Rome Janiculum belvedere Vittoriano clouds

Janiculum Hill In Rome – One Of The Best Urban Panoramas In The World

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The article provides travelers with all the necessary information to visit the Gianicolo, the hill of Rome from where one can admire one of the best panoramas in the world.

Janiculum Panorama

The Eastern Panorama

The Gianicolo is a Roman hill famous for its belvedere. From its height of 88 meters, travelers can overlook one of the most beautiful urban panoramas in the world, perhaps the best. From its top, you can see a large part of Rome, and you can appreciate all the beauty that the Eternal City contains.

rome janiculum hill sunset trees

Tourists admire the city at sunset in raptures, while street artists play tunes of famous songs, and flocks of birds hover over the roofs of Rome. On the top of the Janiculum, tourists take turns photographing the landscape, students draw architectural works, groups of friends enjoy drinking drinks, engaged couples embracing each other in a romantic way.

rome janiculum sunset churches dom

Many of them overlook the large terrace from which the most important buildings of the capital can be seen, dominated by the Vittoriano complex. On clearer days, in the distance, you can see what remains of the Città dello Sport, a work never completed on the outskirts of the capital. The white sails of the City of Sport were designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, former designer of the Valencia city of art and science.

The Western Panorama

On the opposite side of the main terrace, you can admire the “Cupolone” (big dome), the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica, so close that it seems you can touch it with your hand. Right here, on one of our visits, we met a twenty-year-old young guy who asked my wife to be photographed.

Rome Janiculum Dom Vatican light

My wife and I are often together romantically. On that day, I asked my wife to get out of the car first, and I went to search for a parking place. The time it took to find a parking place gave this young man the opportunity to approach my wife.

rome janiculum street bust heroes

The young guy, seeing a beautiful woman who looks much younger than she is, let himself be fascinated. While asking for the photograph, the young guy lets his muscular chest be visible under his unbuttoned shirt. But when he provides the email address to send the photo, I’m the one who transcribes it on my cell phone, extinguishing his hot ardor.

janiculum rome view sunset italy

Ever since that day, we have been joking about how my wife has no problem attracting young guys. For her, it is enough to take a walk on the Janiculum Hill.

Janiculum History

The Ancient Times

The name Gianicolo derives from the god Janus, famous for being depicted with two faces – one placed in front and the other behind. Janus was in fact the god of beginnings who could observe both the past and the future.

rome janiculum lante finnish culture

The Gianicolo is not included in the seven hills of Rome, because it is separated from the original center of the city by the river Tiber. The seven hills are, in fact located in the surroundings of the Colosseum, on the east side of the river that cuts through Rome. However, the Gianicolo stands out above the Trastevere district on the west side of the river.

rome janiculum hill view layers

In the 17th century, Pope Urban VIII erected a new city wall on the Janiculum Hill. In fact, the Pope had waged a war that affected the area north of Lazio. Enemy troops could have entered Rome from the ancient Via Aurelia which still today connects the north to Rome, directly reaching St. Peter’s Basilica, seat of the papal government. The Pope, in fact, reigned over the Papal States, whose territory included a large part of central Italy.

Fearing an attack from the north, the Pope built the Janicolensi walls in 1643. The Pope could not have expected that, two hundred years later, the walls would become a problem for the Papal States.

The Roman Republic

In 1848, the Papal States suffered the great revolutionary movements that inflamed Europe. Pope Pius IX had to grant a Statute; however, it was not enough to stop the revolutionary ardor. At the end of 1848, the crowd moved in the direction of San Pietro led by Angelo Brunetti, known as Ciceruacchio (a nickname that derives from a Roman word meaning plump). The crowd forced Pius IX to flight and he fled south to Gaeta.

rome janiculum bust italian unification

The Roman Republic was then established and led by the triumvirate of Giuseppe Mazzini, Aurelio Saffi, and Carlo Armellini. Giuseppe Garibaldi, the greatest Italian hero, also participated in the Constituent Assembly elections.

The Assembly developed the most democratic constitution in Europe, which provided for freedom of worship and opinion, abolished torture and the death penalty, and established universal male suffrage. During these events, Jews were able to leave the ghetto in which they had been confined.

The Siege of Rome

Pope Pius IX asked France for help. Napoleon III’s army, commanded by General Nicolas Oudinot, landed in Civitavecchia and advanced from the north towards Rome, first along the Via Aurelia and subsequently the Via Portuense which connects Fiumicino to Trastevere. Oudinot then made the decision to capture the Janiculum Hill with his force of 30,000 men. French troops began the siege of Rome on June 3, 1849.

rome janiculum view vittoriano synagogue

Following intense combat, the valiant forces of the Roman Republic, under the leadership of Giuseppe Garibaldi, were compelled to surrender. Goffredo Mameli, author of the Italian national anthem, died in the battle.

rome janiculum hill belvedere sunset

The French troops entered the Janiculum walls, thereby restoring Rome to the Pope’s control. Pius IX expelled the revolutionaries and abolished both the Constitution of the Roman Republic and the previously approved Statute. Jews were required to return to the ghetto until 1870 when the Kingdom of Italy incorporated the Papal States.

Museo della Repubblica Romana e della memoria garibaldina  

Today, travelers can relive those hectic days inside the Porta San Pancrazio, through the Museum of the Roman Republic and Garibaldi’s memory. The museum is open from Tuesday to Friday, from 10:00 am to 02:00 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10:00 am to 06:00 pm. Only on January 1st, the museum has special opening hours, from 11:00 am to 04:00 pm. The closing days, in addition to Mondays, are May 1st and December 25th. Admission is free.

rome janiculum museum repubblica romana

Accompanied by a digital version of the revolutionary “Ciceruacchio”, also through documents and films, travelers can retrace the history of the Roman Republic. A story that starts with the liberal wind promised by the election of Pius IX, which soon turned into reaction and obscurantism.

rome jainculum ciceruacchio plump sculpture

Next, the story of the siege of Rome and the sacrifice of many young idealists. A large and beautiful crafted model physically illustrates the siege of the walls by the French army, stationed in the nearby Villa Doria Pamphilj.

rome janiculum garibaldi sculpture hero

The section dedicated to Garibaldi’s memory showcases the red shirts of the volunteer army, the weapons and the stick used by Giuseppe Garibaldi during his last years spent on the island of Caprera. The last room reminds us of the exploits of his son Ricciotti Garibaldi, who continued his father’s raids, always coming to the aid of the weakest.

Giuseppe Garibaldi

From Porta San Pancrazio you can reach the panorama of the Gianicolo by crossing the promenade which presents a series of busts of the patriots who died in the name of the unification of Italy. At the top stands the large statue on horseback depicting the hero of two worlds, Giuseppe Garibaldi.

rome janiculum hill bust heroes

Garibaldi was a leader famous worldwide, for his role in numerous conflicts of the nineteenth century. From the civil war in Uruguay to the Franco-Prussian war, Garibaldi distinguished himself with his military prowess and by always taking the side of the weakest.

rome janiculum giuseppe garibaldi sculpture

In Italy he is considered the main architect of national unity, from a military point of view. The statue portrays him with the typical smoking cap and poncho, a legacy of the years spent in South America.

rome janiculum garibaldi freemasonry italy

Garibaldi was part of Freemasonry. Thus, on the centenary of his birth, Italian Freemasonry led by Ettore Ferrari, the author of the statue of Giordano Bruno in Campo de’ Fiori , placed the inscription “Roma o morte” under the monument. The phrase recalls a speech by Garibaldi in 1862, addressed to his army of volunteers.

Anita Garibaldi and The Italian Lighthouse In Argentina

Nearby, there is the statue that is said to represent his wife Anita Garibaldi. Unfortunately, Anita died young and no one knows her true face. Recently, Francesco Rutelli, the mayor of Rome in the 1990s, revealed that the face of the statue is inspired by that of his grandmother. In fact, the sculptor Mario Rutelli, the grandfather of the mayor and the former creator of the “fritto misto” fountain in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, decided to depict his wife as if she were Anita Garibaldi.

rome janiculum anita garibaldi sculpture

From the monument to Anita Garibaldi, while going down towards the Vatican, the traveler comes across an architectural element that is out of context. Despite the sea being far away, there is a lighthouse similar to those that illuminate the ports.

rome janiculum lighthouse italians argentina

The lighthouse serves a symbolic role, because it is an element donated by the Italians who emigrated to Buenos Aires to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the unification of Italy. For those emigrants who crossed the Atlantic Ocean by ship, the lighthouse was an important symbol because it represented the last memory of the homeland and the first of the host land.

Fontana dell’Acqua Paola

Big Fountain (Fontanone)

Another iconic place on the Gianicolo is the Acqua Paola fountain. The Pope commissioned the fountain to the architect Giovanni Fontana in 1610 as the terminal point of the ancient Trajan aqueduct. In 1690, the new Pope asked Carlo Fontana, nephew of Giovanni, to expand the project.

rome janiculum fontanone big fountain

Today, the work is known to Romans under the name of “Fontanone” (Big Fountain). It resembles a building with five arches separated by columns. Under the arches, five spouts pour water into the basin arranged in a semicircle.

When we visit the fountain, the heat induces many tourists to immerse their legs in the basin, while a young married couple lets themselves be photographed to capture one of the best days of their lives.

rome janiculum hill garibaldini ossuary

Nearby, you can see the Garibaldi Mausoleum, a small building that houses the remains of some patriots who fell to free Rome. The Mausoleum was built in the Fascist era and is distinguished by its rationalist style which doesn’t quite match the historical context of the Gianicolo.

rome janiculum hill wedding view

Fontain Of Acqua Paola In Popular Culture

The Fontanone is one of the symbolic places of Rome, immortalized in numerous films and songs. The first scene of the Oscar-winning film “The great beauty” is set here. Even the film “Spectre”, from the 007 series, includes the Fontanone among its scenes. A Roman rap duo references the Acqua Paola fountain describing their past life in the streets of the capital.

rome janiculum acqua paola fontain

“Birre come da copione, sigarette a colazione

In piazza una chitarra suona sempre la stessa canzone

Asfalto caldo brucia le mie suole

Mio padre mi racconta un’altra Roma, il bagno al Fontanone”

“Beers as expected, cigarettes for breakfast

In the square a guitar always plays the same song

Hot asphalt burns my soles

My father tells me about another Rome, swimming at the Fontanone”

Song “Solo guai” from album “Polaroid” by Carl Brave and Franco 126

Listen/Buy: Apple Music | Spotify | Amazon music

Villa Sciarra

History Of Villa Sciarra

Moving away from Porta San Pancrazio along the Janiculum walls, is Villa Sciarra, one of the most fascinating Roman villas. The area had been used for vegetable gardens for thousands of years, but it was only developed at the beginning of the modern age.

rome sciarra palm fountain

In the modern times, the Colonna Sciarra family purchased the area. The buyer was a descendant of Giacomo Colonna, known as Sciarra, the leader who is said to have slapped Pope Boniface VIII with his iron glove – an episode remembered as “the outrage of Anagni”.

rome villa sciarra exedra sculpture

The owners restored the villa after the siege by French troops in 1849. When Prince Matteo II Sciarra went bankrupt due to wrong financial speculation, the American George Wurts, together with his wife Henriette Tower, bought the villa.

Present Days Of Villa Sciarra

Upon her husband’s death, Henriette handed the villa over to Benito Mussolini with the promise of using it as a public park. In addition to the park, the fascist regime established the Italian Institute of Germanic Studies here – a public institution aimed at promoting the Italian language worldwide and fostering dialogue with Germanic and Nordic-speaking countries. The philosopher Giovanni Gentile was the first president of the institute.

rome villa sciarra sphinx fountain

Today, the villa is an extraordinary place for admiring sculptures and fountains that depicting mythological characters, from Diana to the Sphinxes. During our visit to the villa, the sky was filled with layers and colors, as if painted by those who aimed to provide a splendid view of the city of Rome.

rome villa sciarra sunset

That evening, a unique atmospheric phenomenon occurred involving the entire Tyrrhenian coast. Social networks were populated with photos of magnificent sunsets.

rome barberini cheesecake sweet testaccio

On that same evening, while heading home, we stopped in Testaccio to indulge in the delicious Barberini cake, which is the most important dessert of the Barberini pastry shop, with red icing, chocolate mousse and salted caramel.

Monteverde District

The Heart Of Monteverde

Further on, descending from the Gianicolo in a southerly direction, is the small district of Monteverde. It is one of the most livable places in the capital. A narrow town on a human scale, full of services and restaurants, like the Osteria dal 1931.

rome monteverde restaurant osteria 1931

Then we visited the church of Santa Maria Madre della Provvidenza, which is in front of the restaurant. It is a well decorated modern church that was hosting a very tiny market to help the poor people on its porch.

rome monteverde church maria provvidenza

Quattro Venti

When we visited the Monteverde district, we walked along the bicycle path along the Viale dei Quattro Venti. Legend has it that the avenue that cuts through the neighborhood was named after the French general Oudinot, who commanded the troops of Napoleon III during the siege of Rome.

rome monteverde bicycle quattro venti

If the main attack took place on the top of Janiculum hill, a heroic battle would take place in this area. According to legend, eighty Garibaldians sacrificed themselves to resist the thirty thousand troops of the French army, in the Monteverde area.

rome bicycle path monteverde curve

According to a legendary story, General Oudinot then recognized the heroic actions of the Garibaldians by renaming the area in favor of the eighty heroes as the “quatre-vingts” in French.

janiculum rome panorama roofs italy

Today, you can reach the Monteverde district and then the Janiculum hill by stopping at the train station “Quattro Venti”. From here, you can reach the top of Janiculum hill with a pleasant walk around 1.6 km long. Just be careful because “Quattro Venti” is a very small station situated between the larger stations of “Roma Trastevere” and “Roma San Pietro”, only a few trains stop there. If you want to more information about how to take the train in Italy, you can visit this link.

Those films set in Gianicolo can be rented or bought

Spectre by Sam Mendes (2015):

Apple TV | Google Play | Amazon Prime

The Great Beauty by Paolo Sorrentino (2013):

Apple TV | Google Play | Amazon Prime | Netflix

Stasera a Casa di Alice by Carlo Verdone (1990):

Amazon Prime

Written by Enrico, translated by Hua ,and photos from Hua

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