But, all this is just a little part of the treasures enshrined in the... 900 churches of Rome.
Continuing our tour amongst the churches of Rome, looking for the most precious treasures of art, it is impossible, sometimes, to avoid queuing. To see the most beautiful Michelangelo's sculpture, "La Pietà" (made in 1499, when he was only 25years old!) you'll have to go inside St Peter that is more crowded than ever because of the Jubilee. But the beauty that you'll discover is worth a long wait...
To see another Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, even if it is just beside St Peter, you'll have to wait in another queue (and, this time, pay also a ticket that is better to book in advance), at the entrance of the Vatican Museums.
But you can also find other Michelangelo's works in other churches with a much easier access. For example, in San Pietro in Vincoli, near the via Cavour, not far from the emperor Nero's Golden House (Domus Aurea) and the Colosseum, you'll see a impressive statue of Moses.
But, if you are in Vatican, you can first just cross the Tiber and walk towards the Pantheon and the Piazza della Minerva. Inside "Santa Maria sopra Minerva", there is another Michelangelo's sculpture, on the left side of the main altar, "Christ bearing the cross", that was completed later or, more precisely, "covered" with a bronze drapery. Like some Sistine Chapel nudes that were "dressed" after the Trent Council (1545- 1563)...
In this beautiful gothic church (the only one in Rome!) built upon a Minerva's temple in the 13th century, you can also admire some marvellous frescoes by the Florentine painter Filippino Lippi (Filippo Lippi's son) in the Cappella Carafa ((the Assumption and the Annunciation are unforgettable), on the right side of the main altar. And, on the square in front of the church, Piazza della Minerva, the amusing little elephant that carries an obelisk is an unusual Bernini's work.
Completely different from one of the most intense Bernini's sculpture, "The Ecstasy of St Teresa of Avila ", a baroque absolute masterpiece that you can admire in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, via Venti Settembre, not far from the Termini train station. It is also not so far from San Pietro in Vincoli (the Michelangelo's Moses) and from Santa Maria Maggiore, the oldest of the four papal basilicas of Rome. You have to visit this beautiful basilica, especially if you like mosaics. And, in that case, you cannot ignore Santa Prassede, jus a few steps from Santa Maria, with her extraordinary byzantine mosaics from the 9th century.
But, all this is just a little part of the treasures enshrined in the... 900 churches of Rome.
Rome is incredibly rich in masterpieces: painting, sculptures, monuments ... Everybody knows that. But it is less obvious that a lot of those treasures are visible without queuing and without having to pay entrance tickets. In fact, many of them are not closed in museums where you have to fight with crowds of tourists. At the contrary, very often they still are on the places where they were originally, in their "natural surrounding": in the churches.
It is particularly the case of one of the most extraordinary artist of the whole history of painting: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573- 1610), the great master of the "chiaroscuro" and the pioneer of realistic painting. Seven of his works are exposed in four different roman churches, not very far one from the other.
The most intensively moving experience is perhaps to discover his St Mathieu triptych (painted between 1599 and 1602) in "Saint Louis des Français", the French church of Rome with a beautiful and austere Renaissance facade (end of the 16th century) and a very rich late baroque interior decoration (beginning of the 18th century). In the fifth chapel on the left of the altar, the Contarelli Chapel, you can admire "The Calling of St Mathieu" facing "The Martyrdom of St Mathieu" (with a self-portrait of the painter on the left side of the painting) and, in the middle, the marvellous "St Mathieu and the Angel" called also "The Inspiration".
With the eyes still full of the magic contrast between light and dark that makes the Caravaggio paintings so alive, you are ready to see other works of the great artist. Just a few minutes walk is necessary to go to another church of the same part (Campo Marzio) of the old roman "centro storico", "St Augustine". When you enter into the church and look on the left side, you find yourself in front of a luminous and though very human "Madonna del Loreto", called also "Madonna dei Pellegrini" (Madonna of the Pilgrims). The model that Caravaggio used for this unusual Madonna was a girl friend of him, Lena, a roman prostitute.
As you are already in that church, have a look to the third pillar. You'll be touched by the beauty (and a marvellous blue colour!) of "The prophet Isaiah", a fresco painted by Raphael a hundred year before the Caravaggio's barefoot Madonna.
The third church where you can see two other Caravaggio is "Santa Maria del Popolo", on the famous "Piazza del Popolo (a quarter of an hour walk from the St Augustine) where "The Conversion of St Paul" and " The Crucifixion of St Peter" are one opposite the other in the Cerasi chapel. But, before that, you can have a look to the place where Caravaggio lived and worked, just near St Augustine, at the number 19 of a little street, the Vicolo del Divino Amore.
There is a fourth church, the "Santa Maria Immacolata" (via Veneto) where you can admire, in the sacristy of the church, a "Saint Francis in Meditation" that was considerate until recently as a copy. According to different experts, that is the original painting and not the very similar one exposed in the museum of Palazzo Barberini!
After these splendid experiences, you will probably want to see all the other Caravaggio's paintings exposed in roman museums (the third of all his work is in Rome). The richest one is the Galleria Borghese (with 5 paintings!). But there are some Caravaggio also in Capitoline Museum, Palazzo Barberini, Palazzo Corsini, Doria Pamphilij Gallery and the Vatican Museum.
That is not all. In the Villa Ludovisi (near via Veneto) you can discover the only ceiling that he ever painted: an allegory of the Paracelsus alchemical triad where Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto are, in fact, Caravaggio's self portraits.
And, last but not least, from the 24th March to the 3 July, you can make an extraordinary sensorial journey, a total immersion in the Caravaggio's world with the "Caravaggio experience", at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni (via Nazionale). Thanks to a video installation with the use of a sophisticated multi-projections system, original music and even fragrances, created by the famous Florence's pharmacy "Santa Maria Novella" that existed already in the Caravaggio's days.
"La Terrazza" is an unforgettable Ettore Scola's film from 1980. It is there, on a beautiful roman terrace that a group of left-wing intellectuals and politicians played by the most famous actors of that time (Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman, Ugo Tognazzi,
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli etc), meet regularly.
During the parties, they drink, eat and have vivid and stereotypical discussions that Scola caught, without pity, in his entourage.
It is again on a terrace that, thirty-five years after, Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), the main character of the recent Paolo Sorrentino's "La Grande Bellezza", will meet the companions of a new roman Dolce Vita where the terrace is no more a café on the Via Veneto, like in the sixties of last century, but a private house.
In fact, it is a very old tradition. Already at the time of the ancient Romans (the rich ones, of course!), the terrace was the most important place in the house for at least the half of the year, when the whether was nice enough to live outside or so hot, in the stifling narrow streets, to need more air. "Solarium" was the name for the roof terrace. "Peristyle", for an opened space surrounded with colonnade, more often in front or around a monument, but also in some luxury private houses.
When you walk in the centre of Rome, You just have to look up and you'll see, amongst the roofs, a lot of beautiful "hanging gardens". Most of them are private properties: the rich Romans live often in apartments and not in houses, but the terrace is a "must".
If you don' know any rich Roman where to have a diner party with the view on the Colosseum, like in "La Grande Bellezza", don't worry: All the famous hotels of Rome have a roof garden restaurant and bar.
The best one is probably (according different guides) the restaurant "La Pergola" on the roof of the hotel Hilton, with the German (yes!) chef Heinz Beck. An artist!
A lot of other hotels have also a roof restaurant with a panoramic view: Hotel Hasller (above the Spanish Steps), Hotel Minerva (near the Pantheon), Hotel Forum (with a view on the Imperial Forums), the Bernini- Bristol (Piazza Barberini)...and so many others!
You can discover splendid views without spending fortunes. For example, from the Terrazza Cafarelli, on the top floor of the Capitoline Museums where you can have a coffee or a cappuccino even if you don't go to visit the museums.
There are also, because of the conformation of this unique city constructed upon seven hills, a lot of "natural" terraces, where you can just go and have a look around.
From Trastevere (starting to climb from the viccolo del Cedro, near Santa Maria in Trastevere), for example, you can have a walk to the Janiculum hill. Or, on the Aventine hill, to the "Orange Garden" (just next from the famous key hole of the "Knights of Malta" with a view on Saint Peter) that has a belvedere with a magnificent view.
If you prefer to do something easier, you can just walk to the Pincio (Villa Borghese), above the Spanish steps and discover at your feet, from the terrace of the Pincio, the huge and beautiful Piazza del Popolo. And if you go down, on the Piazza, you can have a rest in one of the two historical café-terrace: Canova or Rosati.
Federico Fellini and Ettore Scola (that, unfortunately, left us just a few days ago) started both drawing for the satirical weekly paper Marc' Aurelio before they became famous film directors. At the contrary, another of the greatest names of the Italian cinema, Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007), painted almost in the last years of his life, when he couldn't talk any more after a stroke. As if he wanted to fill the silence with joyful colors.
The first exhibition of Antonioni's artworks is on in Rome until the end of February, at the "Galleria Piazza di Pietra". At the number 28 of the beautiful "piazza", in the hearth of Rome (not far from the Pantheon), where Antonioni shot some unforgettable scenes of "The Eclipse".
Have a look to some of the paintings of the exhibiton
For all the people coming to Rome and wishing to follow the trail of the mythic "Dolce Vita", there is now a place recently restored that is a must: The "Dolce Vita Gallery" (41 Via Palermo), in the neighbourhood of the railway station Termini and the Opera theatre.
There, you can admire and also buy hundreds of photos of one of the most famous "paparazzo" of the Dolce Vita, the golden years of Rome, between the fifties and the beginning of the sixties, Marcello Geppetti. According to some people, he is the one who inspired Fellini the character of the photograph in the film "la Dolce Vita" named Antonio Paparazzo (in Italian, means noisy mosquito)!
At that time, via Veneto where Federico Fellini had his office, was the centre of the eternal city that was itself again, for a wile, the centre of the world, the "caput mundi". All the international biggest stars of cinema, fashion, design, music etc. came often to Rome, for holidays or for work. In those years, the film studios of Cinecittà where overbooked with peplum and other movies and roman families strolled along Via Veneto just to catch a glimpse of the stars sitting on the terraces of the Doney or, in front, the Café de Paris: Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Anita Ekberg, Sofia Loren...all beautiful women that the Marcello Geppetti's camera has photographed and that now we can find again in the Dolce Vita Gallery.
Thanks to the son of Marcello, Marco, that runs the gallery, the complete archives of his father have been assembled in Via Palermo where the walls of the first room are covered by more than a hundred of his photos. Amongst them, the historical kiss between Liz Taylor and Richard Burton on a boat deck, in the summer 1962, when they fell in love playing together in the J. Mankievicz 's Cleopatra, shot on the island of Ischia and in Rome. The photo caused an enormous scandal at that time because Liz Taylor and Richard Burton were married... but not to each other!
If there are not already enough reasons for you to visit Rome in this moment, there is a supplementary one, very important, especially for the Catholics: the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, convoked by Pope Francis.
This Jubilee started on the 8th of December, feast of the Immaculate Conception, with the traditional opening of the "Holy Door" of the Saint Peter's Basilica by the Pope; and will end on the 20th November 2016, feast of " Christ the King".
Even if only 15 years passed from the previous one (in the 2000), this "extraordinary" Jubilee is, in fact, a return to an old tradition because it happens exactly 50 years after a very important event for the "modernisation" of the Roman Catholic Church: the end (the 8th of December 1965) of the Second Vatican Council.
The Jubilee has not, however, been invented in Rome by the popes but has his roots in the Bible. Exactly in the Book of Leviticus that says that, every 50 years, all the slaves and all the prisoners would be freed, the debts forgiven and the land returned to their former owners. All this, in the name of mercy of God.
The 50 years period is based on the "magic" number 7. In fact, between two Jubilees, or Holy Years, there are 49 years that represent "seven Sabbath of years" says the Bible. In other words, "seven time seven years". That special year of forgiveness was announced in the whole country with the blowing of a ram's horn called "yobel" in Hebrew. The word Jubilee comes from that and not at all from the Latin "jubilare" that means shout of joy or jubilate.
This old Jewish tradition was renewed at the beginning of the fourteenth century by the pope Boniface VIII. He organised, in the year 1300, the first Jubilee in Rome with the intention to encourage pilgrims to come to Rome to obtain a plenary indulgence, the complete remission of the pains for their sins, exactly as the Crusaders had going to deliver Jerusalem. In 1499, the pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) introduced the rite of entering through the Holy Doors of the fourth principal basilicas of Rome: Saint Peter, Saint John Lateran, Saint Paul Outside the Walls and Saint Mary Major. For centuries, the popes didn't really respect the traditional period of 50 years and convoked Jubilee much more often, for different reasons.
For this extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy that really began on the 29 November with the opening of the Holy Door of the cathedral of Bangui, in Central African Republic, by pope Francis, the three first roman doors are already opened and the last one, S. Mary Major, is going to be opened on the 1st January. But today, the pilgrims have not to go, like at the time of Borgia, in 1500, through the Holy Doors of the four basilicas. And certainly not, as in 1300 when, to obtain the plenary indulgence, they had to go to Saint Peter's and Saint Paul once a day for for thirty days if they were Roman, and "only" for fifteenth days if they were strangers!
Anyway, even for who is not religious or not a Roman Catholic it is absolutely worth to visit the marvellous four most important roman basilicas.
The walk into the Villa Borghese's beauty and the discovery of amazing places goes on in a splendid sunny end of November.
If almost everybody, in Rome, knows the Museum of the Galleria Borghese and his beautiful occupant, Pauline Bonaparte, there are a very few people that have ever heard of the much smaller but nevertheless precious Carlo Bilotti Museum (from 10h to 16h and from 10 to 19h on saturday and sunday. Monday closed), just near the lake of the park.
The museum gathers a part of the collection Carlo Bilotti that was not only a successful business man who lived between Italy and the States (until his death in 2006) and operated in the branch of cosmetics and perfumes, but also a lover of arts and a friend of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Niki de Saint Phalle and many others. Bilotti gave to the city of Rome a particularly beautiful and unusual (two portraits together) Warhol, the portrait of his wife and his daughter and, amongst other works, 18 paintings and sculptures signed Giorgio De Chirico.
A very strange place, this little museum called also the "Orangery" (before it became a museum it was a store house where the citrus trees were protected during the winter). In the eighteenth century, it had another name: the "Casino dei Giochi d'Acqua", the "House of the Water Games" and was a place dedicated to social events and parties that were the talk of the town. In 1849, during a French military intervention to reestablish the temporal power of the Pope, the "Casino" was destructed. But not entirely. When you enter in the rooms of the temporary exhibitions, an extraordinary surprise expects you: the wall of one of the rooms is a magnificent fountain, surrounded by two antique roman statues, forgotten for more than one and a half century!
Strangely, in the front of this unexpected treasure from the past, the exhibition "Urbs Picta" that is on in this moment (until the 17th January) is related to street art: graffiti and murals painted on the grey walls and boring facades of the poorest suburbs of Rome. Sometimes, there are just sunny colors and comic's humor, but in these last years, violence, anger and even desperation are present always more often.
Thanks to the photograph Mimmo Frassineti we can see well and even better (when they are in difficult places as inside tunnels or very high on the walls) these very strong interventions of artists as Blu, Borondo, Malala and many others that are perhaps the most interesting in this moment. Much more, probably, than many of those whose "installations" are exhibit in contemporary art galleries and museums...
But there is another jewel at the other side of the villa Borghese, at the Pincio hill (with a magnificent panoramic view above piazza del Popolo) where you can go walking from the "Orangery", passing through via delle Magnolie. In these days, more than ever, you cannot miss the splendid Villa Medici (open every day except monday from 10 to 19). Constructed in the middle of the 16th century by the Medici from Florence, the villa became, in 1803, thanks to Napoleon, the French Academy of Rome. This institution founded by the king Louis XIV (but in another place, in palazzo Capranica) houses young French artists from all disciplines (painters, musicians, writers...) who, getting a scholarship, come to stay in Rome for six month or a year. The Villa Medici organizes also concerts and exhibitions. In this moment, until the 31 January, there is a particularly fascinating exhibition of an artist who had a very important part in the restructuration of the villa Medici in the sixties and seventies of last century, the painter Balthus (Balthazar Klossowski de Rola) who was the director of the villa from 1961 to 1977.
It is possible not only to see his paintings and drawings, very often nudes of very young girls, delicate and vanishing as a dream, but also the apartments where he lived and worked and the rooms that inspired his paintings like the famous "Chambre Turque" that is exceptionally possible to visit with a guided tour.
And after you have seen the magic Balthus in the villa you will probably want to go and see the other exhibition that is dedicated to the great artist in another beautiful place of Rome: the "Scuderie del Quirinale".
But before, you have to go just beside the French Academy, to have at least a coffee at the Casina Valadier, a splendid café-restaurant from the beginning of the nineteenth century, recently renewed.
"The beauty will save the world", said Dostoevsky.
In this dark moment of the History, the best antidote is probably that: the beauty. And, in Rome, there is a magic place with an incredible concentration of natural beauty and art: the Villa Borghese park.
This huge park in the hearth of the city is probably unique in the whole world. Here you can not only walk amongst the golden trees of an extraordinary Indian summer, or rent a row boat on a peaceful lake surrounded by roman pines and other trees and bushes, with a roman temple in the middle, in a purest romantic English Garden style, but also discover so many master pieces from all periods.
From the strange Mona Lisa smile of the Etruscan couple of the "Sarcophagus of the betrothed" that will welcome you in the "Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia" to the tiny but so alive Giacometti's sculptures and the solar Van Gogh's "Gardener" or Modigliani's "Reclining Nude" at the "Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna" (distant only a few minutes walking).
Another very famous laying young lady, the beautiful Pauline Borghese, Napoleon's sister and prince Camillo Borghese's wife, sculptured by Antonio Canova as "Venus Victorious", will receive you in the first room, on the ground floor of the luminous "Galleria Borghese".
The Cardinal Scipione Borghese, an ancestor of the prince Camillo, built it for his magnificent collection of sculptures and paintings, at the beginning of the 17th century. You can still find there an important part of that extraordinary collection. Amongst all these treasures, The Bernini's "Rape of Proserpine" or his "Apollo and Daphne". But also a few Caravaggio: "David with the head of Goliath", "Sick Bacchus", "St Jerome." A "Deposition" of Rubens or the famous Titian's "Sacred and Profane love"...
Not far from the Galleria, you can bring your children to the "Bioparco", a new word for the old Zoo, whit a population of 1.444 animals and 200 species. For the more curious, there is even a new little very avant-garde museum dedicated to the "Environmental Crimes". To regenerate yourself, you can find also a restaurant inside the Bioparco.
There are, however, in the Villa Borghese, other places, much more sophisticated, where you can have a lunch, a dinner or just a drink. One of them, a beautiful sunny terrace where you can sit outside in the middle of the winter if it doesn't rain, the "Caffé Delle Arti", is attached to the Museum of Modern Art (entrance Via Antonio Gramsci). The refined menu and the exquisite desserts seem to be just a natural continuation of the museum visit.
At the other side of the Villa Borghese Park, called the Pincio, other surprises wait for you. Coming up next...
The famous Federico Fellini's film has already more than 55 years but the expression "La Dolce Vita", the sweet life, is more than ever lively in Rome. So many restaurants, bars, night- clubs in Rome and also in other Italian cities are named after it. And, in this moment, two important Roman events are related to it.
The first one is the inauguration of the renewed "Fontana di Trevi" where Marcello Mastroianni followed the beautiful blond Anita Ekberg, on the 3th of November. The restoration of the famous fountain (Nicola Salvi, 18th century, late baroque) began in June 2014 and was financed (2, 2 millions Euro) by the Fendi sisters. After one and a half year, the Romans and the tourists will be able to admire it again without any scaffolding and imagine having a part in the mythical scene of the film. And also, and this is not irrelevant, it will be again possible to drop some coins into the fountain just to be sure to come back to Rome.
Fellini's is also present, in a certain way, in another part of Rome. After Paris and the "Musée d'Orsay", the exhibition entitled "Una Dolce Vita? From Liberty to Italian design 1900-1940" is now in Rome, in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, via Nazionale (not far from the railway station Termini), until the 17th of January.The title "Dolce Vita" has a question mark. In fact, in this exhibition we are not at all in the fellinian decadent Rome of the beginning of the sixties, but in a very young Italy, at the beginning of the twentieth century where artists and artisans worked together, full of enthusiasm, united by an optimistic vision of a world based on progress.
Everything started with the First Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art of Torino in 1902. It was the period of floral patterns and interlaced curves of the "Liberty" style, but also the extravagant furniture of Carlo Bugatti, followed very soon (1909, Marinetti' s "Futurism Manifesto") by the even more eccentric Futurists.
After the choc of the WWI, these lovers of progress, movement and speed will be ready to reconstruct the universe with their unlimited fantasy and their faith in the miracles of the contemporary world.
On the top floor of the huge "Palazzo delle Esposizioni" you can admire all that extraordinary creativity through a rich selection of furniture, glasses, lamps, ceramics, cloths, toys.... overflowed of fantasy and joy. The objects made by the futurist Fortunato Depero for his "House of the Magician" are particularly amazing. You'll discover also the incredible modernity of the objects designed much before 1940. As, for instance, the table lamp "Bilia" (1931) of the great architect Gio Ponti, considered as the father of the Italian design.
As in the 1931 the lamp was considered too much avant-garde, the production of it started many years later. And today, Bilia is still produced under the brand name "Fontana Arte" created by Gio Ponti in the thirties. The Dolce Vita is not over.
RO_map turns the heart of Rome into an open-air museum under the sky that investigates the most innovative frontiers of digital art applied to architecture and urban spaces. From the 9th – 12th September the Circus Maximus arena and Piazza Navona will become the protagonists of an extraordinary stroke of magic.
For the first time in Italy, the French collective group Coin will interpret the evocative setting of the Circus Maximus in a new light by means of the monumental installation entitled Globoscope: 256 luminous spheres arranged in an area of more than 3,000 metres squared and controlled by a wireless system that will transform the arena into a digital landscape.
Mathematics, sound and lighting will be used by the digital artist Maxime Houot, of the collective group Coin, to reproduce, transform and amplify the urban space, as well as offering spectators a surrealistic walk under the stars on the evenings of the 9th and 10th of September.
The festival will continue on the evenings of the 11th and 12th September in Piazza Navona. The Renaissance faҫade of the Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart will be transfigured by the 3-D projections of the artists “Apparati Effimeri” from Bologna, in a synergic composition of spectacular colours, sounds, lights and images that play on the aesthetic canvas of the architecture. 3-D glasses will be distributed to visitors in the square who can then immerse themselves in the first 3-D mapping ever presented in the capital. Architectonic mapping is a form of digital art that through 2-D and 3-D projections effectively transforms the architectural structures hosting the performance into stages or projection screens. Music accompanies these gigantic extraordinary visual effects, helping to create a pluri-sensorial experience that is highly evocative.
This is what will happen the 11 and 12 of September in Piazza Navona
And this is what happened these days
All the information, texts and videos are just shared from the website http://www.ro-map.it
As we already said in late April, there are no doubts, Rome is green! With over 15 parks, public gardens and historical villas, Rome is one of Europe's "greenest" cities. After a long day visiting the most famous beauties of the Eternal City you may want to refresh and relax in some of the amazing parks that cover a huge part of the city’s area. Some of them are big and well known but still hiding many secrets, others are tiny and hard to find, hidden or even forbidden. Many of them have breathtaking views or are hedging Historical Villas that are worth to visit.
Let’s continue our tour discovering some smaller and hidden green spots of the Eternal City!
1. Villa Torlonia - Where Nature Meets History and Art
This refreshing Oasis is located in the lively Nomentano Area, not far from the very interesting Coppede’ neighbourhood and from Porta Pia, one of the most famous gates of Rome. The villa belonged to the Torlonia family, Mussolini lived here, the Anglo-American troops used it as their headquarters until 1947 and after they left it was abandoned and neglected for over 30 years.
Since Rome authorities acquired the estate part of the buildings were restored and the park was open to the inhabitants and to the visitors. The persistent feeling you can experience when you walk through the many park’s paths is strictly connected with History and Art and we bet you will be exceptionally fascinated by the originality of its English-style garden (one of the few examples in the city), and to the unexpectedly large number of buildings and garden furniture in the grounds.
We suggest you to visit the villa or Casino Nobile and the intriguing Casina delle Civette (House Of The Owls), do not miss the eclectic False Ruins, The Temple Of Saturn and immerse yourself underground where an air-raid shelter was constructed with the intention of resisting both aerial bombardment and chemical warfare. Last but not least near the Casina you will find Technotown, where children are entertained by many interactive contents about Nature and History.
If you cannot resist without an Internet connection do not forget that there is a free Wi-fi all around the Park!
2. Villa Celimontana – The Peace A Couple Of Steps From The Colosseum
We are back in the heart of the City! The Villa Celimontana is located on the top of the Celio Hill in the south-eastern area of Rome, very close the Colosseum and the Forum and not very far from the Terme di Caracalla. This information should be enough to realize that the location is just amazing.
The Renaissance structure inside the Park represents a peaceful refuge in the Archaeological Area of Rome, and a rendezvous spot for all the jazz fans that are visiting the Villa during the international Jazz festival organized every summer. The Villa houses also the Italian Geographic Society, where some of the most important and antique maps of Italy are kept.
In the 16th Century the vineyard that was in the actual position of the Villa was acquired by the Mattei Family who transformed it into a villa in 1580, instructing the architect Giacomo Del Duca (a student of Michelangelo) to build the villa and the first garden scheme. The original villa has been much adapted, but was probably a single-floor structure with a portico along its facade, topped by a Doric frieze and balustrade, which still survive.
This is not a pretentious park but a good place to basking in the sun, or walk in love. You'll be surprised by the green parrots that have made their big nests here and the funny turtles leaving in the park fountains. If you are visiting the Colosseum and you want to escape for the chaos this is a very good spot!
3. Giardino Degli Aranci – An Unforgettable View With Orange Perfume
This beautiful garden scented with the perfume of oranges boasts one of the best views of the Roman Basilicas, rooftops, parks and ruins. Just grab a spot on the cute little terrace looking down over the Tiber River and watch the sunset over St. Peter’s Dome. This lovely little location is definitely one of the favourites among Romans. It’s the perfect place to steal a bacio or two. Though the oranges produce bitter fruit, they give a pleasant shady air to the garden, offering a lovely retreat from the bustle and noise of urban life. The park itself fits neatly behind the ancient Basilica of Santa Sabina, and beside the Piazza Pietro d'Illiria on the tranquil Aventino Hill just above the Circo Massimo. Do not be scared about the climb, you will be rewarded by a superb view. The scowling face of Giacomo Della Porta’s fountain, perhaps made in reference to Oceanus, a River god, greets visitors of this secluded square. Upon entering the Garden of Oranges, the ancient apse of the Basilica of Santa Sabina appears, while, on the opposite side, scanty remains of the old Savelli fortress, drawbridge and towers are visible. The garden was designed on a symmetrical plan, guiding visitors toward the central walkway leading to the terrace. A couple of steps forward and you will be rewarded by fantastic panorama of the Tevere, the ancient temples of the Forum Boarium, Santa Maria in Cosmedin (where the Mouth of Truth is located) the Gianicolo, and the imposing dome of St. Peter.
During the summer it is not surprising that the garden is used as a setting for theatrical productions, a favourite resting spot for visitors touring Rome and a quiet nest for lovers. The inspiring view is a great choice for love declarations!
Many people enjoy the sunset here and go back in the City center but it is worthy to go further up until Malta's Square, where there is a little secret to discover: it is the keyhole in the door of the Headquarter of the Knights of Malta. You will be delighted to admire the San Peters Basilica framed by the greenery of the garden which is perfectly in line with the hole. Just a case or made on purpose?
Rome is a sleeping beauty that finally woke up from a long winter caressed by the spring light and warmth. This is the most amazing period of the year and today the atmosphere was exceptionally attractive to make a tour of the old City. While the town was still dreaming we took our camera and made a memorable expedition through its beauties. Enjoy!
Rome is green indeed! With over 15 parks, public gardens and historical villas, Rome is one of Europe's "greenest" cities. After a long day visiting the most famous beauties of the Eternal City you may want to refresh and relax in some of the amazing parks that cover a huge part of the city’s area. Some of them are big and well known but still hiding many secrets, others are tiny and hard to find, hidden or even forbidden. Many of them have breathtaking views or are hedging Historical Villas that are worth to visit.
Let’s start from the Heart of Rome
1 - Villa Borghese: Where Art And Nature Meet
After your last effort climbing up the Spanish Steps, your way towards Villa Borghese will be almost completed. The most central park of Rome was landscaped for the Borghese family in the second part of the 18th century. The main attraction is the well-known and pristine white Galleria Borghese: visiting this extraordinary rich museum is a must when you are in Rome! We suggest to pay attention also to the other charming buildings and to some oddities dotting the park: the Gallery of Modern art and the Villa Medici, the aviary, the orangery, the artificial lake where your children could rent a boat, the Rome Zoo, the water clock, the relaxing fountains etc… In terms of artistic, historical and natural offer, the Villa Borghese goes far beyond the imagination when you think about a park. And this makes it so special. Do not forget the most fascinating spot in the villa: the Pincio. Located over the lovely Piazza del Popolo, this huge panoramic terrace is one of the best sites to have an unforgettable and breathtaking view of Rome.
2 - Villa Ada: City Park Or Countryside?
If you like exploration this is the right place for you! Villa Ada, one of the main green lungs of the City, is located in Northern Rome, not far from the elegant neighbourhoods of Parioli and Salario-Trieste and only 15 minutes walking from the northern gate of Villa Borghese. This huge park (450 Acres) was owned by the Italian royal House Of Savoy and was hosting the Royal Residence from 1872 to 1878. In 1878 the area came under the control of Count Tellfner who named it “Ada” in honour of his wife. The royal family regained control of the land in 1904 but did not change the name. After World War II and the end of the monarchy, Villa Ada became a public park.
Villa Ada has a unique characteristic: even if it is located in one of the busiest cities of Europe the atmosphere reminds of an extremely calm and wild countryside far away from the urban confusion. This is an oasis of peace where to recover from exhausting sightseeing activities. Follow our suggestions: if you want to relax, take a couple of bottles of wine, a coloured blanket, some fresh bread, cheese and ham, and forget the stress and the chaos of Roman traffic. If you want to make your day healthier take your sneakers and prepare for a memorable sport experience through the park hills covered by pines, cypresses, oaks, palm trees, the refreshing lakes, the thick forests and the sport facilities for gym activities. If you feel like an explorer you will be amazed discovering the prosperity of the fauna that is living in this special place: squirrels, moles, hedgehogs, rabbits, porcupines and even parrots are peacefully sharing this park. Last but not least if you want to meat some young Romans lie down and relax on the Pratone (big lawn) in Spring afternoons or visit the Villa Ada Music festival during Summer Season.
3 - Villa Doria Pamphilj: When The Beauty Of Nature Is Enhanced By Humans
This Villa is just beautiful. Do you think this is not a good reason to visit it?
The Villa Doria Pamphilj is a seventeenth-century villa with what is today the largest landscaped public park in Italy. It is located in the quarter of Monteverde, on the Gianicolo (the Roman Janiculum), just outside the Porta San Pancrazio, on the ancient walls of Rome where the roman road of Via Aurelia starts! If you are visiting the Vatican area or Trastevere think about climbing the Gianicolo, stop, take a break enjoying a marvellous view of Rome and continue towards Villa Pamphilj. This park is ideal if you want to relax, have long walks or if you want to make happy your dog! What is surprising, especially in the most far area starting from Rome Center, is the beauty of the landscape that has been evidently shaped by humans with love and care. Some glimpses remind the soft hills of Chianti area in Tuscany where the man has redesigned the territory with extreme care and strict rules for many centuries. The visit to this park turns out to be unexpected and extremely relaxing after a long day exploring the City. For sport addicted, we recommend a mountain bike tour on the 9 km bike path of the Villa, while for those who are thirsty of culture and art, we suggest to have a look at the exquisite Casino Del Bel Respiro from early 17th Century.
If you are in Rome before the 21st of June, there is an exhibition that you absolutely cannot miss: "Matisse Arabesque", in the "Scuderie del Quirinale". For different reasons and not only for the magnificent Matisse's paintings, drawings and even ballet costumes that are exposed. About a hundred works all together, not in a chronological way but following the influences that inspired them.
"La révélation m'est venue d'Orient " (the revelation came to me from Orient) wrote the French painter (who was born in 1869 in the North of France and died in Nice in 1954), in a letter, in 1947. This beautiful roman exhibition shows how the painter was deeply influenced by oriental art exposing many marvellous objects like ceramics, fabrics, masks... from Africa and Middle and Far East. Matisse discovered some of those countries travelling, in the beginning of the 20th century, in North Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia...and Russia. Also visiting the "Exposition Universelle" of Paris (1900) where Persia or Turkey had their pavilion. Or the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris where he had the first impact with an "Islamic Art" exhibition when he was a very young man, in 1893.
At that time, the western artists were rediscovering the Oriental world. And a little later, in the 1920, also the African art, seen as a liberator from formal constraints.
Especially for Henri Matisse who fell in love with painting (the occasion was a health problem) and began to learn it when he was already an adult and had started to work as a lawyer.
The intricate geometrical designs of the oriental arabesque entered in most of his paintings. The same motives and the same marvellous mélanges of green and blue of Turkish ceramics, or the reds of Moroccan fabrics, are very present in the paintings exposed at the Scuderie. The space is made with colours, often without any need for perspective, with just an incredible "joie de vivre" that explodes everywhere. In a aquarium with red fishes, through a Mediterranean window, in a vase with flowers, a palm three full of sun, the simple drawing of a tree with his stalks and leaves.
Japanese culture is also very important for Matisse. When he designed the costumes for the Ballets Russes (Le Chant du Rossignol of Stravinski), in 1920, the Japanese kimonos were obviously the model, as we can see it in the Scuderie where we can admire the origin of all this essential beauty that Matisse offer to us. One of the most beautiful 16th century green and blue ceramic comes from Syria. It is very touching, especially in this dark period, to see all these testimonies of such a refined and old culture that gave so much to the world and to our greatest artists.
The Boncompagni Ludovisi Museum for Decorative Arts, Costume and Fashion of the 19th and 20th century.
When you visit Rome, you'll certainly go to the Capitoline Museums, the Vatican Museums, Galleria Borghese, perhaps also the Modern Art Gallery... but you'll probably miss a marvellous experience if nobody tells you...
A few steps from the famous street of the Dolce Vita, via Veneto, at the number 18 of via Boncompagni, don't be afraid to enter in the courtyard of an Art Nouveau villa that looks like a private property. You understand that you are in the right place just for some photos on the left wall. Opposite, the entrance door seems closed, but it is not. Just push it and you’ll enter in the hall of a beautiful villa of the beginning of the 20th century, with the original furniture: some precious antiques mixed with "modern" design peaces. Princess Alice Blanceflor (a fairy tale name!) Boncompagni de Bildt (her father was a Swedish diplomat) will receive you in one of the drawing rooms and you'll certainly have a "coup de foudre" for her amazing full-length portrait. But this is only the beginning.
The Princess who lived in that house for half a century gave it to the Italian State in the 1972 to make it a centre of cultural activities. In the 1995, the villa, built in 1901, became a museum, as a part of the Modern Art Gallery. The collection of paintings (Belle Epoque but also Futurism), sculptures, tapestries, ceramics and other objects, high fashion clothes and refined accessories, bags, shoes etc... became more and more important, thanks to different donators. Amongst them, an extraordinary and beautiful woman, Palma Bucarelli, who ran the Museum of Modern Arts for decades, beginning from 1941, when she was only 31! She gave to the new little museum her own collection of magnificent dresses and elegant accessories.
In one of the second floor rooms (that was opened recently), between an impressing stained glass window of the roman artist Duilio Cambellotti of the beginning of the century and a portrait ("The Girlfriends") from the thirties of an unusual Giorgio De Chirico, you can also admire four of the eighteen paintings of Galileo Chini called "La Primavera" (the spring), inspired by a travel in Siam and, even more, by the Viennese Gustav Klimt. These paintings decorated the room where the sculptures of a talented young Dalmatian artist, Ivan Mestrovic, were exposed, at the Venice Biennale of 1914.
You find all this and so many other splendid objects - from the end of the 19th and the 20th century - in the villa of the princess Blanceflor that, in front of a classical museum, is a sort of delicious "chamber music" that you can't miss during your Roman holidays.
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