Rome, as the largest and most densely populated city in Italy, and the nation’s capital, has a lot of expectations to live up to. Often when people think of Italy, they will think of Rome. As the heart of the ancient Roman Empire, and the home of the Vatican, Rome holds much significance for tourists and native Italians alike.
Rome’s architecture alone is of a wide enough variety and grand enough scale to instill awe in just about anyone. Rome contains many famous structures from a wide range of architectural traditions, including early Classical and Imperial Roman, Romanesque and Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Fascist. The Classical and Imperial styles employed marble, gold, and the use of archways, exemplified in ancient palaces and the Colosseum. The Romanesque style typically utilized semi-circular arches, as seen in Rome’s Basilica di San Clemente. Romanesque architecture led to the Gothic style, which employed long, tall geometric spires and arches, with naves and vivid golden mosaics.
There are not many Gothic style churches in Rome; however, buildings fashioned in this style include Santa Maria in Trastevere and Torre delle Milizie. The Renaissance saw more natural architecture become fashionable with open-air galleries, canopies with column supports, and grand entrances into palaces and ornate homes. Baroque architecture was inspired by Classical, but took it a step toward the ornate with big squares adorned by obelisks and fountains, like the Piazza Venezia, the Palazzo Madam and the Palazzo Montecitorio. Neoclassical architecture was directly inspired by the ancient Greek style and characterized by large, solid walls and high, imposing columns. The Fascist period in Italy brought buildings that were solid and cubic, roughly based on ancient Rome, and is best exhibited in the design of the Palazzo della Civilta Italiana, the “Square Colosseum.”
Art museums in Rome range from the ancient, such as the Palazzo Colonna, a palatial work of art itself, to the contemporary. The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea is dedicated to two missions: retaining the link to ancient Italian culture and making it possible to support the “living” of art. Naturally influenced by the city’s 3,000 years of history, modern Roman culture is nonetheless vibrant and fresh. Rome plays host to several popular annual events, including the Rome Marathon, the music festival Primo Maggio, the Roma Independent Film Festival and the FotoGrafia festival.
If visitors to Rome find they are overwhelmed and exhausted with touring her multitudinous historical sites and massive cathedrals and palaces, they can relax in an outdoor café, drink espresso and enjoy some gelato. Gelato is the ancient Italian frozen desert which inspired modern ice cream, but is vastly different with its low butterfat content and high amount of sugar, perfect for an afternoon break.
Rome was not built in a day, and it certainly cannot all be seen in one, either. To fully appreciate the grandeur of this venerable city, it is important to slow down and take one’s time. Also, travelers do not necessarily have to book tours and explore museums to experience the city. One can soak up the culture of Rome while simply sitting on a fountain edge and watching nuns and pedestrians pass, or walking along the Tiber River as the clouds float lazily by.
- Italy: When in Rome, doing what Romans do (kryzzk.wordpress.com)
- Rome Must-Dos (leggotunglei808.wordpress.com)
- Top City Travel Guide Tours (CityGuideTours.com)