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Tuesday, 01 September 2020

Our Favorite Places in Rome

Written by Russ & Emily Firlik
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Some time ago we lived in Rome for six months. We'd walked and bussed all the streets of the city and developed a list of our favorite places. When we had a chance to visit for a three night stopover we were astonished that our long-term memory of the city was still very much intact. I will spotlight the places we returned to – some very special sights:

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(1). The Piazza Mattei - Where in the past we spent many hours having coffee and admiring the Fontana delle Tartarughe, or the fountain of the tortoises. The fountain was designed by Giacometti della Porta in 1581: with 4 bronze youths and 4 bronze sculptured dolphins by Taddeo Landini is a real gem of Mannerist art; later on G.L. Bernini added the four bronze tortoises. Nothing without Joy;

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(2). The Church of Santa Maria della Pace, designed by P. Cortona in 1656, created a new church facade complete with a semicircular portico and added arches to give it architectural unity. Inside are Renaissance treasures: two of Raphael’s frescoes, and the beautiful cloister (1600), designed by Bramante (architect of St. Peter’s);

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(3). Via Giulia, the first street since ancient times to be laid out in a straight line. Named after Pope Julius II (of the Sistine Chapel marvel), built in the 1500's. This is a masterpiece in urban perfection. An imposing Renaissance building on Via Giulia is the Palazzo Falconieri (1576, and enlarged by architect Borromini in 1646). Also, the Church of San Eligio, designed by Raphael, and he strived for grandeur, beauty and perfection. The building is a perfect combination of math and symmetry, showcasing Raphael's mastery of technical and architectural analysis. In 2020, informed folks will acknowledge 500 years since the death of the great Raphael Santi;

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Finally, I’ll mention my two very favorites: The Temple of Portunus and the Temple di Ercole Vincitore, both conveniently located in the Piazza Bocca della Verita, near the Tiber River.


(4). The Temple of Portunus - 2nd century BCE, is dedicated to the God of Portunus and is associated with livestock, keys and harbors. Focused on the architectural traditions: italic tradition of the high podium, Hellenistic ionic columns with engaged pilasters, in stone, not bricks or wood (probably why it still exists). The design inspired other classic architecture; this was especially evident in English architecture in the 18th century where they turned away from Baroque elaborations and returned to the more austere approaches such as Neoclassical and Palladian styles.

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(5). The Temple di Ercole Vincitore or Temple of Hercules Victor. This significance is that it is the only surviving structure in Ancient Rome made of Greek marble. In addition to its classic beauty, this circular layout is adorned with 20 fluted Corinthian columns resting on a low marble podium. Built in the 2nd century BCE, converted into a church in the 12th century and abandoned in the 16th century. Fortunately, the entire building and frescoes have been restored.

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©Russ & Emily Firlik


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Last modified on Tuesday, 01 September 2020