Rome district guide
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
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
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.