Rome, founded in 750B.C by the legendary twins Romulus and Remus, is an ancient empirical capital and home to the Pope. it is a fascinating city to visit and getting around is veryeasy. The following walks encompass the main sights as well as a few not so well-known. The Underground system has only two lines, prices are reasonable and, no matter where your starting point is, there is always lots to see.
The Forum and Circus Maximus
San Pietro in Vincolo houses Michelangelo’s Moses. The church was built originally in 432-440 A.D to keep the chains that held St Peter when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem. From there it is a short walk to the Colosseum, built by the Emperor Vespasian in 70 A.D and completed by Titus, it held 50,000 spectators and was used for gladiatorial games, mock sea battles, animal hunts and classical dramas as well as the execution of Christians. Since the Empire the site has been used for housing, workshops, a fortress and a shrine. The name derives from an enormous statue of Nero that stood in the Domus Aurea nearby.
The Basilica San Clemente on Via Labicana is a three-tiered church. The foundations are a Republican era building destroyed in the Great Fire of 64 A.D and on top of these was the home of a Roman nobleman, Titus Flavius Clemens, who allowed secret Christian worship on the premises. Subsequently also used as a Mithraeum in the 2nd century A.D. The second tier is a fourth century basilica and the third is the present basilica, built around 1100 A.D and holds a large collection of early medieval wall paintings.
The Fuorum – between Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill – included the most important buildings of the ancient city. Excavations are still ongoing – a recent find is believed to be Nero’s fabled rotating dining room. The site is huge but there are vantage points that enable an overview.
The Circus Maximus is now just a large field but it was once the main chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue of Ancient Rome. It could hold 250,000 people, was over 2,000 feet long and lamost 400 fett wide.
The Vatican and Saint Peter’s
Take the Underground to San Giovanni – Line A, Direction Anagnina. Doors open at 9.00 a.m. The Sistine Chapel is a must and it gets extremely crowded. To enter St Peter’s Basilica proper clothing must be worn – no shorts, T Shirts or flip flops. The stunning Pieta is on the right behind glass panels as a vandal attacked the statue in 1972 with a hammer. Fully restored by Giacome Manzu, the only piece signed by Michelangelo leaves an incredible lasting impression. Another must is the Laocoon, discovered in 1506 in the Domus Aurea and leading to the founding of the Vatican Museum that exists today. Laocoon was a Trojan priest of Poseidon who warned against accepting the Horse and was the source of the saying “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”
Out of St Peter’s Square and down towards the Castel Sant Angelo. This is now a museum but began as the tomb of the Emperor Hadrian built in 135 A.D. The building has also been a fortress and Papal palace. From here cross the bridge and lunch will suddenly become much cheaper and easier to obtain.
Yet another walk will take the wanderer from the Trevi Fountain to the Capuchin Crypt, and its six ossuary chapels, on the Via Veneto, up to the Borghese Gardens, back via the Spanish Steps and the Keats/Shelley Museum. From its creation to modern day Rome epitomises life throughout the ages. The car mixes with horse and carriage, gladiators and centuriand wander about for photos, the ancient Forum stands behind the enormous monument to Vittoria Emanuelle II. There are many more sights to see, the above is just a selection.