This route starts from the Capitoline Hill and down around the Palatine to reach Trastevere. In the earliest times this was the area connecting Rome with the Tiber, and in ancient Rome the port, the market and the popular Trastevere district with its many foreign inhabitants must have made this a very lively area.
The route starts at Piazza Venezia, dominated by the marble monument to the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, and by Palazzo Venezia, housing the Museums of the same name and the Library of Art History.. Palazzo Venezia, built 1455, attributed to Leon Battista Alberti, housed the Venetian embassy. It passed to the Italian government in 1916 and is unhappily famous for the fact that the former (dictator), Benito Mussolini, addressed the crowd from the balcony.
To the right of the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, which houses the Museo del Risorgimento and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier you can see Piazza dell'Aracoeli. Froim this square, two stairways climb up the Capitoline Hill; to the left the Ara Coeli steps built between 1348 and 1358, steep and undecorated, while to the right there are the Capitoline steps, broad and decorated in marble, with the statues of the Dioscuri at the top. This wide stairway, called the Cordonata, leads up to the Piazza del Campidoglio.
The Capitoline Hill is the only one in Rome which has maintained its role over the centuries. Called Capitolium in ancient times, it is the site of the Temple of Jupiter (now Palazzo Caffarelli), the Tabularium or State Archives and the Arx, or fortified part (now the Ara Coeli church). The hill, with its important religious and political functions, played a vital role in the life of the city. In the Middle Ages the Tabularium and other buildings were fortified; the market was held in the square and government activities continued on the hill.
The Palazzo Senatorio symbolised this continuity; built in 1143 on the site of the Tabularium, it was the meeting place of the Roman Senate, and now houses the office of the Mayor of Rome. The current layout of the square is based on the design Michelangelo drew up for Pope Paul III Farnese, with construction undertaken by various artists up to 1651 when the Palazzo Nuovo was built.
The design called for the rebuilding of the facades of the Palazzo Senatorio and tha Palazzo dei Conservatori, the erection of a third building (Palazzo Nuovo), the paving of the square and the construction of the Cordonata.
The Palazzo Senatorio, completed in 1561, has a bell-tower and a double stairway, under which there is the statue of Dea Roma and two large figures representing the Nile and the Tiber. The bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius was located on the pedastal in the centre of the square up to 1981. Today there is a copy.
The Palazzo dei Conservatori, where the magistrates held court in medieval times, and the Palazzo Nuovo (to the left of the stairway) house the Capitoline Museums.
Going down Via del Monte Tarpeo and passing by Via della Consolazione and Via del Foro omano you can reach Via di S. Teodoro. Further down this street on the right you can see the church of S. Giorgio al Velabro and the Arc of the Argentari. The church, dedicated to the Greek martyr by the Byzantine colony, took its name from the Velabrum, the marsh at the portico and the tympanum, sparing only the 12th century bell-tower. Next the church is the Arch of the Argentari, the entrance way to the Forum Boarium, dedicated by the silversmiths to the Emperor Septimius Severus in 204 A.D.
With his market, the Forum Boarium was the site of many activities and temples, and was a landing site for merchants coming to the port, located here up to the time of Trajan. Tha Arch of Janus, dedicated to this double-faced divinity, dates to the times of Constantine.
The 6th century church S. Maria in Cosmedin is famous for its portico housing the Bocca della Verità or moth of truth, an ancient drain cover traditionally believed to be capabled of biting any liars who placed their hand in it. The interior of the church, with three apses, contains valuables art-works. Crossing the square, decorated with an 18th century fountain, you can see the ancient temples of the Forum Boarium.
The Temple of Fortuna Virile, dedicated to Portunus, the god of ports, dates to the 4th-3rd century B.C. and was rebuilt in the 2nd century. The Tempel of Hercules, which being circular was also called Temple of Vesta, was dedicated to this hero by the oil merchants in the 2nd century B.C.
Going along Via di Ponte Rotto towards the Tiber, you reach the medieval Casa dei Crescenzi, decorated with parts of Roman temples. Further on in the Ponte Rotto.
The large square Synagogue is located on Lungotevere dei Pierleoni. Completed in 1904 the Synagogue, with the Museum of Jewish art, is located next to the old Ghetto created in 1556 by Paul IV.
The Jewish community, which was subjected to terrible persecution during the fascist period, still lives in the area. In a visit to the Ghetto you can see the complex combination of medieval, Renaissance and Roman remains, as well as enjoying traditional Roman cooking.
Crossing Ponte Fabricio you come to the Isola Tiberina. The island opposite Rome's port was site of the Temple of Esculapio, god of medicine. In Xth century the church of S. Bartolomeo was built on the ruins of the temple. The church housed the Arch-Confraternity of the Millers, who until the flood of 1870 produced flour on floating platform.
The Fatebenefratelli Hospital founded in 1584, seems to reflect the island's ancient vocation for medicine. Leaving the island across Ponte Cestio, you come in Trastevere.
This area was a residential district for the common people in ancient times with many non-Roman citizens including many Jews. With the coming of Christianity, it developed around the basilicas of Santa Maria, San Crisogono and Santa Cecilia. These churches can now be considered as a point of reference century with the construction of viale Trastevere. The church of San Crisogono is along the avenue and the others are in different areas.. S. Maria in Trastevere and the square of the same name are the centre of local life, characterised by the narrow lanes and a pictoresque atmosphere.
Santa Cecilia is in an area with larges buildings, once used as convents and for charitable purposes. The streets are fully of busy cafés, restaurants and pizzerias in the evening with open air tables. In the daytime it is more like a typical residential district, despite the arrival of new residents and facilities catering to tourists.