Founded as a small village of mud huts in the 8th century BC, Rome rose to be all-powerful by the 1st century BC as it expanded beyond Italy into Spain, Greece and North Africa. After a decline during the Middle Ages the city rallied, bringing some of the greatest Renaissance and Baroque artists to the world's attention before becoming capital of the unified Italy in 1870.
So let's start at the Porte del Popolo, the point where the main route from the Adriatic Coast, the Via Flaminia, enters Rome...
|View of the Porte del Popolo from the Metro exit (and my pizza-eating perspective) on the other side of the Via Flaminia|
The Via Ripetta takes us to the banks of the Tiber River and crossing at the Ponte Sant'Angelo follows the same route to St Peter's Basilica that the original pilgims took. But today the magnificent Castel Sant'Angelo dominates our view.
The Castel Sant'Angelo has been a safe house for Popes for centuries with the Passetto (or Vatican Corridor) providing an escape route to the nearby fortress. In fact, it proved rather handy for Clement VII who used it to flee from the Vatican in 1527 to evade capture during the Sack of Rome.
|A guardian on the Porte Sant'Angelo with the fortress (and mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian) in the background|
|View from the terrace of the Castel Sant'Angelo over St Mark's Bastion and the Vatican Corridor with the dome of St Peter's in the background.|
|Smart cars, smart parking on the Lungotevere.|
|The Ponte Fabricio onto the Isola Tiberina|
|The view from the west end of the Forum down the Via Sacra (the Sacred Way)|
|The monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy...|
|...overlooks a rather patriotic floral arrangement in the Piazza.|
Named for the conduit that carried water to the Baths of Agrippa near the Pantheon, the Via Condotti is THE shopping street in Rome and great for a spot of wistful browsing (although we might need to save a few pennies if we want to make a purchase)...
... before stopping to rest our weary legs in the Piazza di Spagna itself.
|The Spanish Steps, a popular spot to laze in the sunshine. But there is to be no shouting, squalling or singing - there's a sign that says so. That's Amore!|
|The obelisk in the Piazza del Popolo is over 3,000 years old and was brought to Rome by Augustus to adorn the Circus Maximus. It was erected here in 1589 by Pope Sixtus V.|
But enough of all this barbaric talk. Up to the right of the Piazza lies the Pincio Gardens, a place of green tranquility...and more great views over the roof tops of Rome. We'll need to pace ourselves though - the walk is steep.
|The view from the bottom...|
|...and from the top...|
|The Viale del Muro Torto, the 'injured wall'.|
|Rome's second heart perhaps?|
|If we go down to the woods today...|
|...a boating we may go.|
|Take a deep breath in and feel the rain-fresh air fill your lungs. Breathe out and listen to the sound of the water running into the fountain.|
Before we leave the park, let's pause for a few minutes and admire the Villa itself...
|Built in 1605 for Cardinal Sciopone Borghese, favourite nephew of Pope Paul V, the villa now houses the private Borghese collection of sculptures and paintings but you need to book to see it.|
And so, dear Gidday-ers, here endeth today's tour.
Have you booked your ticket yet?