I have just returned from Rome and have fallen in love with this wonder of a city all over again!
A city with such ancient monuments such as The Pantheon, Colosseum and Roman Forum and works of art by Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.
And of course the country within the city! The Vatican, the world’s smallest nation, headed by the Pope, housing within its walls the ornate St Peter’s Basilica (the world’s largest church), magnificent Piazza San Pietro and the astonishing Sistine Chapel.
Then there are all the lovely piazza’s and fountains – Piazza Navona, one of Rome’s loveliest squares; Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Barberini (which is centred on Bernini’s Triton Fountain), Piazza del Popolo and of course Fontana di Trevi – all of which you can admire while enjoying Italian coffee from the side-walks.
You can risk sitting on the Spanish Steps (not encouraged these days and likely to be moved on by the Police) imagining the romantic poets Keats and Shelley doing the same, or take a stroll through Villa Borghese.
Rome is of course home to numerous magnificent museums too, such as Musei Capitolini, Museo Nazionale Romano and Villa Giulia which is home to magnificent national collection of Etruscan antiquities.
The city is also home to many early Christian churches such as St Peter’s Basilica and Santa Maria Maggiore, one of Rome’s greatest basilicas, which dates from the 5th century. Not to mention the many Renaissance and Baroque churches.
I was lucky enough to do an excursion to Viterbo which is approx. 1.5 hour’s drive from Rome. Viterbo is a lovely medieval town that still today preserves the largest medieval district in Europe. It experienced its period of greatest splendour during the Middle Ages, and in particular the thirteenth century when the city hosted the Papal See for 24 years. The Papal Palace is the most important historic monument of Viterbo. Several areas of the Palace can be visited including the majestic Aula del Concave, so called for hosting the first and longest conclave in the history of the church, lasting approximately 33 months between 1268 and 1271. I would really recommend including a visit to Viterbo for your groups if they have the time or if driving from Rome to Florence to make a stop on route.
Although I did not get a chance to visit this time (next time!) also a little outside Rome are the wonderful Villas of Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa. Villa d’Este built in the 16th century is the renowned for its gardens and features 100 fountains. Hadrian’s Villa, built as Hadrian’s summer retreat between AD 118 and 34, contains full-scale reproductions of the emperor’s favourite buildings from Greece and Egypt. The ruins include temples and theatres.
There isn’t a better time to visit (or re-visit) Rome! 2019 is The Year of Leonardo: 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci and 2020 is the Year of Raffaello (Raphael): 500 years since his death.
I for one will definitely be returning!
Operations & Business Development Executive