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From the Colosseum to the hidden beauty of Ancient Rome
According to tradition, it was on the Palatine Hill that Romulus (brother of Remus, the most famous twins in history, suckled by the legendary wolf) founded the city of Rome, around the eighth century BC. Emperor Augustus then turned it into the official seat by demanding the construction of imperial palaces. It is precisely from the “sacred hill”, that you can take a trip back in time to discover the eternal monuments of the Roman Empire: from its green slopes, you can enjoy glorious views over the archaeological area below.
On the side of the Arcate Severiane (arches) is the Circus Maximus, the immense space (600 meters long and 140 wide) that once hosted games and horse races and today, concerts and events. On the other side is the Roman Forum, the heart of ancient Rome and the ancient official meeting place of the citizens that gathered there to participate or attend political, administrative and economic affairs concerning the community.Even today, you can visit the remains of the ancient Roman Forum, from the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, Basilica Aemilia, Temple of Vesta, Caesar Ara, Arch of Titus and Septimius Severus.
Before you, lies Via dei Fori Imperiali, a charming pedestrian street, perfect for a long and quiet walk from Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum. The Flavian Amphitheatre, the largest in the Roman Empire, contained 70 thousand people, usually mesmerized and excited by gladiator fights and hunting scenes with exotic animals. Don’t settle for a selfie from the outside but enter to visit the amazing underground theatre system with ancient lifts for goods, ramps and other complex engineering structures.
After passing by (no longer underneath, as armies did) the Arch of Constantine – an unparalleled example of Roman sculpture with its friezes and reliefs – walk along via di San Gregorio to the baths of Caracalla. The Thermae Antonianae is one of the largest and best preserved ancient complexes: not only a building for bathing, sport and wellness, but also a place for strolling and studying.They were built on the South side of the city in 216AD and ceased to operate in 537AD.
A week wouldn’t be enough to complete visits to all the Roman gems hidden in the city. Be curious, though, and try to discover the so-called “minor” monuments such as the Circular Temple, in the archaeological area of the Forum Boarium, the oldest existing marble building in Rome, made of Greek Pentelic marble in the first century.If you can, leave the historic centre towards “peripheral” sites such as Villa dei Quintili, the largest and most sumptuous residence of Roman suburbs that stretches between the Appia Antica and the Appia Nuova, or Villa di Livia at Prima Porta, along via Flaminia, beloved residence of Augustus’ wife that here, in the garden, cultivated medicinal herbs for teas and herbal teas.