ROME — Centro Storico

This is the part of Rome that is made for wandering up hidden alleyways made of cobblestones and for sitting at one of the many cafes drinking the perfect cup of coffee. In this area there are magnificent monuments, museums and churches containing some truly wonderful art as well as some charming squares. It is the area that most people come to Rome to visit.

The sights found here are:
Chiesa di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
Pantheon
Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi
Chiesa di Santa Maria Della Pace
Palazzo Altemps
Piazza Navona
Campo de’Fiori
Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Della Valle
Museo di Roma
Palazzo Farnese

Chiesa di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
This is Rome’s only Gothic church. You will find a beautiful chapel frescoed by Fillipino Lippi and to the left of the apse is Michelangelo’s Risen Christ carrying a rather small marble cross. Note that the modest brown drapery was added later. Under the altar is the body of St Catherine of Siena. After St Catherine died, her head was separated from her body and now the head is in Siena, where she was born. In the passage to the left of the choir, surrounded by a small fence, is the floor tomb of the great monastic painter Fra Angelico. Be sure to see the sculpture of the baby elephant carrying a small obelisk designed by Bernini in the piazza outside.

Pantheon

Pantheon
This remarkable building is one of the architectural wonders of the world and possibly the most famous because of its dome and its concept of space. It is 43m wide and 43m high, a perfect sphere resting in a cylinder. It has stood for about 2000 years and is still perfectly intact. This is truly an amazing building and you will find that it is always crowded as this is one of the most popular attractions in Rome but do spend time to take it all in. It was built in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa and was reconstructed by Hadrian in the early 2nd century AD.

Traveller's Tip

Ignore the crowds to make sure you take your time to gaze up at the truly magnificent dome.

Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi
The most memorable things about this church are the three magnificent paintings by Caravaggio — The Calling of Saint Matthew, Martyrdom and Saint Matthew and the Angel. They are known as the St Matthew Cycle.

Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pace

Chiesa di Santa Maria Della Pace
The main feature of the church is the Bramante cloister. Built in 1500 for Cardinal Oliviero Carafa, it was the first work of Donato Bramante in the city. It has two floors, the first with arcades on pilasters, the second with arcades on pilasters and columns. According to legend, blood flowed from a statue of the Virgin above the altar here after someone threw a pebble at it. This legend motivated Pope Sixtus to rebuild the church in the 1500s on the foundations of an even older sanctuary. For generations it was one of the most fashionable churches for aristocrats residing in the surrounding palazzos.

Palazzo Altemps

Palazzo Altemps
The Palace of Altemps is one of the most interesting examples of Renaissance architecture in Rome. Construction was started by Girolamo Riario in 1477 in the place where in ancient times marble workshops existed, possibly with a temple of Apollo nearby. Since 1997 it has been one of the four centres, which comprise the National Roman Museum. In the palace are Renaissance and Baroque sculptures such as the famous Boncompagni Ludovisi collection — the rich 16th century collection of Asdrubale and Ciriaco Mattei. It also houses the Altemps collection, which includes 16 statues reacquired by the State, four of which are located under the arches of the gatehouse. Among these collections are some very famous works of art, such as the Birth of Venus which forms part of the Ludovisi Collection, probably dating back to the 5th century BC. Further examples include Orestes and Electra embracing and saying farewell to each other and Aries, described by as “the most beautiful representation of Mars from antiquity”. There is an important collection of statues in the Sala delle Feste and there are also Roman copies of original Greek works.
For further information visit the website at http://www.roma2000.it/zmunaro.html

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona
This would have to be on one of the most beautiful squares in Rome despite the many hawkers trying to sell you everything from fake handbags to toys. It is full of street performers; old buildings; restaurants; fountains and there is no traffic. Sit back at one of the many cafes and enjoy a cappuccino or gelato and indulge in people-watching.

Campo de’Fiori

Campo de’Fiori
This is a large square in the heart of Rome where you can feel like one of the locals. There are many cafes and bars to soak up the friendly atmosphere and do some ‘people watching’. It is the home of a great flower and vegetable market in the mornings and in the evening the bars and restaurants are lively, noisy and a fun place to be. Make sure you visit the surrounding streets for clothing shops.

Traveller's Tip

Stay in one of the many private apartments that are found in the surrounding streets leading to this square. If you are lucky you will find yourself staying in a 16th century building furnished with wonderful antiques and living the life of a true citizen of the city.
Campo Square

Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Della Valle
Puccini set the first act of his opera, Tosca in this church. Its most striking feature is the dome which is the second highest in Rome after St Peters. It also houses some magnificent and large frescoes by Mattia Preti depicting the story of St Andrew’s martyrdom as well as frescoes by Domenichino depicting episodes from the life of the Saint.

Museo di Roma
The Museum of Rome is in the 18th century Palazzo Braschi, near the Piazza Navona. It contains a wide variety of articles relating to the history of the city from the Middle Ages to the first half of the 20th century housed over two floors. The building itself is beautiful with frescoed halls and the magnificent Chinese and Egyptian rooms.
For more information visit the website at:http://en.museodiroma.it

Palazzo Farnese

Palazzo Farnese
This palace located on Piazza Farnese is a magnificent example of Renaissance architecture. It is three stories tall and the facade is very imposing. Today it is the French Embassy and the embassy offers free tours (in French and Italian only) of their palace's historic rooms four times a week. You'll need to send a letter or e-mail to reserve tickets, one to four months in advance (depending on the time of year), specifying the number in your party, when you wish to visit, and a local phone number, for confirmation a few days before the visit.
For more information visit the website at:
http://www.ambafrance-it.org/spip.php?article414

Traveller's Tip

Michaelangelo was one of the architects of the Palazzo Farnese and the grand cornice and central balcony are his work.