Description: An evening stroll to enjoy the city, its grand piazzas with beautiful palaces made of noble geometric forms, with the sound of water dancing in the great fountains; a stroll to discover enchanted little streets where time has stopped; a stroll to dream, exploring history and art in a new way. An impassioned journey to encounter popes and emperors, artists and regular people in the places where their lives took shape, there, where ancient rituals and celebrations slowly established the political and religious institutions on which Italian society still rests today.
We begin by following the development of the area of the Piazza di Spagna from the raising of the church of the Trinita' dei Monti on the summit, to the reasons for which the young Gian Lorenzo Bernini and his sculptor father adopted the unusual subject of a boat for the fountain of the Barcaccia, to the social significance of the majestic stairway that came to unite these two areas separated for centuries by a high cliff. After short stops at the Colonna del'Immacolata (Column of the Immaculate Conception) to the house of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, we will reach the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain).
Here we will let ourselves be lulled by the magical song of the waters, immersing ourselves in the work of the architect, Nicola Salvi who, thanks to his design rich with recollections of the great architecture of the past yet capable of making us dream, won the competition to build the fountain, besting other more famous architects. With the right suggestions, it will be easy to read the many legends written in the relief sculpture of the triumphal arch, from which the parade of the god Ocean with his Tritons and winged horses advances to celebrate with us the ancient festival of the water: from the first aqueduct of the first century AD, built by Agrippa, to the latest restoration of the 18th century.
A stop at the Temple of Hadrian, perfectly encased within constructions of other later epochs and styles, brings us to the audacious figure of the brilliant emperor in the throes of the turbulent Roman empire of the 2nd century AD.
The Pantheon by contrast fully expresses the grandeur of Imperial Rome in which ideas, technology, and various cultures blend to make an artwork of extreme power and poetry, so much so that Michelangelo considered its design not human, but angelic. The history of the area is no less fascinating: it was originally a marshland subject to the floods of the Tiber River, then a place dedicated to the god Mars (Campo Marzio, or the fields of Mars) for military exercises, then the site of the first rectangular temple built by Agrippa for his son-in-law Augustus, and finally it became the site of the present refined projection and construction. This temple with its gigantic portico, immense dome with a central opening, which medieval legend said was created by the explosive crash of the demons in flight at the moment of the building's conversion into a church (609 AD), also houses the tombs of Raphael who died prematurely in 1520, and the first King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele, who died in 1878.
Piazza Navona puts us in the midst of a totally different mystery: that of a form preserved for nearly 2000 years; the shape of the arena for the games of the Stadium of Domitian (1st century AD) remains today. But at the same time, we are in the heart of the Roman Baroque era, in the grand themes of the infinite, of movement and optical illusions with which the artists developed a new conception of space and of art. Here we confront two genius like Bernini and Borromini, two opposite personalities, two different ways of living, thinking, and even dying. By Bernini there is the marvelous pyramidal structure of the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) that incorporates an obelisk and culminates in the flight of a dove; by Borromini, the curving facade and bell tower of the church of Santa Agnese that model the space like soft clay. The piazza is full of legends that include that of the beautiful Agnese and her miraculously appearing hair that grew to cover her body at the moment of martyrdom, that of the terrible rivalry between the two artists, historically documented, that of Pope Innocent X and his power, and that of the notorious Donna Olimpia, his sister-in-law and lover.
We finish the tour in two extremely different piazzas: Campo dei Fiori with the taverns and the portable market stalls along the way the pilgrims (precisely via del Pellegrino) went in order to reach the Basilica of San Pietro (St. Peter's) and the frequent executions and public tortures. And by contrast, Piazza Farnese, which is an aristocratic site of cardinals and popes, of the beautiful Giulia Farnese lover of the ravenous Pope Alexander VI Borgia, of court intrigues, and of the two grand basins found in the Baths of Caracalla and re-adapted here as fountains for the popes, presenting themselves as legitimate successors of the ancient emperors. There is also the elegant impressiveness of the palace finished by Michelangelo and from which emanates a sublime sense of harmony between man and the divine, between heaven and earth.
The experience ought to be lived in its entirety, with the mind and the heart, in order to understand and love Rome, its streets, its timeless piazzas, and its infinite history - all there to be discovered.