On the side of it, Palazzo Venezia an early Renaissance palace once headquarters of the fascist dictator Mussolini.
Start this amazing tour with the Galleria Borghese, the queen of private collections in Europe, in the heart of Rome's most beautiful park, now place for romantic strolls, bike rides and jogging. The Villa was created in 1620s by the Cardinal Scipione Borghese as his golden retreat just outside the city wall. This cardinal was belonging to one of the most powerful families in Rome, and he was nephew of Pope Paul V. At that time, this position meant an immense power that the cardinal used on the artists, to have the best pieces of their production. He used his power to get some works by Caravaggio, by Domenichino and it is famous the way he got the ‘Deposition of Christ’ by Raphael: he stole it from a church in Perugia during night time. The population of that town wanted the painting back, but the Cardinal just sent a copy back to them.
The villa was enriched by the cardinal and his descendents with enchanting works of art, ancient, Renaissance, Baroque masterpieces, such as the David, Apollo and Daphne, the Rape of Proserpine by Bernini, David and Goliath by Caravaggio, Portrait of a dame by Raphael, Titian’s most beautiful work of art, the Sacred and Profane Love and the famous portrait of Napoleon’s sister, Paolina Borghese by Canova.
Villa D’este, Tivoli
East of Rome, Tivoli offers the most enchanting garden of Italy rich of its sublime and spectacular fountains: Villa D’Este.
This villa was built by Ippolito d’Este, renaissance prince, collector and patron of arts, son of Duke Ercole D’Este and Lucrezia Borgia. The residence is entirely upstaged by the gardens set on descending series of terraces, among palm trees and cypresses water shoots and cascades where the cardinal kindly entertained his famous guests, musicians, poets and writers in 1500s. The fountains are offering the history and geography of the surroundings: Rometta is a fountain with symbols of city of Rome, Ovato is decorated with statues of rivers and mythological Tivoli’s figures, the three fishponds created to supply the cardinal with fresh fish for his meals were copied by the Imperial Palace in Hadrian’ Villa.
The gardens include also some amazing mechanisms such as the fountain of the Organ, which used to sound with the water, and the fountain of Owl, which was giving an entertain performance of singing birds.
Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli
Villa Adriana is the site of an imposing architectural complex dating to Hadrian's time; a 180 acre spread largest villa ever built in the entire Roman Empire. Adrian lived at the height of the Roman Empire, and he is the emperor which built the Pantheon, in Rome and restyled the port of Rome, Ostia.
The series of palaces, baths, etc. were meant to remind him, here in Italy, of the places he most loved in Greece and the Near East.
The most impressive sites in the villa are the Canopo, copied by the one in Alexandria of Egypt; the Maritime Theatre, an artificial island where the emperor used as retreat to write poetries; the Pecile, a rectangular pond surrounded by a colonnade; the fishpond in the imperial palace and the subway, an underground tunnel used by the servants to carry material from one side to the other side of the villa without been seen by the guests.
Even though the villa has been sacked for centuries, it amazes its visitors with its astonishing and overwhelming architectures.
Week-end by Federica D'Orazio - www.guidaturisticaroma.it The city of Rome is so full of wonderful attractions, that it will really impossible to report them all in one page! However, here is a list of the most famous sights that you shouldn’t really miss.
A good way to start the visit is surely from the wide Piazza del Popolo, the northern end of Via del Corso, where the church of S. Maria del Popolo was erected and where you can admire the exceptional paintings by Caravaggio, the Conversione of St. Paul and the Crucifixion of St. Peter. The twin churches of S. Maria di Monte Santo and S. Maria de’ Miracolo are also there.
From Piazza del Popolo you can easily reach another of the most popular spots in the Eternal City: Piazza di Spagna. Once here, you can have a relaxing rest or take some photos to the world famous Spanish Steps. Just at the top of the steps, another beautiful spot: Trinità dei Monti, where the small church Trinità dei Monti is located.
Piazza Spagna is situated in a very strategic position for tourists because from this lovely square almost all the roman most important sights, are at walking distance: the impressive Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), the great Pantheon, the charming Piazza Navona and Piazza Venezia, the historic Fori Imperiali (the political and religious centre in ancient Rome) and the massive Colosseum (one of the world's most famous buildings, built an elliptical shape that measures over 530 meters in circumference and could hold over 50,000 people).
Another great place to visit, while in Rome, is definitely Trastevere, one of the oldest parts of Rome, situated right in the very heart of the city. Trastevere is an area bustling with life during the day, but it is also lively by night. It is famous for the number of good restaurants to be found where you can taste wonderful pizzas or other great Italian dishes together with beer or wine. Right in the middle of Trastevere, you cant miss St. Maria di Trastevere, a wonderful church known for its unique 12th century mosaic works that adorn the walls. From Trastevere, you can also walk a little and visit the Gianicolo, which is one of the seven hills that surround Rome, and you will be rewarded by an impressive view of the city.
Some other great sights in Rome are in order: Altare della Patria, Arch of Constantine ( a Triumphal arch celebrating the victory of Constantine I over Maxentius, 312 CE) , Arch of Gallienus, Arches of Marcus Aurelius (Two lost arches dedicated to emperor Marcus Aurelius) , Aurelian Walls, Aventine Hill, Baths of Agrippa, Baths of Caracalla, Campo dei Fiori, Castel Sant’Angelo, Circus Maximus, EUR, Fontana del Mosé, Mausoleum di Eurysace, Meta Sudans, Palazzo Barberini, Palazzo del Quirinale, Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo Madama, Palazzo Odescalchi, Palazzo Venezia, Piazza Bocca della Verità, Piazza Bocca della Verità, Piazza di Porta Maggiore, Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele II, Ponte Milvio (a Roman bridge on the Via Flaminia crossing the Tiber River), Ponte Principe Amedeo Savoia Aosta, Porta Maggiore, Porta Ostiense, Porta Labicana, San Lorenzo fuori delle Mura, San Nicola in Carcere, San Pietro in Vincoli, San Sebastiano fuori delle mura, Santa Costanza, Temple of Apollo, Temple of Divus Claudius, Temple of Hadrian, Temple of the Virile Fortune, Temple of Vesta, Theatre of Marcellus, Tiber River and the tiny but charming Tiberine Island.
Don’t forget that Rome is also the house of the Vatican City State, the capital of the Catholic church. Saint Peter's Square, the square in front of the Basilica of St. Peter, is one of the most famous places in the whole world and it will surely remain in the heart of the tourists.
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