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Rome momuments

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  • 1.  While being the lowest and smallest of the seven hills of Rome (The Aventino, Capitoline, Caeline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinale, Viminale), the Capitoline is perhaps the most closely bound to the city’s history, as it has been the hub of Rome’s political and religious life since ancient times. Today the Michaelangelo piazza, reached by climbing a splendid  flight of steps, is encircled by two identical buildings (Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, home to the Capitoline Museum) and Palazzo Senatorio, which serves as the seat of the Mayor of Rome.
  • 2. It may be two thousand years old but the Colosseum is still the symbol of the eternal city, every year drawing thousands of visitors. According to a 7th century prophecy by the Anglo-Saxon monk Bede: “As long as the Colosseum exists, so will Rome, and when the Colosseum falls, Rome too will fall; and when Rome falls, so will the world”. The area now occupied by the Colosseum was, in Nero’s time, the point around which the whole of his Domus Aurea complex was articulated. The place where the Colosseum now stands was occupied by an artificial lake which was drained after the emperor’s death to allow for the construction of the grand new monument. Its actual name was the Flavian Amphitheatre, because it was built by the Flavian emperors, and it only became known as the Colosseum in late medieval times, probably in memory of the colossal statue of the emperor Nero which stood nearby.  The Colosseum was designened to host spectacles of wild animal hunts and gladiator fights
  • 3. A circular marble sculpture of a large face with an open mouth, which was in all likelihood used as drain cover, owes its allure to the superstition according to which the “Bocca della Verità” bites off the hand of anyone not telling the truth. Today it is to be found in the portico of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin and is of Rome’s major attractions, each year drawing thousands of visitors.
  • 4. To an untrained eye the Circus of Maxentius just looks like a vast green pasture where locals jog or take their dogs for a walk, but in ancient times this oblong ground was, as its name indicates, Rome’s most famous and by far oldest circus. The Circus of Maxentius was an arena for various kinds of sports and athletic competitions, although it gained fame mainly for its chariot races which often lasted from the early morning to dusk, with as many as one hundred held a day. It could hold up to between two hundred and fifty thousand and three hundred thousand spectators either seated or standing. Recent excavation has brought to light relics which help to give us a better idea of what the circus used to look like with its countless shops, stalls and taverns flanking the track area.
  • 5. Located in the very middle of Piazza Navona, the Fountain of the Four Rivers is a masterpiece from Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). The four allegorical human figures assembled in various poses on rocks represent the great rivers of the four continents known at that time: the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata. Popular legend has it that the Nile is covering his eyes so a not to see the façade of the Church of St. Agnese in Agone, built by Bernini’s great rival Francesco Borromini. In truth the gesture is an allusion to the fact that the source of the Nile had not been identified. The fountain was moreover completed several years before Borromini built the church.
  • 6.  Work on the celebrated rococo fountain was first begun in 1732 by Nicola Salvi (who beat off competition to be awarded the commission by Pope Clement XII) and was completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762.       The monument, whose water is supplied by one of the oldest Roman aqueducts, the “Acqua Virgine”, has been sculptured against the backdrop of Palazzo Poli and depicts Triton taming Oceanus’ shell-shaped chariot drawn by sea horses. Before moving off, do not forget to throw a coin in the fountain. Custom has it that travellers doing this ill one day return to the eternal city. Those seeking a little romance, perhaps even an Italian love, should then toss a second, third coin to make sure wedding bells will soon be chiming. Not forgetting of course that the fountain provided the splendid setting for the best-known scene from director Federico Fellini’s classic film “La Dolce Vita”: a provocative Anita Ekberg swathed in a long black evening dress calls out for Marcello Mastroianni, “Marcello, Come Here!” as she glides through the fountain’s sparkling waters.
  • 7. Palazzo Farnese, one of the most beautiful Renaissance palaces of Rome was started in 1514 by Antonio Sangallo, continued by Michelangelo and completed by Giacomo della Porta. The Palace belonged to one of the most famous families of Renaissance Rome and today is home of the French embassy.
  • 8.  Built in the second century B.C. replacing the Porticus Metelli so as to enclose the two temples of Juno Regina and Jupiter Stator, the Porticus Octavia was restored during the Emperor Augustus’ reign and was dedicated to his sister, Octavia.  Europe’s largest, the synagogue was built between 1901 and 1904 in Rome’s Jewish  ghetto. The temple, which  was intended to be visible from every panoramic point of the city, was constructed between the most important symbols of Rome’s rediscovered religious freedom: the Campidoglio, seat of the city government, and the Janiculum, emblem and site of the famous 1849 battle between the Garibaldi-led Republican forces of the Risorgimento  and French troops allied to the Pope
  • 9. Lift up your head on entering. Our attention is caught straightaway by a ray of slanting sunlight shooting down from the “oculus”,  a 9- metre round aperture at the very top of the dome that illuminates the entire building. If it is raining, watch the falling water disappear into the floor’s 22 virtually invisible holes. Dedicated to the worship of every god (Pan-every Theon-divinity), the Pantheon was built by the Emperor Hadrian between 118 and 125 A.D. over the ruins of another temple dating back to 27 A.D.  In 609, it was converted into a Christian Church by Pope Boniface IV and consecrated to Santa Maria of the Martyrs. Turned into a memorial chapel for the kingsof Italy in 1870, the tombs of Vittorio Emanuele II, Umberto I and Margherita of Savoy are to be found here together with that of the celebrated Renaissance Artist Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, who is more often referred to as simply Raphael.
  • 10. A celebrated and picturesque market by day, Camp dè Fiori quickly turns into a hub for nightlifers in the evening. For centuries Camp dè Fiori was the stage for public executions. Here in 1600 the Dominican Friar, Philosopher, Mathematician and Astronomer Bruno Giordano was burnt alive. A domineering statue stands in the middle the piazza marking the exact spot of his death.
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