Rome in 3 days – Day 2.

Your stay in Rome

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Roma Castel Sant’Angelo – Photo © Andreas Tille
Roma Castel Sant’Angelo – Photo © Andreas Tille

On the second day, we start from Castel Sant’Angelo, once Hadrian’s Mausoleum (135 139 AD) and then fortress, Papal residence, Prison (from which Benvenuto Cellini escaped) and now a Museum and Art Gallery. There are some fine paintings there. Along Via della Conciliazionewe reach Piazza San Pietro with Bernini’s huge colonnade.

The basilica crowned by Michelangelo’s Dome is a veritable treasury of art and history; one can also go up into the dome to see the panorama of Rome beneath. Besides the church there are also the Museums (pio-Clementino and Chiaramonti) and the Vatican Art Gallery, the Papal Apartments, the Sistine Chapel, the Pauline and the Nicolas V Chapels, Raphael’s Loggias and Rooms.

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A whole morning is hardly enough for the Vatican, and we suggest lunching nearby and then going up on the laniculum, on the top of which there is a great piazza with the monument to Garibaldi, One can spend some time here enjoying the stupendous view over the city, before going down the other side, past the Aequa Paola Fountain (1612) and the elegant Renaissance church of San Pietro in Montorio, with Bramante’s masterpiece, the round tempietto (1502) in the courtyard.

And so down to the Lungotevere (all the riverside embankment drives have this name), where we shall find the famous Farnesina villa by Peruzzi (1511) with Raphael’s Galatea fresco. Via della Lungara takes us into the heart of the picturesque Trastevere quarter with Santa Maria in Trastevere, a 12th century basilica with a Romanesque campanile (splendid apsidal mosaics by Cavallini, 1291).

Along Via della Lungaretta we arrive at Piazza Sonnino and the nearby Piazza G.G. Belli, dominated by the 13th century Palazzo degli Anguiilara (it is said that it was here that Gregorovius, the German historian, was inspired to write his monumental a History of Rome in the Middle Ages). In the Tiber at this point we find the ancient Isola Tiberina, the Tiber Island with the church of San Bartolomco.

Just downstream of the island are the ruins of a Roman bridge of Republican times and the modern Ponte Palatino. Without crossing this, we dive into the picturesque narrow streets of Trastevere to reach the Basilica of Santa Cecilia, an evocative pre-Romanesque church (9th century); a Baroque portal leads into a silent lonely garden with a fountain; the interior is very rich in works of art, the Tabernacle by Arnolfo di Cambio, 9th century mosaics in the apse, an enchanting cloister and, in the Nun’s Choir, a fresco of the Last Judgment, a masterpiece by Cavallini (13th century).

Photo © Silvia Massetti
Photo © Silvia Massetti

Going back on to the Lungotevere, we cross Ponte Palatine and find ourselves to another fascinating corner of ancient Rome; to the left, the intact Temple of Fortune Virile (1st cent. BC), which is rectangular. Beyond this, on the far side of the square, the church of San Giorgio in Velabro (12th cent.) with frescoes by Cavallini and attached to it the richly decorated Arch of the Argentarii. Beside the church, the massive Arch of Janus, all below the Capitoline Hill. Looking right, there is the round temple of Vesta so-called, and, on the far side of the road, the beautiful church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (8th – 12th century) with the famous Bocca della Verita (a Mouth of Truth).

Crossing over the road we can now go up the Aventine, to the basilica of Santa Sabina, built in Ravennate style (5th century) one of the most impressive and unspoiled ancient churches, in Rome, with interesting mosaics and a 5th century carved wooden door. A short distance away is the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, the only architectural work of the engraver, Piranesi, where he let his imagination have ull play. Going back down the Aventine, we find ourselves at the Circus Maximus, with the Palatine on the far side.

Photo © Silvia Massetti
Photo © Silvia Massetti

Going back to Santa Maria in Cosmedin we turn right into the Via del Teatro di Marcello which leads us to this ancient theatre and the Palazzo Savelli, afterwards Orsini, which was built over its arena in the 16th century. On the other side of the road is the Tarpean Rock, from which traitors were thrown in ancient times. Turning left behind the Theatre of Marcellus brings us to Octavia’s Portico, a graceful Roman ruin with medieval additions; from here we can wander through the streets of old Rome as far as Piazza del Gesu and the Church of the Gesu (1584) the mother church of the Company of Jesus (famous Baroque frescoes in the interior).

Turning right into Via del Plebiscite and then immediately left brings us to the imposing piazza dominated by the Palace of the Collegio Romano. Walking parallel to the Corso then takes us into the theatrical Piazza Sant’Ignazio (note the elegant lines of the buildings opposite the church) and keeping on in the same direction through Piazza di Pietra, with the colonnade of a Roman temple built into the Rome Stock Exchange, we arrive at Piazza Colonna, right in the center of the city with Marcus Aurelius’ Column, similar to that of Trajan, in the centre. Here turn your back on theCorso and walk through Piazza Montecitorio, Past Palazzo Montecitorio, now the seat of the Italian Parliament, through Piazza Capranica to the Pantheon, one of the finest buildings of ancient Rome (1st cent. BC). 1, the interior Raphael is buried.

Going along the right side of the Pantheon, take the first turning to the right, then left, then right again to arrive in Piazza Sant’Eustachio, with fine Renaissance and Baroque buildings on every side; continuing in the same direction, past the palace of the old University – the Sapienza with a curious spiral lantern by Borromini over the church of Sant’Ivo-crossing the Corso Rinascimento, we arrive in Piazza Navona, the finest in Rome, built on the foundations of Domitian’s Circus. The church of Sant’Agnese is by Borromini, while the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers is by Bernini. In this wonderful piazza the two great rival architects of Baroque Rome worked together. We suggest eating dinner and spending part of the evening there.

Rome in three days – first day
Rome in three days – third day