After hanging out with my Italian friend for a bit and walking around looking at sights all over Rome, he announced that I had now seen all of Rome’s 7 hills.
I had not realised.
To do this feat justice I have studied my map and tried to remember what I was doing when I was on each hill. I wish now that I had been conscious of the significance at the time.
Palatine Hill, Palatino. The original city of Romulus. This is the most ancient and central hill. It looks down upon the forum at one end, and Circus Maximus at the other. I didn’t go onto the hill this last trip but did the one before. I recall standing in horrendous heat in July 2014 with sweat running down my back and face trying to concentrate on a guide talking about the Forum and the Vestal Virgins. This last trip was November 2015 and the weather was cool. I gazed up at the Palatino from the Circus Maximus with it’s Domus Augustana ruins, (built by Emperor Domitian in 92AD), lit up against the evening gloom.
Capitoline Hill, Campidoglio. This is a hill, without any doubt, you know you are on. You climb Michelangelo’s beautiful stairs to get to his Piazza del Campidoglio and you climb stairs to get to the church, Santa Maria in Aracoeli. If you spend time in the Capitoline museums, (which may be the only museum in the world I have been happily occupied for 4 hours or more), and you get to the underground gallery, you see that you look down over the forum from up high.
The gorgeous man was my waiter at the museum rooftop cafe!
Quirinal hill, Quirinale. Named after a Sabine god with tombs dating back to the 8th century BC! If you know where you are going, (I didn’t), a quick hike up a street behind the Trevi fountain brings you out to the Piazza del Quirinale. There is a nice view and there are also government buildings, one of which Matteo Renzi (the Italian Prime Minister), resides in. Further up the road, the Quattro Fontane, four fountains on each of the four corners of a X-intersection. When I saw them, I thought them to represent the four seasons however, Wiki tells me they represent the Tiber river, the Aniene river (which fed important aqueducts) and two goddesses (Diana and Juno). The Piazza Barberini with it’s Triton Fountain also sits on the Qurinale. (I had one of the best Amarena gelatos I have tasted here in Barberini, just so I could use the loo, marginally beaten by Sorrento’s and the one down by where via Cavour meets the Forum! I can feel a gelato blog coming on :)).
Bernini’s Fontana del Tritone. I love the Bees (Ape) on this sculpture, from the Barberini family coat of arms.
Viminal Hill, Viminale. I traipsed all over this hill for the best part of the whole 17 days I was in Rome and had no idea. Termini railway station Andrea! Buying dinner at Eataly’s Republica branch, via Cavour, via Nazionale! I could say I stayed on Viminale while in Rome, (I wonder if anyone would know where that meant? Even a current Roman?)
Esquiline Hill, Esquilino. The southern most spur of this hill is called the Colle Oppio or Oppian Hill but still very much a part of the Esquilino. I visited San Pietro in Vincoli and remember it clearly due to the incredible Michaelangelo sculpture of Moses that makes up the tomb of Pope Julius II. It was raining so I sat out in the portico after wards people watching. I also attended a play one night at the Teatro Brancaccio which was showing as part of the RomaEuropa festival. The play was called Cuisine and Confessions and was a high energy, entertaining show with each member of the troup getting to display their own acrobatic skill and expressing stories of what led them to have the food memories they do. The theatre looks to be on the Esquilino according to the map. I’m disappointed now that I didn’t realise the park, Parco del colle Oppio, was there, running from both of these sites above all the way to the Colosseum. I would have liked to have walked through here rather than always walking the roads.
The play at Teatro Brancaccio.
Caelian Hill, Celio. I glimpsed the Baths of Caracalla out of the window in a crowded bus travelling back from via Appia Antica. The baths are on Caelian Hill. The via di San Gregorio, (the main tourist bus entry towards the Arco di Constantino and the Colosseum), runs from the Colosseo to Circo Massimo and is a dip between the Caelian and Palatine Hills. I strolled along here and had I glanced to my left, or been aware that I was looking at the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo along the way, I would have been looking at the Caelian. So I was there in body, if not in cognition!
Aventine Hill, Aventino. Ahhh, I have no problem remembering this for it was a very special moment for me on my journey. It was dark, although not late, and fine. I had been walking the Appia Antica all day and had bused back within the city walls but the buses were unable to get back to Piazza Venezia in the city centre due to road closures so we were dropped off by Circus Maximus. It was an easy stroll over to the Aventine Hill then up past the rose gardens, (with no roses,… it was November) and citrus gardens. Then on up to some unassuming looking buildings and walls. The small building of the Santa Maria del Priorato which leads to the Priory of the Knights of Malta has big dark double doors. When I arrived there was no queues or obvious signs of a tourist attraction so I had to ask a couple of people for help to find what I was looking for but as I left, a queue of people on Segways were lining up.I took no pictures of my own. My Iphone just could not have handled the dim light and tiny view but I was brimming after I had looked. I had seen through the keyhole! It had been an outside dream, I wasn’t sure I would be able to get here but I did it. So fulfilling and it felt like a real completion of this dream of a journey.
There is a garden, (back a few metres), alongside the buildings that you can walk out and look at the same wonderful view unimpeded by the keyhole size.It is very close to the river so was an easy stroll back alongside the water. Che bello!
It was dark when i was visiting so St Peters was lit up and glorious!