City Guide

Rome

Student-accommodation-in-rome-pano

Introduction to Rome

I feel happy here for I learn something new every day: I try to become impregnated with the unalterable beauty Rome dispenses with such generosity’ (Auguste Rodin).

Rome is not a city that can be easily described in brief. It has too often been described as a crowded, dirty city made up of many churches and pickpockets. However, when you take the time to discover the Eternal city, it is like no other in the world. Its Piazzas, fountains and life make you fall in love with it. It is no wonder that it has been the home, the muse, the lifelong love of so many. From authors such as James Joyce, to poets like Keats. From artists such as Rodin to cinematographers like Federico Fellini. It is easy to understand why so many struggle to leave and a great number of others choose to stay.

Although the city of the modern day is a far cry from its original Roman splendour, we nonetheless get immersed in the beauty and culture of Rome. Once you have learned to ignore the constant stream of traffic, peppered with speeding smart cars, it becomes more than easy to imagine what Rome would once have been like in its full glory.

In very few cities is it possible to see the legacy left by each era. You will find “The melting pot” of art from the Renaissance to the Baroque period, represented by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and Bernini’s fountains, that can be found all over Rome. The archaeological and artistic wonders of Rome can be witnessed on every corner, street and Piazza of the Centro Storico.

Rome is an extremely easy city in terms of orientating yourself. Unlike many other capital cities, it is small and therefore makes walking around more enjoyable and sightseeing very easy. You can walk around the historic centre in a matter of hours, providing there aren’t too many tourists. It is a city that is hard to forget and even harder to dislike!!!

Roma Antica- is at the very heart of ancient Rome. Here you can walk around for hours taking in the Colosseum, the Palatine, the Forum and the Capitoline. The Palatine offers magnificent views to the north east over the Forum (an amazing maze of ruined temples and palaces) and over the old chariot racing stadium Circo Massimo. Trastevere can be seen to the south west. The Capitoline is dominated by the Vittoriano, a much hated building in the city better known to the Romans as “the Typewriter”. It is a beautiful area to wander round and I am sure you will never grow tired of taking in the amazing beauty of it all.

Centro Storico- it is very easy to get lost in the little streets of this area. However, this is the best way to discover its many wonders. The Pantheon, the French Quarter and Piazza Navona can be found to the south of Corso Vittorio Emanuele, whilst to the north you will come across Campo dei Fiori, Torre Argentina (the forum where Cesar was stabbed), the Ghetto and the beautiful Synagogue; which you must see from inside. It is an area overflowing with small Trattorias and bars aligning the picturesque cobbled streets, which are normally almost deserted. If you walk to the east of the Pantheon, you will find Via del Corso, which is the main shopping street. At the end of the street, you can walk around Piazza del Popolo where the church Santa Maria del Popolo displays Caravaggio’s works.

Vatican city- the smallest independent state in the world needs little introduction. It has its own postal service, newspaper, currency, radio and even station (although it is no longer for public use). It is only 1 km2 however; it has wealth that it disproportionate to its size thanks to the collections within the Vatican museums and the Basilica of Saint Peter. When the pope addresses the square from his balcony, it has been known to fill up with as many as 1 million people.

East of Via del Corso- is one of the busiest parts of Rome no matter what time of year you are there. It stretches from San Lorenzo in the east, to Via del Corso in the west. Here you will find the Spanish steps with Bernini’s fountain at the bottom. The step themselves, despite all the postcards are only covered in flowers in early spring. The Trevi Fountain, should you be so lucky as to get anywhere near it, is also in the area and Via dei Condotti, the luxury shopping street where most of us can but window shop and celebrity spot, is close by.

Trastevere- this area of Rome was the last of 14 areas to be added to the existing city by the superstitious emperor Augustus. Although it has long been a part of the city, many still consider it to be separate, with its inhabitants even calling themselves “Noantri” (us others). It is easy to understand why they feel this way, as once you have crossed the Tiber into Trastevere, it’s easy to forget you are in the capital as it is more like a village. It is where the entire youth of Rome seems to congregate at night, due to its hip bars and several clubs. Santa Maria in Trastevere is a really beautiful basilica (one of the oldest in Rome) and the square it is on is always busy with little stalls and street artists. This is also true of Piazza Trilussa.

South of Rome- this area is often overlooked by tourists, which is a real shame but also a blessing, as it means the Aventine hill is one of the most peaceful areas within the city centre. If you head to the Parco Savello, better known as the orange garden thanks to the countless orange trees, you have a marvellous view over the entire city. Further up the hill is the order of Malta and the famous keyhole through which you can see the dome of San Pietro. It cannot be described easily, but suffice to say it is beautiful and must be seen, particularly at sunset. Testaccio is also in the area but better known for its night life, although it has some great food markets. The Via Appia Antica is one of the oldest and most famous roads in the world. Its giant worn out flagstones make it easy to imagine the legionnaires marching into the city on their return from victory.

North of Rome- is the quieter part of the city. This is largely thanks to Villa Borghese, the famous park of Rome that dates back to the 17th century. It is now a favourite hang out in the summer for everyone, from families to young couples. It has sprawling lawns, big fountains and tidy flower gardens. Within the park is the Borghese Museum and Gallery, which houses an extensive collection of works by Caravaggio, Botticelli and Bernini amongst others. The Gallery of Modern Art is just down the road and equally worth a visit. Running parallel to each other to the north east of Villa Borghese, are Via Salaria (the old salt trade route into the city) and Via Nomentana, which is the elegant residential area of the city. Just off the Nomentana, is the Villa Torlonia, a wonderful park and a church where the oldest Christian mosaics in Rome are kept.