Admiring Rome

by Danilo Brunetti

Discover the spectacular panoramic views of the Eternal City.

Rome’s stunning panoramas make it one of the most beautiful places in the world, a city that has inspired the works of painters, artists, and writers for centuries. A trip up one of its famous hills to admire the marvels of the skyline is an incomparably magical experience.

Janiculum Hill

Climb the Janiculum Hill, also known as Monte Aureo or the Golden Hill, to see one of the most romantic and evocative views of the city. From this vantage point, it’s possible to take in many of Rome’s most important monuments, glowing in the reddish sunlight that reflects off the burnished terracotta-tiled roofs surrounding them. The hill is dominated by the Acqua Paola Fountain, also known as the Fontanone or “big fountain” (read more about it on page xx). On a clear day, the scenic vantage point in front of the fountain provides a splendid view reaching all the way to the mountains. Stroll along Passeggiata del Gianicolo, a street lined with hardwoods and evergreens intermingled with marble busts of the most illustrious Garibaldini soldiers, who defended Italy during the French invasion of 1849. Eventually you’ll arrive at Piazzale Garibaldi with a spectacular 360-degree view of Rome. If you happen to be there at noon, you can witness the daily firing of the cannon, which has been going off at precisely 12 o’clock since 1904.

Pincian Hill

For another dazzling view, take Viale D’Annunzio from Piazza del Popolo up the Pincian Hill to the Terrazza Pinciana, designed by Roman architect Giuseppe Valadier between 1810 and 1818. The breathtaking view is more than worth the hike to admire one of the most beautiful panoramas in the city. It’s particularly romantic at sunset when suffused light from the waning sun illuminates the 3,200 year-old Egyptian obelisk in the piazza below, invoking the poetry of an enigmatic past.

Another memorable panorama can be seen from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo. Emperor Hadrian built the monument as a mausoleum in 123 B.C, and it evolved through the centuries, serving as a fort, a prison, and eventually a sumptuous papal residence. Today the monument houses a museum where visitors can admire the magnificent papal apartments adorned with frescoes and stucco decorations, while the terrace, the setting of the final act of Puccini’s Tosca, offers stunning views of the historic center and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Palatine Hill

Across town on the Aventine Hill, Parco Savello, better known as the Orange Garden, boasts a sweeping panorama of the Tiber River, Trastevere, and the Janiculum Hill, and many linger there to marvel over the city’s majestic cupolas. The park, built around 1932, abounds with citrus trees that grace the air with the subtle aroma of their flowers in summer, and fill the trees with bright orange fruits in winter. This is a lovers’ lane of sorts, where every smell, sound, and color seems to reverberate with romance.

Roman Forum

The Orti Farnesiani, commissioned by Alessandro Farnese in the 16th century, offers yet another breathtaking perspective of Rome. The gardens are located on the Palatine Hill, once the site of the magnificent palaces of the ancient Roman emperors. Renaissance architect Vignola built the gardens over the ruins of the palace of Emperor Tiberius, and they spill down the hill into the Roman Forum in terraces, a bit like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Many varieties of exotic plants from faraway places were introduced to the garden, making it into one of the world’s first botanical gardens.

St. Peter’s Basilica

By far the most famous view of the city can be seen from the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, one of Michelangelo’s most admired masterworks. Enter at the monument of Benedict XIV to the right of the basilica, and take the stairs all the way, or take the elevator part of the way and climb the last 320 steps. From this dizzying height, marvel at the incredible views from the highest spot in the city.
Monte Mario is another privileged place where lovebirds can gaze at a picture-perfect sunset. From the summit of the hill, Rome lies at your feet and you can see all the way to the Castelli Romani Mountains fading gently into the horizon. The legendary hills of Rome offer ample opportunities to admire scenic views—the only difficulty lies in choosing where to start, but in this city of La Grande Bellezza, you really can’t go wrong.