Rose Garden Rome

Rome’s Municipal Rose Garden (Roseto Comunale) is located on the Aventine Hill, in the Via di Valle Murcia and apart from (especially while the renowned competition is going on) being an interesting tourist attraction in its own right, it also offers a gorgeous view of a.o. the Palatine Hill and the Circus Maximus. It also hosts the Premio Roma, an extremely prestigious annual rose competition (see below for dates and hours in 2014).

Rose Garden Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via di Valle Murcia – 00153 Rome (tel. +39 065746810). Metro: Circo Massimo. Bus: 81, 628 (stop: Circo Massimo-Roseto Comunale). Opening hours 2018: From October 15th till 28th from 08.30 till 18.00 the Rose Garden will be open for the autumn bloom. Admission: Free. Guided tours can be arranged by phone or e-mail: rosetoromacapitale@comune.roma.it. (Handicapped: There is a special entrance at the Clivo dei Publicii, 3.)

History and description

Menorah Shaped Rose Garden
Menorah Shaped Rose Garden

Already in the 3rd century BC the area where the Roseto is located was a place where flowers were grown and through the years it stayed a site of vineyards and flower gardens.

In the year 1645 it became the Garden of the Jews (Orto degli Ebrei) and it remained that way until the year 1934, when the Jewish cemetery was moved to the Verano. For years nothing was done with the land until 1950, when it became the new seat of the rose garden.

The Roseto Comunale, then in the Colle Oppio park, had become Rome’s official Rose Garden in 1932, at the initiative of (Countess) Mary Gailey Senni, who was married to an Italian nobleman. The following year the Premio Roma was organized for the first time.

Roseto Comunale
Roseto Comunale in Rome

When the new Roseto was opened, an obelisk was placed at its entrance, commemorating its former use as a sacred Jewish site. Moreover, the alleys dividing the various sections of the gardens were organized in the shape of the Jewish menorah.

The Roseto has around 1.100 different species of roses on display. The higher, bigger part of the garden contains the permanent collection, while the lower part shows the roses that participated in the Premio Roma.

Via di Valle Murcia – Rome

Torre della Moletta Rome

The Torre della Moletta is a medieval tower on the south side of what is left of the Circus Maximus in Rome. The tower was one of the properties of the Frangipane family. Francis of Assisi is said to have stayed there one day. Since 2017 the tower can be visited together with the excavations of the Circus Maximus.

Torre della Moletta Rome

Address, opening hours and entrance fee

Address: Viale Aventino. The tower stands on the south side of the Circus Maximus behind the fence that protects the excavations. The visit is included in the tour of the excavated part of Circus Maximus. Opening hours: From 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. during summer time and from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. during winter time. Saturday and Sunday from 9.30 am to 2 pm. Admission: 5 Euro (4 Euro with discount). Metro: Circo Massimo (line B). Bus: 75, 81, 118, 160, 673, N2, N10 (stop: Circo Massimo).

History Torre della Moletta Rome

Torre della Moletta Rome
Torre della Moletta

The Torre della Moletta stands rather desolate between the excavations of the Circus Maximus.

After the Circus Maximus fell into disrepair during the Middle Ages, the site was used for vineyards and vegetable gardens. At that time the district was in the hands of the Frangipane family who had large numbers of humble and dilapidated dwellings built there.

These houses were all demolished between 1932 and 1935. The only structure that remained standing was the tower at one end of the Circus Maximus, which was called Torris in Capite Circi, but usually simply called Torre della Moletta.

In 1223 Francis of Assisi is said to have stayed in the tower. He was a guest of the widow of Graziano Frangipane, with whom he maintained a close friendship.

The name della Moletta is due to the proximity of a water mill. It was set in motion by the Fosso di San Giovanni, a tributary of the Aniene. In 1122 Pope Callixtus II redirected it to the Porta Metronia, the gardens of San Sisto Vecchio, between the Celio and Aventine hills (where now the Via delle Terme di Caracalla runs) and finally to the Circus Maximus. At the Cloaca Maxima it flew into the Tiber.

The tower is square and is slightly wider at the top end. Beneath the broad part there are blind arches, while on the top there are battlements.

Now the tower stands alone, but in the Middle Ages it was part of the Frangipani‘s line of defence near the Palatine. There are no other traces of of this defensive line of towers left.

Excavations

During the excavations around the Torre della Moletta this tower was restored at the same time. A staircase inside the tower leads to the upper floor, where you can enjoy a magnificent view over the Circus Maximus.

Torre della Moletta, Circo Massimo, Rome

Circus Maximus Rome

It is a pity that it is not possible anymore to view Rome‘s Circus Maximus in all its splendor, since it is probably the biggest venue of all time with a width of 140 meters and a length of around 600 meters. The Circus Maximus is best known from the chariot races in the famous film “Ben Hur”.

Circus Maximus Rome

Address, Opening Hours and Entrance fee

The Circo Massimo is located along the Via del Circo Massimo – 00186 Roma (Italy). Metro: Circo Massimo (line B). Rione: Ripa. Bus: 81, 628 (stop: Circo Massimo-Roseto Comunale), 75, 81, 118, 160, 673, N2, N10 (stop: Circo Massimo), 628, L07 (stop: Cerchi-Porta Capena), 81, 118, 160, 628, 715 (stop: Cerchi-Bocca della Verità). Admission and opening hours: Most of the Circus Maximus is freely accessible.

History

Circus Maximus Rome
Circus Maximus

Of what was once the Circus Maximus (which means “biggest circus” in Latin, and in Italian is called Circo Massimo) is unfortunately very little left.

The Circus Maximus is located in a 600m. long and 150m. wide valley (the Vallis Murcia) between the Palatine and the Aventine hills. It had 250,000 to 300,000 seats, which was then about a quarter of the entire population of Rome. It was of course also possible to see the games in the Circus Maximus from the hills themselves.

Circus Maximus is very important for the history of Rome. During a festival at the circus, the rape (which at the time meant abduction) of the Sabine women happened, which put an end to the scarcity of females in the population of Rome.

The valley where the Circus is located, which used to be called the Valle Murcia, had already been developed in the times of the Tarquinians. The originally marshy area had been drained, not extremely effectively at the time because of obvious lack of knowledge and material, but in the following centuries more and more work was done and monumental works were constructed.

In 196 B.C. the Arch of Stertinio was erected and in subsequent centuries especially the emperors Julius Caesar and Augustus added and restored several aspects of the Circus Maximus, which also used to be adorned with the obelisk that can now be admired on the Piazza del Popolo.

Over the years the Circus was destroyed a number of times by fires to be completely restored in the times of the emperors Domitian and Traianus. The – few – ruins that are still visible nowadays are those of monuments constructed in that period.

Future emperors would add even more to the Circus, as testified by the brickwork and by several decorative additions like a second, gigantic, obelisk, tranported from Egypt to Rome by Constantius II. This obelisk was later moved to the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano.

On one side of the Circus part of the twelve carceres can still be seen. It is here that the races started. The higher part in the middle of the track was the spina, on top of which statues of eggs and dolphins were placed. Every time a lap was completed one of the statues was taken away. The spina must have been quite impressive, since apart from the aforementioned eggs and dolphins there were columns, groups of statues, altars, temples and of course the two obelisks to be admired.

The Circus Maximus hosted its last games in 549 and then gradually was abandoned and later turned into agricultural terrain.

Excavations

Since 2017 it is possible to visit the small part of the Circus Maximus that has been excavated.

Visitors will have access to the galleries that used to lead to the steps of the cavea. Remains of ancient latrines can be seen in these 100m long galleries. Senators watched from the ground floor of the cavea, the plebs on the upper floor.

Along the external basalt road you can see a large drinking trough and you can visit the various tabernae around the Circus. These included inns, grocery stores, laundries and warehouses, but also brothels and moneychangers. These latter were needed for the betting on the horseraces.

The bases of the Arch of Titus are visible in the central part of the hemicycle. The front colums were at least 10 meters high. Parts of the large inscription with bronze letters of a dedication by the Senate and the Roman People to the emperor were also found here.

The numerous stone fragments have also been partly arranged to furnish the open space. Elements from the ancient building (steps, frames, capitals, shop thresholds, etc.) can be seen on one side of the hemicycle, while on the other side a series of columns in coloured marble are visible.

The visit includes the inside of the 12th century Torre della Moletta.

Circus Maximus Rome Photo Gallery

Via del Circo Massimo – Rome

Santa Sabina all’Aventino Church Rome

The Church of Santa Sabina at the Aventine Hill in Rome was founded between 422 and 432 by a priest called Pietro di Illiria. It is considered to be Rome‘s best example of a 5th century Christian basilica.

Santa Sabina all’Aventino Church Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazza Pietro d’Illiria, 1 – Rome (tel. +39 06 579401 or 06 57940600). Opening hours:
From 08.15 till 12.30 and from 15.30 till 18.00. Admission: Free.

History

Santa Sabina all'Aventino Church Rome
Santa Sabina all’Aventino Church

It is thought that the site of the church corresponds to the house of a matron called Sabina who mistakenly came to be identified with the Umbrian saint of the same name.

In 824 Pope Eugenio II had the Schola Cantorum (a school or choir for young people supposed to accompany religious services in the Catholic church) added.

In 1222 the church was given to San Dominico, in order to accommodate the Dominican order. The bell-tower and the courtyard stem from this period.

In 1587 Domenico Fontana completely restored the church interior.

The church was last restored in 1936, returning it to its original early Christian state as much as possible.

Description

The facade is characterized by arches that are supported by four marble and four granite columns. The latter are decorated with fragments of old Roman ruins, especially tombstones.

Recent restoration work in the atrium preceding the façade have uncovered a wall painting of the Virgin and Child, flanked by, on the one side Rome’s patron saints Pietro and Paolo, and on the other side the saints Santa Sabina and Santa Serafia.

The central entrance, framed by a marble jamb, has a beautiful wooden door, with scenes of the Old and the New testament cut in its wood.

The interior of the basilica has three naves divided by a total of 24 Corinthian columns.

Of the original 5th century decorations only a band of mosaic is left, with the names of Pietro di Illiria and the then Pope, Celestino I, in gold lettering on a blue background.

Santa Sabina all’Aventino used to be the only church with the privilege of having a baptismal font.

Main Attractions

The almost perfectly preserved cypress portal dates from the 5th century and is decorated with one of the oldest depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus between the two thieves. The other images show scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The decorations between the different scenes were added later.

An 8th century fresco depicting the “Madonna with Child and Saints”.

Above the arches that connect the columns are “intarsia” (inlaid work) decorations, which represent the triumphs of the Christians on the Roman pagan idols. (Intarsia decorations are usually made of wood, but in this case marble is used).

The fresco “Christ, Saints and Apostles” was painted by Taddeo Zuccari and is located in the right nave.

The 14th century mosaic floor tomb in the central nave is from Munoz de Zamora.

The Lapis Diabuli (“Stone of the Devil”) can be seen on a small white column on the left side of the basilica. This almost round stone has claw-shaped notches. According to legend, in the year 1220, San Domenico was repeatedly harassed by a devil who tried to seduce him. One day this demon became so angry after another failed attempt that he threw a basalt rock at the saint. However, he missed his goal and the stone is now kept in the church.

The first orange tree in Italy is said to have been planted in the garden of the basilica by San Domenico himself. This took place in 1219, after Pope Honorius III had donated the Santa Sabina monastery to Domenico di Guzman and his order. The saint immediately made it the headquarters of the Domenican Order, a function that it still holds today. The tree can be seen through a hole on the left side of the porch.

San Sabino all’Aventino Church – Piazza Pietro d’Illiria 1, Rome

Santi Bonifacio and Alessio Church Rome

The Church of the Santi Bonifacio and Alessio is located near the more famous Church of Santa Sabina at the Aventine Hill in Rome. The basilica was probably built between the 3rd and 4th century, but was restored several times. The crypt underneath the church hosts the relics of Thomas Becket.

Santi Bonifacio and Alessio Church Rome

Address, Opening Times and Admission

Address: Chiesa dei Santi Bonifacio e Alessio – Piazza di Sant’Alessio, 23 – Rome (tel. +39 065743446). Opening hours: The church is only open on special occasions, including religious holidays and wedding ceremonies. Admission: Free.

Special Events

Occasionally religious concerts are held in the church.

History and description

Santi Bonifacio and Alessio Church Rome
Santi Bonifacio and Alessio Church

The very first version of the Santi Bonifacio and Alessio Church was built towards the end of the 3rd century. Initially it was just dedicated to Saint Boniface, but in the year 1217 Pope Honorius III added Alessio.

This happened after a restoration ordered by this pope.

The architecture of the church shows signs of the multitude in restorations. The bell-tower is Romanesque, the portico medieval and the facade was completed in the 16th century.

The last important restoration took place in 1860.

The adjacent convent, built by the Crescenzi in the 10th century, nowadays houses the Istituto di Studi Romani.

The interior constists of 3 naves.

Attractions Santi Bonifacio e Alessio Church Rome

Madonna of Sant'Alessio - Sanit Bonifacio and Alessio Church Rome
Madonna of Sant’Alessio

The entrance is decorated with cosmatesque ornaments.

The stairs under which the holy Alessio is supposed to have lived can be seen in a glass reliquary.

The cloister next to the church is surrounded by granite columns that were taken from older buildings.

The sepulchral monument for Eleonora Boncompagni Borghese can be seen in the south side of the basilica.

The Chapel of Charles V of Spain is located in the southern transept.

The Madonna of Sant’Alessio was brought to Rome by the saint himself. This icon stems from the 12th or 13th century.

Public transportation

The nearest bus and tam stop is Emporio (Bus: 23, 74, 280, 716, N3, N9, N10; Tram: 3, 8.).

Piazza di Sant’Alessio, 23 – 00147 Rome

Saint Bartholomew on the Island Church Rome

The Church of Saint Bartholomew on the Island (San Bartolomeo all’Isola, in Italian), is, as the name indicates, located on the Island in the Tiber in the Ripa district of Rome.

Saint Bartholomew on the Island Church Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazza di San Bartolomeo all’Isola, 22 – Rome (tel. +39 06 6877973). Opening hours: Mondays till Sundays from 9,30 rill 13,30 and from 15,30 till 17,30; Sundays from 09,00 till 13,00. Admission: Free.

History and description

It was built in the 10th century by the Emperor Otto III, who had it constructed on the ruins of the Temple dedicated to Aesculapius. Inside the church, near the altar, there is a well that was most likely already there when the temple still existed.

At the time the church was dedicated to Saint Adalbert, but after a restoration ordered by Pope Paschal II (in 1113) and another one in 1180 it was re-baptized Church of Saint Bartholomew.

The Romanesque bell-tower near the church, the Torre dei Caetani, dates back to the 12th century.

In 1557 the Tiber flooded and almost completely destroyed the church and in 1625 Orazio Torriani reconstructed it, with a new baroque façade and a portico.

A final restoration took place in 1852.

Saint Bartholomew on the Island consists of  three naves separated by two lines of fourteen antique columns each. The transept and apse are raised and its panelled ceiling has frescoes dating back to 1865.

In 1869 Ignazio Jacometti made the guglia (“spire” or “needle”) on the square in front of the church.

In 2000 Pope John Paul II dedicated Saint Bartholomew to the new martyrs of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Piazza di San Bartolomeo all’Isola, 22 – Rome

Forum Holitorium Rome

The Forum Olitorium (or Holitorium) was that part ancient Rome where the vegetable market used to be held. The exact position was a small square between the Theater of Marcellus, the old harbor on the Tiber and the Capitol Hill. Nowadays the registry office of Rome has its seat there.

Forum Holitorium Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via del Teatro di Marcello – Rome. What is left of the monument can only be viewed from outside.

History and description

Three temples, dedicated to Janus, Spes and Juno Sospita, stood in the square and are nowadays incorporated in the San Nicola in Carcere Church. There was also a fourth temple, which was dedicated to Pietas, but this one was demolished in order to create space for the construction of the Theater of Marcellus.

Excavations that were carried out in the Piazza di Monte Savello unearthed an enormous white marble plinth sculptured with scenes referring to the myth of Hercules. Parts of the ruins of the temples of Apollo and Bellona were also found.

Unfortunately there is not much left of the original Forum Olitorium.

Via del Teatro di Marcello – Rome

Ponte Fabricio Rome

The Ponte Fabricio connects the Via di Ponte Quattro Capi on the Isola Tiberina (rione Ripa) to the Lungotevere de’ Cenci in the rione Sant’Angelo and is the oldest Roman bridge still in existence.

Ponte Fabricio Rome

Ponte Fabricio
Ponte Fabricio

It was built in the year 62 BC by Lucius Fabricius, the “caretaker of roads”, as can be read on inscription in red letters on both sides of the bridge’s travertino marble arches. Fabricio’s bridge was made from blocks of tufa, a typical Roman kind of clay, and replaced the original wooden version that had existed since 192 BC.

The Ponte Fabricio has also been known as the Ponte dei Quattro Capi (because of the two marble pillars with the two-faced God Janus) or the Pons Judaeorum (from the time when the Jewish community in Rome was forced to move into what is now known as the Ghetto).

The Pons Fabricius is almost 60m long and almost 6m wide. It consists of two big arches. Two smaller arches close to each bank are now underground and cannot be seen anymore.

Ponte Fabricio – Rome

Ponte Palatino Rome

The Palatine Bridge, also known as the English Bridge (Ponte Inglese), is a bridge that connects the Lungotevere Aventino in the rione Ripa to the Lungotevere Ripa in the Trastevere district.

Ponte Palatino Rome

The decision to build the Ponte Palatino was taken when the so-called Ponte Rotto (“Broken Bridge”) started honoring its nickname a bit too much. It was constructed between the years 1886 and 1890 and is one of Rome’s longer bridges, albeit not one of the more picturesque ones.

On the Palatine side of the bridge, which is called English because its traffic is considered to be going “the wrong way” from a European point of view, the Forum Boarium and the still functioning Cloaca Maxima can be found.

The Ponte Palatino was designed by Angelo Vescovali. It has a length of 155.5 meters and is 18.4 meters wide.

Ponte Palatino – Rome

Theater of Marcellus Rome

The Theater of Marcellus (Italian: Teatro di Marcello) is an open-air theatre located near the Piazza Venezia in Rome. The theatre itself cannot be visited but the area around it is open to the public. During the summer months, under the title “Roman Nights at the Theatre of Marcellus” (Notti Romane al Teatro di Marcello) concerts are held here every night (8.30 PM).

Theater of Marcellus Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via del Teatro di Marcello – Rome. Rione: Ripa. Opening hours and admission: The monument can only be viewed from outside.

History and description

Theatre of Marcellus
Theatre of Marcellus

The area around the Teatro di Marcello was developed during the reign of Caesar and completed by Augustus between the years 13 and 11 BC. Augustus dedicated the theatre to Marcellus, the son of his sister Octavia.

The theater underwent many changes over the years, beginning in the middle ages when it was transformed into a fortress. In the 16th century the Savelli family turned it into a palazzo with the aid of the architect Baldassarre Peruzzi. The remains of this palazzo can still be seen above the old arches.

From 1926 until 1929 the ancient theater was excavated. The two visible tiers of arches were probably topped by a row of Corinthian pilasters. This part of the building contained the rows of seats, whereas the stage, which was completely destroyed, backed onto the river.

The temple of Bellona was built in 296 BC and had six columns on one side and eleven on the longer sides with a staircase leading up to the platform.

The even older temple of Apollo, which was built in 431 BC, underwent many restorations until C. Sosio created the final version with two lateral staircases. The three white marble Corinthian columns were restored in 1940.

Via del Teatro di Marcello – Rome