Rome: Castel Sant’Angelo

It is difficult to imagine that this imposing cylindrical drum on a large square platform was once the tomb of the Roman Emperor Hadrianus (117-138), also known as Hadrian. The original decorations are all gone and the structure was turned into a formidable fortress long ago. It has also served…

Continue reading

Rome: San Francesco a Ripa

The San Francesco is small church in Trastevere, located near the western shore (ripa) of the river Tiber. It is of course dedicated to none other than Saint Franciscus of Assisi, one of the best-known and most important saints in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. His preaching was…

Continue reading

Rome: San Giorgio in Velabro

It is difficult to explain why a tourist in Rome should visit the San Giorgio in Velabro. There is not much of interest to see. The architecture is clumsy, there are no artistic treasures inside and the only thing that can be considered ‘art’ – the apse fresco – is…

Continue reading

Rome: San Tommaso in Formis

San Tommasso in Formis is a very small church from the thirteenth century on the Caelian Hill. It has been restored on multiple occasions between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The church itself is not that interesting. Much more interesting churches with a much richer history, like the Santa Maria…

Continue reading

Rome: Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

The Santa Croce in Gerusalemme is an old Roman Catholic church that is just within the third century Aurelian Walls of the city. The church is architecturally and culturally rather unimpressive, but it is very important from a religious point of view. There has been a Christian place of worship…

Continue reading

Rome: San Pietro in Montorio

This church is located on the Gianicolo, an ancient hill north and west of Trastevere which was named after the Roman god Janus. The San Pietro in Montorio is dedicated to Saint Peter, the apostle who needs no further introduction. An old tradition dictates that Peter was crucified upside down…

Continue reading

Rome: Villa Farnesina

Just opposite the Palazzo and Galleria Corsini is a beautiful Renaissance villa, over 500 years old, that has some of the most gorgeous frescoes in all of Rome. This is the Villa Farnesina, built between 1506 and 1510. Many signs in Trastevere give directions to the villa and indicate that…

Continue reading

Rome: Galleria Corsini

Just outside Trastevere, one can find the Palazzo Corsini. It is home to the Galleria Corsini, one of two locations of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica (the other being the Palazzo Barberini). Although I have been to Rome several times and almost always stay at a hotel in Trastevere, I…

Continue reading

Rome: A fascist past

Walking through the streets of Rome, visitors are reminded of Italy’s dark, fascist past in many places. I am talking about Italy in the twenties, thirties and forties of the previous century, Benito Mussolini’s Italy. Sometimes the visitor is hardly aware that he or she is near or even on…

Continue reading

Rome: Santa Maria in Cosmedin

The Santa Maria in Cosmedin is a church that is located on the Forum Boarium, Ancient Rome’s cattle market. Just to the north was another forum, the Forum Holitorium, which was a vegetable market. Both forums were obviously very important trading locations in Antiquity. A reconstruction of early Rome from…

Continue reading

Rome: Santo Stefano Rotondo

The Santo Stefano Rotondo is located on the summit of the Caelian hill, just opposite the Santa Maria in Domnica, but somewhat hidden behind a wall and trees (see the last image of this post). The church was built in the fifth century and it is the oldest surviving church…

Continue reading

Rome: Santa Prassede

Getting there The first challenge is to actually find this church. It is just a stone’s throw away from the Santa Maria Maggiore, yet it is still very easy to miss. The Santa Prassede is somewhat hidden between other buildings and the church’s campanile is completely invisible. One enters the…

Continue reading

Rome: Santa Pudenziana

The Santa Pudenziana, near the much more famous Santa Maria Maggiore, is one of Rome’s best kept secrets. It is a hidden gem. The church is one of the oldest in Rome and has an important and impressive late fourth or early fifth century apse mosaic. Yet the Santa Pudenziana…

Continue reading

Rome: Santa Maria in Domnica

The Santa Maria in Domnica, sometimes called the Santa Maria alla Navicella, lies on the crown of the Caelian Hill (Celio in Italian). The church is old, very old, but its earliest history is shrouded in mystery. The Santa Maria was built over the ruins of the barracks of the…

Continue reading