Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill, make up the pulsing heart of Rome and thus are the perfect starting point for a visit of the Eternal City.
La Piazza del Campidoglio/Capitoline piazza, one of the most perfect urban spaces in the history of architecture, was designed by Michelangelo. Here visitors are greeted by a selection of marvelous statuary bits and equestrian statues.
|Painting by Justin Bradshaw|
These include twin statues of Castor and Pollux and in the center of the piazza, that of emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius.
The present statue is a reproduction of the original which is kept in the Palazzo Nuovo. It is the only Roman bronze statue that survived the medieval period-because it was thought to portray a Christian emperor.
|Marcus Aurelius - Rome city hall|
|Courtyard of the Capitoline Museum|
The area had a completely different look before the Victor Emanuel monument was built between the years 1885 and 1911.
In this sketch by Ludovico Caracciolo (circa1830) the towers of the Farnese gardens which once stood on the spot are visible.
|King Victor Emanuel statue, Vittoriano|
|She wolf and twins, the symbol of Rome|
Nathaniel Hawthorne described his visit to the Capitoline museums in a March 1859 diary entry and later used them as the setting for his novel “The Marble Faun”.
|entrance to Capitoline Museums|
“I went to the sculpture-gallery of the Capitol yesterday, and saw, among other things, the Venus in her secret cabinet. This was my second view of her: the first time, I greatly admired her; now, she made no very favorable impression.
|a Roman lady|
|The Dying Gaul|
We looked at the Faun, the Dying Gladiator, and other famous sculptures; but nothing had a glory round it, perhaps because the sirocco was blowing. These halls of the Capitol have always had a dreary and depressing effect upon me, very different from those of the Vatican. I know not why, except that the rooms of the Capitol have a dingy, shabby, and neglected look, and that the statues are dusty, and all the arrangements less magnificent than at the Vatican. “
|a room full of Roman busts|
|music among the sculptures|
|doorway to exhibition rooms, behind the Vittoriano|
|Roman Forum seen from Campidoglio hill|
|all the world comes to Rome|
Many writers and painters described the Capitoline especially during the Grand Tour period.
London-born painter Justin Bradshaw is a perfect guide to the modern pulsing heart of the city: the Capitoline, Piazza Venezia and adjacent neighborhoods which he knows well.
“I can't help admiring the Vittoriano's unashamed self-celebration, like a wedding cake it announces that it is the centre of the festivities”,
confesses artist Justin Bradshaw,
who has dedicated many hours painting the imposing structure as well as the quiet corners and courtyards such as the Turtle Fountain in Piazza Mattei, shop windows and reflections which can be admired on his website.
|painting by Justin Bradshaw|
|Piazza Venezia and Vittoriano by Justin Bradshaw|
|With artist Justin Bradshaw at recent personal exhibit, Piazza Margana, Rome|
Bradshaw, who lives and works between Rome and his studio in Civita Castellana, has also illustrated books about historic travel.
The Capitoline/Campidoglio is also a romantic place as the announcements for weddings taking place in Rome are posted there and the springtime sees a flurry of civil weddings held in the lovely Sala Rossa.
|underground lapidarium linking Capitoline's buildings|
The Vittoriano or Altar of the Fatherland, holds the tomb of Italy’s unknown soldier as well as several exhibition halls, Museums dedicated to Emigration and the Risorgimento.
Scholars visiting the Risorgimento library will also travel back in time: the original 1908 wrought iron elevator is still the only way to arrive to the Archives located on an upper floor.
Most tourists will be content with the panoramic glass elevator installed in 2007 on the external part of the monument.
A lucky few will get a chance to ride in the wood panelled hexagonal VIP elevator in the Capitoline Museums.
When the construction of the monument was being completed, architects and workers enjoyed a banquet inside the belly of the 12 metre high bronze horse statue that is its centrepiece.
Napoleon’s mother, Madame Mère, lived out her life in the palazzo facing the Vittoriano, and kept her eye on happenings, including the annual Carnival festivities, from this shuttered balcony on the corner of Via del Corso.
When hunger strikes, there is a bar restaurant with panoramic terraces,
pricey snacks and a covered dining area on the upper level of the Capitoline Museums.
|panoramic terrace of Capitoline Museums, views to Ara Coeli & Vittoriano|
City employees and vigili urbani take their coffee breaks at this busy snack bar near the Treasury offices .
|Treasury office, Campidoglio|
|secret snack bar|
Your comments on this and the Umbria Itinerary with artist Patricia Glee Smith are welcome.