Walks in Rome:
Route 1: From Ponte Sant’Angelo to the Pantheon
This itinerary begins in front of the Castel S.Angelo and covers the Ponte and Parione Rioni (neighborhoods) also called the Renaissance quarter because it was developed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Our routes terminates at the Pantheon, with its interesting sixteenth-century environs. The intricate network of narrow alleys and ancient streets teems with antique shops, the workshop of craftsmen, tiny antique clothind boutiques and characteristic restaurants, The first part of our tour follows the former Via Papalis, travelled by the Papal processions on their way to the church of S.Giovanni in Laterano, the cathedral of Rome. The entire area is closely linked to the Vatican as much as it marked the beginning of the obligatory pilgrimage to the city’s basilicas. Thus the streets abounded with tiny reliquary shops, of which the modern Via dei Coronari (street of Rosari Makers) is a reminder. Its strategic location made it the ideal site for the homes of the city’s leading families, who touched off a housing boom of numerous important buildings, many with painted or etched facades. During the Renaissance, this was the financial and economic heart of the city. As early as the 1400s, several Florentine Banks set up their offices here, partly thanks to Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV and Leo XI, Popes from the powerful Medici family who established a virtual monopoly on Roman finances during their heyday. The area was unmodified for many centuries until the Unification of Italy, when Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Corso Rinascimento were created, thus separating the area around Ponte S.Angelo and Piazza Navona from Via Giulia on the one side and the Pantheon on the other. Originally, all these neighborhoods were closely realed.
Our route begins from along the river opposite Castel S.Angelo. After having seen Ponte S.Angelo, the most beautiful bridege in Rome with its seventeenth century statues, we cross via del Banco di S. Spirito and enter the renaissance area of the city. We immediately see some interesting things: the oldest tablet which tells us of the historic flood caused by the Tiber, and two examples of sixteenth century architecture, Palazzo Gaddi and Palazzo del Banco di S.Spirito. Let’s move on down via dei Coronari, the antique dealer’s street to reach Piazza San Salvatore in Lauro after about one hundred meters. Here we’ll find the church with the same name, with a long and tortuous history, and the fountain called del Leone, which has been transplanted here in recent time. Let’s move over the right to reach the extremely important structures of Palazzo Taverna and its splendid fountain in Via di Monte Giordano. We’ll pass in front of a typical example of popular devotion, a votive shrine dedicated to the Holy Mother, in this case called Imago Pontis. From Palazzo Taverna we come out on Piazza dell’Orologio where there is another eighteenth century shrine. Then we’ll take Via del Governo Vecchio where we’ll find both the seat of the old government (thus the name of the street), and a “graffita” house, a rare example of a decorative renaissance style. Proceding in a zig-zag line, we’ll turn left into via di Parione, and pass in front of Palazzo del Pio sodalizio dei Piceni, the seat of the association which had rebuilt the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro , and then arrive in front of a small work of art from the Renaissance, the Church of Santa Maria della Pace. By now we areonly a few metres from Piazza Navona, but before entering it, let’s take a look at Palazzo Millini, one of the few remaining examples of medieval Rome, the Church of S. Maria dell’Anima. And finally let’s look at the very famous statue of Pasquino. In entering Piazza Navona from the southern side, we are not only impressed by the sight of the piazza, but just in front of us, the vision of two works of art which are facing each other: the Church of S.Agnese in Agone, and the Four Rivers Fountain by Bernini. Coming out of the square and heading towards the Pantheon, we’ll take the long way so as to pass in front of the sixteenth century Palazzo Madama, presently the seat of the Italian Senate.
And above all we’ll pass Barocco’s work of art, the bell tower of the Church of S.Ivo alla Sapienza. Immediately turning left, we find ourselves in Piazza S.Eustachio, where other than tasting the best coffee in Rome, we can see the very antique Chiesa of S. Eustachio and Palazzo Lante, one of the more beautiful pieces of architecture from the early sixteenth century. Heading towards Piazza della Minerva, where in front of the Church called S.Maria sopra Minerva, we can see one of the most original baroque monuments, the so-called Pulcin della Minerva by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. We have now arrived at the Pantheon, one of the best preserved monuments of ancient Rome. We have just enough time to have a glimpse at the Albergo del Sole (Hotel del Sole), mythical for its age and for the celebraties it accommodated over the centuries, and Piazza della Rotonda Fountain.. For those of you still having some energy left, go a few more metres to Piazza Caparanica to see the fifteenth century building with the same name, and the churches of S. Maria in Aquiro, and S.Maria Maddalena.