Things to Do in Rome - page 4
One of the liveliest squares in the heart of Rome, Piazza della Rotonda is lined with bustling bars, historical cafés, and alfresco restaurant tables. The piazza was built around the Pantheon, one of the city’s most famous ancient monuments, which predates the square by about a thousand years.
Italy is known for its fashion and design: Some of the world’s most recognized luxury clothing and home decor labels are proudly “made in Italy.” If you love elegant Italian style, head to Castel Romano Designer Outlet to shop for famous designer brands such as Valentino and Versace at a deep discount.
At the height of its power, the ancient city of Rome was home to millions and the capital of a vast empire, crowded with monumental temples, civic buildings, and villas. Today, visitors can get a sense of the ancient city’s wealth and power by visiting the archaeological ruins covering the Palatine Hill in the center of modern Rome, including the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Temple of Julius Caesar, and Arch of Constantine.
The pretty village of Castel Gandolfo overlooks Lake Albano and is a popular day trip destination from Rome. The site offers a peaceful respite from the bustle of Italy’s capital city and is home to the the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo and Barberini Gardens, which make up the papal summer residence and are now open to the public.
Beloved by both pilgrims and art aficionados, the Church of St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) houses the chains that bound Saint Peter when the Romans imprisoned him in Jerusalem. Built in the fifth century, the church today is also home to Michelangelo’s Moses, part of the unfinished monumental tomb of Pope Julius II.
Shopaholics in Rome, head for Via Condotti, where even the window-shopping is worth the trip.
Via Condotti (its complete name is Via dei Condotti) is a street in central Rome that dates back to the ancient Roman era. It was a fashionable address as far back as the 18th century, when the Caffe Greco opened and was frequented by the likes of Goethe, Byron, Liszt, and Keats. The cafe remains open – and popular with visitors – to this day.
Most of Via Condotti is known for its fashion boutiques. Major names in fashion have shops along the street, including Gucci, Valentino, Armani, Prada, Ferragamo, Dolce & Gabbana, as well as many other designers – Italian and otherwise.
Ponte Sisto is a stone pedestrian bridge that crosses the Tiber River in Rome. It connects the historic center of Rome on one side of the river with the Trastevere neighborhood on the other side. The bridge dates back to the late 1400s and uses the foundations of an older Roman bridge that was destroyed in
the early Middle Ages. Today the bridge is one of the few bridges crossing the Tiber River that does not allow vehicles. This makes it a pleasant crossing point for visitors exploring the city by foot.
The bridge also provides nice views of the city. From here, you can see the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, Ponte Garibaldi, Ponte Mazzini, Tiber Island, and Gianicolo Hill. The bridge connects Via dei Pettinari and Piazza Trilussa. Several boutique hotels, restaurants, and cafes can be found in this area on both sides of the bridge, some offering views of the river and the bridge itself.
Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo (Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo) is the most important church in Rome’s sweeping Piazza del Popolo. With a 17th-century facade designed by Bernini, chapels by Bramante and Raphael, and museum-quality art by Pinturicchio and Caravaggio, the church is a highlight on any tour of Roman art treasures, architecture, or Catholic sights.
At the center of St. Peter's Square, the second tallest Egyptian obelisk in Rome soars 84 feet (26 meters) into the air to signify the Catholic church's power. Brought from Heliopolis to Rome by Caligula in AD 37, the red-granite obelisk was moved to its current location by Pope Sixtus V in 1586.
The Stadium of Domitian (Stadio di Domiziano) was built in 80 AD as a venue for sporting events and was the first of its kind. It was designed in an elongated U-shape using a Greek architectural style, and it could hold between 15,000 and 20,000 people. In the 15th century, the stadium was paved over to make Piazza Navona, which is a popular square in Rome today. The square is almost the exact same size and shape as the stadium was. Some pieces of the original stadium can still be seen above ground, but much of the remains are underground.
Today visitors can see parts of the archaeological site and get a glimpse of Rome's past. Graphs, photos, and videos explain the history of sport as well as the history of the stadium itself. Much of what lies underground is off limits and can only be accessed with special permission, but the parts that are visible are spectacular. The stadium is one of many examples of the many layers of history that exists in Rome.
More Things to Do in Rome
Among the most sacred Catholic sites in Rome, the Scala Santa (or Holy Stairs) is a solemn destination for believers from pilgrims to popes, who climb the 28 marble steps on their knees in devotion. Believed to have once led to Pontius Pilate’s praetorium, the stairs are said to have been climbed by Jesus on his way to trial.
Trajan’s Market (Mercati di Traiano) is one of the most interesting areas of Rome’s five Imperial Forums, built by Julius Caesar and his successors at the very apex of the Imperial Age. This vast, triple-decker semicircle was ancient Rome’s version of the modern-day shopping mall, and it remains a remarkably intact example of Roman urban planning.
The Baths of Diocletian (Terme di Diocleziano)—the largest public baths in Imperial Rome—once covered 32 acres (13 hectares). Though much of the original complex was destroyed or integrated into later churches and palaces, what remains still offers a sense of the vast structure, which hosted up to 3,000 bathers in its heyday.
St. Peter's Dome (Cupola di San Pietro), one of Italy’s most famous monuments, doesn't technically stand on Italian soil—it sits atop St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Michelangelo’s architectural masterpiece is a symbol for Catholics around the globe and, as the highest dome in the world, offers spectacular views across St. Peter’s Square and Rome.
Discover “authentic Italy” in vibrant Testaccio, the historically working-class neighborhood that has become a gourmand destination and nightlife hot spot. Aficionados of classic Roman cuisine flock to the bustling Testaccio market, for tastings at the historic Volpetti deli, and to savor a gelato or espresso at the landmark Giolitti café.
At the very top of the Janiculum Hill in Rome is Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi, which has a bronze statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi at its center.
The Janiculum Hill (Gianicolo in Italian) is not one of Rome’s ancient seven hills, but today is one of the best places to get an exceptional view over the city. Piazzale Garibaldi is at the top of the hill, surrounded by a road and some parking spaces.
The equestrian statue in the middle of the piazza honors Garibaldi, the man who led the fight to unify Italy in the early 19th century. The main draw of the square, however, is the view over Rome. You can see everything from the Colosseum to St. Peter’s dome to the Vittoriano monument and much more.
Piazzale Garibaldi and the Janiculum Hill get particularly popular at sunset, so if you want to see the sun go down from the top of the hill make sure you give yourself enough time to walk or take the bus up there. During the day, some Trastevere tours include the Janiculum Hill on the itinerary, too.
The large avenue that runs between Piazza della Repubblica and the Largo Magnanapoli in Rome is called Via Nazionale, and it’s lined with hotels and shops.
Via Nazionale was built in the late 19th century, though there was already a street under construction at the time - Via Pia, named for Pope Pius IX. The existing plan was altered to make the road wider, as it was deemed a critical artery leading from the area near Termini train station into the heart of Rome.
Because of the proximity to Stazione Termini, Via Nazionale is a popular street for hotels and other accommodation options. There are also lots of mid-range and chain clothing stores, and some chain and fast food restaurants.
Although the construction of Via Nazionale required the demolition of several historic buildings, there are still some attractions along the broad street - many of which were built after the road was finished. St. Paul’s Within the Walls was the first Protestant church in Rome, opened in 1880. The Palazzo delle Esposizioni, opened in 1883, has several entertainment and exhibition spaces. The 16th-century church of Santa Caterina a Magnanapoli is is near the end of Via Nazionale, and the street also leads directly to the ruins of Trajan’s Market.
The Great Synagogue of Rome (Tempio Maggiore di Roma) has a storied past, with the city housing one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. The first set arrived in the city in the second century BC, and by the mid-16th century, the area of Trastevere on the west banks of the River Tiber became a Jewish ghetto, which lasted for three centuries until it was disbanded by King Victor Emmanuel II. The Great Synagogue was built across the river from Trastevere shortly afterwards in memory of the dark days of the ghetto; the Art Nouveau structure is stopped with a distinctive square dome and ornamented with floral reliefs.
On April 13, 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the synagogue, making him the first pope since early Christianity to do so. The synagogue celebrated its centenary in 2004 and serves as a hub for the Jewish community of Rome, as well as housing for the offices of the Chief Rabbi. The city's Jewish Museum is also on the premises, which opened in 1960 and displays precious textiles, manuscripts and silverware documenting centuries of Jewish life in Rome.
When we think of ancient civilizations, more often than not we think of Rome. Yet before the Romans, there were the Etruscans who lived in west Italy from the 9th century onward. Their necropolises, or burial grounds, represent much of what we know about not only Etruscan culture but also burial practices from that ancient time.
Depictions of daily life can be found on frescoed walls, and many of the necropolises resemble Etruscan homes. The necropolis of Cerveteri alone has thousands of tomb structures which are arranged as if a small city. It can be navigated in largely the same manner, with paths, city squares, and even distinct neighborhoods.
The nearby Tarquinia necropolis has more than 6,000 tombs carved into rock. Interestingly, these tombs built for death are one of the greatest keys we have to understand how the Etruscans lived. Many of them are the only existing structure of their kind.
The monumental bronze canopy of St. Peter's Baldachin (Baldacchino di San Pietro), set beneath Michelangelo’s dome, is a centerpiece of St. Peter's Basilica. Bernini’s stunning bronze masterpiece soars as high as a 9-story building above the basilica's high altar, protecting the spot where St. Peter is said to be buried.
The heart of Rome’s bohemian Trastevere neighborhood, Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere fills by day with young families and tourists dining at sidewalk restaurants and sunbathing on the steps of the square’s central fountain. Come evening, students and revelers flock to the many trendy bars around the piazza, one of Rome’s favorite gathering spots.
Ancient Ostia (Ostia Antica), one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Italy, was once a thriving port city of roughly 100,000 inhabitants conquered by Rome. As the Roman empire expanded, its capital city needed a larger port, and Ostia was eventually abandoned and buried under silt as the course of the Tiber River changed. This layer of mud protected the ancient Roman town from the ravages of time. It is considered by some to be the “better Pompeii."
Marking the center of Piazza di Spagna, the unique 17th-century Barcaccia Fountain (Fontana della Barcaccia) is one of the most famous in Rome. Commissioned by Pope Urban VIII Barberini and designed by Pietro Bernini, the fountain sits at the base of Rome’s Spanish Steps and is a popular gathering spot in the square.
Best known for its Cornaro Chapel—home to Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s stunning masterpiece, The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa—theChurch of Santa Maria della Vittoria (Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria) has one of the most ornate marble interiors in Rome. Designed by baroque architect Carlo Maderno, the church is adorned with white and gilded stucco angels and putti, as well as 17th-century frescoes.
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