The Perfect Weekend in Rome – Day Two

First time in Rome? Marijana Milićević takes you on tour for the perfect weekend in the eternal city.

The eternal city is always an unforgettable experience for everyone who visits it. As all roads lead to Rome, a weekend off, a map and a good bicycle can help you to move the very first steps in the city of countless surprises. Therefore, after Saint Peter and Castel San’t Angelo, we also accompany you during your second day in Rome.

Museum of the Ara Pacis

The original name of the Ara Pacis is actually Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace). The building of this monument was ordered by the Senate in the northern part of the Field of Mars, in order to honor the first Roman emperor, Octavian Augustus, and the prosperity that he had brought to Rome. The excavations of the lost Ara Pacis began in the sixteenth century and, after major works in 1938, Benito Mussolini solemnly presented the restored monument. When the Ara Pacis was built, Octavian Augustus decided to make a large sundial, named Augustus’s sunny hour. Also, it was believed that, near the Mausoleum, there was the Ustrinum – a room where, in the fourteenth century, August’s mortal remains were burned.

Ticket: 10,5 euros.

ara pacis
Museum of the Ara Pacis

Piazza di Spagna

This is one of the most famous Roman squares. It got its name from the palace that hosts the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See. There are three significant monuments in the square. The first one is the column of the immaculate conception. Designed by the famous architect Luigi Poletti and built by 220 workmen, it was presented on December 8, 1857. The pillar is dedicated to the dogma of the immaculate conception, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX, according to which the Virgin Mary was the only human being born without the original sin. At its basis, there are four bronze statues representing the prophets Moses, David, Isaiah and Ezekiel. However, the original pillar is from ancient Rome and was discovered in 1778, during the excavation of the Mars field.

The second cultural point of interest is the Fontana della Barcaccia (literally the ‘ugly boat’), placed at the foot of the Spanish Steps. Its building was ordered by Pope Urban VIII, who commissioned the famous architects Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who were also father and son. The fountain has the shape of a boat that is sinking, as it is believed that it was modeled on a ship that was stranded right where the fountain is today, due to the sixteenth century flood of the River Tiber. Decorations such as the Sun and the bees are the symbols of the then papal Barberini family.

The third monument are the famous Spanish Stairs already mentioned above, created during the mandate of Pope Benedict VIII. The purpose of these majestic stairs was to link the then Embassy of Spain with the church of Trinità dei Monti. Before, these two buildings were poorly interconnected due to the difference in altitude of their two construction sites.

Piazza di Spagna, Roma

Trevi Fountain

From the Colosseum to the Forum, the glow of the Roman Empire can still be felt. However, Fontana Di Trevi is one of the grandest buildings of the newer age and its beauty attracts millions of tourists. It is located on the site of the ancient Roman spring water source and was made of the same material used for the Colosseum. Both Pope Clement XII and the architect Nicola Salvini should be thanked for one of the most famous fountains in the world, adorning Rome since the 18th century.

At the first level of the fountain, you can see the relief of a girl, to which Agrippa showed the source of water. The Aqua Virgo aqueduct is believed to have been named after her, although it is more likely that the name comes from the word ‘vergine‘, that in Italian means clean and fresh (water). In the central part of the fountain, there is a sculpture of Neptune, the god of freshwater. Neptune drives a carriage with two sea horses, while on his sides there are the Tritons, the gods of the sea. It is assumed that these are the sons of Neptune, also known as sea fighters. One of the sea horses is restless, while the other one is calm, symbolically showing both faces of the sea. All sculptures are the work of Pietro Bracci.

The second name of this impressive building is the Fountain of Valentines. Indeed, in the lower part of the fountain, on the side of Via della Stamperia, there are two drinking fountains. It is believed that, if lovers drink water from these, they will remain eternally in love. This detail shows that, besides its history, culture and architecture, Rome has also an evocative romantic side.

trevi fountain
Trevi Fountain by night

Pantheon

Today, two thousand years after it was built, the temple of all gods takes its breath away for its magnificent beauty and monumentality. Modeled on the design of the Parthenon in Athens, its elegance and harmony give us an idea about how much the Roman empire was powerful. When Michelangelo first stood in front of the temple, he thought that the Pantheon was built by angels, not by humans.

In Greek, the word ‘pantheon‘ means ‘temple of all gods’.  It is still not clear how the Pantheon managed to resist to all the attacks by barbarians. So, the Pantheon is the only undamaged building from the period of the ancient Rome. According to legend, it was built on the same place where Romulus, mythological founder of Rome, rose up to heaven. The Pantheon was built in 120 by the emperor Hadrian, who loved architecture and, with the help of two Greek architects, Apolodorus and Damascus, himself took part in the construction of the temple. In 609 A.D., the temple became a church.

On April 21, the afternoon sun rays reflect on the metal rod above the entrance, illuminating so the whole front of the building. The Romans celebrate this date as the day the city was founded, the Christmas of Rome. Nowadays, this building is still a church named Basilica of Saint Mary and Martyrs, but everybody knows it as Pantheon.

Pantheon

We have come to the end of the second day, and nostalgia already takes us. However, we will wait for you in our last day in Rome!