Rome district guide


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Rome district guide                                                  (Back to Rome main information page)

It's hard to describe Rome in a few words; a city so vast and rich in art, monuments and exquisite views, a historic city, which has preserved its charm and independence throughout the centuries.

Rome's history can be read in every monument, and palazzo; in fact, each and every stone bears witness to the periods of splendour, decay, wars, and numerous architectural styles. The city could be described as a gigantic open-air museum, visited each year by millions of tourists, scholars and pilgrims from all over the world.

It is hard to believe that Roman civilization began with a small settlement of shepherds and farmers near the Tevere river, on Palatino (one of the seven hills on which Rome was built and where most of the Roman archaeological treasures were found), tradition dictates that this is where Romulus founded the city and where Augustus, the first Emperor, built his house, which is now widely (and incorrectly) known as the house of Livia, his wife.

The city extended over six other hills: Quirinale, Viminale, Esquilino, Celio, Aventino and Capitolino.

Quirinale, the highest of the seven hills, has Piazza Omonima on its summit, with its colossal statues of the gods, Castor and Pollux and the Palazzo del Quirinale, where the president lives. Opposite the Palazzo are the Scuderie, which have only recently been opened to the public, thanks to the architect Gae Aulenti, who created a functional exhibition space inside the building.

Viminale stands next to Quirinale, it is smaller in size, split into two by Via Nazionale, and dominated by the huge Palazzo delle Esposizioni building (designed by Pio Piacentini) on Piazza della Repubblica, near Rome's principal railway station, Stazione Termini. Piazza della Repubblica is one of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome, surrounded by arches. The recently restored Fontana delle Naiadi, takes pride of place in the centre of the square.

Esquilino is the home of the great poets Virgilio and Orazio. It has three peaks, one of which is Monte Oppio, where you can find the ruins of Domus Aurea, only recently opened to the public after years of restoration. Initially, Esquilino was a suburb of Rome, which is the reason for the nickname exquilini' (non-tenants) given to its inhabitants, some believe that this is how the hill got its name.

Further south stand Celio and Aventino, the former has a long promontory, called Monte delle Querce, as it was once home to many oak trees (querce). It is possibly the greenest and most charming of the seven hills and is home to Parco del Celio and Villa Celimontana. There are many beautiful buildings here, especially along the magnificent Via Appia Antica almost all are places of worship. Both Aventino and Celio have few inhabitants. Aventino is rich in important medieval monuments (such as the S.Maria in Cosmedin basilica, where the famous Bocca della Verit?or mouth of truth is housed).

Last but not least, is Capitolino, which stands between Palatino and Quirinale: this used to be the religious and political centre of the city during the Roman era. It is dominated by the Michelangelo style Piazza del Campidoglio, perfectly proportioned, with a statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius on horseback in the centre. The Capitolino museum has some of the most precious art collections in the world.

The seven hilltops offer a number of beautiful views; the most breathtaking of these are Pincio, the dome of San Pietro and the Gianicolo.

Rome has spread outwards in a rather haphazard manner, without much regard to town planning; many fields were acquired by the local authorities and transformed into new neighbourhoods. North of Rome, near the Vatican are the Aurelio, Prati and Mazzini neighbourhoods, which are more commercial and residential, as well as the elegant quarters of Parioli and Nomentano, home to many foreign embassies. Further south are Prenestino and Tiburtino, more populated areas, due to the fact that they are university areas, full of students, who can also be found in the nearby S.Lorenzo, a charming district with a wide variety of pizzerias and bars. Trastevere is undoubtedly one of the most charming areas of the city, it is also one of the most crowded areas too, especially on summer evenings. Many people (foreigners and Romans alike) want to live in this highly desirable district. Finally, the Eur, is one of the most modern neighbourhoods, a centre for offices and administration centres.

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