Roamin’ To Rome - PDF Document

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  1. Roamin’ To Rome by Larry Plachno Photos by the author T to share some general information, suggestions and what we know. My wife Nancy and I get to Europe often for trade shows and visiting customers. Rome is easily among the most historical places we have been to and the city wel- comes a large number of tourists. Spring and fall are the best times to visit Rome and are the usual tourist seasons. Being located so far south, Rome can have hot summers. Some local residents leave the city in the hot summer months while some businesses close entirely or close for a siesta in the early afternoon. If you visit Rome in the summer you will find fewer tourists but you will have to deal with the heat and possibly busi- ness closures. In common with most major cities in Western Europe, you will find that most all staff at the hotels, stores and at- tractions will speak English. Rome has more tourists than London or Paris and hence English is the second language for many local residents. It often helps to try to learn a few words of Italian, like “grazie” (thank you). Most tourists arrive by air or train. Rome has excellent aviation connections to other major cities. Nancy and I fre- quently ride trains to get around Europe and we have taken an overnight train from Paris to Rome. You can also use trains to go to other cities in Italy. Many European trains offer both first and second class seating. We usually ride second class but first class in the express trains is nice. The Rome subway system can be helpful because there are stations at the Colosseum, at Plazza di Spagna, and just north of Vatican City. There are a few streetcar lines he following responds to requests from our Catholic friends for information on visiting Rome. While we are certainly not experts on Rome, I will be happy (at the Colosseum, just south of the Pantheon and just north of Vatican City) but none of the streetcar lines actually enter into the old section and tourist area. There are very few bus routes in the old historical section although bus route 117 does connect the Colosseum with Plaza di Spagna and Via del Corso. Many, if not most of the restaurants in the tourist areas specialize in pizza or pasta. If you want something else you have to look around. Most of the restaurants in tourist areas have menus posted and many offer menus in English. Many restaurants have outdoor seating and the food seems to be uniformly good. Some of the nicer restaurants do not open for dinner until 7:30 p.m. Some people have expressed concern over the lack of rest rooms in the historical areas. I have seen the situa- tion worse elsewhere. All of the restaurants and the better museums and attractions have rest rooms plus there are a few locations with public rest rooms. There are numerous tours available in Rome. I would recommend taking a tour of the Vatican Museums for two reasons. One, the tour does not have to wait in the long line in front. Two, your tour guide will help explain the ex- hibits. A tour of the Vatican Gardens is also available. If you do take a tour of the old, historical area, I strongly recommend that you also explore this area on foot. It is slightly less than two miles from the Colosseum to St. Peters in the Vatican. While there are a few roads wide enough for auto traffic, most of the streets in this area are narrow and used primarily by scooters, delivery vehicles and hundreds of pedestrian tourists. There is almost always another church, fountain, statue or obelisk around the next corner. All you need is a guide book with a good map and – Page 1–

  2. Plazza di Spagna Via Condotti Vatican Museums Castel Sant Angelo Via D. Concilazione Vatican Gardens St. Peters Column of Marcus Aurelius Plazza della Rotonda Plazza San Pietro Ponte Sant Angelo Trevi Fountain Via del Corso Plazza Navona St. Ignazio di Loyola Sant Agnese in Agone Plazza del Quirinale Pantheon This map primarily shows the his- torical section of Rome between the Colosseum and Vatican City. Only major roads are shown and there are also roads on both sides of the River Tiber. Not shown are numerous smaller streets suitable for use by pedestrians as well as numerous other historical sites. Via Cavour Gesú Tiber River San Pietro in Vincoli The Forum Capitol Hill Tiber Island The Colosseum Arch of Constantine Palatine Hill a good pair of walking shoes. One word of warning. Mod- est dress is required in churches and in the Vatican. This means no exposed knees or shoulders. I have provided a simple map showing the area be- tween the Colosseum and the Vatican. Much of the area be- tween the Forum and the river was an open field in the early days of Rome. Since it was frequently used by the mil- itary for practice, it was named after Mars, the god of war and became known as Campus Martius. In later years the area was developed and built upon but the roadways were generally narrow. Some of the major streets are shown but there are numerous smaller ways that are too narrow for regular auto traffic but are nice for walking. Shown on the map are some of the major attractions although there are numerous churches, fountains, museums and monuments not shown. Arch of Constantine The Colosseum is probably the most popular secular attraction in Rome. This is where the gladiators fought and where the Christians were fed to the lions. There is an ad- mission charge and there are public rest rooms. While parts of the structure are in ruins, much of it is still open to the public and parts of the old underground area, which con- tained cages and winches to bring them to the surface, are now exposed. Immediately southwest of the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine which was dedicated in 315 A.D. South from here is the Palatine Hill, one of the famous seven hills of Rome. This is the location of Rome’s earliest settle- ments and in later years this became a desirable residential area for people like Cicero and Emperor Augustus. What remains of these residences is open to the public. Slightly to the south is what remains of the Circus Maximus. – Page 2– Colosseum

  3. North across the street from the Colosseum and up the Esquiline Hill is the church of San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains). On display are the chains that held St. Peter while captive in Rome. Also located here is the fa- mous statue of Moses by Michelangelo. If you take the street behind the church, Via Cavour, and walk northeast you will soon reach the church of Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major), which is regarded as one of the greater Roman basilicas. Its story is that the Blessed Virgin appeared to Pope Liberous in 356 A.D. asking him to build a church on the spot where he found snow. He found the snow on the Esquiline Hill on the morning of August 5 in the middle of a very hot Roman summer. A short distance beyond this is the Central Railroad Station (Stazione Centrale Termini). Northwest of the Colosseum is what remains of the old Roman Forum. This is in ruins but there are books available showing what some of the buildings looked like when in use. Looking southwest you can see Capitol Hill and the back side of Plazzo Senatorio, which today houses the offices of Rome’s mayor. From here you can get a great overhead view of parts of the Forum. In front of the St. Peter’s Chains Michelangelo’s Moses Plazzo Senatorio is the Piazza del Campidoglio with its statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback. The Capitol Muse- ums are in this area. From here you might want to walk a few blocks north to Quirinal Hill and the Plazzo del Quirinal. Originally built in 1573 on the highest point of the highest hill as a papal summer residence, it became the residence of the king in 1870 and since 1947 has been the residence of the president of the republic. In spite of its heritage, the Plazzo del Quirinal is not that impressive looking. Nearby is the Plazza del Quirinal which contains the Quirinal fountain, an obelisk and Roman statues of Castor and Pollux. A short walk northwest brings you to Trevi Foun- tain, Rome’s largest and most famous fountain. It has ap- peared in numerous movies including Three Coins in a Fountain, Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita. Tradition holds that a visitor who throws a coin into the fountain is guaranteed to return to Rome. There is a small restaurant on the left (west) of the fountain that has restrooms inside and on the left. Forum (from Capitol Hill) Plazza del Campidoglio and Piazzo Senatorio Trevi Fountain – Page 3–

  4. Spanish Steps Via Condotti Column of Marcus Aurelius ered a popular meeting place. The view from the top by the church is worth the climb. If you come down the Spanish Steps and continue straight ahead going west towards the river you will find yourself on Via Condotti, the “in” place to shop. This is the street with shops like Valentino, Armani, Coach and oth- ers. Since you ask, yes, they take American credit cards. Another option from Trevi Fountain is to continue west and cross the busy Via del Corso to the Plazza Colonna for a look at the Column of Marcus Aurelius. Made of marble, the column shows scenes from his victo- ries over the barbarian tribes of the Danube. From here you can go west a few feet to Plazza di Montecitorio where you will find the Obelisk of Mon- tecitorio, which was originally used as a sun dial. Just a little way south is the Church of Sant Ignazio di Loyola, built by Pope Gregory XV in honor of the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. Not too much further south is Gesú, the first Jesuit church built in Rome. Built between 1568 and 1584, the design of this church has been much imitated throughout the Catholic world. You certainly do not want to miss the Plazza Della Rotunda with its own fountain and obelisk sitting in front of the Pantheon. Pantheon is Greek for “All of the Gods” and was originally built as a pagan temple. It was then con- verted to a Catholic Church and is one of the best preserved Roman buildings. Noteworthy features include the hole in the dome called the oculus that admits light, and the tomb of Raphael the famous artist. Be sure you walk around behind the Pantheon to get a look at the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva with Bernini’s Egyptian obelisk on a marble elephant. There are several options. If you head north along the right side of the fountain you should pass the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide where you will find the headquarters of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Continuing north brings you to a little square where you will find the Colonna dell’Immacolata, a statue of the Virgin Mary on top of a Roman column, You might also find a McDonald’s restaurant on your right. A few more steps will bring you to Piazza di Spagna. At the foot of the steps you will find the Fontana della Barcaccia, usually considered the least showy of Rome’s Baroque fountains. You may not see it from a distance be- cause tourists are often standing around and leaning on it. From there the Spanish Steps go up the hill to the Church of the Trinita dei Monti (Holy Trinity on the Hill). The steps today are used for sitting and reading and are consid- Pantheon – Page 4–

  5. From here you can walk a little ways west to Piazza Navona that was built over the Stadium of Domitian and hence has a long oval shape. In the center of the piazza is the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). The figures represent the rivers Ganges, Danube, Niles and the Plate. At the west side of the Piazza in the center, opposite the fountain, is the Church of Sant Agnese in Agone. It was built on the location where Agnes was exposed naked to force her to renounce her faith. Agone refers to the games played in the stadium and not to Saint Agnes herself. From here you probably want to cross the Tiber River and head towards Castel Sant Angelo. One option is to walk north out of the Piazza to the Via dei Coronari. If you turn left you will walk past a small excavation looking down to the original stadium. If you turn northeast on Via Zanardelli that will take you across the Tiber on a bridge. There is a public rest room near Via Zanardelli. The other alternative is to walk west on the street at the south end of the Piazza. This will take you to the Ponte Sant Angelo, the foot- bridge over the Tiber in front of Castel Sant Angelo. Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and Church of St. Agnes Castel Sant Angelo was built by Hadrian in 159 A.D. on the spot where Pope Gregory the Great had a vision of the Archangel Michael. Over the years it has served many purposes including part of the city wall and a refuge for the Popes in time of political unrest. The Vatican Corridor, also known as the “Passetto” still connects Castel Sant An- gelo with the Vatican. Today, parts of the building are open as a museum. The roadway between Castel Sant Angelo and the Tiber River is closed to traffic and today is a pedes- trian mall with vendors and costumed characters who will pose for photos – usually for a fee. Continuing west, the pedestrian mall becomes Via della Consilazione (see photo on page 1) which leads di- rectly to Saint Peter’s Square and Vatican City. Restaurants and stores selling religious goods line both sides of the street. Just prior to reaching Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square), the street widens and traffic is forced to turn ei- ther left or right. The very last religious goods store on the right (north) will have your items blessed in the Vatican and delivered to your hotel at no extra charge. Castel Sant Angelo St. Peters Square – Page 5–

  6. Watch the traffic as you cross the street and you will find yourself entering Vatican City and St. Peter’s Square. On the left side of the square are public rest room and if you continue to where people are leaving St. Peters, you will find Swiss Guards posted at the entrance on the side of the basilica. If you are there in the tourist season, you will proba- bly see a line of people going from left to right. This is the line for getting into St. Peter’s Basilica. This may be the only time in your life when you have to get in line to go into a church. There is no charge but you do have to go through scanners and security. It is much less involved than at air- ports and what they are really looking for is weapons. Re- member that appropriate attire is required which means no exposed knees, shoulders or upper arms. Once inside the basilica you will hopefully have a guidebook to help you find your way around. The first altar on your right has Michelangelo’s Pietá, completed in 1499 Pietá Tomb of Pope John Paul II when he was only 25 years old. The second altar on the right has the tomb of Pope John Paul II and an area where you can stop to say a prayer. When you get to the front, make sure you pause and look up into Michaelangelo’s dome. The entrance to the Vatican Museums is located on the north side of the Vatican and you have to walk around the walls to get to the entrance. Joining a tour is highly rec- ommended because if you go on your own you could stand in the entrance line for quite a while and will have no guide once inside. You do have to go through security and scan- ners to get in. There are public rest rooms here. The main part of the museums is shaped like a big “U” and operates like a one-way street. You walk down (south) on the west side and return on the east side. At the base of the “U” is the Sistine Chapel. No flash is permitted in the museums but photos without flash are allowed in most areas. No photos at all are permitted in the Sistine Chapel. In many areas, I find the ceilings more impressive than the displays. You can walk down the unusual spiral ramp leading down from the museums to the street level when you are ready to leave. – Page 6– Vatican Museums

  7. Spiral Ramp Swiss Guards If the Pope is in residence in the Vatican, there are usually two opportunities to see him every week. The faith- ful gather in St. Peter’s Square at noon on Sunday when the Pope usually appears in the window of his residence on the north side of St. Peter’s Square. There normally also is an audience with the Pope scheduled at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday mornings. If weather is good, this will be held outside in an area in front of St. Peter’s. If weather is bad it will be held in the Papal Audience Chamber on the south side of St. Peter’s Square or in St. Peter’s Basilica itself. While you can join a tour for the Papal Audience, you will get better seats if you make a request through your Bishop and name the date you want. In order to make sure you are really in Rome, you will be required to pick up your tickets on Tuesday afternoon where the American re- ligious live in Rome. This is located on Via deli Umilta, just a short walk south of Trevi Fountain. When you pick up your tickets, the nuns will explain everything to you. Good luck on your trip to Rome. Make sure you pick up a good guide book before you arrive. Pope Benedict XVI at an audience in St. Peters Larry Plachno respectlife@plachno.com Michelangelo’s Dome of St. Peter’s Papal Residence (upper left) – Page 7–