City blog. Rome based.

Rome, quick instructions

This post is a present by Patricia’s blog Guia de Roma em português; I’m only trying to translate it as better as I can, but I totally agree with her. Her work, her travels and her ideas area source of inspiration for me; we often compare our opinions, sharing each other ideas about new places to discover or inspections for future works.

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Patricia and Mirta while visiting the Colosseum

Questo articolo è disponibile anche in italiano.

Cliquez ici pour lire cet article en français.

I can not exactly say when the Colosseum or the Vatican have become so famous around the world… I guess it’s happened since the 50’s or 60’s thanks to American movies shot there; or when international travel became more and more common among that kind of people who could afford it.

Can't miss the Colosseum the first time visiting Rome!
Can’t miss the Colosseum the first time visiting Rome!

No doubt, coming to Rome knowing nothing or very little of its history, it must have been a very big deal, with the same dimentions of greater roman monument: the Colosseum.

The Colosseum is an ancient amphitheater, which could accommodate between 50,000 and 75,000 people. For a traveler of the 50s and 60s it must have been a shattering experience; the dimensions are so majestic that their memories of this monument must have been truly “colossal”.

Be careful, and remind the differences between the Colosseum and the Theater of Marcellus.
Be careful, and remind the differences between the Colosseum and the Theater of Marcellus.

[The Colosseum is the italian most visited monument in 2015 with 6.551.046 tickets sold. The ticket for the Colosseum is valid for two days to visit also the archeologic sites of Roman Forum and Palatine Hill].

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But only need to search in internet for a map which indicates the extension of the Roman Empire, and it becomes clear that the greatness of the Colosseum can not be the only witness of the capital of an empire. The Roman world included almost all the world known at that time; Rome emanated laws, practices and traditions that conformed a immense territory (and they had not the help of modern technology!). The Romans created an empire so big, by building and decorating the city, huge buildings, aqueducts, various infrastructure; but the command center was always the city of Rome. It is therefore mathematically impossible that the Coliseum is the only monument worthy to be seen in Rome.

I Mercati di Traiano sono un insieme di strutture di servizio.
So called Trajan’s Market is a complex of building to organize the city at best.

At the apex of the imperial age, in the capital were living one million inhabitants. From where came the grain to produce all the necessary bread? And the marble to cover and decorate all public buildings and private houses of the richest men? How many temples must have existed to call for help and protection from the god and to thank them? Where the dead were buried? These are few of many questions that are answered during a visit to the archaeological site that are easy to get.

Il teatro di Ostia è ancora in funzione!
Every year there are new shows in the theater in Ostia

[Nearby Rome some cities had a commercial and strtegic reason. Among all of them Ostia (today is Ostia Antica) had a commercial one. It is located few kilometers away the city, near the sea and at the mouth pf the river Tiber. Its strategic location made it essential for a big city as Roma was. The port of Ostia was constantly occupied by the ships unloading good and any kind of product imported by the provinces of the Empire; the warehouses in the port and in the city allowed to store everything needed to be sent to Rome. The flux of ships and barges along the river was continuously directed to Rome. The ancient town of Ostia is actually open and to be visited, as a excellent example of a real roman town].

Ostia was and important city, as we can see in the Capitolium remains.

But much of these places are unknown to the wider public who comes to Rome, especially for the first time: after having seen the Colosseum believed to have seen Rome.

Porta Settimiana a Trastevere era una porta delle mura Aureliane.
Porta Settimiana in Trastevere

With the fall of the Roman Empire in 476, there is the phenomenon known as “fortification”, and then the formation of independent towns and villages. This is the epoch of the rise and affirmation of Byzantine culture; the Byzantine Empire lasted until 1453: it is thus about a thousand years of wonderful buildings and churches, towers, fortified towns, castles and monasteries.

Il monastero benedettino detto Sacro Speco a Subiaco è raggiungibile in un'ora da Roma.
Subiaco, not far away from Rome

[The current appearance of Rome is mainly Baroque. This is due to the presence of the Church which, first in the Renaissance and then after the Council of Trent, gave a new face to the city. Until 1500 Rome was instead a city decidedly medieval. Traces of this past, too often forgotten, are still visible. Just visit the many churches of the Trastevere district and the Esquiline and Celio to have a good idea of the Middle Ages as totally unexpected; we discover a world of light, gold and colors. And if you decide to leave the city a few kilometers, there are so many surprises awaiting the most adventurous visitors. The Abbey of San Nilo in Grottaferrata is a fortified monastery where they still made Greek icons. The monasteries of St. Scholastica and St. Benedict – Sacro Speco, in Subiaco are the only remaining of a complex network of medieval monasteries].

Il monastero di San Benedetto a Subiaco è interamente affrescato.
Subiaco, Saint Benedict Monastery

With the discovery of America, in Rome, which was at this point a well-established city, a new development occurred for the construction and for the new decoration of churches, the Pope also opened up new roads and built new buildings.

Estasi di Santa Teresa, Gianlorenzo Bernini, chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria
Estasi di Santa Teresa, Gianlorenzo Bernini, chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria

The rise of the nobility and clergy requires the construction of buildings decorated with great pomp.

Chiesa del Gesù.
Chiesa del Gesù.

[The Renaissance and Baroque vestiges of Rome are innumerable. You simply stroll in the streets of the city, and immediately spectacular palaces and ornate fountains surprise you. If you decide to get into one of the many museums such as the Galleria Borghese, the Galleria Doria Pamphilj or the national museum of ancient Art in Palazzo Barberini and the Palazzo Corsini you have the opportunity to enter the rihest people palaces and appreciate their own art collections].

The affirmation of the Renaissance and Baroque, lead to the construction of magnificent churches, buildings, squares and fountains. Up to the famous Trevi Fountain, the last monumental work of this long history of 2800 years called Rome.

Know Rome as a tourist also means learning about the initial phases of the birth of the city.

On top of the Palatine Hill in Rome it took place the mythical foundation by Romulus in the eighth century BC. Only a little remains from the Republican age, but the imperial age gave a new face to the city of Rome.

[On the Palatine Hill the earliest evidence take us directly to Romulus, the mythical founder of the city. But  the reconstructions housed in the Palatine Museum allow us to understand the life of the first inhabitants of Rome. The legends about the foundation of the city also lead us in other areas of Rome, which is worth knowing better: the Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) – right in the middle of the Tiber River – and the Velabro area].

Rome is full of evidences of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque, up to the more recent times. In fact we can not forget the new rationalist district EUR, built in the ’40s; or the brand new architectures that are springing up in various parts of the city.

[The neighborhood EUR was built in the late 40s. It would have been the area housing the Universal Exhibition of 1942, which never took place because of the Second World War. Even contemporary artists continue to deal with Roma. Richard Meier has designed the new Museum of the Ara Pacis; Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum; Odile Decq MACRO museum; Renzo Piano’s Auditorium ].

All this to say nothing of the remains about the Etruscan civilization, in close proximity of Rome. The Etruscans was in fact the “ancestors” of Rome; to have a complete idea of Rome, you should be aware of this civilization.

La necropoli della Banditaccia a Cerveteri.
La necropoli della Banditaccia a Cerveteri.

[The Necropolis of Cerveteri is located about 50 kilometers away from Rome. The southern Etruria area, in the north of Rome, is full of evidence of the Etruscan civilization. But no need to leave Rome to learn more about this lost civilization. The Gregorian Etruscan Museum offers splendid examples, and can be included in a tour of the Vatican Museums. The National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia is, instead, the largest Etruscan collection].

There are people who see the Colosseum and the Vatican and believe they  well know Rome.

There are people who need 2, 3, 4, 5 times to know Rome.

Then there is us: we are always in Rome from a sooooo long time, but we are not yet satisfied.

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*all pictures in this post are taken by Patricia.


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