Testaccio Fountain Rome

The Testaccio Fountain or Pius IX Fountain is located in the Lungotevere Testaccio in Rome. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Pius IX, to celebrate (and brag about) having the walls along the river Tiber constructed.

Testaccio Fountain Rome (or Pius IX Fountain)

History and description

Testaccio Fountain Rome
Testaccio Fountain

The Fontana di Pio IX a Testaccio in the district of the same name was built in 1869, when Pius IX Mastai was Pope. The fountain is dedicated to the archaeologist Pietro Ercole Visconti, in gratitude for excavating large quantities of marble objects that would later be used to decorate the town’s buildings.

The basin itself is a Roman sarcophagus dating back to the third century AD. The water flows from a lion’s head, which is embedded in brick the wall against which the sarcophagus stands. The wall itself is flanked by marble pillars. At the very top you can see the coat of arms of the Pope.

Above the lion’s head is a wide memorial plaque with an inscription in Latin claiming that Pope Pius IX, in the 23rd year of his pontificate, recovered the steps of the Emporium and, by means of a wall built by himself, made them usable for the people. (The Emporium was the old, now non-existent harbour in what is now the present-day Testaccio district).

During the turn of the century the fountain was severely damaged in a failed robbery.

Fountain of Pius IX – Lungotevere Testaccio, Rome

Porta Metronia Rome

The Porta Metronia is an ancient city gate along the Aurelian Walls in Rome. It is located along the Via dell’Amba Aradam, which leads to Basilica of Saint John In Lateran.

Porta Metronia Rome


Porta Metronia Rome
Porta Metronia

The Porta Metronia is probably named for a certain Metrobius, who used to own various properties in the area. Another name it was known by is Porta Gabiusa. This is because the road that used to lead to the ancient Volscian city of Gabii used to start here. This road more or less corresponds to the present Via Gallia.

Initially the Porta Metronia was no more than a so-called posterula, a small secret exit out of the city. This is clear because it was included at the base of a small tower on the inside of the wall. Had it been a real gate, it would have been flanked by defensive towers on each side.

In the 12th century the Porta Metronia was closed. The gate became used for a passage of a marrana, as the Romans called ditches that ran through the city. This ditch started near Grottaferrata and was brought to Rome by Pope Callisto II. A grating was put in front of the passage, so that smugglers could not enter the city.

After flowing through the gate, the ditch continued towards the San Sisto Vecchio Church, and via the Circus Maximus ended in the Tiber. Here, in the area called Cloaca Maxima, it fed 14 water mills.

The ditch created a swampy area outside the gate, which came to be called “il Pantano”. Often the stagnant water was the cause of epidemics. This swampy area was completely filled up in the beginning of the 20th century. The Marrana itself was diverted to end in the river Almone.


Porta Metronia Inscriptions

The gate itself has been bricked up, but its contours are still visible. It is much lower than the present street level.

On both sides of the Porta Metronia there are two arches. On one side these stem from the fascist period and on the other from the period after the war. They were created to facilitate the flow of traffic.

The two plaques on the inside refer to restoration works in 1157 and in 1579.

The 1157 restoration was carried out by the People and the Senate of Rome. The inscription states the names of the counsillors who had had the work commissioned. In those days the city displayed a strong streak of independence from the church, which is why the Pope is not mentioned in the inscription.

In the 16th century, as the inscription shows, times had changed. Pope Gregorius XIII made sure that everyone knew that it was he who had had the gate fixed out of his own pocket, 421 years after the last restoration.

Porta Metronia, Rome

Porta Latina Rome

The Porta Latina in Rome is located nearby the Terme di Caracalla and the Porta di San Sebastiano. It is named for the street of the same name and is one of the best preserved Roman gates in the Aurelian Walls.

Porta Latina Rome


Porta Latina Rome (outside the walls)
Porta Latina from outside the walls.

The Porta Latina is named for the Via Latina, which led from Rome to what is now Capua, but was at the time still called Casilinum. In those days this territory was taken up by the 30 or so villages that were part of the Latin League. This was a confederation, founded to create a protection against common enemies. Initially these enemies were the Etruscans, but later they came to include the Romans. Still later Rome joined the Latin League, then took a dominant role and finally submitted the other villages. In 338 BC the organization was disbanded.

In the Republican Age (509-27 BC) the road started, together with the Old Appian Way, at the Porta Capena. The two roads separated near what is now the Piazzale di Numa Pompilio. The initial name of the street is now Via di Porta Latina. After the gate it becomes Via Latina.

Initially the opening was 6.55 metres tall and 4.20 metres wide. Between 401 and 403 Emperor Honorius had this reduced to 5.65 by 3.73 metres. The outline of the original fornix is still visible. The reduction of the wall was part of a completely restructuring to make it easier to defend the city. Honorius also had the right tower rebuilt and the travertine facade restructured.

In the middle ages the right tower was again restored.

Both in 1576 and in 1656 the gate was closed during an epidemic of the plague.

After the construction of the Via Appia Nuova the gate lost importance.

Until the early 20th century it was only open when there were special events at the San Giovanni a Porta Latina Church. Even when the Italian troops tried to enter the city here in 1870, they ended up having to give up on the attempt. Their brothers in arms at the Porta Pia ended up having more luck, though, which is why Italy now exists.


The two windowless semicircular towers on each side have holes that were to be used by archers. The five openings in the upper part were created during the reign of Honorius.

The keystone of the outer arch has the Constantinian Chi Ro monogram on it. The Greek letters forming this monogram stand for Christ. To the left and right of the monogram the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet (alpha and omega) can be seen, symbolizing the beginning and the end.

The Greek cross on the inner side of the arch is also a Christian symbol.

The entrance could be closed off with a hinged gate on the inside and with a portcullis on the outside.

There is a small door behind the western door, which gives access to a walkway and a room with 17th century walls. According to legend the god Saturn hid in this chamber from his son Jupiter after the latter had dethroned him.

Porta Latina, Rome

Ospedale del Celio Rome

What is now the Ospedale del Celio in Rome is built on the area that used to be occupied by the ancient Villa Casali. After the unification of Italy a big part of the villa was ddestroyed to make space for new constructions.

Ospedale del Celio Rome


Ospedale del Celio Rome
The interior of the complex in 1915.

The villa started its existence as property of the family Massimo, who later sold it ti the family Teofoli. Later Marquis Mario Casali inherited it from his wife Margherita di Sertorio Teofili.

At the end of the 17th century, the Casali had a house constructed by the architect Tommaso Mattei. They also had an enormous garden laid out.

In those days the main road through the villa faced the Santo Stefano Rotondo Church, while the side roads ended at the apse of the Santi Quattro Coronati Church.

In 1871 the city decided to develop the area. The owners of the land were supposed to build houses and the city would take care of the infrastructure.

Initially most of the villa was saved. However, in 1884, having decided to build a military hospital on its grounds, the city bought everything and five years later completely destroyed it. More than 50000 m² of green area disappeared.


The new military hospital was constructed between 1884 and 1889. It was designed by Colonel Luigi Durand de la Penne together with the architect Salvatore Bianchi.

It consists of a series of 30 pavilions, connected by galleries and metal walkways.

Works of  art

Ospedale del Celio Rome - Antinoo Casali
The Antinoo Casali, now in the Ny Carlsbergh Glyptotek in Copenhagen.

Of the works of art collected by Cardinal Antonio Casali many were lost. Others ended up in Copenhagen’s Ny Carlsbergh Glyptotek. These include the “Casali Sarcophagus”, the “Antinoo Casali” and a mosaic depicting the “Rape of Europe”.

During excavations for the foundations of the hospital several ancient structures were unearthed.

The Basilica Hilariana was built by the pearl merchant Manius Publicius Hilarus. One of the most interesting finds was a mosaic with a depiction of the evil eye, which can now be viewed in the Antiquario Comunale del Celio. The building consisted of a porticoed courtyard surrounded by various rooms. It was probably used as a sort of temple for the followers of the goddess Cybele, who was know as the Magna Mater (“Great mother”) and was a very important deity in ancient Rome. The base of a statue dedicated to Hilarus himself, was also found in this spot.

Other ruins uneartehd in the area include those of the house of the Simmaci, a senatorial family in the Imperial era.

Ospedale del Celio – Piazza Celimontana 50, Rome

Corso del Rinascimento Rome

The Corso del Rinascimento in Rome connects the Piazza delle Cinque Lune to the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. The street runs parallel to the long side of the Piazza Navona. The Piazza Madama divides the street into two sections. The Corso del Rinascimento forms the border between the districts of Parione (on the west side) and Sant’Eustachio (east side).

Corso del Rinascimento Rome

History and description

In 1931 a Regulatory Plan was created with the aim to create a direct route from the Ponte Umberto I to the Trastevere district. The first part of the plan, from the bridge to the Sant’Andrea della Valle Church, was finished. The second part was supposed to lead through the Campo de’ Fiori and the Via Giulia to the Ponte Sisto. However , this was never executed.

In order to create the new street many 17th and 18th century buildings had to be destroyed. The demolition of ancient irregular, winding streets such as Via del Pino, Via del Pinacolo and Via della Sapienza was not popular in Rome. Pasquino, one of Rome’s talking statues, punned: “Se questo è il Corso del Rinascimento, ogni aborto sarebbe un lieto evento” (“If this is the street of rebirth, every abortion would be a happy event.”)

On April 21, 1936 Benito Mussolini took his pickaxe and destroyed the first stone. The buildings replacing the old palaces were designed by Arnaldo Foschini and Salvatore Rebecchini.

Corso del Rinascimento Tourist Attractions

Palazzo Madama

Palazzo Madama - Corso del Risorgimento Rome

The most important building along the Corso del Rinascimento is the Palazzo Madama. This palace was the original Roman residence of the Medici family. In 1871 it became the seat of the Italian senate. The main entrance is on the Piazza Madama. The building can only be visited on the first saturday of the month (8 AM – 6 PM).

Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore Church

San Giacomo degli Spagnoli - Corso del Rinascimento Rome

The church on the right side, starting from the north, is the Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore Church. It is also known as the San Giacomo degli Spagnoli Church. The entrance to this church is on the Corso del Rinascimento side, but the more inpressive facade is on the Piazza Navona.

Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza Church

Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza Church Rome

The Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza Church, on the opposite side of the street, is the work of Borromini. It is built in the courtyard of the Palazzo della Sapienza. This church is particularly famous because of its spiral dome. The sumptious interior decorations are seen as harbingers of the decorative stule known as rococo.

Corso Rinascimento, Rome

Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore Church Rome

The Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore Church in Rome is also known as the San Giacomo degli Spagnoli Church. This church has two facades, the main one being on the Corso del Risorgimento. The second facade is on the Piazza Navona. Continue reading “Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore Church Rome”

Top 10 Tourist Attractions Rome

A highly subjective list of the most important, most popular or most beautiful Top 10 tourist attractions in Rome. The order is random. Those who do not agree with our choice can comment below.

Top 10 Tourist Attractions Rome

01. Colosseum

Colosseum - Top 10 Tourist Attractions Rome

“When the Colosseum falls, Rome will fall. When Rome falls, the world will fall”. How many monuments inspire such reverence? The world’s most famous amphitheater has never stopped to inspire awe and lately more parts have become accessible for tourists.

02. Vatican City

Saint Peter's Basilica Rome

The Vatican City contains Saint Peter’s Basilica and Square, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. There is probably no other place on earth which such a density of artistic masterpieces. Expect to spend an entire day sightseeing here.

03. Trastevere

Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere

Although there are older areas in Rome, Trastevere is the quintessential Roman neighborhood. Especially the part close to the river Tiber with its narrow, winding alleys and intimate, picturesque squares is a must-see. The family-run trattorie in Trastevere are famous for their hospitality and the Sunday flea market at Porta Portese is famous for its chaos.

04. Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Every big city has one: A square where pseudo-artists overcharge you for their caricatures and tacky tourist attraction drawings. Of course they wouldn’t be there if Piazza Navona wasn’t such a gorgeous square, with Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers in the middle and the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone facing it.

05. Pantheon

Facade of the Pantheon in Rome

The Pantheon is the oldest religious building still being used for its original purpose. Built more than two thousand years ago, architects still marvel at the perfection of its spectacular dome. The official name of the Pantheon is Chiesa di Santa Maria ad Martyres, but “Temple of All Gods” does sound better.

06. Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

We recommend visiting Trevi Fountain twice: Once during daytime and once after midnight, when the throngs have disappeared and it is possible to have an idea of the real grandiosity of the monument. Anita Ekberg has by now given up on getting Marcello Mastroianni to join her, but also without movie stars the Trevi Fountain remains a unique sight to behold.

07. Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps Rome

Although it is now forbidden to sit on the Spanish Steps, the atmosphere here is still unique. Towering over the Piazza di Spagna and the Fontana della Barcaccia and in turn being towered over by the Trinita dei Monti church and obelisk the Spanish Steps are amongst Rome‘s most romantic hangouts. Walking straight down the steps you will enter the Via Condotti and your shopping spree may commence. In spring big pots with azaleas are placed on the steps.

08. Via Veneto

Santa Maria della Concezione Church Rome

Faded glory, but beautiful faded glory. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the Via Veneto paparazzi cam here to take pictures of movie stars. Aspiring movie stars came here hoping to have their pictures taken by paparazzi. Still one of Rome’s most prestigious streets with big luxury hotels and prestigious restaurants, but remember that a cup of coffee here costs the same as a full meal elsewhere. The Santa Maria della Concezione “church of the bones” vainly attempts to counteract Via Veneto‘s vanity.

09. Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo

The Castel Sant’Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum and later functioned as both a fortress and a prison. Nowadays it is a mere museum, but from its roof you will be able to enjoy one of the most beautiful views Rome has to offer.

10. Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill are both included in the ticket to the Colosseum. The Palatine Hill is full of ruins of past emperors’ dwellings, while the Roman Forum used to be the center of Rome‘s political and social life. After you have visited these ruins we recommend a climb the Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio). The view from here shows you more of how the Forum was structured at the time.

Santi Luca e Martina Church Rome

The Santi Luca e Martina Church is located next to of the Roman Forum in Rome. From the viewpoint on the Capitol Hill there is a beautiful view over the dome of this church. The interior was used in 2016 for the TV series “The Young Pope” as the interior of the St. Peter’s Basilica. The official name of the church is Santi Luca e Martina al Foro Romano. Continue reading “Santi Luca e Martina Church Rome”

Via Veneto Rome

The Via Vittorio Veneto in Rome was originally just called the Via Veneto, but after World War I the name was changed to “Vittorio Veneto” in honor of a battle having taken place at a village of that name. In reality everybody still calls the street Via Veneto, though.

Via Veneto Rome

History and description

The Via Veneto bacame famous in the 1950’s and 60’s because of its cafes and luxury hotels, which attracted the rich and famous, the would-be’s and the paparazzi. Federico Fellini‘s movie La Dolce Vita made the entire world aware of the street.

The street was constructed in the 19th century and meanders uphill to the Villa Borghese park. There are numerous interesting buildings along its sidewalks, the most conspicuous one of which is the Palazzo Margherita, which houses the United States Embassy.

Other palazzi of a certain grandeur are the Palazzo Coppedé and the Palazzo Excelsior (which has been turned into a hotel). The Palazzo Hotel Majestic, the Palazzo Hotel Balestra, the Palazzo Hotel Flora and the Palazzo Hotel Palace are other examples of buildings changed into luxury hotels.

In the middle of all this wealth stands the Chiesa di Santa Maria Immacolata a Via Veneto, otherwise known as the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini. When asking directions you had better ask for the church with the bones, though, thanks to its crypt, which uses the skeletons of 4000 cappuccin monks to make a point about life and death.

Tourist attractions Via Veneto

Palazzo Margerita

The Palazzo Margherita is the seat of the American Embassy in Rome. The building is named for Queen Margherita of Savoy, who took up residence there after king Umberto I was murdered by the anarchist Gaetano Bresci in 1900.

Santa Maria della Concezione Church

The Santa Maria della Concezione Church is found on the right side when walking up the Via Veneto from the Piazza Barberini. It is often called Chiesa dei Capuccini, since it is run by Capuchin monks. The church was built in 1624.

Capuchin Crypt

Capuchin Crypt - Via Veneto Rome

The biggest attraction of the church used to be its Capuchin Crypt. This has now been made part of a small museum dedicated to the Capuchin Order. In the crypt the skeletons of a number of monks can be seen. Its walls are decorated with the bones of another 4000 monks.

Public transport

The nearest metro stop to the Via Veneto is Barberini (line A). The closest bus stop is Veneto-Barberini (lines 53, 61, 62, 63, 80, 83, 85, 150F, 160, 492, C3, CINE, N1, N4, N5, N12, N25).

Via Veneto – Rome

Sacro Cuore di Gesu a Castro Pretorio Church Rome

The Sacro Cuore di Gesu a Castro Pretorio Church is a relatively new church in Rome. It is located in the Via Marsala, right by the main railway station Roma Termini. It was built between 1879 and 1887, by San Giovanni Bosco, who was helped by Francesco Vespignani. Continue reading “Sacro Cuore di Gesu a Castro Pretorio Church Rome”