Monday, June 3, 2019

May 16 - Rome

May 2019 - Rome Italy

Get comfortable, this is a long day!

A 😲eureka😲 moment as we stepped out and realized we could leave our jackets in the room, after 19 days it was a revelation!

We weren't sure where to have breakfast but figured there were plenty of places around us. Half a block away we found this.
Breakfast, 8 euros each, what a difference in prices compared to France, especially Paris!!

Once again we are on Via del Corso which will take you almost anywhere you might want to go. Our plan was to go towards the Coliseum and Forum.

This guy was doing a sand sculpture of a dog.

As usual we get distracted from our destination.

The Palazzo Montecitorio is a palace and the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
The building was originally designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for the young Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, nephew of Pope Gregory XV. However, with the death of Gregory XV by 1623, work stopped, and was not restarted until the papacy of Pope Innocent XII (Antonio Pignatelli), when it was completed by the architect Carlo Fontana, who modified Bernini's plan with the addition of a bell gable above the main entrance. The building was designated for public and social functions only, due to Innocent XII's firm antinepotism policies which were in contrast to his predecessors.

The excavated obelisk of the Solarium Augusti, now known as the Obelisk of Montecitorio, was installed in front of the palace by Pius VI in 1789.

The Solarium Augusti (also called Horologium Augusti) was an ancient Roman monument in the Campus Martius constructed during the reign of Augustus. It functioned as a giant solar marker, according to various interpretations serving either as a simple meridian line or as a sundial.

The obelisk gnomon was still standing in the 8th century CE, but was thrown down and broken, then covered in sediment; it was rediscovered in 1512, but not excavated. In a triumphant rededication, the 'Montecitorio obelisk' was re-erected in Piazza di Montecitorio by Pius VI in 1789.

Just around the corner from Piazza Montecitorio is the Piazza Colonna, where Palazzo Chigi resides, the official headquarters of the Prime Minister. The national newspaper, Il Tempo, also has its offices here. News crews with video cameras are a common sight here, waiting to get footage and news bytes of the influential politicians who wander between these two important piazzas.

And the press were out on this day too.

Situated on the Via del Corso, Piazza Colonna is named “Column Square” because of the impressive marble column located in its centre since AD 193.

Built between 176 and 192 in honour of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the column was placed in the square after his death to celebrate the victory of the Marcomannic Wars.

In 1589, a bronze statue of St Paul was placed at the top.

Photo shoot?

San Marcello al Corso, is a titular church whose cardinal-protector normally holds the (intermediary) rank of cardinal-priest.
A titular church or titulus (English: title) is a church in Rome assigned or assignable to one of the cardinals.

Poked my head in here.

And discovered it was the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, the best-known private gallery in Rome. The mansion houses valuable works by great masters such as Raphael, Tiziano, Caravaggio, Brueghel the Elder, Velazquez and Bernini.

Poor John, as I decided we should visit it.

I'll save all the art for a separate post some day!

Another example of the heightened security around tourist venues. Not a bad thing.

Variously derided as "The Wedding Cake" or "The Giant Typewriter," the Monument to Victor Emanuel II—Rome's blindingly white elephant of a commemorative pile of marble devoted to modern Italy's first king.

Its design is a neoclassical interpretation of the Roman Forum.
The colossal monument, which is 135 meters wide and 70 meters high, is comprised of scores of majestic Corinthian columns and endless stairs, all carved in white marble. The top is crowned with an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel cast in bronze and two chariots (quadrigas) driven by the goddess Victoria.

In our 2004 photos there is no one on the steps, but then it was a rainy day but that doesn't stop tourists.

We had not seen this area before. I found most of the information at Reid's Italy.

The Forum of Trajan's is home to Trajan's Column, a massive carved marble comic strip of the emperors accomplishments.
The Forum of Tajan is marked by several rows of re-erected columns that once comprised merely the central part of the huge Basilica Ulpia, Rome's largest basilican law courts.

Trajan was Roman emperor from 98 to 117. Officially declared by the Senate optimus princeps, Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death.

In front of the Basilica Ulpia rises the most stunning sight in all the Imperial Fori, the 98-foot Trajan's Column,today topped by a 16th-century statue of St. Peter.

Around the column wraps a cartoon strip of deep relief carvings that would measure some 660 feet if stretched out.

It uses a cast of 2,500 characters to tell the story of Trajan's victorious AD 101–106 campaigns to subdue the Dacians (modern-day Romania).

 You can see how close The Typewriter is in this photo.

The world's first multi-level shopping mall - the Emperor Trajan built his markets in the AD 2nd century, and after being closed for years they've become the first of the Imperial Fori to reopen to the public (in 1998).

The Fori Imperiali represent Rome's first major urban expansion of public areas beyond the Forum—most importantly the Forum of Caesar, Forum of Augustus, and Forum of Trajan,

Map of Forum and Imperial Fori
The chief monuments of ancient Rome line the Via dei Fori Imperiali.

As Imperial Rome began outgrowing its Roman Forum core, the Imperial Fori were built by a succession of emperors (starting with Julius Caesar) in ambitious bouts of urban expansion that provided for the populace, curried favor with the elite, and improved the city infrastructure all at the same time.

Today, this collection of Fori Imperiali is neatly bisected by Via dei Fori Imperiali, a triumphal avenue from Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum laid out by Mussolini so he could parade his own glories past the decaying remnants of the Caesars.

A stop into an Irish pub for a drink, as per usual, we couldn't get served on a patio unless we had lunch.

Back outside, we cross the street and the sights continue to astound us. We are at the Forum.

Few sites are so filled with a sense of history as the Roman Forum (Foro Romano). Although the surviving remains give only a hint of the grandeur and splendor of the Forum in ancient times, this area, with its columns still standing tall or lying tumbled on the ground, its triumphal arches, and its remains of once-important buildings, are still impressive even to 21st-century visitors.

Click here for a quick aerial video of the area.

To give you an idea, #24 is The Typewriter, 23 is Trajan's Market, we crossed the street and took these photos before walking to the Coliseum # 26, wandered into
Parco di Colle Oppio #27 to the other side, then decided to return to Coliseum # 26 and then walked back to #21 where we took the last photos of the area.

Here is a long (50 minute) video walking tour. This is the link in case the video doesn't work.

What a difference from our 2004 visit! You now have to buy tickets, we just walked in in 2004. You now have to go through a security check.
We were happy to view it from above.

The Roman Forum—or the Forum as it was called by locals—was a gathering place in ancient Rome. Much of Roman life took place in this 250-meter-by-170-meter space. People gathered here for the market, government business, legal issues, religious services and social gatherings.

The structures were built over the course of centuries, and one of the oldest structures was built in 29 BC. But the area wasn’t used as a Forum until about 800 BC. It stopped being used as such in around 600 CE.

Many of the structures stood until 847 CE, when the remaining buildings and arches came tumbling down in an earthquake. Much of what was left was taken by Medieval architects and builders to repurpose in other structures around Rome.

Yikes! The walk to the Colosseum was a construction zone. They are building a new subway line.

The new Linea C is the first to service Rome’s historic center and passes through an area of vital interest to locals, travelers, and archaeologists alike. Running from the Colosseum to the Forum, it will pitch west at Trajan’s Market and head to the Theater of Pompey, where Julius Caesar recoiled from Brutus’s knife. From there, it will slip under the Tiber River toward Hadrian’s tomb and on to the countryside beyond.

We should have taken more photos of the chaos.

To pass under the oldest archaeological strata, the metro plunge a full 90 feet below street level, three times deeper than Rome’s existing lines. In the city center, the twin tunnels will also be larger than Rome’s other metro lines, with a diameter of 29 feet instead of the standard 20. The extra width means that if an archaeological discovery—an unexpected temple, say, or an emperor’s villa—blocks a proposed subway entrance, the station (and passenger platform) can easily be shunted down the line. To further avoid damaging archaeological layers (and any resulting controversies), the contractors will have to work like laparoscopic surgeons, minimizing trauma by tunneling through existing ventilation and entrance shafts to build the stations below.

The construction of the Colosseum began in the year 72 under the empire of Vespasian and was finished in the year 80 during the rule of the emperor Titus. After completion, the Colosseum became the greatest Roman amphitheatre, measuring 188 meters in length, 156 meters in width and 57 meters in height.

During the Roman Empire and under the motto of "Bread and Circuses" the Roman Colosseum (known then as Flavian Amphitheatre) allowed more than 50,000 people to enjoy its finest spectacles. The exhibitions of exotic animals, executions of prisoners, recreations of battles and gladiator fights kept the Roman people entertained for years.

The Colosseum remained active for over 500 years. The last recorded games in history were celebrated in the 6th century.

Since the 6th century the Colosseum has suffered lootings, earthquakes and even bombings during World War Two. Demonstrating a great survival instinct, the Colosseum was used for decades as a storehouse, church, cemetery and even a castle for nobility.

We commented that the last time we were here you could see people dressed as gladiators posing with tourists for money.
We didn't see any this time.

As I was researching this post I discovered why.

According to the Daily Mail in 2018

Costumed 'gladiators' were also temporarily handed heavy fines following accusations of 'over-charging, harassing and pick-pocketing unsuspecting tourists', The Local reported.
Under the new permanent measures, gladiators caught posing for photos with tourists face fines of up to 400 euros.

Parco di Colle Oppio or the Oppian Hill (Latin, Oppius Mons; Italian: Colle Oppio) is the southern spur of the Esquiline Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome.

We thought we could walk through here and head back a different way but once we exited on the other side we decided that we would go back the way we came.

The park is not considered to be a safe place to be at night. But it does offer some great views.

Glad we came back this way. We walked up the street behind/beside The Typewriter and had great views into the Forum.

Church of Ss. Luca e Martina

Zooming towards the Colosseum, you can see the line for security clearance,

The Arch of Titus.

The Arch of Septimus.

Back around The Typewriter, or Monument to Victor Emanuel II.

It also has its famous detail, the Altare della Patria, or the Altar of the Fatherland, which is where the tomb of an unknown soldier is found. This soldier was killed in the 1st World War and became a symbol for all unknown fallen soldiers of Italy.
Since 1921, the eternal flame burns and is always guarded by two soldiers.

View from the terrace. I HATE those big billboards that we have seen in Europe on buildings being renovated.

A good view of Trajan's Forum from the terrace.

Hard to look regal with a seagull on your head.

Back to strolling and random photos.

We found ourselves in Piazza di Pietra, Piazza of Rocks. The name is derived from the stones of the former temple that were used to create the piazza.

The Temple of Hadrian, built in 145 AD by Antonius Pius, Emperor Hadrian’s adopted son and successor, still partially remains as a conversion into a modern office building. Eleven Corinthian columns that tower to over 48 feet high still stand, supporting the original architrave, the beam that rests on the columns. A section of the cella, or original wall, can be seen as well.

We deserve a wine break in the sunshine in this square.

We're back on Via del Corso and take it into our heads to find Piazza Popolo is settle a bet.

But we have a diversion, yet another church to check out.

Sant'Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso (usually known simply as San Carlo al Corso) is a basilica church facing onto the central part of the Via del Corso.
I'll save the inside for a church post.

Strolling along and it dawns on us that Popolo is right in front of us.
Fabulous street artists.

Mission accomplished. 

The Piazza del Popolo (The People’s Square) is located inside the northern gate of the city, which was once called Porta Flaminia. The square is situated at the beginning of Via Flaminia and was the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire.

An Egyptian obelisk dedicated to Ramesses II, called Flaminio Obelisk, is located at the centre of the piazza. Erected in the Circus Maximus during the tenth century, it was transferred to Piazza del Popolo in 1589.

Two churches look onto the square; Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto. These two temples look identical from the exterior, but hide several differences inside.

Yes, we did go inside!

You can get an impressive view of the piazza by climbing the stairs, located on the east side of the square, to Pincio Park. We have an impressive photo from there from 2004.

You can learn still more from this video with the emphasis on the Dan Brown book Angels and Demons.

Back in 2004 we were both reading Angels and Demons and sat in the cafe featured in the book. We recreated that on this trip.

Aracini or rice balls. Delicious.


  1. great shots of everything: from buildings to street artists, from statues to delicious foods....
    Thank you for sharing


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