Walks in Rome – Route 6

From Piazza Colonna to Piazza Mattei

This walk, trough the Colonna, Pigna and Sant’Angelo areas, covers three different types of neighborhoods with their own distinct habitants. We start with Piazza Colonna, the political heart of the city. Located between the Parliament and the main office of today’s government –Palazzo Chigi-, Piazza Colonna is none the less famous throughout history as one of the favourite spots for magnificient festivities. The square is dominated by the Colnna Antonina, erected in 180 A.D. to celebrate one of Emperor Marcus Aurelius military victories. We also find here the imposing Chigi Palace, the lovely church of San Bartolomeo dei Bergamaschi and Ferrajoli Palace, which, up to a few years ago, was the site of one Rome’s most famous cafè. Leaving the shops of the via del Corso we find ourselves immersed in al older, more charming Rome who’s narrow street often open up suddenly to reveal breath-taking sights such as the Temple of emperor Hadrian which we pass on our way to Piazza S.Ignazio. This latter is an 18th century architectural jewel and home to the church of the same name, It’s worthwhile to go in and have a look at the trompe oeil frescos on the ceiling painted by Andrea Pozzo. After this we should cross over the other side of Via del Corso to see the courtyard of Galleria Sciarra decorated with frescos by Giuseppe Cellini. Thi two sites represent Rome’s last remainings works from the end of the 19th century.
Once again on Via del Corso, going towards Piazza Venezia, we find on the corner of via Lata one of Rome’s famous “talking statues”, the Facchino. We then pass Piazza del Collegio Romano  , well protected by Pope Gregorio XIII Boncompagni’s family fierce dragons, and come to the picturesque Church of  Santa Maria in Lata, designed by Pietro da Cortona and the Doria Pamphili Palace, once the home of Napoleone’s mother Letizia Bonaparte. Now we are in Piazza Venezia, looking at one of history’s most famous balconies fron where Mussolini used to give his speeches. Next we take the Via del Plebiscito and pass the Church of Jesus, home to the religious order founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. After passing the immense Altieri Palace we turn down the via del Gesù and find ourselves in the heart of “rione” Pigna (pinecone). Once again we can feel the ancient charms of the city amidst these tiny artisan’s shops and artistic treasures. First, the house of Stefano Porcari, who dreamed of topplinf the Pope and the Church in the 16th century to replace them with the republic. Then we get to the delicate water clock in the courtyard of the Berardi Palace, one of only two in Rome and the only one still working. Don’t forget to give a look at the palace’s windows with their ornate decorations of stags heads in Marescotti Palace.
We now go down fromVia dei Cestari to Largo Argentina passing the Church of SS. Stimmate ; let’s make a stop to enjoy the courtyard of the Ruggeri Palace on the corner of Corso Vittorio. Then we cross over Via delle Botteghe oscure, home to five building Mattei family all located on the same block. Continuing down the street, we get into Piazza Mattei, where we find the charming Turtle Fountain built by Taddeo Landini in1584. We’re now in the heart of the fascinating S.angelo neighbourhood just a few steps from the ancient Jewish Ghetto. Wandering around these narrow alleyways and tiny squares we’ll discover many wonderful surprises such as the tucked away Church of S.Ambrogio alla Massima or the Church of Santa Caterina dei Funari built by one of Michelangelo’s most brilliant students – Guidetto Guidetti. This brings us to the the Church of Santa Maria in Publicolis and the Via Arenula. Our walk ends up at the top of Monte dei Cocci, one of the few spots in Rome that seems forgotten in time, surrounded by magisterial buildings and simple “trattorie” (small restaurants).