Open Air Museum: Little-Known Landmarks in Rome

Country: Italy
Genre: Publication
Year: 2019
Publisher: ︎︎︎Vogue

Text auto-translated from Russian:

Rome is a perfect example of the art that surrounds us everywhere, which simply did not fit into museums. In addition to the well-known tourist attractions, there are many active cathedrals in the city, where to this day you can see the works of Caravaggio or the architectural elements of ancient Greece. The sun-drenched squares draw attention to the Trojan Columns or the granite Egyptian obelisks, and the small streets have not changed since the days of the Nolly map.

Each church building is a unique display of its time, which makes it possible to touch history, in the truest sense of the word, with its own laws and traditions. Italians call it the word spolia "spolia" (lat. Spolis "trophies") which means a combination of different elements, different styles and times in one whole. For example, the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracheli (Scala dell'Arce Capitolina, 12), which is located at the top of the Capitol Hill, on the very place where geese once saved Rome, embodies the ideal “Spolia”. Here you can see the ancient Greek columns next to the columns of Egyptian porphyry, decorated with Greek and Roman capitols that rise to the chandeliers collected from medieval Italian palazzo.

If you leave the church not through the central, but through the southern entrance (it is located to the right of the main altar), then along the Gemonium Steps (Via di S. Pietro in Carcere) you can go down to Piazza del Campidoglio and the Palace of the Senates (Palazzo Senatorio), designed in 1536 according to the designs of Michelangelo. The western side of the square offers a unique view of the center of Rome, and from the eastern side you can admire the remains of the Roman Forum from above.

The Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (Piazza della Bocca della Verita, 18) is the favorite church of the French architect Le Corbusier; it has an antique slab of the Mouth of Truth (it. “Bocca della Verita”) in its loggia. According to legend, her mouth will bite off a liar's hand. In the church of San Luigi dei Francesi (Piazza di S. Liugi de'Francesi), three works by early Caravaggio are collected, and in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, which is located near the square of the same name with one of the famous speaking sculptures of Rome, two of his later works can be seen.

On the way to the Colosseum via Via dei Fori Imperiali, an avenue built on the orders of Benito Mussolini, you can turn north towards the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli (4). Here is the first statue of Moses by Michelangelo. Initially, the author wanted to symbolize the rays of light instead of the halo familiar to everyone, but literally “horns” were obtained, after which all subsequent images of the saint have this characteristic feature only of him.

Throughout the city, you can find many famous palazzo, whose facades were designed according to the drawings of famous Italian architects such as Michelangelo, Rafael Santi, Bramante and Antonio da Sangallo Jr. Palazzo is characterized by the fact that, unlike villas, these are urban, and not suburban residences of eminent families. By the Tiber River, not far from Via Gullia, on a street built up by order of Pope Julius II, there is the Palazzo Farnese (67), whose façade, after the death of the architect Antonio da Sangallo Jr., was worked by Michelangelo himself.

Walking under the crowns of Roman plane trees along the Lungotevere embankments (it. Lungotevere "along the Tiber"), you should definitely look into the Farnese Villa (Via della Lungara, 230), in the loggias of which the frescoes by Raphael Santi and Giulio Romano have been preserved. This is the only example of a Renaissance country residence located in the city center. Until now, it is surrounded by exquisite gardens on all sides, but most of them were lost when the city was rebuilt to expand the Tiber embankment.

Nearby is the famous Roman district of Trastevere, where medieval small houses have been preserved along narrow cobbled streets. Similar ones can be found only on the other side of the river and west of Piazza Navona, where during the Middle Ages small streets were not given names, because they were local short passages through packed mud from one street to another. During the reign of Mussolini, the city was characteristically altered and rebuilt, but this part has remained intact since the time of the map of the city drawn by Giambattista Nolli in 1748. Here you can just walk for an infinitely long time.

Digital Copy ︎Vogue