martedì 30 giugno 2015

Less known attractions of Rome that you will appreciate

Lungotevere and St. Peter Basilica at sunset (picture
by Olga Lenczewska)
by Olga Lenczewska

Many people, if not all, dream to visit Rome one day and experience the place where such a big part of the Western civilisation was created and developed. Rome has the ancient Forum Romanum and the Colosseum, it also has the beautiful Baroque fountains and churches. If you go to Rome, however, make sure you don’t end up in a touristic ‘bubble’, which is not only pricy and overcrowded, but also doesn’t present the whole picture of Rome’s splendour. 

If you’re a fan of ancient history or art, one not-to-be-missed site is Ostia Antica: a big archaeological site situated very close to Rome, which is bigger, quieter, and calmer than the Forum and the Colosseum. You can find it near Ostia, by the Mediterranean Sea. Ostia Antica used to be Rome’s river port and a first Roman colony. It was built on the remaining of an Etruscan town Veio, and therefore is not less multicultural and aristically eclectic than the centre of Rome. Its most impressive buildings include the military camp that dates back to 3rd century BC, and the Capitolinium, where the gods Minerva, Juno, and Jupier were worshipped. 

Another ancient site worth visiting is the Theatre of Marcellius, located five minutes away from Piazza di Venezia, next to the Jewish quarter and the Tiber River. It was built at the sunset of the Roman Republic as an open-air theatre for all kind of performances. What is interesting about it nowadays is that half of it is Renaissance, as in the 16th century a new part was added on top of the ruins. This eclectic design looks very unique, but the two parts blend in really well.

Piazza del Popolo (picture by Olga Lenczewska)
As for the Baroque features of Rome, Piazza del Popolo is a must. Nowadays, it is the favourite spot for both classical art enthusiasts and modern street performers. The first may admire the ancient Porta Flaminia, build during the reign of the Emperor Aurelius and two symmetrical Baroque churches designed by Bernini, where Rome’s most fashionable street Via del Corso begins. The latter may listen to Rome’s best street performer Emiliano Fiacchi, who resembles Michael Jackson like no one else.

For those of you who are Christian, it is worth noting that there is a much better opportunity to see and pray with Pope Francis than the famous Sunday blessing at noon, which is only in Italian. Each Wednesday morning St Peter’s Square holds an ‘audiencia’, during which the Pope reads the gospel and gives a homily in a number of languages as well as greets the many groups that came to listen to him. This is the best opportunity to see the Pope, listen to his message, and pray with him. The (free) tickets for this ‘audiencia’ can be obtained up to one day before from the Vatican office located on the left side of the square.

Finally, if you have experience all of the above and feel tired of all the Roman sightseeing, you can have a relaxed walk alongside the boulevard of the Tiber River. This alley is melancholic and peaceful, shaded by plane trees. You can admire the sunset over St Peter’s Basilica as well as the beautiful ancient Ponte Sant’Angelo, with its ten sculptures of angels created by Bernini.

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