All roads lead to Rome

Rome, capital of the Roman Empire, capital of culture, dazzling architecture, refinement and gastronomy is rich in history and has left grandiose buildings and statues in every nook and cranny of its winding streets and alleys. 

For a taste of the Roman Empire, the Pantheon is ideal. The best of the best contributed to this temple dedicated to all of the Roman Gods over 20 centuries ago. This imposing building has lasted over two millennia due to its universally consented value and importance of its survival. There is some mystery as to how exactly it was used as it is quite unique compared to all other temples. The dome is a feat of engineering in its proportions and structure, the many different materials used as well as the oculus, or hole, which is the largest ever dared and provides all the light in this huge building to this day. 

For a peek into Roman life, we cannot praise the Piazza Navona enough. It has been a major centre for life and entertainment since 96AD when the first Roman stadium was built (with mock naval battles). It remained a meeting place through the centuries, eventually being paved over in the 15th century to host a prosperous market. Romans shopped, gossiped and relaxed here for three centuries, before the market fully gave way to artists and entertainers.

Of course no major public space would be complete without works of art. There are three grand statues, Bernini's monumental Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, the Fontana del Moro and the Fontana del Nettuno. Two buildings around this square also stand out; the façade of Chiesa di Sant'Agnese in Agone, designed by Francesco Borromini, and the 17th-century Palazzo Pamphilj. 

Another iconic sight of Rome is that huge sprawling baroque fountain, so popular in rom-coms, but also in real life. You guessed it, it's the Trevi Fountain. An obligatory photo stop for tourists and the largest baroque fountain in Rome at 26m high and 20m wide, legend has it that if you throw a coin into it you are guaranteed to return. Its history dates back to the Roman era where the central statue of Neptune in his chariot brought water from the virgin source, through an aqueduct, most of it underground and built in 19BC. This ancient statue has been integrated to the existing design.
Built where St. Peter was martyred in the circus of Nero, St. Peter's basilica was until recently the largest basilica in the world and can host 20,000 people.It was restored and enlarged in the 15th to 17th century by masters of their craft such as Michelangelo and Bernini. One of these additions is the beautiful Sistine chapel, home of Giotto's frescoes. If you can only visit one thing in Rome, this is it. Monumental yet graceful, full of history and still making it, St. Peter's Basilica is truly unique.

The adjoining St. Peter's square is colossal and graceful, capable of hosting thousands of faithful coming to hear the Pope. Designed by Bernini between 1656 and 1667, it does not fail to inspire with its hundreds of columns and 140 statues of saints measuring 2.4 metres high. The avenue leading to the square and basilica is relatively new, but only adds to the dramatic views.

The Vatican Palaces, built by various popes over the centuries are scattered around the basilica. These, while perhaps not so grandiose, are regularly the centre of attention when crowds throng to the Vatican square to receive the Pope's blessing. Every Sunday at noon he stands at the window on the third floor and so the Catholics gather. Another occasion to see the Pope is when he speaks and prays during the Angelus. Are you going to join us in Rome in 2019?

Posted 28/02/2019