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Rome - 'Benvenuti' in the eternal City! #places2.0

4 min read

#places: Rome

Country: Italy
Inhabitants: approx. 3 million
Area: 1,285 km²
Famous landmark: Colosseum

As one of the oldest cities in the world, Rome is also known as the "eternal city". According to legend, founded by Romulus and Remus in 753 BC on seven hills, archaeological finds show that people were already settling on the same site around 1,500 BC. Rome was the largest and most densely populated city of the ancient world, with about 2 million people. Literally on every street corner, columns and other stone remains, sometimes lying, sometimes standing, sometimes still in the overall context, bear witness to that time. Of course, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican City with St. Peter's Basilica, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Piazza Venezia or Trajan's Column, to name just a few, are world-famous. The entire Italian capital is one huge museum. And although Rome is simply unbeatable in terms of history and anything new-fangled has a hard time here, there is also modern architecture and hidden gems in the eternal city.

Saint Peter's Basilica © Verena Gaupp

Architecture

First, of course, there is the Museo dell' Ara Pacis, built in 2005 by Richard Meier as a new home for the ancient Altar of Peace of Augustus - right in the historical centre, a rectilinear building of concrete and glass (Lungotevere in Augusta, 00186 Roma RM). Then there is the MAXXI museum for 21st century art, designed by Zaha Hadid. Actually Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (National Museum of the Arts of the 21st Century), it houses a unique collection of contemporary art and architecture in two building sections. In between are open-air spaces with sculptures and installations worth seeing (Via Guido Reni, 4a, 00196 Roma RM).

Museo dell‘ Ara Pacis © Verena Gaupp
Museo dell‘ Ara Pacis © Verena Gaupp

Also worth a visit is EUR, the "new quarter" in the south of Rome, about three kilometres from the centre, which was designed for the 1942 World's Fair (hence the name, derived from Universal Expo in Rome). Due to the Second World War, the exhibition did not take place, but much of the plan was nevertheless realised between the 1930s and 1960s. Highlights include a large park with an artificial lake, an amusement park and a vibrant nightlife. And in the middle of it all is the congress centre (completed in 2014), the so-called "cloud" by Massimiliano Fuksas. The large, modern complex appears to float and contains an auditorium for 1,800 people. Many other buildings are discovered "en passant". At the time, the quarter was intended to be a prime example of a redeveloped city, marking a new entrance to the city.

Address: Viale Asia, 40 /44, 00144 Roma RM

For all those who do not shy away from architectural overload, the Quartiere Coppedè is a surprising gem, consisting of a fantastic mix of styles like something out of a whimsical film. Here, between 1915 and 1926, the master builder Gino Coppedè created an almost unbelievable monument on 31,000 square metres, a total work of art without equal. Some people consider it an architectural sin, but it is hard to escape its fascination. Those who enter Coppedè's magical world pass through an impressive archway, which already gives a foretaste: On both sides, over-decorated palazzi with towers, lion heads, medusas, putti, fairies, angels and other figures from every imaginable realm. Beyond the gate, an eclectic quarter with lots of borrowings from Art Nouveau and antiquity. A must-see ...

Quartiere Coppedè © Nadine Jansen
Quartiere Coppedè © Nadine Jansen

Gastronomy

Sooner or later, people who like to go out end up in Trastevere - although it's just as nice, but less touristy, in the trendy Testaccio district. Here you will find numerous bars, restaurants and clubs around the Monte dei Cocci. A recommendation here is the Ristorante De Oio a Casa Mia Roma, where you meet almost exclusively locals.  

Address: Via Galvani, 41/43/45, 00153 Roma RM

 

If you are walking around the Trevi Fountain, you will find the Spaghetteria L'archetto in an inconspicuous side street. Here, too, there are hardly any tourists, but all the more hustle and bustle - especially in the basement. Outside seating is, unfortunately, few and far between..

Address: Via dell'Archetto, 26, 00187 Roma RM

Gastronomy © Verena Gaupp

Of course, the gelateria is a must in Italy: Since 1947, the La Romana ice cream parlour, with 5 branches in Rome and many more, has been offering what is probably the best ice cream in town, and not only in Italy. Attention: It is usually very crowded here, so be patient. First you go to the cashier, where you pay for the ice cream according to size. Only then, after another round of queuing, are you asked about the flavours. Cup or cone, with or without cream? Ecco! It's worth it!

Address: Via Venti Settembre, 60, 00184 Roma RM

Places of interest

Actually, each of the almost 1,000 churches in Rome is worth seeing, but we can't mention every one and leave the very famous ones out. However, we would like to recommend the church of Santa Maria Immacolata a Via Veneto. In the Capuchin crypt on Via Veneto, diagonally opposite the Hardrock Café, you can pay a donation to admire the extraordinary vault with its ornaments - these are made exclusively from the bones of deceased monks. A guided tour or the hire of an audio guide reveals exciting information to the visitor.

Address: Via Vittorio Veneto, 27, 00187 Roma RM

The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, one of the four patriarchal basilicas of Rome, the second largest after Saint Peter's Basilica, stands on the site where the Apostle Paul is said to have been buried. At that time, a burial chapel was built for him, which was later converted into a basilica by Emperor Constantine and consecrated by Pope Sylvester I in 324. In its present form, the church was built between 1825 and 1854 by Pasquale Belli in cooperation with other architects, after the old basilica had been destroyed by fire in 1823. The façade with mosaics and the bell tower by Luigi Poletti are worth seeing, as well as the marble coffin of Saint Paul inside and many other details, including an impressive mosaic in the apse. The basilica is easily accessible by metro.

Address: Piazzale San Paolo, 1, 00146 Roma RM

Roma San Paolo fuori le mura © Berthold Werner

Those who like it more modern and are interested in street art will not miss out in Rome either: the social housing project Big City Life in the former problem settlement Tor Marancia is a real insider tip. Here, just outside the centre, about 500 families live in eleven buildings whose façades are adorned with 22 monumental murals by artists from eleven countries and four continents. This is how the social hotspot became a sight that not only looks great, but also tells stories. At bigcitylife.it you can find info about the paintings, which often relate to the people living in the building.

Address: Viale di Tor Marancia 63, 00147 Roma RM



For lovers of handicrafts, design and vintage, we recommend a visit to the Mercato Monti Urban Market. The Monti district is full of restaurants and small shops (no chains!) and is located between Termini station and the Roman Forum. On Saturdays and Sundays, the market takes place in a hall reminiscent of Portobello Road in London. The ideal place to buy an individual souvenir, souvenir or other accessory.

Address: Via Leonina, 46/48, 00184 Roma RM

Day trip to Frascati

If you need a break from the big city, the tranquil village of Frascati is only half an hour away by train. It has many Roman patrician villas and a picturesque old town centred around the church of San Pietro Apostolo with its beautiful bell tower dating from 1305. Frascati has been a summer resort for the well-heeled since antiquity - and even one or two pope are said to have been there. People have been coming to eat at the Osteria Fraschetta Trinca since 1947. Cheese, ham, ricotta, olives and much more are served in the vaulted cellar - along with a glass of Frascati, of course!

Address: Viale Balilla 14, 00044 Frascati (RM)

© Friedhelm Dröge
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