Five little secrets of Rome’s most famous sites you probably don’t know

Rome is one of the most famous and beautiful city in the world. It can surprise everyone, thanks to its history, art and unique places. But are you sure you know every little secret of its most visited monuments? Here you find five fun facts about the Eternal City.

  • Colosseum

It’s the symbol of the city, the breathtaking proof of the greatness of Ancient Rome. Once upon a time it was covered by marble, which was used to build the Saint Peter’s Basilica and other important buildings. The missing part, which gives it its  asymmetric profile, was destroyed by an eartquake in 851 a.c.

colosseo-gennaio

  • Piazza Navona

In Ancient Rome this amazing place was a oval-shaped stadium, built by the Emperor Domitian. It’s still possible to visit the ruins of the old structure. Sometimes ancient Romans would even flood the stadium and hold naval battles there: maybe that’s why now it’s called “Navona”, which means “big ship”.

  • Pantheon

The most captivating part of the Pantheon- it used to be a pagan temple, then transformed into a church- is its dome, with the hole, called oculus, in the top. Roman engineers built the dome lightening it as much as possible; its special structure doesn’t allow the rain to fall inside frequently. If it happens, the floor is slanted and drains the water.

pantheon-gennaio

  • Campo De’Fiori

Now it’s a delicious square, with reasturants and shops. But during the XVII century, executions used to be held publicly here. The famous philosophy Giordano Bruno was burnt alive in this place: that’s why now we find a monument dedicated to him.

  • Trevi Fountain

According to the legend, you have to throw  a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder to return to Rome. Almost every tourist who visits the fountain does it. But what happens to all the coins into the fountain? They are collected by Caritas, a Roman Catholic charity, to fund projects for poor people.

fontana-di-trevi-gennaio

 

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Rome’s most visited sites in 2016

Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill: these are Italy’s most visited sites in 2016, according to the top 30 list issued by Mibact (the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism). But they are not the only ones in Rome. On the same list we also find Castel St.Angelo, the Borghese Gallery, the archaeological site of Ostia Antica, the villa D’Este in Tivoli and two sites which are probably not so popular: the National Roman Museum and the Baths of Caracalla.

The National Roman Museum

The National Roman Museum is really peculiar, because it is composed of four different buildings throughout the city: Crypta Balbi, Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme and Baths of Diocletian.

  • Crypta Balbi is situated between Piazza Venezia and Largo di Torre Argentina. It houses the archaeological remains of the Theatre of Lucius Cornelius Balbus and other objects from various collections.
  • Palazzo Altemps is located in Campo Marzo, close to Piazza Navona and hosts amazing collections of antiquities, like Greek and Roman sculptures, that in the 16th and 17th centuries belonged  to some families of the Roman nobility.
  • Palazzo Massimo alle Terme is close to the Termini train station: four floors of beautiful sculptures, mosaics, jewels, coins and grave ornaments.
  • Baths of Diocletian is a 13 hectar thermal complex, the biggest one ever built in Rome. It had a gymnasia, some libaries and a large swimming pool. Some rooms have been converted by Michelangelo into the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels and the Christian Martyrs; there is also a Carthusian Monastery.
Baths of Diocletian (Photo credit: @eli2323-Instagram)

Baths of Diocletian (Photo credit: @eli2323-Instagram)

Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla (Terme di caracalla in Italian) is one of the largest and also well preserved ancient termal complex. Today it is possible to visit the ruins and have a walk sourronded by history: it’s definitely a place not to be missed. During the summer its central part hosts the Roma Opera company and it becomes even more captivating.

Baths of Caracalla (Photo credit: @alexbaccaro-Instagram)

Baths of Caracalla (Photo credit: @alexbaccaro-Instagram)

It’s not on the list, but we suggest trying something different after the most famous tourist sites in Rome: the Criminology Museum. It’s situated on via del Gonfalone (close to via Giulia) and houses a large collection of a lot of things crime-related. This museum has three section: the first one displays instruments of capital punishment (and it’s very impressive!); the second one is devoted to 19th century studies and police techniques; the third one is devoted to 20th century crime. If you are a thrill seeker, this place is right for you!

The Criminology Museum (Photo credit: @mrssparkles2020)

The Criminology Museum (Photo credit: @mrssparkles2020)

Rome is always a big surprise…Don’t you think?