A guide to Rome’s hits, from the highs to the lows, for the next time you’re taking a long walk in the Eternal City.
"I thought I knew everything when I came to Rome, but I soon found I had everything to learn." -Edmonia Lewis
Much of what many of us consider beautiful, functional, or intelligent has its origins in Rome, but these origins are often intertwined with a complex history involving shifting power dynamics. Whether you’re in Rome for a short weekend or a season, set aside some time to go for long walks and immerse yourself in Rome’s historical roots. As you walk by famous landmarks, statues, outdoor markets and other hidden details etched into the city’s landscape, chances are you’ll find that every street has its own story waiting to be heard.
While you wander, you can also listen to Gesso’s GPS-triggered audio walking tour, Hits | The Classics.
Campo de’ Fiori
The Campo de’ Fiori, or Field of Flowers, is one of the city’s oldest and flashiest outdoor markets, and while you might walk around the market finding fresh bouquets and vegetables, this location also has some darker history to it.
Gazing at the statue and pedestal that overlooks the space, notice the tribute is to a man named Giordano Bruno, a philosopher known for going against traditional theological doctrine. During the year 1600, Bruno’s theories led to his eventual fate: being burned alive at the stake in this very location. The statue was erected in 1889, just 18 years after Rome was named capital of the newly unified Italy.
The Assassination of Julius Caeser
Rome’s first permanent theater stood on this spot, built in 55 B.C. by General Pompeo the Great. Five years before the theater’s completion, in 60 B.C. Pompeo had forged an alliance with Julius Caesar. This quickly fell apart once Caesar refused to cooperate with senators, leading to a civil war, killing many of Caesar’s rivals including Pompeo. The senators that remained plotted against Caesar and it was in this location in 44 B.C. that they stabbed Caesar to death.
While only the ruins of temples remain here today, the area is currently home to Rome’s first cat shelter, which was established in 1993!
The Old Capitol
The Campidoglio was once where Rome's largest temple stood. It was originally built in 509 B.C. and named for Jupiter Capitolinus, one of the most important of the three gods who comprised the Capitoline Triad. For over three centuries, Romans would make sacrifices to him here. With the fall of paganism, the temple was gradually stripped, and Michelangelo was tasked with redesigning the space.
The National Monument to Vittorio Emmanuele II, or Il Vittoriano is a sprawling marble structure which Romans have nicknamed the torta nuziale, or “wedding cake.” This is a symbol of Italian patriotism, designed to commemorate the first king of Italy upon his death in 1878.
One of the most iconic locations in Rome: the Colosseum, the largest free-standing amphitheater in the world.
More stories await. Access Gesso’s audio walking tour to trace hidden history from the statue of Pasquino to Trajan's Market and beyond.
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