Because oil on canvas would soon be covered by candle soot, you won't find actual paintings in St. Peter's. Riding the elevator to the top of the monument, we enjoy a sweeping view of the Eternal City. This bubbly Baroque avalanche — dating from the 1700s — seems purpose-built for today's Roman embrace of life. We tour Rome's ancient sights from the Forum and Colosseum to the glorious Pantheon. I think it's a great time. The Vatican Museums can be extremely crowded, with waits of up to two hours just to buy tickets. The church is filled with symbols of Christianity's triumph over pagan Rome: For instance, tradition says these gilded bronze columns once stood in pagan Rome's holiest temple. Then we'll go offbeat to bike the Appian Way and be inspired by Roman engineering. The market thrives in the morning. Downtown Rome's main street, the Via del Corso, is pedestrianized, and strollers just love it. The square fronting it is where, in the 1930s, Mussolini whipped up Italy's nationalistic fervor, ultimately sending a generation of Italian men off to a catastrophic war. Rome welcomes the new millennium spiffed up as never before. I'm Rick Steves. Take advantage of public transport. A building alongside the church houses the Holy Stairs (Scala Santa), said to have been walked up by Jesus, which today are ascended by pilgrims on their knees. And, if you know where to look, important Baroque treasures hide out. Michelangelo's Pietà is adored by pilgrims and tourists alike. Whether you're playing gladiator or simply marveling at the remarkable ancient design and construction, the Colosseum gets a unanimous thumbs-up. The purpose: more PR...telling the story of yet another military victory. Here the 25-year-old Michelangelo makes the theological message very clear: Jesus — once alive but now dead — gave his life for our salvation. Just as Hitler built the Autobahn system in anticipation of empire maintenance, the expansion-minded Roman government realized the military and political value of a good road system. And these rooms celebrate pre-Christian philosophy. Reservations are mandatory and easy to get in English by booking online or calling +39-06-32810 (press 2 for English). Ciao. 4.9 out of 5 stars 43. If you were conquered, you were welcome to keep your own gods...as long as you worshipped Caesar, too. For a close-up look at Michelangelo's dome-within-a-dome design, climb 300 steps to the cupola. We'll eat really well, and go local after dark, lacing together the Eternal City's most romantic night spots. Surrounded by nervous senators, this child emperor is no picture of confidence. From the Appian Way, start at Appia Antica Caffè (near the Tomb of Cecilia Metella), take the bus to the Colli Albani Metro station, and catch the Metro to Giulio Agricola. In fact, if you want to envision ancient Rome in its pomposity today, imagine a vast city made of buildings like this. Right now, we're more interested in a different Rome — busy with life and bursting with Baroque. The 10-story obelisk in the center of the square once graced the temple of Ramses II in Egypt and the Roman Circus Maximus racetrack. Its noble ruins tell a tale of power, politics, and imperial egos; of pagan gods now forgotten; of public art on a grand scale; and of enduring engineering feats. Romans liked to think of themselves as somehow living parallel with the gods. In typical Baroque style, Bernini captures the instant when, just as Apollo's about to catch Daphne, her fingers turn to leaves, her toes sprout roots…and Apollo's in for one rude surprise. (If you're coming straight from Rome, take Metro line A to Giulio Agricola.). The king's moustache forms an arc five feet long, and a person could sit within the horse's hoof. While only a few fragments of that glorious past remain, history seekers find plenty to ignite their imaginations amid the half-broken columns and arches (and my free audio tours help as well). Abandoned in the wild and suckled by a she-wolf, they grew up to establish the city. Romans are proud of their generous green spaces. Without water, Rome basically shriveled up. And to this day, here on the national altar, burns the eternal flame remembering Italy's Unknown Soldier. Something new and stronger was needed. It offers some of the best people-watching anywhere. Statues show how Emperors were worshipped as gods on earth. The altar's exquisite reliefs celebrate Rome's success and prosperity. Bernini's Apollo Chasing Daphne is a highlight. We'll ramble through the venerable heart of Rome, admire breathtaking Bernini statues, ponder sunbeams inside St. Peter's at the Vatican, and mingle with the Romans over an early-evening stroll. Further along the Appian Way is Rome's Aqueduct Park, offeringa chance to see how the ancient city got its water. The long rectangular building is the Vatican Museum, with the adjacent Sistine Chapel — perhaps the richest collection of Western art anywhere. In this week’s episode, Rick explores many areas of Rome, and the Baroque influence there. The church, originally a poor Carmelite church, was slathered with Baroque richness in the 17th century. Put yourself in the mindset of a 17th-century church-goer. And we're doing that al fresco on Piazza Farnese. Monuments like Trajan's Column boosted imperial egos. Tonight we said, "Bring on whatever's fresh." As we ramble through the heart of Rome, we'll admire breathtaking Bernini statues and ponder sunbeams inside St. Peter's Basilica. Romans filled and emptied the Colosseum's 50,000 seats as quickly and efficiently as we do our super‑stadiums today. And this is one of three episodes we dedicate to the Eternal City. One of Rome's most colorful spots, this bohemian piazza hosts a fruit and vegetable market in the morning, cafés in the evening, and crowds of drunks late at night. Rick: Trevi Fountain! Starring: Rick Steves Directed by: Simon Griffith Rick Steves Rome 2020 (Rick Steves Travel Guide) Part of: Rick Steves Travel Guide (32 Books) | by Rick Steves and Gene Openshaw | Oct 29, 2019. Video: Watch Rome: Back Street Riches, an episode of the Rick Steves' Europe TV show. Because they refused to worship the emperor, early Christians were persecuted. Woman: È là. Early birds can even enjoy the generally packed Pantheon nearly all to themselves. The wealthy Borghese family filled their 17th-century villa with art. The outdoor seating is fine for people-watching, but the elegance is inside. The story of ancient Rome can be overwhelming. These aqueducts were the Achilles' heel of Rome. Rome's subway system, while not extensive, is easy to use. (Today, St. Peter is on top.) Especially for a small group, it can be a fine value. In 509, they tossed out their king and established the relatively democratic Roman Republic. For me, the most exhausting thing about traveling here is the heat of summer. Caravaggio tackled the same topic on canvas. Here, this symbol of virtue beats down Protestants. Downtown Rome is a kind of architectural time warp. Francesca: Oh yes, that always — you know how the Italians are so aware of themselves and they like to be looked at, and they like to look at each other. Nine years before Christ, Emperor Augustus led a procession of priests up these steps of this newly built "Altar of Peace." You can save lots of time by buying your combo-ticket at a less-crowded ticket office, buying and printing an online ticket, having the Roma Pass, booking a guided tour, or renting an audioguide or videoguide. Rick: So, this is just sort of an inclination, early evening, cool of the day. Like a 200-yard-long scroll, it winds all the way to the top. Finally, in 1929, the pope and Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty, establishing the Vatican as its own nation. Cabbie: Grazie. Content: Segments from three half-hour episodes from Rick Steves' Europe Season 7: 701 Rome: Ancient Glory, 702 Rome: Baroque Brilliance, and 703 Rome: Back-Street Riches — woven together with additional footage. This obscure, outlawed Jewish sect ultimately became the religion of the empire. She brought home wagonloads of relics including these stairs — believed to be from the palace of Pontius Pilate. This season features the Austrian, Italian, Swiss, and French Alps, two episodes on Egypt, and one on Ethiopia. While pagans didn't enjoy the promise of salvation, those who could afford it purchased a kind of immortality by building themselves big and glitzy memorials. See the Travel Details above for recommendations highlighted in bold, excerpted from Rick's guidebooks. But it all sits upon a solid foundation of the ancient city — which for centuries, was the capital of our Western civilization. A viewing perch gives travelers a close-up look at those huge letters and a heavenly perspective into the church. Trajan extended the boundaries of the empire to its greatest size ever — from the Nile to the north of Britain. Released 2012. With its million people, Rome needed lots of water. With Rick Steves, Madhur Jaffrey. [€9.20] It served the needs of the divine monarchs and of the Church. Rick: Check out who's with who, who's wearing what. Focusing on the grandeur of classical Rome, we marvel at the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the empire's exquisite art. And the angel struggles with the evil serpent of heresy. In the seventh season of Rick Steves' Europe, America's leading authority on European travel Rick Steves rediscovers Rome, Florence, Paris, London, England's Lake District and Durham, and Venice. Thanks to this lack of originality, ancient Greek statues were preserved for our enjoyment today. It was the grandest and fastest road yet...the wonder of its day. For a taste of the countryside around Rome and more wonders of Roman engineering, take the four-mile trip from the Colosseum out past the wall to a stretch of the ancient Appian Way, where the original pavement stones are lined by several interesting sights. Thanks for joining us. The Ara Pacis hosted annual sacrifices by the emperor until the area was flooded by the Tiber River. The gates of imperial Rome are a two-mile chariot ride this way. But we're not done yet. And it remains a popular place to savor the joy of simply being in Rome. We're here in May — and it's punterelle, asparagus, and artichokes. Francesca: Oh yes. Important squares are still marked by towering columns. To call it vast is like calling Einstein smart. Today, the Altar of Peace stands in a pavilion designed by American architect Richard Meier (the pavillion's museum charges a steep entry fee, but tightwads can look in through huge windows for free). Once again, this art carried a message. Rick: Let's go for a walk. Video: Watch Rome: Baroque Brilliance, an episode of the Rick Steves' Europe TV show. Bikes come with locks to allow you to make sightseeing stops. But by the time this statue was carved, it's clear: The Pax Romana was finished...and Rome was falling. Romantic Age tourists on the "Grand Tour" visited by candlelight and legends grew about Christians hiding out to escape persecution. For added entertainment during the games, Christians were executed here. From ancient times until the advent of trains and airplanes, this was most visitors' first look at Rome. After a lifetime of exploring Europe - and inspiring Americans to see Europe as the springboard for world exploration - Rick Steves shares his reasons why. The Via Sacra, or "Sacred Way," was the main street of ancient Rome. Exploring Rome on foot, you alternate between peaceful back lanes and busy arterials. A morning spent wandering is filled with surprises. In fact for centuries, the pope was called the "King Pope." The dome is made of poured concrete, which gets thinner and lighter with height — the highest part is made with pumice, an airy volcanic stone. The polished marble is lifelike — even sensuous. Francesca: Yes, I have. Occasionally I'll splurge in a restaurant like this, where you can let the meal unfold in all its many layers. Looking into the eyes of the man who called himself "the first among equals," you get the feeling that the ship of state was in good hands. Rent a bike or, for romantics, a pedaled rickshaw (riscio). Take a moment. There was a kind of religious freedom back then. Just the magnificent work of the Vatican School of Mosaics — with thousands of different colors in their arsenal of chips. Monday Night Travel. Fortunately, the Palatine Museum contains statues and frescoes that help you imagine the luxury of the imperial Palatine. With sunlight illuminating its alabaster window — as if powering the Holy Spirit, it encrusts the legendary throne of St. Peter with a starburst of Baroque praise. The Colosseum reminds us of ancient pageantry and gladiators. Some sights require paid admission, including Rome's zoo, the National Gallery of Modern Art (which holds 19th-century art), and the Etruscan Museum. The magic of the square is enhanced by the fact that no streets directly approach it. Rick Steves, America's leading authority on European travel, returns to transport viewers to the continent's bustling cities, quaint villages and picturesque countryside. This plush museum, filling a cardinal's mansion in the park, was recently restored and offers one of Europe's most sumptuous art experiences. This church houses Bernini's best-known statue, the swooning St. Teresa in Ecstasy. Don't miss Michelangelo's Pietà (behind bulletproof glass) to the right of the entrance. This is ancient Rome's birthplace and civic center, and the common ground between Rome's famous seven hills. The museum features art from every age. From $9.99 to buy season. Rome is huge, complex, and endlessly entertaining. The place to contemplate that thought is at the Vatican. Throughout the ages, people mined once-glorious buildings as quarries. Season 11 of Rick Steves' Europe debuts this October and features eight all-new episodes. Woman: Prego. The square is surrounded by fun eateries, great for people-watching. In the year 300 you could be killed for being a Christian. Used as a venue for entertaining the masses, this colossal, functional stadium is one of Europe's most recognizable landmarks. Season 7 episode 1, Steves says: "In the year 300 you could be killed for being a Christian; in the year 400 you could be killed for not being one." The Catholic Church — threatened by Luther and the Reformation movement — was striking back. Built in 312 BC, it connected Rome with Capua (near Naples), running in a straight line for much of the way, ignoring the natural contour of the land. That's because they're decorated in the Baroque style. By the year 500, the over-expanded, corrupt, and exhausted Roman Empire had fallen. When the modern nation of Italy unified in the late 1800s, it absorbed most of the Papal States, including the city of Rome. (Having unlimited slave power didn't hurt.) The Republic — designed to rule a small city-state — found itself trying to rule most of Europe. The road starts at the massive San Sebastiano Gate and Museum of the Walls, about two miles south of the Colosseum. Tombs of ancient big shots lined the Appian Way like billboards. This vast oval square marks the traditional north entrance to Rome. The scene is always lively, with lucky Romeos clutching dates while unlucky suitors clutch beers. Shop Our Holiday Sale. For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, The portico, with its stately pediment, has symbolized Roman greatness ever since antiquity. I often find the antipasti and pasta dishes more varied and interesting than the more expensive secondi, or main courses. Choose your day and time, then check your email for your confirmation and print out the voucher to present at the museum. And the museum also shows a more peaceful and intimate side of Roman life. Like the obelisks, its massive one‑piece granite columns were shipped from Egypt. There's too much life in the streets to go home yet. I just left Italy. And this statue, called the Drunken Faun, is a playful reminder that a trait of ancient Rome that survives to this today is a fondness for good food and fine wine. Length: 56 minutes. Regardless of your sightseeing agenda, getting out early lets you enjoy some of the world's great public spaces while they're just waking up. Simple, tasty cucina casalinga — that's home-cooking Roman style. And a place like this [Enoteca Corsi] has them all. And now the pasta. These are the original stones. This one's open weekday lunches only. The stability and relative prosperity that characterized the two centuries of the Roman Peace was due in part to a steady succession of capable rulers. The art of imperial Rome almost always carried a message. Colosseo — that's our stop. Stepping inside, you can almost hear the roar of ancient Rome. Medieval Romans built with scavenged fragments of once-grand buildings. For a dressy night out, this is a reliable and surprisingly reasonable choice — reserve ahead. Every inch is slathered with ornamentation — oh-wow spiral columns framing scenes that almost come to life; cupids doing flip-flops, and ceilings open into the heavens. 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