23 Nov 2015

Rome: the historic centre (1)

Our trips to Italy wouldn't be complete without spending some time in Rome's historic centre.  We've stayed overnight in the city if we've wanted to make an early start when visiting popular sites, but these days we travel in by train for the day. This last visit was exciting for our grandson who wanted to see places that he's been studying at school, especially the remains of buildings from the Roman period. Here are some general photos that I took on the day together with others from previous trips into Rome:-

Porta Maggiore - a city gate formed by the aqueduct built by Emperor Claudius in AD 52

The photos were taken from the train window as we travelled in from our provincial town.  When we pass through the countryside near the Alban Hills and see towns such as Colonna, the remains of Roman aqueducts and other ruins we know that we're not far from the city.  Before coming into the station the train slows down and usually stops next to Porta Maggiore and I remember the first time we lived in Rome in an apartment a few tram stops away from this area.  (This was before we had built our house in the countryside, when my husband worked in Rome.  My husband's half brother and his wife lived nearby. We built up a close relationship and I enjoyed the busy atmosphere of the city even though I was occupied with looking after two young children and didn't have the opportunity to explore the historical centre at that time).

Via Casilina
a tram in the Via Casilina area

Every time we've been into Rome in the past couple of years we've noticed the makeover to the major monuments in the historic centre (which is a ENESCO World Heritage Site).  This has meant that many of them have been covered in scaffolding, tarpaulin or wooden boards. Some fountains have been drained of water in order that the marble and stonework could be cleaned.  Construction work is also being done on the infrastructure of the city. Some of these projects are being funded by private companies; Tod's is financing works at the Colosseum, Fendi has refurbished the Trevi Fountain and Bulgari is working on the Spanish Steps. There's a rush to complete these projects, at least by Spring 2016, in time for many of the Vatican's Jubilee Year events, although the official date for the beginning of this special year starts next month on the 8th December.  Of course, there's so much else to experience in this fascinating city, but everyone wants to see the iconic major sites when visiting Rome for the first time.

Whilst we were in Rome in September we made our way to the Trevi Fountain to see what was taking place there regarding the project to clean the sculptures and water bowl surrounding this magnificent structure.

A perspex wall had been placed around the fountain and the water drained from the basin so, of course, there was no opportunity to throw those coins into it as has been the tradition for many years.

The site of the Trevi Fountain originally marked the end of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct built in 19 BC although the fountain was only constructed in 1762.  The central figure is Neptune with two Tritons on either side each with a horse. One horse strikes a wild pose and the other looks more docile symbolising the two contrasting moods of the sea.

These are the photos I took through the perspex wall.
Thankfully the water was turned back on recently and the Trevi opened again to the public and I'm looking forward, hopefully, to returning next year to see the results of the cleaning and to compare the before and after look. (Photos below were taken in 2011)

On the corner of one of the streets that leads into the Piazza di Trevi there's a strine on the wall of the building. These sacred pictures of the Madonna have been placed here and there in the narrow thoroughfares throughout the old city and are called Madonelle by the Romans.  The icons have a long history and originate from the custom of placing small pagan altars in honour of the deities that were important to wayfarers at the intersection of streets.  These pagan images were then replaced by Christian ones.  The oldest ones appeared in the 15th century and over the centuries were embellished with elaborate frames, canopies and other decorations. Below is another in the same area along Via Pilotta where Via San Vincenzo leads into Piazza di Trevi.

Via Pilotta is a beautiful street.  On one side is Palazzo Colonna with its 17th century art gallery which is open to the public and contains some fine paintings and on the other are the gardens of one of the villas on the Quirinale Hill.  Each section of Palazzo Colonna has a private walkway across the street into the Quirinale grounds.

Further along this street is the Gregorian University whose entrance faces Piazza della Pilotta.

Piazza della Pilotta

As you can imagine there's a lot to see as a visitor wanders around just a few of the back streets and piazzas in one area without even going into any of the churches, art galleries or museums.  As I study the guide books dedicated to the rich history of Rome I begin to appreciate the finer details of architecture, sculptures, street furniture and the ancient stones beneath my feet.   

I'll continue with our walk around Rome when we went to the Roman Forums, the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the churches on the Quirinal Hill before returning to the main train station another time.


  1. Que bella! The best three months of my life were spent as a student in Rome, and I love to see pictures of the Eternal City. I always loved wandering the back streets, especially near the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Thanks for the info about the little shrines - I never knew their history before.

  2. Thanks for showing pictures of Rome, I was there with my sister for a few days some years ago before the Trevi fountain was cleaned and I was there one day with my husband, he was amazed and so impressed of the Pantheon. We only visited the Historic Centre with the wonderful old monuments. I definitely have to go back with my husband because there is so much to see.......
    Looking forward to next post about Rome.

  3. I've never been to Rome so your post has given me a mini tour. There seems to be so much to see here and so much history, I think you'd need to spend some time in order to see everything. I'm sure your grandson will have lots of happy memories of the time you spent here together and it will help his studies too, it's good to actually see the places you're learning about.

  4. I've never been to rome so it was wonderful to see all your photos. I had read somewhere that the iconic Trevi fountain was being dismantled for refurbishment, it looks as if the work is nearly done. How wonderful to live for some time in such an historic and beautiful place:)

  5. The Roman countryside coming into the city is lovely and the city itself so beautiful. There is so much history. With our oldest colony dating back to just 1607 it's amazing to see so many places that date back to the the time of Christ and before. Lord willing, I hope we can visit Italy again one day.

  6. can't wait to see the Colosseum. bob and i were talking this past week about the old archtecture in Europe, this kind of OLD.. and how hard it had to be for them to build all these wonderful works of art without our modern day tech skills... love the horses and rocks pic and the angels especailly... Rome, a wonderful place to roam... pun intended.

  7. A lovely tour of Rome Linda, thank you. I am very familiar with that beautiful fountain but only from movies and from books. Hopefully I will get to see it in person one day.

  8. I've thrown my pennies into the Trevi fountain and wandered around many of the sights posted here. It was fun to see your pictures and recall our lovely tour through the ancient ruins as well as the better preserved sites. Thanks!

  9. The sculpture is breathtaking for sure. I can't get enough of those angels and cherubs.Such a stunning fountain too. Looking forward to hearing more!xxx

  10. A great place to see the very old mixed with the new! I would very much like to spend time in that fascinating city.

  11. Your photos bring back so many memories of walking in Rome, getting lost walking in Rome, and finding wonderful sights.

  12. merci merci de cette visite Italienne
    la belle fontaine de Travi vu dans le film avec Marcello Mastroianni "La dolce vita "
    Il est de coutume de jeter une pièce de monnaie par le bras droit en tournant le dos à la fontaine avant de quitter « la ville éternelle »
    moi qui bouge très peu voila une belle visite d'une ville mytique
    bon dimanche

  13. Hi Linda! Italy is really a beautiful country that I would like to visit. Amazing pictures!!

    Sandra xXx

  14. Some how these lovely posts have not shown in my Bloglovin feed. I liked that aspect of Rome, how we could just wander down some street and enter a church or see something not even in a book. The Trevi fountain was all scaffolded when we were there, but not the Spanish steps at the time. Maybe someday I will see it with water. Lovely tour. xoxo Su

    1. During maintenance and cleaning projects on major monuments those who visit Rome, perhaps for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, must be disappointed to find that they're covered up. It's good that the Trevi fountain is now open and the water is flowing once more.


Thank you for your kind comment which is much appreciated. Have a lovely day.