We have both visited Italy on several previous occasions and have seen many of the historical sites. On this visit, we wanted to spend all our time in Rome in order to provide a comprehensive description and photos for our travel blog.
Harman has a very special memory of a visit to Rome in the early seventies when he attended a mass at the Vatican. That was during the time when the Pope was carried by the attendants down the aisle to the podium. Harman was a guest and sitting on the front row by the aisle. When Pope John Paul I, 1978-1978 arrived at that spot, he asked the attendants to stop. He got off, came over to Harman and blessed him. Someone nearby took a photo of the occasion and send it to Harman. Pope John Paul I died suddenly after only 33 days as Pope.
Our trusty travel guidebook, DK Eyewitness Travel Rome, defined sixteen sectors in Rome to visit. Our first challenge was to select those that we wanted most to visit and that we had time to do so. We chose eight of them that had the most well-known attractions that we could visit in the four days we would be in Rome. Fortunately, they were all in the northern half of Rome where our hotel was located.
Our next challenge was to find a hotel located so that we could walk to most of the sites. The Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora was the perfect choice located in the Via Veneto sector, best known for the Via Veneto Boulevard with its high-end shops and restaurants. Our hotel was so well situated, we were able to walk to and from all the sites and did not need to take a taxi during our entire stay.
Rafaelo Preziosi, Front Desk Manager, was exceptionally helpful in making our stay both enjoyable and memorable.
Our Presidential Suite Fellini
View to Villa Borghese Park
PIAZZA DI SPAGNA
The Piazza di Spagna, better known as the Spanish Steps, is one of the several iconic locations in Rome and featured in many movies.
At the top of the steps is the Trinitia dei Monti church.
At the bottom is the Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Square.
A painting of all three.
Via Condotti, home to Rome’s designer clothing boutiques, begins just after the Spanish Square.
It is definitely a place where you can spend a few splendid hours shopping and having tea and pastries at the historic Antico Café Greco.
The Pantheon, meaning “temple of every god", is a former Roman temple, now a church, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). The present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD.
Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history.
The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. The fountain has appeared in several notable films, including Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita and Three Coins in the Fountain.
VICTOR EMMANUEL MONUMENT
The Altare della Patria,"Altar of the Fatherland", also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, "National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II", is a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill.
The Roman Forum is a rectangular plaza surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.
For centuries the Forum was the center of day-to-day life in Rome: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations attracting 4.5 million sightseers yearly.
The Colosseum is an oval amphitheater in the center of the city. It is the largest amphitheater ever built. The Colosseum is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began in AD 72 and was completed in AD 80.
The Colosseum could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators. It was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.
Although partially ruined because of damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions and also has links to the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit "Way of the Cross" procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.
VILLA BORGHESE GARDENS
Our hotel was just across the street from the famous Villa Borghese Gardens. This is where we started our walk to Vatican City.
Villa Borghese is a landscape garden in the naturalistic English manner in Rome, containing a number of buildings, museums and attractions. It is a delightful way to spend a few hours and have lunch or dinner at the historic Casina Valadier, built in the 1800s for Rome’s elite to experience fine dining.
PIAZZA DEL POPOLO
After exiting the Villa Borghese Gardens, we arrived at the Piazza del Popolo, a large urban square. The name in modern Italian literally means "People's Square.
We passed by the Supreme Court of Italy.
CASTEL SANT ANGELO
Next, we passed by the Castel Sant Angelo.
The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant'Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. The Castle was once the tallest building in Rome.
Vatican City is a sovereign state located within the city of Rome. With an area of 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population. However, formally it is not sovereign, with sovereignty being held by the Holy See.
It is an ecclesiastical (a type of theocracy) ruled by the Bishop of Rome – the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. Since the return of the popes from Avignon in 1377, they have generally resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times residing instead in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.
Within Vatican City are religious and cultural sites such as St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. They feature some of the world's most famous paintings and sculptures. The unique economy of Vatican City is supported financially by the sale of postage stamps and tourist mementos, fees for admission to museums, and the sale of publications.
On our walk back to our hotel, we passed through Piazza Navona, another of the many unique plazas found throughout Rome.
OTHER DELIGHTFUL SIGHTS
Monuments and sculptures