Unique Places in Rome

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Rome

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    Between St' Angelo and Piazza Navona.

    by breughel Written Jan 29, 2009

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    Walking from Ponte St'Angelo to Piazza Navona goes through an ancient district of which I would recommend the Via Dei Coronari. This street existed already in the time of the ancient Rome under the name of Via Recta. The present aspect goes back to the 15th c. under pope Sixtus IV. Number interesting mansions of that time still exist. Well known is at nr. 156-7 the house of Fiammeta Michaelis the favoured courtesan of Cesar Borgia.

    The name Coronari comes from corone i.e. rosary beads which were sold here as well as sacred souvenirs in many shops to pilgrims entering Roma by the Porta del Popolo and joining St Peters by the St' Angelo bridge.
    With her 500 m length Via Coronari was the first straight street of the medieval Rome redesigned by Pope Sixtus IV.
    The rosary shops have been replaced by antiquaries but one will still find ancient religious objects in their windows.

    When walking from Piazza Navona to Castel St'Angelo my preference goes to the large Via Zanardelli with the view on the Palace of Justice and the walk on the left bank of the river (Lungotevere Tor di Nona) with the splendid views on the Castle, the bridge St'Angelo and the dome of St Peters.

    Starting the walk to Via dei Coronari Via Coronari
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    Michaelangelo's unfinished Farnese Bridge

    by icunme Updated Jan 25, 2009

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    UPDATE JAN 2009 - I am so sorry to note that some brilliant Rome bureaucrate decided to give this bridge a haircut - so, these cascading vines no longer grace this bridge!
    I jumped off the #116 bus I had boarded bound for Trastevere when the sight of this vine covered bridge came into view. I was at the last stop by the Tiber and walked back toward Rome center to get a better look. Michelangelo was commissioned by the Farnese family to design this bridge that would permit them private access to their winter palace, Villa Farnesina, on the other side of the Tiber in Trastevere. What you see here and the exquisite vines that grace the arch is all that remains of Michelangelo's project.

    Photo 2 - Another view of the rear of the arch and underneath.

    I believe the #116 might be the only bus that takes this route as, due to the narrow streets, it is one of Rome's mini-busses. If you're walking from Piazza Farnese, take Via Giulia - then, on the other side of this arch you will see to your right that bizarre Fontana del Mascheone (the next Off the Beaten Path tip). Enjoy.............

    Farnese family's unfinished bridge by Michelangelo Rear view of arch from underneath
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    Don't miss the salon in the rear

    by icunme Updated Jul 8, 2006

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    This is posted on the "off the Beaten Path" category because I've spoken with so many people who have enjoyed an espresso in AnticoCaffe Greco but completely missed the drawing room in the back. Cafe Greco is one of the three most ancient cafes in the world (one of which is Bagdad's 416-year-old al-Mustansirya cafe by the Tigris), with a very classical atmosphere, red-velvet chairs and marble tables. There are two rooms divided by a broad arch with the library and piano in the first room (Photo 2) and the lovely group of tables and setee against the far wall (Photo 3).
    It is easy to envision Rossini composing here - Gogol writing Dead Souls - Goethe, Keates writing poetry - Byron and Cassanova were regulars - Hans Christian Anderson lived above and list goes on........ If you've lost your muse or simply lost track of her - most likely she's here!

    You don't want to miss the rear salon when you're there..........
    Just off Piazza Spagna on Via Condotti.

    Library and Piano in rear salon Rear drawing room in Cafe Greco
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    Pasquino - the first talking statue of Rome

    by icunme Written Jul 20, 2006

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    In their dual roles as both Pope and King, they were exposed to much criticism. This criticism was soon voiced by the Romans through very short compositions in verse ridiculing their behaviour and opposing their policies.
    Nicholas V (1447-55) was one of the first popes whose action, the bloody repression of a conspiracy, was sharply criticized in a short poem.

    Da quando è Niccolò papa e assassino,
    abbonda a Roma il sangue e scarso è il vino.
    Since Nicholas became pope and murderer,
    blood is abundant in Rome while there is lack of wine.

    The anonymous authors of the poems were often very close to the pope and had direct knowledge of confidential information.

    In 1501 Cardinal Oliviero Carafa erected a small square near Piazza Navona and placed the torso of a statue representing Menelaus with the body of Patroclus. Each year on April 25 the Cardinal chaired a sort of Latin literary competition where poems were posted on the statue. Occasionally this happened outside the competition period as well. In this way Pasquino (the name given to the statue) became the first talking statue of Rome and it is still used from time to time for posting messages and claims. The little square is named after him Piazza di Pasquino and very fittingly the word "pasquinata" (pasquinade) is the word used for a short satire exhibited in a public place.
    Pasquino soon became very popular and especially during the conclaves every night new gossips were posted to influence the election of the new pope. Adrianus VI (1522-23) considered throwing Pasquino into the Tiber and other popes had similar thoughts, but they feared to fall into ridicule by punishing a statue. Severe laws however were issued to stop the practice and Pasquino was put under surveillance. This led to the undesired result of multiplying the talking statues of Rome. (see tip re Marforio)

    Pasquino - the leader of the opposition
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    Piazza Isidre Ruins and Fountain

    by icunme Updated Sep 24, 2006

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    I happened upon this Rome site as I strolled in the Rome neighborhood where once lived. Nestled off Via Labicana just up the hill from the Colosseum on Via Pietro Verri (to your left walking up from the Colosseum), you will find the Piazza Isidre courtyard, steps, ruins and fountain with a detailed descriptive plaque. If you turn left from Via Labicana onto Via Pietro Verri it is right there - no walking, no searching. Many people walk up Labicana from the Colosseum to Via Merulana as two great basilicas are there - Santa Maria Maggiore at one end and San Giovanni at the other. The head and form of the statue Isidre is on display in the Capitolini Museum. There is also a charming restaurant right there at the Piazza - the Temple Isidre cafe. This Piazza was deserted on Saturday around noon, even though tourists were making their way up and down Via Labicana.
    Legend of Iside - She was the spouse and sister of Osiride - they reigned in Egypt until Osiride was murdered by his brother. Iside searched for the coffin of Osiride which had been cast into the Nile. When she recovered the coffin, the culprit tore the body into 14 pieces and cast it into the sea. Iside's search of the sea recovered all the pieces of Osiride's body except one. She restored the life partially and Osiride continued to reign in the afterlife.

    Temple Iside Ruins Piazza Iside and steps - view from ruins Descriptive plaques on Iside ruins Fountain in Piazza Iside Temple Iside ruins detail
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    Film Faces at Casa del Cinema

    by icunme Updated Apr 21, 2006

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    We conducted a presentation here and the facility is just a delight. The screening room rivals any you will find in "Hollywood" (a.k.a. LaLa Land).
    This facility is not relegated to the film industry and is available to all in bella Roma. There is a video room where you can sit and enjoy viewing a movie if you have the time and inclination.
    You will see a revolving collection of great black/white photos of favorite Italian screen actors/directors/producers in some of their most memorable scenes.
    The on-site restaurant and outdoor patio cafe is a great place to meet friends and/or associates (see restaurant tip).
    Take a look - you will be surprised!

    Casa del Cinema in Villa Borghese Screening room on second floor Conference/presentation room on second floor photo display and area for reception catering
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    Michelangelo's House

    by icunme Updated May 22, 2006

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    The large avenue which today connects Porta S. Pancrazio with Gianicolo is embellished by the facade of the Renaissance house (it is only the facade hiding a water reservoir) that was once the facade of the house where Michelangelo lived. It was located near Macel de' Corvi at the foot of Campidoglio when it was his residence. Michelangelo preferred to live there rather than near the Vatican to have a greater privacy. The building was pulled down with the whole area towards the end of the XIXth century and the facade was rebuilt on the street (Via delle Tre Pile) leading to Palazzi del Campidoglio, but in 1941 the need to enlarge this street led to a second move of the facade to its current location.

    Photo and reference text by permission Robert Piperno for non-commercial purpose only

    Facade of Michelangelo's house
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    Did Talking Statue Il Facchino talk too much?

    by icunme Updated Jul 20, 2006

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    Could it be that Il Facchino just talked too much and got punched in the face??

    The only talking statue which is not an ancient Roman statue is Il Facchino (The Porter) which ought to be called L'Acquaiolo (The Seller of Water) which portrays a Renaissance seller of water with his little cask. This trade declined at the end of the XVIth century when Sixtus V started reactivating the ancient Roman aqueducts. The statue is located in Via del Corso near Palazzo Decarolis.

    See other talking statue tips and the first - Pasquino for the amusing history of these very useful voices of dissent.

    Talking Statue Il Facchino  close-up Talking Statue Il Facchino
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    Ghetto

    by chiara76 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Very interesting place for walk.
    There are a lot of really old houses there and there is an unique atmosphere there.
    There are the shops with the kosher products and the shop with interesting stuff.
    You can find medieval buildings in the area of Ghetto.
    The Ghetto in Rome was created in 1555 year by the Pope Paul IV and Jews was forced to move in this area in July,1556.
    It finished in year 1870 when the king Victor Emanuel gave the Jews full citizenship.

    There have been still a lot of Jews living in the neighbourhood.

    Go to the internet page:
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/Rome.html

    Area of Ghetto in Rome.
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    Just Another Exquisite, Unknown Church in Rome

    by Lacristina Updated Apr 1, 2006

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    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:
    Farmacia

    and
    Church

    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.

    Santa Maria della Scala, in Trastevere
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    Marforio - second talking statue

    by icunme Written Jul 20, 2006

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    The history of the talking statues is in the first tip about Pasquino - the leader of the pack.
    Marforio was the second. This colossal statue of a river-god at the foot of the Capitol Hill became soon a second Pasquino. It was named Marforio and it added zest to the lampooning of the popes as Pasquino and Marforio started talking to each other.
    In 1679, with the excuse of preserving a fine antique statue, Marforio was incarcerated inside Palazzo Nuovo di Campidoglio.
    Clemens XI (1700-21) was so interested in Urbino, that Pasquino and Marforio had this little conversation:
    Marforio:- Dimmi: che fai Pasquino? - Pasquino, tell me, what are you doing?
    Pasquino:- Eh, guardo Roma, chè non vada a Urbino. - I watch over Rome, to make sure it's not moved to Urbino.

    Marforio talks with Pasquino
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    Stunning views of Rome from Gianicolo

    by icunme Updated Aug 15, 2006

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    I walked up the Gianicolo today from Vatican square where I had gone to follow the Passetto as it entered the Vatican Papal residence. It was a winding upward trek but very rewarding - especially when I reached the summit.
    Although it is the second tallest hill (Monte Mario being the first) in Rome, the Gianicolo does is not among proverbial Seven Hills of Rome as it is west of the Tiber and outside the formal boundaries of the ancient city. Janiculum (derived from Janus) served as the center for the cult of the god Janus, and the fact that it overlooked the city made it an ideal location for devotees to observe their rights.

    The Janiculum is one of the best locations for a breathtaking vistas of the innumerable domes and bell towers that form the skyline of our architectural landscape.

    Photo 1 - Yep, you guessed it - right there in center left is the Vittorio Emanuelle Monument (some dub it The Vittorio Emanuelle Monstrosity). Love it or loath it - it serves us well as a landmark and has given me bearings as I wondered about, lost in unfamiliar Rome streets.

    Here are just a few of the spectacular views you will have of bella Roma's aerial museum from the Gianicolo.

    Yep - there it is again toward the right If you find it here tell me and I'll replace it! I give up - it might be here somewhere...........
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    Fontanone del Gianicolo (Janiculum)

    by icunme Written Aug 16, 2006

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    This Fontanone del Gianicolo (Janiculum Fountain) was also known as the Fountain of acqua Paola with water from Lake Bracciano flowing through. It was commissioned by Pope Paolo V Borghese (1605-1621) to Giovanni Fontana and Flaminio Ponzio and completed by Carlo Fontana. With an enormous white marble basin, it boasts three wide niches along with two minor ones alongside. Part of the large inscription over the niches says that the pipes of the Alseitana were restored, when in fact, they were from Triana. The columns came from the old St. Peter's Basilica. The papal coat of arms and the figures beside it are the work of Ippolito Buzio. In 1690 Pope Alessandro VIII Ottoboni (1689-91) replaced the five shells at the base of the hydrants with the magnificent, large basin. He opened the space facing the botanical gardens behind with its central arch, thereby constructing the square from which one can view the extraordinary panorama of Rome.

    This square is home to La Terrrazza restaurant - currently hosting the Heidsieck Champagne promotion until September 10, 2006 - and also a small theater for summer performing arts.

    Location: Via Garibaldi going up the hill to Giancolo
    Bus: #15 from Stazioni Giancolo takes you there

    Fontanone del Gianicolo Fontanone Gianicolo and Square Heidsieck Champage promotion at La Terrazza
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    Another Freebie in Roma - Ludovisi Museum

    by icunme Updated Apr 21, 2006

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    Boncompagni Ludovisi Museum of Decorative Arts
    The lovely house features an exhibition of high fashion from the 1950's to 90's and collections of art objects by important 20th century artists.
    The early 20th-century Villa Banceflor Boncompagni Ludovisi keeps its original furnishings (furniture, tapestries, pictures, and pottery) displayed in five rooms. A section devoted to artefacts, decorative arts, fashion, period costumes and design from late 18th to 20th-century is being arranged. The exhibition currently consists of the sections Decoratice Arts from 1900 through 1950 including objects by Italian artists, and The Evening Dress in Italian Haute Couture from 1950 through 1990 including a selection of dresses produced by the oldest Roman fashion houses. Remarkable exhibit: the huge gold, bronze, and silver craddle for the Royal princes created by G. Monteverde in 1901.

    Via Boncompagni 18 - phone 06 42 82 40 74
    Hours: Tue-Sun 9 - 19, Mon closed. Admission free.

    artifacts, decorative, fashion, period costums
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    Madam Lucrezia - Adds her voice to talking statues

    by icunme Updated Sep 7, 2006

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    The mutilated marble bust of a colossal statue of a priestess of Isis near Chiesa di S. Marco became known as Madama Lucrezia and it provided a female character to the little choir of talking statues, which was called il Congresso degli Arguti - the Shrewd Congress.

    The most famous pasquinade is no doubt:
    Quod non fecerunt Barbari
    fecerunt Barberini.
    What the Barbarians did not do (meaning to Rome)
    the Barberini did.

    The target of the pasquinade was Urbanus VIII Barberini (1623-44) who had used the bronze tiles of the Pantheon for the Canopy of St Peter's.

    Madama Lucrezia the female voice of dissent
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