Rome for Literary Lovers

“Oh Rome! my country! city of the soul!” – Lord Byron.

Rome has been inspiring people to put pen to paper for millennia. As well as producing its own homegrown talent, the Eternal City has also attracted writers, poets, and other creative types from around the world. Here, we take a look at some of the city’s most celebrated literary figures and the sites they frequented during their time here.

The Keats-Shelley House seen from the Spanish Steps © HarshLight/Flickr

Keats-Shelley Memorial House

Romantic poet John Keats came to Rome in 1820, hoping to improve his ailing health with a dose of Italian sunshine. Unfortunately, his health didn’t improve and he died of tuberculosis just a few short months later, at the age of 25. The house he rented at number 26 Piazza di Spagna is now a museum, housing artefacts from not just the poet’s life but the life of friend and fellow Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The museum itself is modest in size but boasts an extensive collection of books, memorabilia, letters, manuscripts and paintings relating to the pair. Keats’ death mask and a replica of the bed he died in are especially evocative pieces.

Antico Caffé Greco © Richard, enjoy my life!/Flickr

Antico Caffé Greco

The area around the Spanish Steps was once so popular with well-heeled travelers  (including those on the Grand Tour), it earned the nickname the English Quarter, or even the English Ghetto. The area’s meeting point was Antico Caffé Greco on Via dei Condotti. Now Rome’s oldest coffee shop, Antico Caffé Greco opened in 1760 and provided caffeine hits to literary figures such as Stendhal, Goethe, Byron, Hans Christian Anderson, Mark Twain, and, of course, Keats. With its marble-top tables, red velvet chairs, and gold-framed artworks, the coffee shop has retained its period feel and is the perfect spot to sip a cappuccino and, if inspiration hits, pen a few lines.

Non-Catholic Cemetery © Massimiliano Calamelli/Flickr

Non-Catholic Cemetery/Protestant Cemetery

Tucked behind an ancient Egyptian-style pyramid and a section of the Aurelian walls is the Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome. The verdant enclosure is a welcome relief from the chaos of the busy streets outside and is the final resting place of both Keats and Shelley. Over the years, the cemetery has filled with the graves of writers, scholars, painters and other travelers who found inspiration in the city. The maze of headstones and funerary sculptures is interspersed with cypress trees, perfectly pruned hedgerows, and the occasional lounging cat.

Casa di Goethe on Via del Corso © Tom86/WikiCommons

Casa di Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German statesman and writer of novels, poetry, drama, and scientific treatises, to name just a few of his many disciplines. From 1786 to 1788 he journeyed throughout the Italian peninsula and was especially inspired by the south, writing “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.” His diary entries would later form the basis of Italian Journey, his post-travel report on the bel paese. His time in Rome was brief – just three months – but the house where he stayed on Via del Corso is now a museum dedicated to the cultural impact of his work. In addition to letters, diary entries, and other original documents of Goethe’s, the collection includes drawings and sketches by painter (and housemate) Johann Wilhelm Tischbein. The most famous portrayal of Goethe – and the multicolored jewel of the exhibit – is the flashy screenprint by Andy Warhol in the museum’s permanent collection.

Looking for accommodation near Rome’s literary sites? Our Grazia Family Home and Spanish Steps Terrace are within walking distance of the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, Antico Caffé Greco, and the Casa di Goethe while the Non-Catholic Cemetery is just a short metro journey away.

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The Best Free Museums In Rome

With its extravagant piazzas, ornamental fountains and architectural styles built up over centuries, Rome is a city with art around every corner. And while you can’t miss world-famous art collections housed within the Vatican Museums and the Galleria Borghese, the city has dozens of smaller museums that are worth a visit – and some of these are even free!

Museo Mario Praz

Lying just steps from Piazza Navona within Palazzo Primoli, the House Museum of Mario Praz is a hidden gem right in the middle of all the action. The museum is spread across 10 rooms and features over a thousand works of art, including paintings, furniture and sculptures that belonged to Mario Praz (1896-1982), an Italian writer, literary critic and scholar of English literature. The home is decorated in an orante 18th century style, with chandeliers, musical instruments and vivid green walls, and provides a fascinating foray into the mind of the great thinker.

Hours: Thurs & Fri 14:30-18:30, Sat 9:00-13:00

Address: Via Zanardelli Giuseppe 3

Stay: Navona Terrace

 

Museo Barracco

Right off of busy Corso Vittorio Emanuele (and in between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona) Museo Baracco is well worth a visit while you’re in the center of Rome. This elegant museum is home to hundreds of Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Phoenician and Assyrian sculptures and fragments laid out across ornate rooms of a Renaissance palazzo. The collection belonged to Giovanni Barracco (1829 – 1914), a politician and scholar with a passion for ancient civilizations, and was donated to the city of Rome in 1905.

Hours: Tues – Sun 10:00-16:00

Address: Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 168

Stay: Navona Terrace

 

Museo Boncompagni Ludovisi

The Museo Boncompagni Ludovisi is a decorative arts museum right near Via Veneto and Piazza Barberini in the heart of Rome. situated in the art nouveau Villino Boncompagni; Originally owned by the princess Blanceflor de Bildt Boncompani, it was donated to the Italian republic in 1972 to help promote art, culture and fashion in the capital. You’ll find ornate 19th and 20th century furnishings, clothing, accessories as well as a selection of paintings and sculptures on display in the house museum.

Hours: Tues – Sun 9:30 – 19:00

Address: Via Boncompagni 18

Stay: Opera Residence

 

Museo Carlo Bilotti

The Museo Carlo Bilotti is a contemporary art museum tucked away within an orangery in the Villa Borghese gardens. Housing the collection of Carlo Bilotti (an international cosmetics buyer and art collector), it’s home to a permanent collection of modern works by artists such as Giorgio de Chirico, Andy Warhol and Larry Rivers. The museum also hosts rotating exhibits of Italian artists such as Giacomo Balla and JAGO.

Hours: Tues – Fri 10:00-16:00 / Sat & Sun 10:00-19:00

Address: Viale Fiorello La Guardia 6 (inside Villa Borghese)

Stay: Grazia Family Home

Streets of Rome: Via Del Governo Vecchio

This street connects Piazza dell’Orologio, whose name comes from the clock placed on the tower of the Filippini convent built by Borromini, to Piazza del Pasquino, one of the famous “talking statues” of Rome. Via del Governo Vecchio is a really characteristic street a few steps away rom Piazza Navona and Campo De’ Fiori, a place not-to-be-missed because it keeps many features of the Eternal City: history, shopping, traditional Roman cuisine.

Credits @patti_elle-Instagram

There are many clothing stores, even vintage ones, where to look for the most trendy clothes, accessories and shoes. A true paradise for all shopping addicts! But there is something more. Here you can find unique places, such as Altroquando, an artisan bookshop where you can also taste beers; Caffè Novecento, with its particular atmosphere, where you can start your day with a good cappuccino and a croissant; or CamBiovita, a pastry shop which offers organic products also suitable for vegetarians and vegans. For those who want to have lunch and dinner, they can choose from several restaurants and pizzerias. In this street you can also find historic buildings and small shops, that give it that so peculiar look. It’s the ideal place to have a walk.

You need love, but also carbonara

Via del Governo Vecchio is a place to be discovered and appreciated in all its different aspects, perhaps before taking lots of pictures at the famous (and beautiful) Piazza Navona.
Rome is full of hidden gems that help keep the charm of past times untouched, such as Via dei Coronari or Passetto del Biscione, which are located in the same area.

If you have not booked your holiday in Rome with your family or friends yet, check the availability of our holiday apartments immediately: Rome is a city that can not be missing in the list of cities to visit at least once in life.

Hidden Gems: Passetto del Biscione

There is always something to do, to see, to discover in Rome. There are places that preserve a rare beauty, which tell stories related to the history of the city and that often remain mostly unknown.
An example is the Passetto del Biscione, a sort of mini gallery just a few steps away from the famous Campo De ‘Fiori, which has a strong religious meaning. Despite its central position, it is little known by tourists, as well as Romans. It is an ancient passage that in the Roman era connected the auditorium of the Theater of Pompeo, that is the steps for the spectators, with the outside, and that over time has also hosted a Vespasian, a hammock and even ghosts!
Passetto del Biscione hidden treasure
Today it connects Piazza del Biscione with Via di Grottapinta and has recently been used as an exhibition space. Beautifully frescoed (and restored in 2016), it keeps a sacred image of the Madonna. Hence the Italian saying “Looking for Mary around Rome“, which means looking for someone, with a very common name, in a city as big as Rome: an almost impossible undertaking. So the image of the Madonna was so hidden that to find it they almost had to organize a treasure hunt!
The Passetto del Biscione is quite a small casket that contains a very special and unique and special corner of the Eternal City. A little gem of Roman history and traditions that is worth seeing, in order to add another little piece to the list of unusual and extraordinary treasures of the Capital. You can reach the Passetto del Biscione both from Corso Vittorio and Via dei Chiavari/Largo del Pallaro, for example before going shopping at the Campo De ‘Fiori market. Or as a nice stop between Largo di Torre Argentina and Piazza Navona. You have lots of opportunities to discover it!

10 Experiences You Can’t Miss In Rome – Part 1

Rome is a city that makes you sigh and dream: we told it a lot of times. Its most famous monuments, such as the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, just to name a few, always leave you breathless, even after having seen them dozens of times. But Rome also has many other experiences to live. Here are 10 things that we think you should do at least once in life.

  • Take a walk to Villa Borghese and then visit the Gallery of Modern Art, which houses around 20,000 works including paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations as well as masterpieces by Klimt, Monet, Van Gogh, Hayez.

  • Visit the statue of Pasquino near Piazza Navona, one of the most famous and best-preserved “talking statues” in the city.
  • Eat the Roman pizza bianca, better if freshly baked, in the Campo de’ Fiori bakery (forno).

Photo credit: @richmondinrome-Instagram

  • Go up the 28 stairs of the Scala Santa, at the Basilica of S. Giovanni in Laterano, strictly on your knees, as tradition requires.
  • Read a book and relax in the wonderful Giardino degli Aranci, admiring the view of Rome before leaving.

  • Visit the Jewish Ghetto and the quiet square of the Fontana delle Tartarughe, before arriving at the bustling city life in via Arenula.

Photo credit: @hescia-Instagram

  • Try the typical and artisanal buiscuits and sweets of Valzani pastry shop in Trastevere, a historical shop that smells of authentic Roman history.
  • Visit the Protestant cemetery in Testaccio, an oasis of peace in which artists and writers are buried and in which many cats are often found to laze.

  • Try the “sorchetta“- a Roman cake with an equivocal name- from the “sorchettaro” near the Termini station, which is only open at night. A rather “sinful” experience that only Rome can offer!

Photo credit: @cocotoletta-Instagram

  • Do a roaring trade at Porta Portese, the historic market of Rome, where you can find almost everything: the important thing is to deal with the price!

An authentic Rome, as you may have never experienced before, is what you can often find in small gestures and in not very crowded places.

A Brief Guide To Rome’s Catacombs

Not only is Rome a city full of beauty and wonders. It also keeps secret underground: kilometers of burial places of  Ancient times. They are the famous catacombs, subterranean burial chambers that they were built outside the walls, along main roads as the Ancient Appian Way, the via Ostiense, the via Labicana, the via Tiburtina and the via Nomentana.

From the 2nd century AD catacombs were carved through tufa, creating a network of tunnels and galleries; bodies were placed in graves in stone sarcophagi, with a slab closing the chamber. There are different kinds of tombs, which depended on the means of the family. They are the most representative monument of the Early Christian church, where also martyrs were buried. When Christianity became a state religion, the faithful begun to bury the dead in cemeteries, the relics were trasfered and catacombs remained abandoned.

catacoms of Rome TreasureRome They were forgotten and then rediscovered from the end of the XVI century. Today it is possible to visit some of them, for an experience you won’t forget.

The Catacombs of Domitilla are the best preserved ones: over 17 kilometers of underground caves, some of which are now inaccessible. The visit begins with the Basilica of the martyrs Nereus and Achilleus, that were built above their tomb, and the continues with the catacombs where it can still be seen symbols, paintings and frescoes.

The Catacombs of San Sebastiano are on the Ancient Appian Way. The martyred remains of Saint Sebastian were buried here and a basilica was built over the grounds to pray the saint in the early 4th century. The stucco decorations on the celilings and the frescoes on the burial chambers are well preserved.

Another option on the Appian Way are the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, the greatest of Rome. Popes and martyrs were buried here; the underground cemetery has several areas, a gallery full of loculi, small chambers and family tombs.

The catacombs are the place in Rome that you can’t miss to fully understand the ancient history of the Eternal City.

Coppedè: A Hidden Gem In Rome

A magic place: if you close your eyes, it’s easy to imagine a world in miniature full of fairies and little folks. Even in a city that is the symbol of history and magnificence. This is the great secret of Coppedè, the neighborhood of Rome which hosts beautiful and peculiar buildings conceived by the architect Luigi “Gino” Coppedè in the 20s. A brave project, an unique mix of styles: liberty, neo-gothic, baroque and modernism.

Strategically located between Trieste and the Parioli districts, you can reach the heart of Coppedè passing through a really odd arch which hides a wrought-iron chandelier. This is the way to Piazza Mincio, the symbol of this amazing oasis of art, elegance and eccentricity. It seems to be covered by mystery: the Fontana delle Rane (Fountain of the frogs) is on the central part of a roundabout and was meant as a homage to Bernini’s works.

Walking on these streets is like being in a movie: every building has a story to tell through their frescos, details and different kinds of decorations. You can go and take a break from reality. Beyond the Coppedè neighborhood there are the Colosseum, the Fontana di Trevi and the Spanish Steps, which everybody knows. But this is another, awesome story, that is worth discovering and experiencing.

10 Unusual Things To Do In Rome

“All Roads lead to Rome” is a really famous proverb. And sooner or later, you will need to visit the Eternal City: one of the most loved and admired city in the world. Once, twice, or maybe more: sometimes even Romans admit that they still have something to discover of their own city. If you stay in Rome for more than three days, or if you didn’t have the opportunity to see everything you wanted the first time you were there, here you find ten cool things to do off the beaten track. So you can really say: I know Rome.

  • Explore Passetto di Borgo, a small street which connects Castel Sant’Angelo to the Vatican: it’s a pedestrian area with lots of bars and nice restaurants.

  • Have a walk at the Ancient Appian Way, by foot or by bike, to breath history and authenticity.

  • Go around the magic neighborhood of Trastevere, losing yourself in its alleys. Then have a coffee at Bar Calisto, one of the most famous in the city.

Credits: @martinrueg-Instagram

  • Have an Italian “aperitivo” in one of the bars between via della Pace and via Anima, close to the great Piazza Navona.
  • Visit the Musei Capitolini, to learn something more about the history of Rome.

  • Have a break at the Parco degli Acquedotti (Park of the Aqueducts), surrounded by nature and beautiful views.

  • Taste the traditional dishes of the Roman cuisine, like “spaghetti cacio e pepe” or “coda alla vaccinara”, in one of the typical tavern of Testaccio neighborhood.

Credits:@paulinevergara-Instagram

  • Try the “grattachecca”, the slush of Rome: for example the one made by “Sora Maria” in via Trionfale.

Credits: @avalabrega-Instagram

  • Visit the archeological site of Ostia Antica and then go to Ostia beach.

  • Go across the Ponte della Musica (“Bridge of Music”) after a walk along the riverside.

Emotions and memories: that’s what Rome will leave you for sure.

Visiting Rome in the moonlight

Rome is a city of multiple faces. It can be funny, cozy, chaotic; you can see it from different points of view. But when the night falls, the Eternal City becomes absolutely fantastic.

These are three places you can’t miss under the moonlight!

PONTE SANT’ANGELO (Bridge of Angels)

There’s no doubt that Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the most suggestive places in Rome. And Ponte Sant’Angelo Bridge, or “Bridge of Angels”, is amazing during the night. It’s full of lights and you can enjoy a breath-taking view from every angle. Take a walk there and give yourself the opportunity to have a private moment of relax and delight.

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Photo credit: @n_brgr- Instagram

VIA DI MONTE TESTACCIO (Monte Testaccio street)

Testaccio (Mountain of crock) is one of Rome’s most famous neighborhood. It is situated in an area which used to be the harbour of Ancient Rome and it takes its name from the huge numbers of broken amphorae that were left there. Now Via di Monte Testaccio is the beating heart of the Roman movida!

testaccio

THE JEWISH GHETTO

The Roman Jewish Ghetto is one of the most ancient in the world and it is stunning after the sunset. Its atmosphere is really unique, almost magical. The Synagogue and the Portico d’Ottavia, from Ancient Rome, seem to embrace  all the people who look at them. Walking onto its streets is really a beautiful experience. But you can also choose to have a dinner there, in one of the Jewish restaurants that locals love.

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Photo credit: @gianniantoniograzioli

Three different places with one feature in common: they represent the spirit of the Eternal City.

 

5 unusual things to see in Rome

Not only famous monuments and piazzas, but also curious and secret places. Here you find 5 unusual things to see in the Eternal city, which even some  locals don’t know about!

  • The magic door of Piazza Vittorio

This door used to be a part of a famous villa, called Villa Palombara, and now it is located into the garden of piazza Vittorio, close to Termini station. Two  statues of the ancient Egyptian deity Bes are its “supervisors” and someone says that it may shield the secret of the philosopher’s stone.

The Magic Door (Photo credit: Restorefood-Instagram)

  • The Tureen of via Vittorio

It is not so far from Piazza Navona: this is a really peculiar fountain because…it has a lid! It used to be located in campo De’ Fiiori, but the Pope Gregorio XV decided to relocated it, because it was used to wash fruits and vegetables. Its nickname was chosen by Romans to make fun of it.

  •  The optical illusion of via Piccolomini

Via Niccolò Piccolomini is a small street in Rome where you have the feeling of being in front of the St. Peter’s Dome. Something strange happens here: the closer you get, the smaller the Dome becomes. If you step back, the Dome will appear bigger and closer. Go and have a look!

Via Piccolomini (Photo credit: @mariannaalvarenz-Instagram)

  •  The “motorized” painting of Rubens

Rubens painted a work entitled Angels Adoring the Madonna Vallicelliana, which is displayed in the church of Santa Maria Valicella. It incorporates a special feature, a panel that could be removed to reveal behind it the holy image it was designed to protect. The priest usually moves it with a remote control after the Saturday Mass.

  • The Zuccari Palace

Close to Spanich Steps, this palace seems to be like others. But it’s not true. It is also known as “a monster house” because its door and windows are monsters’ faces with their mounths wide open.

Palazzetto Zuccari (Photo credit: @lubi1982-Instagram)

Rome is a city to discover…Don’t you think?