A walk in Rome

Known places and little-known curiosities to be discovered in a short time

Who, among us, has never wanted to take a trip to Rome? I will accompany you today in a short time route, from antiquity to the Renaissance, from the Baroque to the present day, to discover some of the most important treasures that the city holds. Our journey starts from the most visited monument of Italy: the Colosseum. Its name, used only from the Middle Ages, derives from the great statue of Nero, the Colossus precisely, which was in the vestibule of the Domus Aurea. The whole area, subsequently, has been returned to the population by Vespasiano, who built his Amphitheater. During the second inauguration of the Colosseum, when just come to power Titus, there were games for a hundred days and there were killed more than 5000 animals. Let’s take a moment to think about the measures: the marble employee had to weigh about 27000 kg, height outside the amphitheater reached almost 50 meters, and could accommodate more than 80,000 people. Many ancient materials today are no longer visible because, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, many buildings, including the Colosseum, were stripped of their precious marbles, which served as new constructions. Marbles of the Flavian amphitheater, for example, were used in the Basilica of San Pietro and Palazzo Barberini, to which we will soon arrive. Let’s walk further. Traveling along the wonderful Via dei Fori Imperiali, which leads to Piazza Venezia, we admire both the Roman forum, used as a public square until the end of the Republican period, both the holes imperial, whose construction began with Julius Caesar and continued with the first emperor of Rome: Augustus. Along this road it is still possible to see the traces of the buildings that once were full of life. Take for example the Foro of Trajan, the easiest to be recognized because, on one side, it has a particular hexedra structure, known as “Mercati di Traiano”, that thanks to the different floors, in the past it exceeded a difference in heightover 40 meters. The forum had to have two libraries, that still retain several niches for books and the largest commercial-judicial building that Rome had never seen: the Basilica Ulpia. The forum of Trajan, naturally,  houses the famous column, but few  know that its original function was to be the grave of the Emperor; his ashes, in fact, along with those of his wife Plotina, were kept in the basement. Furthermore, the column had to have on the top onestatue of Trajan who, however, was lost in the Middle Ages; in his place Pope Sixtus V had a statue of Saint Peter, still visible today. We know the name of the Traiano official architect, who designed for him, in addition to the forum and the column, also villas and arches: Apollodoro of Damascus. He was also the executor of the last one remaking of the Pantheon, of the Terme sul Colle Oppio (in front of the Colosseum) and the new view on the sea ​​of ​​the Urbe: Portus. We finally arrive at Piazza Venezia, whose principal attraction  is the Victorian: did you know that in 1911, at the end of the construction works, 24 people ate in the belly of Vittorio Emanuele II’s bronze horse? In this refreshment, based on sandwiches and vermouth, took part  also the mayor , some of the horse builders and the minister of public works,in addition, of course, to various journalists who have come to document the exceptional event. Crossing the street and throwing an eye to the recent archaeological discoveries, one can notice a small one plaque that reads “Here was the house consecrated by the dwelling and from the death of the divine Michelangelo. SPQR 1871 »; the house was demolished during the works for the Victorian. Going through some features and sometimes narrow streets of Rome we arrive at Via del Tritone and from there we reach Piazza Barberini with the fountain of the Bernini. This work was commissioned in 1610 by Pope Urban VIII Barberini to the famous sculptor, not only to serve as an ornament, but also because it responded to the public need for water; fountain, in fact,  used the Felice aqueduct, the first built after the Roman ones.  Going up again on Via delle Quattro Fontane , we will note on the left the grandiose Palazzo Barberini, which today houses a part of the National Gallery of Ancient Art. Inside it is possible to see the beautiful designed helical staircase by Francesco Borromini, in addition to the so-called mithraeum Barberini; these sanctuaries, dedicated to Mithras, were for the most underground and had (some still have) inside them, a sculpture and / or painting in which the divinity is intent on killing a bull. We think only to Ostia Antica, to date, more than 20 mitrei have been found!If we pass the Piazza delle Quattro Fontane, with the statues of the Tevere, Arno, Diana and Giunone, we can reach Piazza della Repubblica, known to the Romans also as Piazza Esedra. Looking carefully the side of the Piazza without arcades, we will notice three arches with a cross on it and the word “basilica”. In fact, we find ourselves in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria of the Angels and Martyrs, which has this entrance unusual for a church, since it was derived from the frigidarium (central hall – cold area), of the ancient Baths of Diocletian, the largest that the city has never seen. The material executor of this transformation was, at the disposal of Pope Pius IV, Michelangelo, which at that time was also working on Basilica of Saint Peter. Buonarroti, as we understood, did not destroy the archaeological remains; indeed, he restored some areas of the baths and turned others, to create the most unique church that had ever been seen before at that time. Furthermore, Santa Maria degli Angeli is the church where the official ceremonies of the Italian Republic are held, such as the State funeral. Some of the streets we have traveled on foot are ZTL (Limited Traffic Zone) but it will amaze you to know that already Julius Caesar had established something of the gender! In 45 BC, in fact, Cesare promulgated the Lex Iulia Municipalis, which, among others, provided for traffic regulations road, limiting access to a few hours to the wagons carrying the goods (but, beware! This was not true for those carrying material forbuild temples, otherwise it would have been a sacrilege). If today’s traffic seems a lot to you, 2000 years agomaybe it was even worse! Our short but intense journey ends in Piazza dei Cinquecento, where the Termini Station is located, the largest in Italy, which has about 150 million passengers a year. In this square it is possible to admire not just the last train station facility, that in its life has seen so many different forms and facades, but also impressive remains of the oldest walls of Rome, the Servian ones. The walls, built by Tarquinio Prisco but expanded by Servio Tullio, from which takes its name, dates back to the VI century BC.! Almost no one, exiting or entering the station, gives importance to these large blocks, but they have an absolute relevance in this context, since they take us from 2500 years ago to today in a blink of an eye.