Rome Things to Do Tips by no1birdlady
Rome Things to Do: 5,304 reviews and 9,843 photos
Palatine Hill Ruins
We walked down the middle of the large grassy expanse that once was Circus Maximus, once Rome's largest stadium where horse and chariot races were held. To the left up on a hill was Palatine Hill, the oldest part of Rome. There are traces here of Iron Age huts dating from the 9th cen. BC. The palatine was a very desirable place to live and it became home to some of Rome's most famous people such as Cicero. Augustus was born here and lived here when he was emperor. The ruins of the area are very well preserved.
All through Rome we hear about buildings being built on top of older buildings. At Basilica S. Clemente we had a great look at this because the 3 different levels have been excavated and preserved and you can visit them. On the top is a 12th cen. basilica. It sits atop a 4th cen. Christian basilica which in turn sits atop a 2nd cen. Mithraic Temple and some even earlier Roman buildings. We walked down steps to the 4th cen. church which was excavated to reveal a partial fresco on the walk still entact. Then we walked down to the 3rd excavated level. The Mithras Temple is a cult for men only. A very well preserved stone altar to the bull where sacrifices were made was found in the main room. Catacombs were discovered here in 1938 which date from the 5th and 6th centuries and are below the structures. It's amazing to be able to go back that far in history.
Santa Maria Maggiore
This is one of the important churches for pilgrims who came to Rome, also the 4th largest church in Rome. People from all over often made pilgrimages to see the holy relics in the cathedrals. The relics here are fragmets of wood from the manger. I also learned that the tall columns which are in the front and back of the cathedral are put there to guide the pilgrims toward the cathedrals. This is a beautiful old cathedral and the mosaics here are some of the best preserved and some of the oldest. It's a beautiful cathedral.
This is a very large ornate fountain. It was not completed until 1762 so it is young when compared to other things in Rome. The figure in the center is neptune with 2 Tritons. It's in a rather small square so is hard to get a photo of unless you have a wide angle lens.
Front of The Borghese Gallery
This was an art gallery for the Borghese family. They also commissioned artists to do many of these great works. It is because of the patroniage of some of the rich families like this that we have much of this great art. Another unique feature is that here you can see the works displayed in rooms that they were created for. There are a lot of Bernini's sculptures here as well as paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian. A well known sculpture is of Pauline (Borghese) Bonaparte as Venus. It's by Antonio Canova done in 1808. She posed for the sculptor but once the statue was complete, her husband, Camillo Borghese, kept it locked up. Obviously he didn't want the world to see his wife naked. But now here she is with a whole room dedicated to her.
Temple in small lake in Borghese Grounds.
Our time to go into the Borghese Gallery wasn't until 1pm this afternoon so we spent about 3 hours exploring the grounds. There are monuments made to look like ancient ruins here such as this temple in a small lake. We took our binoculars and looked for birds. We only saw 18 different species so it wasn't as good as we had hoped. But then it is January. The most interesting birds seen were: Short-toed Tree Creeper, Gadwall in the lake, an Eurasian Kestrel chasing a Crow, Long-tailed Tit, Robin and Wren. There are a lot of those beautiful Umbrella Pines, gardens filled with Cyclamen, and beautiful statuary.
Bulgari Window on Via dei Condotti
Via dei Condotti is the street that leads up to the Spanish Steps area. This is considered THE PLACE to shop. It evidently is also the place to be seen. We passed a lot of very fashionable Italians, many wearing full length fur coats and diamonds. This area is where you will find the famous names such as Gucci, Prada, Hermes, and Max Mara. You can shop Beltrami for leather, and Ferragamo for shoes. They have sales here in Jan. but even their sales are too rich for me so we just window shopped and I took photos of some of the windows such as this Bulgari window.
Tiber River in Old Rome
Rome was built where there was an easy ford in the Tiber River. This is the case with many cities. But a problem was that it flooded the city every winter up until 1870 when work began on the massive Lungotevere embankments that run along both sides of the river confining it. You can see the walls in the photo. I enjoyed looking at gulls and ducks along the river.
River God on Fountain in Piazza Navona.
Piazza Navona is a beautiful plaza with outdoor cafes and beautiful fountains. The sculpture on the fountains is truly beautiful. The shape of the plaza comes from the shape of the ancient stadium which was once here.
Victor Emmanuel II Monument
Finished in 1911, this HUGE monument made of white marble with large black chariots on the top is very impossing. It honors the first king of unified Italy. There is a gilt statue of Victor on his horse here.
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