My favourite place in Rome is the top of the steep steps of Via Magnanapoli, next to Via IV Novembre & looking down towards Trajan’s column. Approaching from Via Nazionale, it’s a great way to be introduced to the Eternal city, with ancient, modern & a multitude of senses-confusing go-betweens right within your grasp, ready to be explored. You leave behind the modern shops & noisy traffic, saunter past shops & restaurants squeezed in next to the steps – squeezed into the hill itself – & are greeted by Roman history at its finest, at its most central. A brilliant, & photogenically framed view at sunrise, daytime, sunset & evening. Truly my favourite place in Rome to stop & feel the world.
My favourite building in Rome is the Pantheon. &, strangely perhaps to some people, the outside is more amazing to me than the inside. Inside there is more marble than one’s eyes can even attempt to calculate or analyse. Your gaze is dragged upwards by the countless pristine columns & altars, to a seemingly unsupported dome & an occulus which leaves you breathless, in awe & making excuses (a giant must have built it!) But outside, wow, outside is built by giants too but 1600 years before the interior makeover. Even with it’s ruinous looks the outside commands more respect & awe than many buildings built since, & time here is etched into it’s very being, forcing you to consider it’s history.
My favourite view in Rome is from Parco Savello, also known as Giardino degli Aranci (the Orange Garden). Passing the Roman/Renaissance hybrid fountain on your way in & turning left on the pathway, you stand on the central avenue of a symmetrical garden with a view of St Peter’s dome which is framed perfectly by the orange trees on either side. At this point you see nothing but dome & sky. But as you approach the terrace, Rome’s bustling skyline appears for its wide shot & pushes the earlier forced perspective aside; almost making the dome appear smaller & further away the closer you get. Surrounded by medieval walls, this mozzafiato – breathtaking – garden is a romantic place; for couples, readers & picnic-ers alike: & its all wrapped up in its own legends too, including the story of how Saint Dominic gave the park it’s first orange tree.