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Christian Rome Tips (125)

San Bernardo alle Terme

In front of the church of St.Susanna, in Piazza San Bernardo there is the church of San Bernardo alle Terme (church of St.Bernard at the Baths of Diocletian).
The church was built in 1598 in one of the spherical tower of the external perimeter of the Baths of Diocletian thanks to Caterina Sforza di Santafiora.
The structure of San Bernardo alle Terme is cylindrical and it is very similar to the Pantheon with a dome and an oculus. The building has a diameter of 22 metersand the decorations of the dome decoration is made with octagonal coffers.
Inside you can see eight statues of saints made by Camillo Mariani (1600). In the Chapel of St Francis there is a sculpture of the saint made by Giacomo Antonio Fancelli.

Cristian_Uluru's Profile Photo
Aug 23, 2009

The English Cemetery

The Cimitero Acattolico. Usually called the English Cemetery or the Protestant Cemetery, even though it was for anyone from anywhere who had to be buried outside of the city walls because they were of the wrong religion. So there are all sorts here, not just English, not just Protestants. I suppose that is why Gramsci, the famous Italian communist is buried here.
This is one of my favourite places in Rome. It never seems to get crowded, and it is a cool, shaded haven where you can wander and consider mortality and such.
It has famous graves, Keats has two, one with his mortal remains and the famous incognito inscription about his name being writ in water, and a more elaborarte but empty sepulchre. It has the heart of Shelley, and Gramsci - oh and lots and lots.
It has a nice collection of, mostly tortoiseshell, cats.
Entrance by donation. Usual sort of opening hours.
It is just behind the pyramid Cestius ordered built for himself so he would be remembered. And, you know, that little scheme worked well.
By the Porta Sao Paolo, which is where over 500 partisans died repulsing the German army from the city in 1943.
And close by the Pyramide metro station. But you can get a bus there too.
Check the link below for transport details etc.
Do go - it's great.

BTW Henry James wrote that Daisy Miller is buried here - but I searched and searched for her grave and couldn't find it. LOL

craic's Profile Photo
Jul 16, 2009

tomb of Constantine's daughter

mausoleum of Santa Costanza :

this church built to house the tomb of Constantine's daughter has beautiful mosaics; alongside it is the church of Sant' Agnese which has interesting catacombs below. Bus 90 from termini via nomentana

Hours: Mon 9-12; Tues-Sat: 9-12, 4-6; Sun: 4-6pm

Same complex is St. Agnes church – ( joined with above ) Opening hours are the same for both at Monday 9am-noon, Tuesday-Saturday 9am-noon and 4pm-6pm and Sunday 4-6pm. There is also the church of Santa Constanza in the same complex which is worth a visit. Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura is easily reached by bus from Termini Station with frequent services including an express service with fewer stops

j3dnight's Profile Photo
Oct 07, 2008

Protestant Cemetery and the Pyramid

A short walk from the Aventine Hill is the Protestant Cemetery (Cimitero Acattolico), where non-Catholics are buried. The peaceful space next to the ancient Roman wall is crowded with tombstones and memorials. Placid cats wander along the narrow paths, and trees reach upwards to the sky. The most famous graves are those of poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Keats lies alongside his faithful friend Joseph Severn, in a grassy space overlooked by the gleaming white walls of the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius (Piramide di Caio Cestio). This Roman noble rather fancied the idea of the Egyptian pyramids, and thought it might be nice to have one of his own; he was buried here in 12BC.
Here lies one whose name was writ on water

The Pyramid is only opened occasionally; but you can get a good view from the street and from the Protestant Cemetery.

If the Grand Tourists and Rome's connections with English poetry interest you; the Keats-Shelley House is also well-worth a visit. Right next to the busy Spanish Steps, the museum is peaceful and charmingly old-fashioned; displays include relics of the two poets (Keats died in this building) and their contemporaries.

gigina's Profile Photo
Aug 31, 2008
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Basilica di San Clemente

This attractive church is a few minutes walk from the Colosseum, up Via di San Giovanni in Laterano. The basilica is airy, with an attractive cloister. A gorgeous mosaic in the apse is rich and colourful, with charming animal details. But the best attraction lies underground. In the Basilica di San Clemente, three levels of history are preserved one above the other. Below the present church, which was begun in 1108 and reconstructed six centuries later, lies an older church. This is an extremely ancient place of worship, and was mentioned by St Jerome in 392. It was destroyed by the Normans, and the later church was built above it, but you can still walk around the earlier structure and admire some remarkable frescoes. These include a fine account of the life of St. Alexis - read the entertaining text provided.

The deepest level consists of ancient Roman constructions, including a narrow alleyway and an assortment of small rooms including an early Christian meeting place. The most interesting section is the Mithraeum, with its characteristic stone benches and Mithraic altar, and a Mithraic 'schoolroom'.

Tip: the small shop/ticket office sells a very good range of postcards, including details of the mosaic which make good gifts and Christmas cards. Entrance to the subterranean archeological site is €3.

gigina's Profile Photo
Aug 31, 2008

Santo Stefano Rotondo

This church, newly restored and only recently re-opened, is unmissable. It's an entirely different experience to the magnificent grandiosity of so many Roman churches.

Tucked away between the Colosseum and San Giovanni in Laterano, it's hard to believe that this quiet (ish) area is so near the centre of the modern city. The round church really is ancient; it was built in the 460s AD.

It's a hugely atmopheric place, its two concentric rings of columns touched by the light that floods in through the 22 windows. There are four chapels (all closed off when I visited, for restoration work is ongoing, so that the structure forms a cross shape. Some of the original Roman black-and-white mosaic flooring has been left in situ, and the whole structure overlies and earlier Mithraeum (as is often the case in Rome).

Around the inner wall are frescoes of martyrs, showing in detail the manner of their deaths. Fascinatingly gruesome, and an indication of the workings of the Medieval religious mind (they date from the sixteenth century).

It's worth taking some time out to visit this church: it is really special. My travelogue has more photos:

Via Santo Stefano Rotondo runs from Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterano, or you can access it by walking up Via Claudia from the Colosseum (it's on the right). The church is at the Via Claudia end, but the entrance isn't very obvious (which is why I've put it as the main photo). Open usual Roman church times, roughly 7/8 - 12 and 3- 7.

leics's Profile Photo
Mar 31, 2008

Case Romane

Interesting place this. Basically, it's a series of Roman rooms, many with frescoes, discovered underneath the church of San Giovanni e Paulo, tucked away in a remarkably quiet area near the Colosseum.

The 5th century church stands over a complex of several Roman houses which was discovered by an excavating priest in 1887. The site is said to include where the martyrs Giovanni and Paulo lived (hence the dedication of the church). Executed in the reign of Julian the Apostate, they were supposedly buried in their own house so there are various (later) altars and shrines to them within.

In the third century the houses were combined into one larger dwelling, and the whole complex is a good example of how buildings changed and adapted over the whole Roman period.

The wall frescoes are, to be honest, somewhat primitive in execution but nevertheless worth seeing, particularly if one has seen more adept frescoes elsewhere. They show more clearly what 'ordinary' well-off romans had in their houses, rather than the beautiful and laborate decorations of the super-wealthy one sees in museums and palaces.

Worth seeking out this place, I think. The little museum within is particularly well set-out.

Open every day except Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 - 1 and from 3 - 6. Admission 6 euros. Guided tours available at weekends (need booking).

The entrance is on Clivio de Scauro. Walk down Via di S. Gregorio from the Colosseum: Clivio di Scauro is on the left (with your back to the Colosseum), off the Viale del Parco del Cielo.

leics's Profile Photo
Mar 30, 2008

Caravaggio Masterpieces in San Luigi dei Francesi

Even if you have no interest in art, even if you’ve never heard of Caravaggio, pay a visit to this church and the famous Contarelli Chapel (the first chapel on the left closest to the altar). If you’re near Piazza Navona, you’re less than 5 minutes away. Bring some coins with you to turn on the timed lights for the chapel.

The photo is of one of the three famous Caravaggio masterpieces – paintings on the life of St. Matthew, which marked a turning point in his career. This is the “Calling of St. Matthew” and shows the masterful technique for which Caravaggio is so famous – the use of light and dark – which so many followers imitated. Note the dark void between Christ (with the halo) and St. Peter, and Matthew the tax collector and his colleagues. And see how the dramatically lit hand of Christ visually and metaphorically crosses the void as he calls Matthew, and Matthew seems to say, “Who, me?”

The earliest of the three paintings is the one on the right, “The Martyrdom of St. Matthew”. The last was the altar piece "The Inspiration of St. Matthew." Matthew, one of the four gospel writers, as was customary, is pictured with an angel, just as Luke is usually pictured with an ox, John with an Eagle and Mark with a lion.

See this website for better reproductions of these and other works of Caravaggio.

Near the chapel, the church has placed a small display and explanation of the paintings in French, Italian and English.

The church (facade designed by Giacomo della Porta) is dedicated to St. Louis IX, king and patron saint of France, who lead the crusades. But the facade isn't stylistically representative of della Porta. It is relatively austere and static compared to Il Gesu'. One of my knowledgeable friends wonders if the French commission required something more sedate.

Address: 5 Piazza San Luigi dei Francesi / Via Santa Giovanna d'Arco. Between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.

Hours: 8:00 a.m. to noon - 3:30 to 7:00 p.m.

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Feb 22, 2008
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The Underground of Santa Cecilia Basilica

It is located in Trastevere (Piazza di Santa Cecilia 22)
The first church of Santa Cecilia was founded probably in the 5th century, by Pope Urban I, and devoted to the Roman martyr Cecilia. Tradition holds that the church was built over the house of the saint. The baptistery of this church, together with the remains of a Roman Imperial house, was found during some excavations under the Chapel of the Relics. In the synod of 499 of Pope Symmachus, the church is indicated with the Titulus Ceciliae. On 22 November 545, Pope Vigilius was celebrating the saint in the church, when the emissary of Empress Theodora, Antemi Scribone, captured him.
Pope Paschal I rebuilt the church in 822, and moved here the relics of St Cecilia from the catacombs of St Calixtus. More restorations followed in the 18th century.
The Cardinal Priest of the Titulus S. Caeciliae is Carlo Maria Martini. Among the previous titulars are Pope Stephen III, Thomas Wolsey and Giuseppe Maria Doria Pamphili.
If possible try to visit the Cavallini Frescoes on the upper floor. They are available only Tuesday and Thursday from 10 to 11.30 and Sundy morning at 11.30 for about 30 minutes.

abarbieri's Profile Photo
Feb 20, 2008

Surprising view of St. Peter's Cupola

For those who would like to get a better view of St.Peter's Cupola, I suggest to get to Via Piccolomini. Due to an optical illusion it seems huge but this changes when you move towards the Cupola itself.
By car/taxi it takes about 10 minutes to get to Via Piccolomi from the Vatican.
On YouTube you can watch an abstract from Antonioni's movie "L'Avventura" where you can see Via Piccolomini in the 1960:

abarbieri's Profile Photo
Feb 14, 2008

Mass in Jesus language

Church of Santa Maria in Campo Marzio
Via di Campo Marzio 45/a
(not far from the Pantheon)

Eastern Catholic Church with syriac rites obedient to the Pope. Sunday Mass (10.30am) is celebrated in Aramaic.
The church is not open to the public but stays open for little time after Mass.

abarbieri's Profile Photo
Feb 06, 2008

Chasing Bernini (Gian Lorenzo - The Son)

A special itinerary in Rome that will allow you to discover most of the masterpieces by the great Italian Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini (born in Naples 1598 - died in Rome 1680) , son of Pietro Bernini (artist himself). :

Basilica of Santa Prassede
(few minutes walk from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore)
Tomb of Bishop Giovan Battista Santoni (One of the earliest works, he was 17 yrs. old)

Borghese Gallery (several statues)

Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria (see my other tip about it!!)

Barberini Palace and Barberini Square
(several busts, paintings and the 2 fountains on the square)

Church of Santa Bibiana
Via G.Giolitti 154
"Statue of Santa Bibiana"

Church of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale
Via del Quirinale 29
The entire church project was given to Bernini

Church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte
Via S.Andrea delle Fratte 1
2 Angel statues near the main altar

Spanish Steps
The "Barcaccia" fountain by Pietro & GianLorenzo Bernini

Church of Santa Maria del Popolo (Chigi Chapel)
Piazza del Popolo 12
"Abacuc and the Angel" + "Daniel"

Church of San Lorenzo in Lucina
Piazza S.Lorenzo in Lucina
"Bust of Gabriele Fonseca"

Capitoline Museum (
Piazza del Campidoglio 1
The "Head of Medusa"

Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Piazza della Minerva
funeral memorial of Sister Maria Raggi

Church del Gesù (
Piazza del Gesù
Monument to San Roberto Bellarmino

Navona Square
"Four River Fountain"

Basilica and Square of San Pietro (Vatican)
Few funeral monuments, the St. Peter's Chair, the Scala Regia, the bronze canopy above the main altar and the square with its colonnade.

Church of San Francesco a Ripa
Piazza S. Francesco d'Assisi 88 (Trastevere)
Monument of Ludovica Albertoni

Church of Santa Maria di Monserrato
Via Giulia 151
"Bust of Monsignor Pedro de Foix Montoya"

He also took part to several architectural projects not listed here!!

abarbieri's Profile Photo
Feb 06, 2008

Things To Do in Rome

Things to do

Trevi Fountain - Fontana di Trevi

more pictures of the renovation of the famous fountain when we visited last year. The trevi fountain was fully restored in August of 2015 and I hope to com back again to see it this time in it's full...
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Fontana del Facchino – ‘The Porter’

One of the things we loved in Rome was the fact that in between 2 major sites we were facing here and there some beautiful corners, small details on the walls, sculptures, beautiful facades of unknown...
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Time Elevator

If you're hot and tired and feel like resting your feet for a while, the Time Elevator is an entertaining distraction. You are seated on a moving platform and experience an audio visual show. The...
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Piazza Barberini

After checking in at the hotel we took the metro into the city center and Barberini square was the first thing we saw. Piazza Barberini was created in the 16th century and took its name from the...
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Museo Delle Cere

Think we paid Eu7 entry August 2009 I understand was Eu8 by 2010. Could walk through in 10 minutes! Figures likenesses range from the unremarkable to the fairly bad. There is a 1940s ensemble of...
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Chiesa San Ignazio di Loyola

Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola was built in 1626 by pope Gregory XV on the site of an older church. It is dedicated to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order, and is thus a...
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