A long walk in the inner city
Rome Travel Blog› entry 5 of 10 › view all entries
The third day in Rome we decided that we would check out Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura which we had passed every day several times on the way from the hotel to the Metro. From outside it didn’t look like much. All the way round the basilica there was a very high wall and the main tower was under re-construction. The basilica known in English as the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls or St Paul-without-the-Walls, and it is one of four churches considered to be the great ancient basilicas of Rome.
When we entered, we were both taken by how big it actually was inside.
We took the Metro to Colosseo and decided to walk through The Domus Aurea (Latin for "Golden House") which is situated behind the Colosseo. The Domus Aurea was a large landscaped portico villa, designed to take advantage of artificially created landscapes built in the heart of Ancient Rome by the Roman emperor Nero after Great fire of Rome, which devastated Rome in 64 AD, had cleared away the aristocratic dwellings on the slopes of the Esquiline Hill. The park was full of people enjoying the sun, having picnics, playing ball and so forth.
We walked through the park and a long Viale del Monte Oppio and Via Merulana until we came to Piazza dell Esquilino where the The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is situated. At this time we felt for a lunch and therefore searched for a nice relaxing place where we could sit outside and enjoy the sun as well. We decided for the café opposite the Pontifical Oriental Institute.
The café was full of locals having been to mass in the church and some fellow tourists. The waiter was a very funny old guy that took his time with all the customers and forgot some orders sometimes.
After finishing the lunch we decided to follow the crowd and check out the what was so interesting about it. The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore was an ancient Catholic basilica of Rome. It was another of the four major basilicas the second of the day. It is also one of the five Patriarchal basilicas associated with the Pentarchy: St. John Lateran, St. Lawrence outside the Walls, St. Peter and St. Paul outside the Walls, and Santa Maria Maggiore. The Liberian Basilica (another title for the church) is one of the tituli, presided over by a patron—in this case Pope Liberius—that housed the major congregations of early Christians in Rome.
Santa Maria Maggiore is the only Roman basilica that retained the core of its original structure, left intact despite several additional construction projects and damage from the earthquake of 1348. The name of the church reflects two ideas of greatness, both that of a major basilica as opposed to a minor basilica and also that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the true Mother of God. The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest and most important place of prayer dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Rome. Yes we did the tour following one of the tourist groups some part of the way.
From here we walked down to the Piazza della Repubblica and Fontana delle Naiadi, which was commissioned by Pope Pius IX as a display of the waters from the Aqua Marcia aqueduct.
We followed the exclusive Via Veneto with all its five star hotels and expensive cafés up to Porta Pinciana. Porta Pinciana is a gate of the Aurelian Walls, the name derives from the gens Pincia, who owned the epponymous hill (Pincian Hill).
We followed Via Frattino down to the nice square Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina where we decided to have a rest and a cup of coffee. We just sat and enjoyed the people walking by having found a table in the middle of the square.
We walked pass Pantheon and ended up at Largo di Torre Argentina, which is a square that hosts four Republican Roman temples, and the remains of Pompey's Theater. It is located in the ancient Campus Martius. The name of the square comes from the Torre Argentina, which takes its name from the city of Strasbourg, whose original name was Argentoratum. In 1503, in fact, the Papal Master of Ceremonies Johannes Burckardt from Strasbourg built in via del Sudario a palace (now at number 44), called Casa del Burcardo, to which the tower is annexed.
From here we walked by the Piazza Venezia and The Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II before ending up at a small restaurant close to Pontifical Gregorian University, where we had a nice dinner before walking back to Colosseo and there after taking the Metro back to where we started 10 hours earlier.