Emperors Best and Worst.
One can be indifferent to the history of the Roman antiquity but be obliged to meet Roman Emperors in this city of Rome full of monuments, forums, statues to the glory of these Emperors.
Very quickly the tourist will realize that among the eighty emperors, without counting the usurpers, there were good and bad ones, even some insane.
Here a small list to distinguish roughly the best from the worst.
Octave Augustus (reigned 41 years), Trajan, Vespasian, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Antoninus Pius.
Caligula, Nero, Elegabalus.
The more or less ferocious but also efficient emperors:
Many emperors are in this category like Tiberius, Constantine I, Claudius.
As most Roman emperors died a violent death one will understand that the job was not an easy one and most often associated to violence.
Just Another Exquisite, Unknown Church in Rome
Most visitors to Rome never see this church, or even hear of it, for that matter. It's just one of the more than 900 churches in Rome, most of which never get visited.
Yet it is incredibly beautiful and has a wonderful, interesting history. The polished red marble columns alone are enough to make my knees week! The altar and tabernacle by Rainaldi is impossibly, beautifully ornate.
So what and where is this little gem of a church?
Santa Maria della Scala (of the stairs), in Trastevere, the now trendy working-class neighborhood. Trastevere literally means "across the Tevere" or the Tiber River, from the historical center of Rome. The church is not far from the more famous Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Next to the church (on the right as you face it) is a preserved antique pharmacy from the 18th century, which used to service the Vatican.
For more information on the church, the reason for it's creation, and the pharmacy and how to visit it, see:
Like many churches in Rome, it is closed between noon and 4 p.m. most days.
An interesting sidelight of this church involves my favorite painter, Caravaggio. He was commissioned to produce a painting for the church; the subject was the death of the virgin. The work was rejected (this happened to Caravaggio a lot, he was always getting in trouble.) In this case, perhaps because the model for the virgin was a prostitute, perhaps because her legs were exposed, or perhaps because her belly was too realistically swollen in death. In any event, the painting now hangs in the Louvre. You can see a copy of it here.
Death of the Virgin
(click on the small painting for an enlargement, then click on "Fit Width" at the top)
Address: 23 Piazza della Scala, Trastevere
Less than 300 meters northwest of Santa Maria in Trastevere, where Via della Scala turns into Piazza della Scala.
As anyone who has been to Rome knows, scooters rule! If you can drive a scooter and have a Class C drivers license , scooters are THE BEST way to get around! You can come and go as you please, and park conveniently. Rent one at a reasonable rate, and shop around - prices vary. You can reserve scooters in advance online, and there are rental places everywhere, including the Termini Station. Helmets (mandatory) and locks are included in the rental price.
Be careful: they may want a $1000 available credit line before they'll let you actually take the scooters. I didn't even know that until I showed up at the shop! I don't know if every company does this.
Renting a motorcycle isn't really necessary if you plan on staying within the city. Yes, the Ducatis are hot, but a scooter can get between some pretty tight spots, and can be parked in an even smaller spot. You don't need speed in Rome, you need small size. You can also get pretty far outside the walls in a short amount of time, even on a small scooter. And you can safely put your kid on the back of a larger scooter, but do think about daily physical comfort if you're going to double up.
CAVEAT EMPTOR (Buyer Beware): If you do not have previous scooter or motorcycle experience, please do not think it would be romantic or cute to learn to ride in Rome (unless you are from Manhattan - you might be okay). California drivers seem to be generally frightened by the hyper-urban driving style in other places, so I think that scootering in Rome will not be a positive experience for timid folk. Roman traffic is much more organic and flows continuously, regardless of the "rules." But since the Carabinieri seem more interested in combing their hair and checking out the hot chicks than stopping you for a traffic citation, just go with the flow, and have a great time!
Nice atmosphere, great food
This is a lovely little restaurant on the Piazza in Piscinula. A nice selection of primi and secondi piatti. Gracious staff. Nice ambience. My favorite meal of my trip. The gnocchi with seafood was awesome -- great flavor and tender gnocchi that melted in my mouth. The veal scallopine was very lemony.
DO NOT MISS the Vatican Museum. Do not be intimidated by the huge line of people waiting to get in, we walked all the way to the end (it was a huge line) and it only took 30 minutes until we were inside. Make sure to take a camera and your time, the museum is filled with hundreds of paintings, statues, tapestries and much more to look at. You cannot help but to be in absolute awe of everything you come across inside. It cost 12 euros each to get in and was well worth the money and experience neither of us will ever forget. It would be a good idea to wear comfortable shoes for your trip to the Vatican as there is a lot to see and you will be on your feet for hours.