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The Janiculum Quarter - Monteverde Vecchio

The site of one of Italy's most decisive battles for independence (1848 AD), the Janiculum Hill or Gianicolo has unparalleled views of Rome. According to the 18th century diarist De Brosses, a French admirer of all things Italian, it was sufficient in itself to justify the journey to Italy.

Seen from the Janiculum, Rome displays the iridescent colours of her incredible plumage like a peacock: a living postcard, all the roofs, the cupolas, all the bell towers and the sights are sharply defined in the clear sky, with the profile of the Roman Castle hills in the background.
At noon the cannon blast shatters quiet to commemorate the battles of independence, and the hundreds bells of churches echo through the sky.

Click here to see a natural vision panoramic photo of all Rome's centre from the Janiculum!

It is interesting to note that Rome's highest and most scenic hill does not officially feature among the proverbial seven.
Springing from Rome's rive gauche quarter, Trastevere, and winding its way up the hill, Via Garibaldi feeds straight into the gardens of the Gianicolo, offering some memorable stops on the way.

   

APARTMENTS FOR RENT NEAR THIS AREA

"BRAMANTE": a charming, quaint, large one bedroom apt. with sitting /dining room and 2 lofts obtained from a little church. Up to 4 persons

"ROMAN ROOFS" : a one bedroom top floor apt. with ample sitting-dining room, patio and panoramic terrace overlooking old Rome's roofs and sights.

"MARCO POLO", a one bedroom, sitting room attic with large roof garden with spectacular views of all Rome (2-3 persons). Elevator

"BOTTICELLI": elegant 2 double bedroom, sitting room, dining room 2 bathroom apt., with patio and fireplace (4-5 persons). Elevator.

"ROMAN VISTA": an elegant 3 bedroom 3 bathroom penthouse, with sitting room and separate dining room, with panoramic views of old Rome, in an elegant historical palace facing the famous Tortoise fountain. Daily cleaning. Elevator.

"ROME DOMES": Fine 2 bedrooms 2 bathr. attic, with sitting room, dining room, large open plan kitchen, with 2 utmost panoramic terraces with views of Rome's domes, in an elegant historical palace facing the famous Tortoise fountain. Daily cleaning (4-5 persons). Elevator.

"TORTOISES": Finest 3 bedroom 3 bathroom apartment with sitting room, dining room, large terrace with views, in an elegant historical palace facing the famous Tortoise fountain. Excellent fittings and equipment. Daily cleaning. (3-6 persons). Elevator.

 
 
Rome Janiculum Hill area Rome panorama
Rome's centre seen from the Janiculum. Click here to see the NATURAL VISION ROME PANORAMA.
 


One not to be missed is Bramante's iconic Tempietto, or “Little Temple”, recognized by art historians the world over as a prototype of the perfect Renaissance building. Located within the courtyard of the Church of San Pietro in Montorio next to the Spanish Academy, it allegedly rises above the location of Saint Peter's crucifixion.

Mussolini's tribute to the martial exploits of the Risorgimento heroes (1848-1870) is an imposing white marble monument in the characteristic “fascist” style, rising on a wide expanse of lawn on the left of the Via Garibaldi. Its engraving, “Roma o morte” (“Rome or death”), quotes what is probably Garibaldi's most famous war-cry, uttered on this very hill in August, 1862.

In the summer, this part of the hill's flank is the site of one of Rome's finest seasonal open-air theatres and annexed cafés, “Il Fontanone”, or “Big Fountain”. Actually an affectionate local name for the Fontana dell'Acqua Paolina (Fontana of Pauline water) it was built to resemble a triumphal arch under Pope Paul V in the late 16th century. This imposing monument makes use of columns from the original temple of Minerva. A taste of what the top of the Janiculum Hill has in store in terms of breathtaking views can already be admired from here. One is strongly advised to use the camera sparingly, as another good length of film will be much needed for what is yet to come!

 
Rome Janiculum Hill area Pauline Fountain

The Ffountain of the Acqua Paolina, or "Fontanone"

Rome Janiculum Hill area Bramante Tempietto

Bramante's famous Tempietto (little temple) in the Church of San Pietro in Montorio (in the background)

Rome Janiculum Hill area Bramante Tempietto interior

Tempietto, interior: altar
with St. Peter's statue.

     
 

The entrance to the Gianicolo's gardens is just to the right of “Il Fontanone”. It is not difficult to see why visitors and Romans are united in their pleasure at lingering on the terraced edge of Piazza Garibaldi. Difficult as it is to take in such an awesome spectacle at first, a closer look will reveal many of Rome's major monuments in one eyeful. Please now look the panoramic photo on top of this page. The monuments, palaces and domes projected against a backdrop of (on a clear day) fading Alban Hills include, from left to right: the dome of the church of St. Agnese by Borromini, the imposing Palazzo Farnese, the dome of San Carlo al Corso, the facade of the Palazzo Medici and behind it the Borghese Gardens, the shell-like dome of the Church of St. Ivo alla Sapienza by Borromini, the high dome of Sant'Andrea della Valle (behind it the disk-like dome of the Pantheon), the dome of the Church Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims, the imposing spherical dome of the Church of San Carlo ai Catinari, the long and elegant Palazzo Quirinale, the dome of the Church of the Gesu', Trajan's Column, the Torre Spaccata (broken tower), the Altar of Fatherland or Vittoriale, the Church of Ara Coeli (Altar of the Skies), Capitol Hill (with the Municipality and Palazzo Conservatori), St. Mary Major (background with two domes and a belfry), and the dome of the Synagogue (forefront, quadrangular).

The Gianicolo being “Garibaldi's hill” – it was he who led the fierce battle against the French sent to restore Papal rule in 1849 – an imposing equestrian statue of the bearded freedom fighter looms over the pine-tree lined gardens. One thousand busts depicting other Risorgimento martyrs solemnly adorn the Passeggiata del Gianicolo, or “Janiculum Promenade”, leading the way to another equestrian tribute: Garibaldi's equally heroic, Brazilian-born wife, Anita. In this sculpture by Mario Rutelli, some would irreverently observe she typifies irresponsible parenting as she rides a wind-swept, rearing horse while brandishing a pistol in one hand and cradling a baby in the other.

 
Rome Janiculum Hill area Roma o Morte monument

"Rome, or death", says the engraving of the Monument to the patriots who died in the 1848-1870 Independence wars

Rome Janiculum Hill area Statue of Garibaldi

Statue of Garibaldi, Italy's independence hero, overlooking his beloved Capital

Rome Janiculum Hill area Manfredi Lighthouse

Manfredi Lighthouse, donation of the Italians of Argentina (1911), where from you have the most ample view of Rome.

     
 

A marble lighthouse donated by the Italian emigrants of Argentina (1911 AD, design by M. Manfredi), and flashing the three colours of the Italian flag rises next to an alternative Gianicolo viewpoint, a stone's throw from Mrs Garibaldi's monument. Standing here, one can take in most of Trastevere in all its sepia and ochre glory, and beyond. In the days before mobile phones, the wives of the convicts confined within Regina Coeli prison (visible from this part of the hill) would shout messages to their spouses below: some classical Italian films feature scenes of such real-life happenings. Carrying on down the Passeggiata del Gianicolo towards the Bambin Gesù Children's Hospital, one can admire some fine views of St. Peter's and Castel S. Angelo.

For all its dizzying historic significance, like most similarly important Roman sites the Gianicolo is not just a solemn historical landmark. It is also a living, breathing part of the city and probably the best place to take a break from hot, dusty sight-seeing and frantic, traffic-dodging walks in the centre. Here, the air is visibly fresher and less polluted even compared with Trastevere, just a ten minute walk away downhill. Open-air café and bars, gelato stands, a historic Sunday puppet show still attracting crowds of local children, a merry-go-round and pony-rides will still keep whole new generations of families amused and entertained.
Likewise, weary sight-seers, families, joggers, dog owners or anyone just looking to soak up some peace and quiet, will delight in the proximity of South-East Rome's green “lung”, Villa Pamphili. The magnificent park's entrance, Porta San Pancrazio, is under a 5-minute walk from Piazza Garibaldi. With its perimeter measuring over 9 km, it is yet another artistic and architectural reminder of Rome's glorious Baroque past. The Villa was once the private estate of Prince Camillo Pamphili, a nephew of Pope Innocent X. Laid out in the mid-17th century by Alessandro Algardi, its epicentre is the imposing, sky-blue and cream stately home, Casino del Belrespiro, its formal maze hedge garden dotted with citrus trees in terracotta pots. A secluded spot for a picnic under the ancient parasol pine-trees, a jogging path or an artificial lake yielding many a treat for the children is always close at hand here.
The leafy urban quarter at the shoulders of the Gianicolo, aptly named Monteverde Vecchio (or "Old Green Hill"), is universally acknowledged as one of the most desirable to live in the Eternal City. It is perfectly located: central enough to be a 15-minute walk from Campo dè Fiori, yet suburban enough to feel removed from the urban chaos. The traffic is mainly local, with good parking facilities. There is good public transport and many recreational facilities, including a delightful small park with a well-equipped children's playground, Villa Sciarra. The American Fine Arts Academy and the American University are located in Monteverde Vecchio, as well as some of Rome's best state schools.
The quarter’s fine town houses, predominantly from the 19th and 20th centuries, are well-built and spacious, many with gardens. Few will disagree that the quarter is among the most beautiful residential areas in Rome. The neighbourhood's unparalleled green areas, food and craft shops, open-air markets and community spirit – its voice channelled by Monteverde’s own local paper, “Quattro Passi”– render its quality of life enviable. It is lofty yet never haughty, and exclusive yet approachable: in other words, unique.

 

To visit the other quarters or sights, please go to:

Rome Janiculum Hill area

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