Top 12 most famous and iconic fountains of Rome

1. Trevi Fountain



The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain of Rome and probably one of the most famous fountains in the world, especially after Anita Ekberg bathed in the fountain in the Fellini movie La Dolce Vita.

Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni photographed by the set photographer Pierluigi Praturlon on the set of La Dolce Vita (Fellini, 1960).

Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni photographed by the set photographer Pierluigi Praturlon on the set of La Dolce Vita (Fellini, 1960).





Designed by Nicola Salvi in a style inspired by Bernini, the fountain took 30 years to complete. The original plans for the Trevi fountain had been designed by Bernini, but when Urbano VIII, his commissioner, died in 1644, Bernini fell in disgrace and the project was halted for 60 years. It was taken over by Nicola Salvi under the papacy of Clement XII, but it was not until 3 decades later that the Trevi fountain could finally be inaugurated by Pope Clement XIII.

The main theme of the Trevi fountain is the sea, with as central statue Ocean (or Neptune). Next to  Ocean, who rides a shell-shaped chariot pullet by two sea horses and two tritons, stand Salubrity and Abundance (health and well being). The two horses, a calm one and a wild one, represent the two states of the sea.


Trevi Fountain detail

Trevi Fountain detail


The central Statue of the Ocean (1759-62) stands on a shell-shaped chariot, pulled by two finned sea horses lead by two tritons.

The name of the fountain is believed to derive from tre vie, referring to the three roads that converge on the eponymous square. Another explanation is that the place was named after the young virgin Trivia who discovered the spring that was used to bring water to Rome through a long canal called Acqua Vergine. As we saw above, it was Clement XII who subsequently commissioned Nicolà Salvi to adorn the end of the canal with a majestic fountain.

The fountain also appears as a background in the videoclip of the Bon Jovi song Thank You For Loving Me.


2. Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi), Piazza Navona


Located at the center of the beautiful Piazza Navona, the Fountain of the Four Rivers was commissioned in 1651 by Pope Innocent X, whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphilj, faced onto the piazza.



An unusual view of the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Photo © Giampiero Pecorini.

An unusual view of the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Photo © Giampiero Pecorini.

The four river Gods, which are the protagonists of the Fountain of the Four Rivers represent the four continents then known: the Danube (Europe), the Rio de la Plata (the Americas), the Nile (Africa) and the Ganges (Asia).

To complete the four allegorical characters, Bernini sought the help of several sculptors: Claude Poussin for the Ganges, Giacomo Antonio Fancelli for the Nile, Antonio Raggi il Lombardo for the Danube and Francesco Baratta for the Rio della Plata. Read more at: the Four River Gods of Piazza Navona


Rio de la Plata ("silver river", representing the Americas)

Rio de la Plata (“silver river”, representing the Americas)


Ganges (Asia)

Ganges (Asia)

Nile (Africa)

Nile (Africa)


3. Fontana delle Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain), Piazza Mattei



Created by Taddeo Landini in 1581-1584, probably after a design by Giacomo Della Porta, the late Renaissance fountain was supposed to include four dolphins instead of the four turtles.

However, during restoration works led by Bernini in 1658, the empty spaces left by the missing dolphins were filled with four turtles, a recurrent subject of Bernini, which were already used on the Palazzo Barberini fountain. The turtles are so well integrated into the fountain that it is hard to believe that they were added only a century later!


Fontana delle Tartarughe-rome


4. Fountain of the Naiads, Piazza della Repubblica



Built in 1870, the Fountain of the Naiads counts four groups of reclining nymphs, symbolizing the spirits of rivers and springs. The nymphs as well as the central Glaucus, the mythical fisherman who became a sea god, are by Mario Rutelli (1901-1911).




5. Triton Fountain (Fontana del Tritone), Piazza Barberini



The Baroque style Triton Fountain on Piazza Barberini was entirely designed and sculpted by Bernini. It is an important work as it was Bernini’s first official commission for a public fountain, sculpted in 1643. The fountain was meant to celebrate the proximity of the papal residence, reason why it contains many references to Urban VIII (such as the Barberini bees), patron of the masterpiece. Note that the bees from the Barberini coat of arms are the main subject in another one of Rome’s fountains, the Fontana delle Api.

The initial intent of Bernini was that the spray would reach the scallop shell and from there the water would overflow into the lower basins, but as the water pressure is now lower than at the time when Bernini designed the fountain, some of the initial effect has been lost now.


6. Fountain of the Frogs (Fontana delle Rane), Piazza Mincio



The Fountain of the Frogs is located at the center of the architecturally unusual and beautiful quarter, known as the Coppedè quarter.

The fountain became world famous after the Beatles stepped, fully dressed, into it. Nearby was a famous bar, the Piper, frequented by celebrities such as the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Nirvana, where the Beatles used to hang out in the sixties.


7. Fontana dell’Acqua Paola

Fontana dell'acqua Paola


Better known as the Fontanone del Gianicolo (big fountain on the Janiculum Hill), the Fontana dell’acqua Paola, is THE Roman fountain par excellence. Designed by Giovanni Fontana, the fountain originally had five ponds. They were changed into one single pond in 1690, based on a design made by Bernini for the Trevi fountain that was never carried out.




The opening scene of the Italian movie La Grande Bellezza by Paolo Sorrentino was filmed at the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola.


8. Fontana della Botticella or Fontana del Facchino (Porter’s Fountain), Via di Ripetta

Created in 1580, the Facchino is part of a series of six ‘Talking’ Statues that can be found in various parts of Rome. Why they are referred to as talking statues and what their history is, can be read here. The Facchino is the youngest of them, as it is ‘only’ 432 years old. Only two of the other Talking statues are also fountains: the Babuino and Marforio.




The fountain represents an acquarolo, a man carrying a barrel containing water from the Tiber that he would sell from door to door at a time when the Roman aqueducts were under repair and the city’s fountains were dry.

More about the Talking statues of Rome


9. Fontana del Mascherone, Via Giulia


The Fontana del Mascherone is made of a marble mask standing above a huge granite bassin. Both probably stem from an ancient Roman building, before they were moved to their current location at the intersection of Via Giulia and Via del Mascherone.


10. Fontana delle Anfore, Testaccio

Fontana delle Anfore. Photo © Giampiero Pecorini.

Fontana delle Anfore. Photo © Giampiero Pecorini.

The Fontana delle Anfore on Piazza del Emporio was designed by the architect Pietro Lombardi for the newly defined official rione Testaccio in the 1920s.

The amphora is intrinsically linked to the history of Testaccio and the origin of its name. Indeed, it was in this area on the left bank of the Tiber that the clay amphorae which were used to transport wine and oil into Rome, were stored once they had been emptied in Rome. It was prohibited by law to re-use the amphorae (especially the ones containing oil) once they had been emptied, so they were abandoned on the left bank of the Tiber after use. With the passing of decades, the shards (testae in Latin) had accumulated to form a 35 meter high hill, which came to be known as Mons Testaceus (Hill of Shards). Not surprisingly, when the area officially became the twentieth district of Rome, it chose the amphora as its symbol.




11. Fontana della Barcaccia, Piazza di Spagna


Designed by the father of the famous Bernini, Pietro Bernini, the fountain was commissioned by Urban VIII in 1629 to commemorate the flood of 1598. The form of the fountain is supposed to express the idea of a boat stranded in Piazza di Spagna during the severe flood of the Tiber. The boat is decorated at either end with the suns and bees of the Barberini coat of arms.



12. Fontana del Moro



Originally designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1575, who also designed the fountain on the other side of the Fountain of the Four Rivers on Piazza Navona. The original fountain had four tritons and a central dolphin, but was later renovated by Bernini, who added the central figure of the Moor holding a dolphin by the tail.






A story goes that Bernini purposely made the Moor’s face look like Pasquino, which would have been a kind of disguised insult, as Pasquino was another of Rome’s talking statues, which were used to post caustic and satirical messages against the religious and civil authorities of the city. – See more at: Talking Statues of Rome.

Photo credits: all photos © Rome Bit by Bite, except (from top to bottom): Trevi Fountain © Beboy_ltd; Trevi Fountain © pacaypalla; Trevi Fountain detail by Gemma Louise; Trevi Fountain © oneinchpunch/Istockphoto; Unusual view of the Fountain of the Four Rivers © Giampiero Pecorini; Fontana delle Tartarughe by ka jo and Patrick M; Fountain of the Naiads by Gwenael Piaser; Fountain of the Naiads detail © maxphotography/Istockphoto; Triton Fountain © Manakin; Fontana della Rane by mksfca; Fontana dell’acqua Paola by Stefano Petroni; Fontana del Mascherone by Luc De Leeuw; Fontana delle Anfore © Giampiero Pecorini; Fontana delle Anfore by Lalupa; Spanish steps fountain © phant/Istockphoto; Barcaccia fountain detail © maxphotography/Istockphoto.

Top 9 most colorful food markets in Rome

Campo de' Fiori market

Campo de’ Fiori market

Roman markets are very colorful and certainly worth a visit, even if only to get a glimpse of the good-natured liveliness of these local city hubs, or to discover some new spices, vegetables or cheeses that may be interesting to try. Nearly every rione (district) of Rome has its own market (known as mercati rionali).

Fresh from the market

Fresh from the market

Historically, the oldest markets of Rome are the Campo de’ Fiori and Testaccio markets, as well as the ones on Piazza Alessandria and in Cola di Rienzo. Over time the Roman markets have, however, evolved in three different ways. They either moved to another place, such as the food market that had been held in Piazza Navona since 1478, moved to Campo de’ Fiori in1869, or moved to a covered building (such as the Vittorio market). Little by little some markets were deserted by the local farmers in favor of the district’s immigrant population (Esquilino market).

fresh-from-the-market-2The offer of food products is endless: from seasonal fruits and vegetables, over the freshest fish, fresh and cured meat products, regional cheeses, olive oil, wine, homemade jams, herbs and spices, and much more. You can often find authentic food products and regional specialties that are not sold anywhere else. So, while in Rome why not do your food shopping like the Romans do, at the local district market, rather than going to a super- or hypermarket (which will be a bit harder to find in the city center anyway).


1. Mercato di Testaccio
Piazza Testaccio
District: Testaccio
Mon-Sat, 7:30 – 13:30





One of the oldest markets of Rome, this authentic, popular district market sells both clothes and food products. Formerly located on Piazza Testaccio, the market is now housed in a bright white, covered building near the former slaughterhouse (now the MACRO museum). The market now spreads over 5,000 square meters under one roof. It has lost a bit of its local, “homely” atmosphere, but it is still one of Rome’s most authentic markets.


2. Mercato Esquilino (Piazza Vittorio)
Entrances: Via Principe Amadeo 184, Via Turatti, Via Mamiani and Via Ricasoli
District: Esquilino
Fr-Sat: 9:00 – 17:00, Mon-Thur: 9:00 – 15:00

Mercato Piazza Vittorio


The Esquilino market is the most international market of Rome, offering a wide palette of overseas flavors and colorful languages. Once located on Piazza Vittorio, the market is now housed in a former diary factory, at Via Principe Amedeo, 184.

Specialized in exotic fruits, herbs and species, Indian curries, and other African and Asian products (the main inhabitants of the Esquilino district), it is also one of the cheapest and best stocked food markets of the city. Apart from the exotic foods it also offers the freshest fish and regional cheeses. The adjacent clothing market sells classic Indian dresses and suits.


3. Campo de’ Fiori
Piazza Campo de’ Fiori
District: Campo de’ Fiori
Mon-Sat, 7:00 – 13:30

Every morning, except Sunday, stalls sell fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, dried fruit, rice, pulses and nuts. Due to its location, the market is now mainly aimed at tourists, with some food souvenirs and household stands popping up among the more traditional food products. Although it developed out of the oldest food market of Rome, Campo de’ Fiori is certainly not a farmer’s market selling local produce anymore, but it is still worth a visit because of its beautiful and colorful stands and the Piazza itself.













Sun dried tomatoes

Sun dried tomatoes


4. Mercato Nomentano of Piazza Alessandria
Piazza Alessandria
District: Nomentano


The most beautiful covered market of Rome, the market of Piazza Alessandria is housed in a beautiful Art Nouveau building, with its classic wrought iron structure and glasswork dating to the early 1900s. It is one of the historic markets of Rome, together with the one in Testaccio and the one in Via Cola di Rienzo. It is located next to the ex-Peroni beer factory, near the Porto Pia gate. Here you can find fruits, vegetables, fish and meat,  as well as  flowers. Some historic vendor families are still present in the third generation.


5. Nuovo Mercato Trionfale, Prati (Andrea Doria Market)
Open every day except Sunday
District: Prati


Located in the Prati District of Rome, near the Vatican Museum, the Trionfale Market is one of the largest food markets in Rome, where locals shop for fruit, vegetables, meats, seafood and local wines from the barrel. Also known as the Andrea Doria market, it is a modern, covered market housed in a renovated building that occupies a full city block on Via Andrea Doria between Via Tunisi and Via Santamaura. Not exactly picturesque, but authentic.

Mercato Trionfale

Mercato Trionfale


6. Mercato Piazza delle Coppelle
District: Pantheon
Mon-Sat, 7:00 – 13:00

A very small market in a picturesque area of Rome, selling food, fruit and flowers. It is located just off the small Piazza delle Coppelle, parallel to Via delle Coppelle.

Via delle Coppelle and, on the left, the tiny little Piazza delle Coppelle. The market is just a little further in the street facing Piazza delle Coppelle

Via delle Coppelle and, on the left, the tiny little Piazza delle Coppelle. The market is just a little further in the street facing Piazza delle Coppelle


Market just off Piazza delle Coppelle

Market just off Piazza delle Coppelle


7.  Piazza San Cosimato
District: Trastevere
Mon – Sat mornings


The market in Piazza San Cosimato is a lively fruit and vegetables market in the picturesque district of Trastevere. Many of the vendors are still descendants of the original farmers who sold their local produce here.


8. Piazza dell’Unità Market in Prati
Open Monday-Saturday 7 am – 8 pm.
Via Cola di Rienzo
District: Prati


Located in one of Rome’s upper-class residential neighborhoods, the market of Piazza dell’Unità is a lovely covered market, housed in a white, arched building from 1928, where to buy seasonal vegetables, fruits and other food products. Unlike other food markets it offers underground parking, which is very welcome when shopping in Rome.


9. San Teodoro, Circo Massimo
Via San Teodoro 74
Saturday and Sunday, 9 am – 6 pm.

A great weekly farmer’s market, selling seasonal fruits and vegetables, olive oils, fresh and cured meat products, honey and jams, as well as plants and flowers.


Photo credits: all photos © Rome bit by bite, except (from top to bottom): Campo de’ Fiori by Andrea~S; Fresh from the market (2 photos) by Valeria; Testaccio market by Ryan Oriecuia and Eric ParkerVittorio by candido33; Campo dei Fiori view by Albert; Campo dei Fiori © Rulan/, Su-Lin and dal 1929 by Sergio Carvalho; Mercato Piazza Alessandria by Adalberto Tiburzi; Mercato Trionfale building by Fabiano; Mercato Trionfale by David McSpadden; Mercato Piazza San Cosimato by Lorena Suárez; Mercato Vaticano by Andrea Usseglio; Massimo by Fabio Gaglini;

One of Rome’s architectural gems you might have never heard of: the Coppedè quarter

The Coppedè quarter  (quartiere Coppedè) is a small, unusual urban area of Rome, named after the Florentine architect who designed it, Gino Coppedè. Little known by tourists, it is one of Rome’s architectural gems, worth exploring for its rich, unique architecture and beautiful streets.

Located within the Trieste district, between Via Tagliamento and Piazza Buenos Aires, it is not properly speaking a quarter, but a small, architecturally meaningful, area consisting of 18 villas and 27 buildings and apartment buildings. The term quartiere was used by Coppedè himself and it has remained in use ever since.

Detail of the Villino delle Fate

Detail of the Villino delle Fate





Inspired by the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles that were en vogue in Europe in the beginning of the 1900s, as well as by the Medieval, Mannerist and Baroque styles, which he also mastered, Coppedè designed the plans for the quarter and worked on it from 1913 until his death in 1927. After his death, his son-in-law Paolo Emilio André, continued the original project, which consisted in creating an authentic and unique quarter. The last work built by Coppedè is probably the gate at number 2 on Piazza Mincio, which is a copy of a scene of the movie Cabiria from 1914.

Coppedè’s style also included Assyrian-Babylonian influences and mythological, Greek and Christian references, yet his eclectic architecture displays a consistent and recognizable style. His work is sometimes defined as Neo-eclectic, but the truth is that his style is truly unique and can’t be compared to any other existing architectural style.


Piazza Mincio

Piazza Mincio


The epicenter of the Coppedè quarter is Piazza Mincio. The entrance of the quarter is located on the side of Via Tagliamento, marked by an impressive arch, decorated with a wrought iron chandelier.

Entrance to the Coppedé Quarter

Entrance to the Coppedè Quarter









Palazzina del Ragno


Detail of Palazzina del Ragno







Sundial on Villino delle Fate

Sundial on Villino delle Fate


“Fiorenza Bella”, an ode to Coppedè’s city of birth, Florence (Villin0 delle Fate)



Photo credits (top to bottom): Quartiere Coppedé Corso Trieste by Valeria; Silvia C; Arch with palm by Steve Silverman; Giulia Gasparro; Entrance to the Coppede quarter by Fabio Spinozzi; under the arch with wrought iron chandelier by fluido & franz; detail architecture by patata; black and white detail by Steve Silverman; house on piazza Mincio by patata; detail palazzo by Steve Silverman; Palazzo by Nephelim BadTusk; she-wolf by Steve Silverman; Art Deco quarter light by mermaid; Sundial by RaSeLaSeD – Il Pinguino; Fiorenza Bella by Giulia; Masimiliano.


Tips for a trendy and off-the-beaten-path weekend in Rome

While Rome is world famous for its historic monuments, museums and traditional cucina romana, the city is also the home to many vibrant and trendy places. For those of you who are looking for something special, exclusive, and a bit off-the-beaten-path, for example to celebrate a unique moment, or to impress a loved one,… or just because you want to hang out where the famous and fashionable (locals) go, here’s a list of ideas for a trendy-chic and off-the-beaten path week-end in Rome. Some of Rome’s iconic, not-to-be-missed places, complete the list.


Aperitif at Salotto 42

On your day of arrival start with an aperitif at Salotto 42, on the beautiful Piazza di Pietra in front of the impressive Temple of Hadrian built on the campus Martius in 145 AD.

Salotto 42, Piazza di Pietra. Photo © Ted McGrath - All rights reserved.

Salotto 42, Piazza di Pietra. Photo © Ted McGrath.


Piazza di Pietra, with on the right the Temple of Hadrian and on the right Salotto 42.

Piazza di Pietra, with on the right the Temple of Hadrian and on the left Salotto 42.


The bar is frequented by locals mostly, the bella gente romana and Roman yuppies, for its good music, fashionable, yet cozy, bar atmosphere and excellent cocktails (also delicious non-alcoholic ones). Oysters and sashimi are offered with the drinks.

salotto-42-romeThe bar is nice at lunch time, too, with its healthy salad buffet and “raw” food. Most impressive, however, is the Temple of Hadrian, opposite the bar, which seems to have been completely integrated into the architecture of the piazza. Of the original temple only 11 columns remain, which were integrated in a new building at the end of the 17th century and would later become Rome’s Stock Exchange. Now in disuse, the building is mostly used for temporary exhibitions.

If you arrive earlier in the afternoon, we suggest a visit to the elegant and unusual chocolatier Moriondo & Gariglio in Via del Pie’ di Marmo. They have a surprising 100% cocoa chocolate (without sugar), invented in the 1920s and known as poison, which is divine! They also have delicious marrons glacés, another one of their specialties.

You can have a chocolate tasting at one of their boudoir tables or compose a little bag with you own favorite selection of chocolates.


The chocolatier Moriondo & Gariglio in Via del Pie’ di Marmo.



Opposite the chocolate shop, at the angle of Via Santo Stefano del Cacco and Via del Pie’ di Marmo, you’ll find one of Rome’s ‘hidden’ curiosities. The Pie di Marmo statue (marble foot statue), after which the street was named, was once part of a giant, probably female, statue located at the entrance of a temple dedicated to the gods Isis and Serapis. Some scholars think that the statue was Isis herself, which adds to the paradox of this long-forgotten marble foot statue, as Isis was a much venerated Goddess in ancient Rome, yet, today nobody seems to notice this surprising relict.

Pie di Marmo

Pie di Marmo

For elegant window shopping head to Via Condotti, or the even more exclusive Via del Babuino (connected to Via Condotti by Piazza di Spagna), with its luxury brands, concept-stores and concept-cafés, such as the unusual bar-restaurant-museum Canova-Tadolini (Via del Babuino 150).

Bar-restaurant-museum Canova

Bar-restaurant-museum Canova-Tadolini. Photo © DeeDee Schroeder

Bar-restaurant-museum Canova-Tadolini.

Bar-restaurant-museum Canova-Tadolini. Photo © Thomas Keenes

Nearly parallel to Via del Babuino is Via Margutta, Rome’s artist quarter (where Fellini used to live) with its artist galleries, marble workshops and antiques.

Via Condotti

Via Condotti


Via del Babuino

Via del Babuino


Fine-dining in Rome

Rome counts over 8,000 restaurants, many of which are very touristy, due to the many tourist attractions in close proximity. However, the trendy, non-touristy places, frequented by locals, are not necessarily located outside the center. Two of the three stylish restaurants listed below are located in very touristy areas of Rome, yet do offer something different from the eating places aimed at passers-by.


La Rosetta, Pantheon

La Rosetta by the Pantheon is one of the best fish restaurants in Rome and one of the few fine-dining and non-touristy restaurants in the Pantheon area. A hub for VIPs and local celebrities, the restaurant offers the freshest seafood and excellent five-star service.


With his Oyster Bar, the famous chef, Massimo Riccioli, has even developed a “low-cost concept of high-level cuisine” next to the restaurant, where to enjoy his cuisine without diving to deep into your wallet.



Glass Hostaria, Trastevere

Glass Hostaria, Trastevere - Tartare

Glass Hostaria, Trastevere – Tartare

Inventive flavor and texture combinations, an impressive wine list and nice service that’s what you’ll get at the Glass Hostaria in Trastevere. The Michelin-starred restaurant really stands out in the Trastevere rione, where most of the other restaurants are very touristy. Glass offers interesting tasting menus, with the possibility to pair wine by the glass.


Settembrini, Prati

Settembrini is a very Roman and original place, away from the traditional, touristy areas of Rome, where local people come for lunch or dinner. The cuisine is excellent and the atmosphere stylish and modern, but laid-back and homely at the same time, due to the bookshelves decorating the restaurant, which confer it a homely feel. Actually, the bookshelves are not just there for decoration, as the restaurant doubles as bookshop. There is also a wine-bar next door where they serve nice cocktails and salad-like dishes.



Sleep in an elegant Roman Palazzo

One of Rome’s best kept secrets are the fabulous private Roman palazzi turned into beautiful accommodation. Little advertised, these places incorporate a touch of history, while offering you beautiful accommodation without making you pay the extravagant prices you would be charged in a traditional hotel with rooms of an equivalent standard. It are usually houses within the very center of Rome that belong(ed) to noble families where a few rooms are made available for guests. Usually reception is open only a few hours a day and in many cases there is also no breakfast room (in which case breakfast is served in the room) or other facilities, which is the reason why the prices can be kept down as compared to more expensive luxury hotels with rooms of similar quality.

This type of accommodation is usually listed as “Suites” or “Residenza”, meaning luxury rooms but without the full range of hotel facilities. However, not all Suites have kept the traditional palazzo lay-out and decoration. Some have been completely renovated and modernized, losing a bit of their historic aura. So, be sure to read the description on your usual booking site to make sure you get what you are looking for. Personally I prefer the Suites that have kept close to the palazzo feeling of once upon a time and in which Roman families are still living. One such Palazzo is Navona Gallery & Garden Suites in Via del Governo Vecchio, close to Piazza Navona.

Gate to the Gallery & Garden Suites in Via del Governo Vecchio.

That’s the entrance to the Navona Gallery & Garden Suites in Via del Governo Vecchio. It’s kind of a kick to have your ‘own’ keys to enter ‘your’ Roman palazzo, as if you had always lived there… 🙂

Although the Navona Galley & Garden Suites are located in the busy Via del Governo Vecchio, the rooms are all at the back of the building, around the peaceful inner court. A surprising heaven a silence and relax in the middle of the city! For info and room types, see Navona Gallery & Garden Suites.


Reception and private little inner garden at Gallery & Garden Suites


Another one is Residenza Ruspoli Bonaparte, close to Piazza di Spagna

Living-room part of the two-bedroom suite at Residenza Ruspoli Bonaparte

Living-room part of the two-bedroom suite at Residenza Ruspoli Bonaparte

Residena Ruspoli Bonaporte - breakfast in the room

Breakfast in the room at Residenza Ruspoli Bonaparte

For more info and other room types at Residenza Ruspoli Bonaparte, click here.


If money is not an issue (read: is REALLY NOT an issue), one of the most beautiful hotel roof-top suites with a terrace in the center of Rome is the Penthouse suite of Hotel d’Inghilterra, one of the legendary hotels of Rome. The hotel owes its name to the fact that many Englishmen, poets and artists, used to stay here when in Rome. The romantic poet Keats, who lived in Piazza di Spagna, used to rent rooms here for his visiting friends, among whom Lord Byron, here.

Hotel d'Inghilterra Penthouse Suite with terrace

Hotel d’Inghilterra Penthouse Suite with terrace

The hotel suite with large separate sitting room has an impressive 200mq terrace overlooking the rooftops of Rome from Villa Medici to the Vittoriano. The only downside is the price tag: several thousands of euros! But, no worries, there are also more affordable suites available in this historic hotel!

hotel-inghilterra-penthouse-suite-bFor info about Hotel d’inghilterra and other room types, click here.


Next morning coffee at Caffè Farnese


Caffè Farnese on Piazza Farnese.

Close to the picturesque Campo de’ Fiori is Caffè Farnese, on the eponymous Piazza, the elegant square where the French Embassy is located. There is a kiosk next to the caffè and the terrace is really inviting, so this is a nice place where sip a coffee while reading your newspaper and soaking up the early morning atmosphere of the piazza.

Caffè macchiato and cappuccino at Caffè Farnese

Caffè schiumato and cappuccino at Caffè Farnese

If you enjoy people-watching head to Bar Canova, on Piazza del Popolo. For more great morning coffee places, see: Top 7 most famous cafés of Rome.

Bar Canova on a rainy day.

Bar Canova on a rainy day.


Brunch at Hotel de Russie

Brunch at Hotel de Russie.

Brunch at Hotel de Russie.


Before leaving Rome enjoy an elegant and gargantuesque brunch at Hotel de Russie, in Via del Babuino. The iconic hotel has a beautiful garden in the middle of the city where you can enjoy a relaxing weekend brunch away from the city’s hectic. The brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays, from 12.30pm to 3.30pm. There are four different buffet stations, one with salads and cold dishes, another with sashimi, oysters, lobster cocktails and other raw fish specialties, a third one with primi (pasta and rice dishes) and secondi (hot main dishes) and a last one with cheeses and desserts (the crème brulée is divine!).


If you have some time left, have a walk along Via Veneto. The avenue has a bit lost from its former flamboyance and is now deserted by the locals, but in the 1960s it was the hub of the dolce vita and the place where all movie stars hung out. It is worth admiring the elegant hotels and palazzi that line Via Veneto. A few of Rome’s historic cafés, such as Café de Paris, are also located here.


Excelsior hotel, Via Veneto


Café de Paris, Via Veneto

Café de Paris, Via Veneto

If you are still in for something sweet or just wish to take an afternoon coffee, we suggest you head to Giolitti, one of the historic gelaterie of Rome (founded in 1900), or have a granita di caffè on the terrace of Caffè Tre Scalini on Piazza Navona, with or without their famous black chocolate gelato or tartufo artigianale.


Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Photo credits: all photos © Rome Bit by Bite; except (from top to bottom): Salotto 42 outside © Ted McGrath; Canova coffeeshop © DeeDee Schroeder; Canova Tadolini © Thomas Keenes aka gpsforaknownplace; Pantheon by Roma a piedi; Rosetta restaurant by Nika Vee; Glass Hostaria tartare by dodoyf; Caffe Farnese by Patrick M, Excelsior hotel by Alvaro Garrido.

A relaxing ramble round Rome’s historic Rose garden


Tired of the hustle bustle of tourists in Rome? Why not pay a visit to the city’s beautiful rose garden? The Roseto Comunale di Roma is an unusual garden located by the Circus Maximus in the Valle Murcia between the Palatine and Aventine Hills. It makes for a beautiful and relaxing stroll and an excellent escape from the crowded museums and sights in the city.




Originally created in 1931 close to the Colosseum, the rose garden was moved to its current location in 1950, which was the seat of the Temple of Flora in the III century B.C. The Roseto features over 1,100 rose species from all over the world, many of which are old garden roses and species roses.



The beautiful, relaxing oasis of colors in the middle of the city, with in the backdrop the Forum Romanum, makes this rose garden unique in its kind.



The largest part of the garden, subdivided into species roses (rose botaniche), old garden roses (rose antiche) and modern roses (rose moderne), hosts a great number of rose varieties that allow to trace the evolution of the rose from antiquity to today.

The smallest area features modern roses sent from all over the world, which after a two-year period, will take part in the prestigious world-famous competition Premio Roma, which rewards new rose varieties of exceptional quality or originality.


Rose Pierre de Ronsard

Rose Pierre de Ronsard

Rose Fantin Latour

Rose Fantin Latour








Among the most unusual roses of the Roseto are the rose Chinensis Viridiflora, with green flower petals, the Rosa Foetida, a bad-smelling rose and the rose Chinensis Mutabilis, which changes color over time.



Chinensis Viridiflora

Chinensis Viridiflora


Another curiosity is the Rosa ‘Sea Foam’, a bracteata hybrid obtained by William Paul in 1918. The rose was believed to be extinct and is mentioned as officially extinct in many catalogs, so the exceptional specimen hosted in the Roseto of Rome may well be the only surviving one in the world.

The rose garden is open to the public from April 21 to June 15, when the roses are in bloom. Indeed, many old rose species only bloom once a year between May and June.


Photo credits: all photos © Rome bit by bite, except (from top to bottom): uphill view of the garden and salmon colored rose by Aurelio Candido; rose close up by Dicas de Roma.

How a Roman nickname came to mean ‘Emperor’ and other curiosities of ancient Roman nomenclature

Roman Nomenclature
(Tria Nomina, Roman naming conventions)


The Roman name usually consisted of three elements (tria nomina): a praenomen, a nomen (or nomen gentilicium) and a cognomen.

In their use, the Roman praenomen corresponds to our first name and the nomen to our surname, the latter being the only part of the name that is always inherited and that indicates our belonging to a family (note the French nom de famille for surname). However, as the word “surname” suggests, etymologically most family names stem from a nickname, or an identifiable trait or title, which is more similar to a cognomen. A surname can be a nickname (Bullock, meaning “young bull”), a place name (Ashley), a profession (Smith) or a honorific title, such as a title of nobility.

So, in our European tradition, the equivalent of the cognomen, which usually was a nickname, became the inherited part, the name that indicates our belonging to a specific family, while in ancient Rome the cognomen was usually specific to a person, but we will see that there were also exceptions to this rule.

The praenomen alone was only used with intimate friends and family. Otherwise it was always followed either by the cognomen (with acquaintances) or by the nomen and cognomen (in formal situations). In writing it was usually abbreviated rather than spelled out. The abbreviation could be the initial, or first three letters.

Reconstruction of the inscription from the Arch of Claudius in the Museo della Civilita Romana at EUR (the original is now in the Capitoline Museums, Roma). Notice the abbreviated name Ti(berio) Clau[dio Drusi f(ilio) Cae]sari / Augu[sto Germani]co / pontific[i maxim(o) (etc.) or ‘(For) Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, son of Drusus, pontifex maximus’ (etc.).

Let’s examine the following example of Roman nomenclature: Gaius Julius Caesar.


1. Praenomen

In our example, Gaius would be the praenomen or personal name, similar to our first name, but usually far less colorful and personal. Only about 100 praenomina were common in ancient Rome and the same ones were used over and over again from generation to generation, so that by 100 BC only about 20 common praenomina were still in use among patrician families. The two most common Roman praenomina Marcus and Gaius are derived from the god Mars, the legendary father of the twins Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome,2 and Gaea, the Earth Goddess. Tiberius, another common Roman praenomen, comes from a sort of deity, the Father Tiber.

Other common praenomina are derived from circumstances of birth: Lucius (the light of day), Manius (morning), Posthumus (born after his father`s death), Gnaeus (“birthmark“), Spurius (possibly used for children born out of wedlock), Agrippa (“born feet first“) and Caeso („cut“, hence born by Caesarian section).

The so called “number names” possibly refer to the position in the sibship: Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, Octavius, Nonus, Decimus (fifth, sixth, seventh, eigth, nineth and tenth son respectively). However, as Roman nomenclature only uses numbers names from the fifth number up, some scholars, like the finnish philologist Olli Salomies, questions the fact that “number names“ were actually used to number sons in the family and utters the possibility that they designated the month of the child’s birth instead.

Some praenomina were exclusively used within the same family, for example Appius was used only by the Claudii and Tiberius only by the Claudii Nerones and the Aemilii families.


2. Nomen

If we continue with the same example, Julius would be the nomen or gentilicial name, which designated the person’s gens or clan. It was the most important element in the Roman naming system: it was the component of name that was inherited and also indicated the position of the gens in the state, its antiquity and sometimes its origin.

The original gentes were descended from the families who settled Rome, the Roman aristocracy. Well-known nomina include many of the familiar names of ancient Rome, such as Aemilius, Claudius, Cornelius, Julius, Pompeius, Antonius and Valerius. The nomen often ended in -ius, -eus or -us and were derived from a praenomen or a cognomen.

The majority of the non-Latin nomina gentilicia originally came from names of tribes. Nomen in the following endings, for example, indicated a non-Latin origin: Gallic origin (-acus), Etruscan (-na, -nius), Oscan (-idius), Umbrian or Picene origin (-ienus).

However, citizens whose aristocratic status was more recent, often had nomina derived from place names or nicknames. Barbatus (bearded), Crassus (fat), Calvus (bald), for example, were based on physical physical, but nomina could also refer to personality traits or qualities, Maximus (best), Brutus (brutish), or to professions Mallius (ironworker), Faber (carpenter), or have a symbolic meaning, Cicero (chickpea), Coepis (onion).

Tribes from Hispania favored names based on animals, such as Lupus (wolf), Corvinus (raven), Porcius (pig), Asinius (donkey). Nomina could also refer to historical figures or gods (Sulla, Romulus).


3. Cognomen

The Caesar of our example would be the cognomen or surname, which could be honorific or designate a branch within the gens or just be a nickname, in which case it was also known as an agnomen. The cognomen was not used officially until around the time of Sulla. Cognomina were sometimes inherited for the sake of convenience or to keep a honorable name within the family.

Julius Caesar and Octavian, Palazzo Ducale, Venice.

Julius Caesar and Octavian, Palazzo Ducale, Venice.

Occasionally, a fourth name was added to the tria nomina, for example in case of adoption all three names of the adoptive father were transmitted to the adoptee, and an adjectival form of the adoptee’s own nomen (formed by adding the suffix -anus) was usually added. Thus, when Gaius Octavius Thurinus was adopted by his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, his formal name became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. Notice that this fourth name was sometimes used in a derogative or disrespectful way. In this original name, his cognomen Thurinus probably commemorated his father’s victory at Thurii.

Modern historians usually refer to him as Octavian when referring to the period before he officially gained the honorific Augustus (“the revered one”) which was added to his name in 27 BC. This title was also referred to as cognomina ex virtute and was usually a title of honor given to a great politician or a victorious general. In the latter case, the cognomina ex virtute often was a declination of the region conquered. P. Cornelius Scipio, for example, was subsequently known as P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus after he had defeated Hannibal.


4. What’s in the name Caesar?

To this day the etymology of the cognomen Caesar is unknown, but eventually it came to mean emperor (as is still evident in some foreign languages, for example in the Dutch keizer and German kaiser). Unlike what many think, Caesar was not given this cognomen because he was emperor, as the name had been in the Julius family for a very long time before he became emperor. Actually, it indicated to which branch of the Julius family Caesar belonged. It is only after that the name came to mean ’emperor’.

The original meaning of the name Caesar is subject to many hypothesis. The etymology favored by Pliny the Elder is that the name derives from the word caesum (‘cut out’), presumably because the first Caesar of the gens was cut from his mother’s womb. The word caesare would simply be a more ancient form of the verb caedere. However, Julius Caesar himself could not have been delivered by Caesarean section, as at that time this risky operation was only performed on dead or dying women, while Caesar’s mother is known to have lived many years after his birth. The operation, regulated by the Lex Casesarea (the “imperial law”, possibly originally “the law on autopsy”) was performed either in a last resort to save the baby’s life, or for religious reasons, so the infant could be buried separately from the mother.

Caesar himself favored a more heroic origin of his name. The name’s etymology would be related to the Punic word for “elephant” caesai, because the first bearer of the name had killed an elephant in a battle, possibly during the first Punic War. The suffix -ar was indeed highly unusual for a Latin name, which would confirm a non-Latin origin. On his first denarius (silver coin), Caesar displayed an elephant above the name CAESAR, as a claim for extraordinary political power in Rome, but probably also as an unmasked allusion to this etymology.



5. Women’s names

The Roman nomenclature for women was less defined and less complex, probably reflecting their subordinate role in Roman culture. Women often did not have a praenomen. Instead, they were named with the feminine form of the nomen (or, occasionally, the cognomen) that indicated her gens. Thus, women belonging to the gens Julius were named Julia, and women belonging to the Cornelius family were named Cornelia.

In public they could be identified by the genetive form of their father’s cognomen. If the women was married, her husband’s name was added to her full name.  In other instances, the mother’s name was added. This custom reflects that fact that women had no independent status in Ancient Rome, they necessarily had a tutor, either the father in the case of an unmarried girl, or the husband, if she was married. Sometimes, a term in the form of an adjective indicating the order of birth (Maxima, Secunda, Tertia, Maior, Minor) or a diminutive (Livilla) was added to distinguish between sisters.

Some families, however, added a cognomen to the names of their female family members.


6. Slave Names

Slaves were named after their master. For example, Marcipuer and Marcipuella were derived from Marcus. When slaves were freed, they dropped the derivative of their master’s name and acquired the master’s praenomen and nomen. If a slave had been freed by a woman, he took her father’s praenomen and nomen plus his slave name

Sometimes they also added a latinized version of their original name (which was usually of foreign origin) to their full name.

The same occurred when a foreigner was granted Roman citizenship; he usually received the name of the emperor under whose rule the citizenship had been granted.


Originally written in August 2008, revised in October 2103 and May 2014.

Photo credits (top to bottom): detail Arch of Claudius by Mike Bishop; Palazzo Ducale detail by Sebastià Giralt; Gaius Julius Caesar by Colin Bewes.


Top 7 Museums in Rome

For more than 2,700 years Rome has been a crossroads of the world. The city-empire has absorbed and embraced many different cultures, as testified by its impressive architectural and artistic legacy. Here is a list of seven of Rome’s best museums where to get a feel of the powerful aura of the City of Seven Hills.

1. Capitoline Museums
Piazza del Campidoglio 1
Tel: +39-06-671.02.071


The Capitoline Museums are considered one of the oldest public museums in the world. They are located on the Piazza del Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill, the smallest hill in Rome. Originally designed by Michelangelo, the Piazza del Campidoglio, its surrounding buildings and the decorated, central pavement were meant to form one homogeneous entity, a kind of “museum city”.

Statue of Marcus Aurelius at the center of Piazza Campidoglio. This statue is a replica made in 1981 of the original housed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori Museum.

Statue of Marcus Aurelius at the center of Piazza del Campidoglio. This statue is a replica made in 1981 of the original housed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori Museum.

The Capitoline museums include the Appartamento dei Conservatori, the Museum of Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Pinacoteca Capitolina (all three housed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori), and the Museo Capitolino (housed in the Palazzo Nuovo). The museums contain works from the Roman era, but also some pieces from Medieval Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque era. The Museum of the Palazzo dei Conservatori contains a collection of antique art pieces, and also houses the symbol of the City of Seven Hills, the Lupa Capitolina, or She-Wolf of Rome.

Lupa Capitolina. Photo © Rome Bit by Bite

Lupa Capitolina. Photo © Rome Bit by Bite


Dying Gaul in the Museo Capitolino. Photo © Rome Bit by Bite.

Dying Gaul in the Museo Capitolino. Photo © Rome Bit by Bite.


In the courtyard of Palazzo Nuovo there’s the statue of Marforio, one of the Talking Statues of Rome.

Marforio. Photo © Rome Bit by Bite.

Marforio. Photo © Rome Bit by Bite.


2. Vatican Musems
Entrance: Viale Vaticano


The Vatican Museums include the:

Museo Pio-Clementino: Greek and Roman antiquities and the Sala della Biga

Sala della Biga (Hall of the Chariot) - Museo Pio Clementino.

Sala della Biga (Hall of the Chariot) – Museo Pio Clementino.


Chiaramonti Museum: contains Roman copies of Greek original art works, as well as original works.

New Wing

Gallery of Maps

Etruscan Museum: among other pieces, a remarkable gold fibula and the Mars found at Todi.

Egyptian Museum

Museo Gregoriano Profano

The Four Raphael Rooms (Stanze di Rafaello): a renaissance masterpiece decorated by Raphael and his pupils from 1508 to 1517. Only the Stanza di Eliodoro and the Stanza della Segnatura were entirely decorated by Raphael himself. The only exception in the second room is part of the ceiling, which was executed by Il Sodoma and Bramantino. The other rooms were decorated by Raphael’s pupils following Raphael’s drawings and insturctions.


Stanza della Segnatura – Raphael Rooms


Stanza di Eliodoro – Raphael Rooms

Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina): the vault painted by Michelangelo from 1508 to 1512 illustrates the Bible, the Creation, the Flood and above the altar the Last Judgement, added in 1534.

Pinacoteca Vaticana: A gallery with religious-themed paintings from the various papal palaces. The picture gallery, which also contains some impressive works by Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio, is arranged chronologically and by schools of painting.

Ethnological Museum


3. Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia
Piazzale di Villa Giuglia 9
00196 Roma
Tel: +39-06-320.562

Julius III’s  elegant villa features an impressive collection of artifacts from the Etruscan civilization, the people who inhabited Italy before the Romans. More about the Etruscan museum at Villa Giulia.


4. Museo Nazionale Romano
Palazzo Altemps
Piazza Sant’Apollinare 44
000186 Roma
Tel: +39-06-399.677.00
Tue-Sun: 9.00-19.45


Roman sarcophagus from Portonaccio (180–190 AD) in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme.

The museum traces the history and culture of the city of Rome, ranging from the prehistory of Rome and the birth of Latin to the Middle Ages. The collections are housed in different locations: Baths of Diocletian (prehistory), Palazzo Massimo alle Terme(figurative arts from the late Republican and Imperial eras) and other antique Roman and Greek sculptures (Palazzo Altemps and Crypta Balbi).


5. Museo e Galleria Borghese
Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5
000197 Roma
Tel: +39-06-841.39.79


The superb 17th century villa, designed by Flaminio Ponzio for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, hosts a collection of paintings from antiquity to the 19th century. An avid collector of Ancient, Renaissance and neo-Classical art, Cardinal Scipione Borghese accumulated an important art collection and also commissioned work from some of the prominent sculptors of his time, such as Bernini and Cordier.


6. Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica

Palazzo Barberini
Via delle quatro fontane 13
District: Quirinal and Via Veneto

Illusionistic ceiling by Pietro da Cortona among other 14th to 18th centuries artistic works.

Palazzo Corsini
Via della Lungara, 10

Paintings by Rubens, Titian, Caravaggio and Van Dyck.


7. Museo Centrale del Risorgimento Italiano
Piazza Venezia
00186 Roma
Tel: +39-06-679.35.98/26

A museum recommended for those who want to know more about the history of Italy.

Photo credits: all photos © Rome Bit by Bite, except (from top to bottom), Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius by Greenzowie; Vatican museums by vgm8383; Sala della Biga by Marcello Baschieri; Museo Pio-Clementino by Serguei; Gallery of Maps by Mookiefl and SpirosK photography; Raphael Rooms (1 & 2) by Xiquinho Silva; Sistine Chapel by féileacán; Museo Nazionale Romano by Rodney Farrant; Galleria Borghese by rosapolis:


Rome’s Talking Statues – between reality, poetry and legend

Talking Statue Il Babuino

Talking Statue Il Babuino


The Talking Statues of Rome are probably one of the city’s most underrated figures. Iconic of the vox populi, they have a remarkable history, yet are often overlooked by tourists and passersby.

The Talking Statues got their name from the fact that people made them ‘talk’ by attaching caustic and satirical messages to their pedestal as a form of anonymous protest against the religious and civil authorities of the city. The statues were a kind of informal representatives of the people of Rome at a time when ordinary people were not supposed to express protest or criticism in public. The tradition continues to the present day, with suggestions, witticisms and claims being posted to the statues.


talking statue pasquino

Pasquino. Photo: rfarmer


This unconventional form of communication originated in the 16th century with the statue known as il Pasquino, a Hellenistic-style statue in Piazza di Pasquino, a little square south of Piazza Navona. The anonymous messages – usually written in Roman dialect or Latin – became known as pasquinate, which later gave rise to the English word pasquinade, a satirical protest in poetry posted in a public place.

Rome counts six talking statues. Apart from the Pasquino statue, there is also Babuino, in the eponymous street, Il Facchino in Via Lata, Madama Lucrezia in Piazza San Marco, close to the Palazzetto Venezia, Abbot Luigi in Sant’ Andrea della Valle and Marforio, now in the courtyard of Palazzo Nuovo on the Capitoline Hill.


Pasquino talking statue



The statue of Pasquino was found in the 15th century in Piazza Navona, but in such a dilapidated state that nobody cared to own it. So, it was placed at the corner of Palazzo Orsini – demolished in 1791 and replaced by Palazzo Braschi – and still stands there today.




Il Facchino was originally located on Via del Corso, on the main façade of Palazzo de Carolis Simonetti, which houses the Banco di Roma. In 1874 it was moved to its current position in Via Lata, on a side façade of the same building, to protect it from pollution. Created in 1580, it is the youngest of the Talking Statues, as it is ‘only’ 432 years old, while the other talking statues date from Ancient Rome. It represents an acquarolo, a man carrying a barrel who would take water from the Tiber and sell it from door to door at a time when the Roman aqueducts were under repair and the city’s fountains were dry.


talking statue fachino

Il Facchino by kuaptic


The tradition of posting these pasquinades to the statues started in 1501 when Cardinal Oliviero Carafa organized a sort of Latin literary competition where poems were posted on the Pasquino statue. The latter is actually a fragment of a statue that originally belonged to a group of statues, dating back to the 3 C. BC, representing Menelaus holding the body of Patroclus dying. The statue (and the square) were later nicknamed ‘Pasquino’, after a tailor with a particularly witty sense of humor who was known to be very eloquent with his criticism of the papal government and lived in the neighborhood.

Occasionally poems were also posted outside the competition period, as these pasquinades were a very effective way to criticize the papacy and city governors without risking reprisals at a time when the free press did not exist. Especially during the conclaves, the tradition was very popular, with new gossips being posted every night to influence the election of the new pope. The anonymous authors of the poems were often very close to the pope and had direct knowledge of confidential information.

One of the most famous pasquinades is without doubt the one dedicated to Urban VIII Barberini (1623-1644), the pope who allowed to use the bronze decorations of the Pantheon for the canopy of San Pietro in Vatican.

Quod non fecerunt Barbari
fecerunt Barberini.
What the Barbarians did not do
the Barberini did.

The custom spread to other statues when authorities posted guards by the Pasquino to prevent people from posting notes. As a result the public started leaving notes on other statues, as well. These other statues, especially Marforio and Madame Lucrezia, were sometimes also used to post responses to writings posted on Pasquino, creating a repartee and on-going dialogues between the two statues.


talking statue Madama Lucrezia

Madama Lucrezia. Photo by zak mc

One famous dialogue was posted in protest against Napoleon, who notoriously plundered the cities of their artistic and archeological treasures after defeating them.

Marforio: È vero che i francesi sono tutti ladri?
Pasquino: Tutti no, ma BonaParte!

Marforio: Is it true that all Frenchmen are thieves?
Pasquino: No, not all of them, but a Great Deal of them
(a word play on Napoleon’s name and the Roman dialect for buona parte – a great deal).


Marforio talking statue



Another dialogue between Marforio and Pasquino relates to the fact that Marforio was moved from his original spot, next to the Church Santi Luca e Martina, to his current location in the courtyard of Palazzo Nuovo. The cost of moving the statue was so huge that the Pope, who then ruled the city, increased the tax on wine to collect the required funds. Marforio complained to Pasquino that the Romans would have to give up their wine so that he could preside over a fountain.


Marforio talking statue



The statue of Madama Lucrezia, the only female talking statue of Rome, was probably named after Lucrezia d’Alagno, mistress of Alfonso V d’Aragona, King of Naples. After the death of her lover, Lucrezia moved from Naples to Rome and lived in the very neighborhood where the statue is now located, on Piazza San Marco in the angle of Palazzo Venezia and the Palazzetto. Originally, the statue may have been part of the Temple of Isis, which stood on the Campus Martius, before it was donated to the King’s mistress.




Until recently, most of Rome’s Talking Statues were in a terribly deteriorated state, but a residents’ association of the historic center of Rome and an Authority in charge of the conservation and appreciation of the City’s cultural assets undertook to restore the statues. The initiative covers, more specifically, the statues of Madama Lucrezia, Abbot Luigi, Pasquino and the Facchino. Ironically, it is the first time that inhabitants and Institutions will cooperate on a project, and moreover, on one involving important symbols of Roman vox populi against authority.


Abbot Luigi

Abbot Luigi


(Updated version of an article previously published on and moved from

Photo credits (top to bottom): all photos © Rome Bit by Bite, except: Pasquino by rfarmer; Pasquino by Iostajy; Facchino by kuaptic; Madama Lucrezia by zak mc; Marforio by Martin Yelverton; Marforio wide view by user:colin; Madame Lucrezia by Troels Myrup;

Top 7 Most Famous Cafes of Rome

The oldest, most famous and most elegant cafes of Rome


Caffe Greco Rome

Caffè Greco, Rome


Want to visit the oldest literary cafe in town, or just go for a drink in one of the iconic bars of Rome where celebrities have their cappuccino or aperitif ? Here is our list of the most famous, oldest and most elegant cafes in Rome.


1. Caffè Greco
Via Condotti 86
District: Spanish steps
Tel: +39-06-678.25.54

Caffe Greco Rome

Located in one of the most exclusive shopping streets of Rome, Via Condotti, this literary caffè comes first in our list, not so much for the quality of its coffee, but because it is one of the oldest in Rome. Looking a little dusty and worn out, the place is definitely worth a visit for its history.




Walk inside, have a look around and have a coffee or cappuccino at the counter. The price charged for a caffè seduto (sitting at a table) is not really worth paying for, unless you are looking for some interesting place in the very center of town, where to sit down and spend some time writing, or reading, while doing some people watching. Then this is the place to be !


Caffe Greco Rome


2. Caffè della Pace
Piazza delle Pace 4
District: Piazza Navona
Tel: +39-06-686.12.16



Located in a beautiful small square just off Piazza Navona, this cafe is known for its clientele of painters, artists, writers and show business people. The terrace overlooks the church Sante Maria della Pace, while the indoor space consists of three charming little rooms in a mixed style of Baroque and Art Nouveau. It was in this cafe that the art movement Transavanguardia started.










3.  Café de Paris
Via V. Veneto 90
Tel: +39 06 4201 2257


Cafe de Paris, Rome


A very elegant, luxury cafe with a piano bar and an air of nostalgia. It is located on the famous Via Veneto, one of the most expensive streets in Rome, lined with luxury hotels and imposing mansions. Founded in 1956, Café de Paris was immortalized in 1960 in the movie La Dolce Vita by Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, starring Anita Ekberg, Marcello Mastroianni and Anouk Aimée. In the 1960s, the cafe was one of the preferred hangouts of starlets, nobility and rich business people.


Cafe de Paris Rome


The cafe reopened only in recent years after it had been closed down for two years, when it was discovered that it had been used as a front for money-laundering by the mafia. The iconic institution was confiscated by the state and is now run by the Agenzia nazionale per l’amministrazione e la destinazione dei beni confiscati (National Agency for the Administration and Allocation of Confiscated Properties).

They serve excellent coffee and decaf espresso. There is also an adjoining restaurant. The staff is very friendly; the barista went out of his way to prepare me a one-of-a-kind caffè schiumato.




4. Caffè Farnese
Via dei Baullari
District: Campo de’ Fiori
Tel: +39 06 6880 2125

caffe Farnese Rome


Located close to Palazzo Farnese (the French embassy), this elegant coffee house has a lovely terrace ideally situated on the quiet Piazza Farnese, close to Campo de’ Fiori.




5. Caffè Canova
Piazza del Popolo, 16-17
District: Piazza del Popolo
Tel: +39 06 361 2231

Caffe Canova Rome


6. Caffè Rosati
Piazza del Popolo 5A
District: Piazza del Popolo
Tel: +39-06-322.58.59
open daily from 7:30am to 11:30pm


caffe Rosati Rome


Located on the famous Piazza del Popolo, this Art Nouveau cafe founded in 1923 attracts an elegant, heterogeneous clientele. The venue tends to become more interesting at night. More renowned for its tramezzini and sandwiches – which are a delight to both the eye and the palate – than for the quality of its cappuccino.


7. Caffè S. Eustachio
Piazza S. Eustachio 82
District: Pantheon
Tel: +39-06-686.13.09


For decades this used to be THE coffee institution in Rome, where you could enjoy one of the best coffees in town. The place was renowned for its delicious Gran caffè and marrons glacés, their specialties. Our original review of Caffè Sant’Eustachio on this page in the early 2000s (with different lay-out), was nothing but praise. Due to the many other articles and reviews that followed across the net, the coffee house has become VERY touristy, and, sadly, the quality of their coffee has changed accordingly. Is it to suit the taste of the now mostly foreign clientele? The Gran caffè, which once used to be a double-sized coffee nectar, now boils down to a caffè (very) lungo and even the coffee taste is not as great as it once used to be.


Photo credits (top to bottom): all photos © Rome Bit by Bite, except Caffè Greco by A H T; Caffè Greco red velvet by gferez; Caffè Farnese (2nd photo) by p medved; Caffe Rosati by scalleja;

7 reasons to visit Villa Giulia: the masterpieces of Etruscan heritage in Rome

Villa Giulia Etruscan Museum

The National Etruscan Museum, hosted in Villa Giulia in Rome, boasts the world’s largest collection of Etruscan objects and antiquities.

The history of the Etruscans is both intriguing and paradoxical. Almost entirely overshadowed by Ancient Rome, the Etruscans nevertheless gave early Rome its first Kings and engineers, who built the Circus Maximus and one of the world’s earliest sewage systems that helped drain the local marshlands. This paved the way for Rome to grow from an early hill settlement to a city with palaces and temples that would reign over the Western World.

The Etruscan influence ended with the expulsion of the last Etruscan King, Tarquinius Superbus, marking the end of the Roman Kingdom and the beginning of the Roman Republic. Even though the Etruscan civilization was ultimately entirely absorbed by the Romans, it greatly influenced their culture. The Etruscan language gave loanwords such as the Latin persona (person) from phersu and place names such as Parma. See: extinct languages of Italy.


The charming, mannerist Villa Giulia itself is also worth a visit. It was commissioned by Pope Julius (Giulio) III and designed by Bartolomeo Ammannati, together with Giorgio Vasari and Vignola in 1551-1553.



The museum was created in 1889 with finds from the archaeological site of Falerii Veteres (now Civita Castellana, Lazio). The collection was later expanded with finds from excavations in Southern Etruria. Etruria covered an area corresponding roughly to Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio, bordered by the Tiber in the South and East and by the Arno in the North. Further donations and acquisitions such as the Barberini collection (in 1908), the Castellani collection (in 1919) and the Pesciotti collection (in 1972) make the Villa Giulia museum the world’s most important representative of the Etruscan heritage.

Etruscan art is particularly renowned for its figurative sculpture in terracotta (especially technically challenging life-size figures), cast bronze and metalworking (including refined jewelry).


Etruscan jewelry


The masterpieces of the collection include:


1. The bilingual Pyrgi tablets (500 BC)

Pyrgi tablets

Pyrgi tablets, ca. 500 BC.

The rare and unusual Pyrgi tablets are a real treasure, both from a linguistic and a historical point of view. What makes the tablets so special is that they are bilingual: two tablets are written in Etruscan and translated into Phoenician on the third one, making it possible for researchers to use the Phoenician version to read and interpret the otherwise undecipherable Etruscan. The tablets date from the beginning of the 5th century BC and are the oldest historical source of pre-Roman Italy among the known inscriptions. They record a dedication of a temple to the Phoenician Goddess Astarte (also known as Ishtar) by Thefarie Velanias, the ruler of Caere (now Cerveteri). From a historical point of view this attests evidence of Phoenician or Punic influence in the Western Mediterranean.


2. The reconstructed temple-relief from Pyrgi illustrating the myth of the Seven against Thebes (470-460 BC)

The temple relief from Pyrgi depicts the myth of the Seven against Thebes, the third play in an Oedipus-themed trilogy produced by Aeschylus in 467 BC.


Temple relief from Pyrgi

Temple relief from Pyrgi – Detail of Tydeus eating Melanippus brain


A particularly gruesome detail of the temple relief shows Tydeus gnawing on the living brain of Melanippos in the course of the battle, when the armies of Polynices and Eteocles are fighting for Thebes.


3. The Sarcophagus of the Spouses (Sarcofago delgi Sposi) (530 BC)


The Sarcophagus is adorned with two figures representing a husband and wife on a couch as if they were at a banquet. Actually, while the object is generally referred to as the ‘sarcophagus’, its true function remains unclear. It may actually have been a large urn designed to contain the ashes of the deceased. We know that it is a funerary object because of the hand gesture of the woman, which reveals a ritual of offering perfume, which along with the sharing of wine, was a typical part of the funeral ceremony.


Etruscan sarcophagus of the spouses, Rome

Unlike in Greek culture, where banquets were reserved to men, Etruscan women, who held important positions in society, were represented by their husbands’ sides, in the same proportions and in a similar pose, showing their equal status. The expression of the faces, the soft areas of their bodies, the almond-shaped eyes and long braided hair indicate Greek Ionian influence. However, the marked contrast between the high relief busts and the very flattened legs, and the preference for stylistic effects over anatomical accuracy is typically Etruscan. Instead, the hands and feet are particularly well rendered.


Sarcophagus of the Spouses, Villa Giulia Etruscan Museum Rome

Sarcophagus of the Spouses


The Sarcophagus of the Spouses was made in the late 6th century, most probably by the same artist who made the Sarcophagus of Cerveteri, exhibited in the Louvre, Paris, which looks very similar.


4. The polychrome terracotta statues of Heracles and Apollo (c. 510 – 500 BC)

Apollo and Heracles Statues Villa Giulia

The over-life-size painted terracotta statues represent Heracles fighting the god Apollo for the Sacred Hind in the presence of Artemis and Hermes (however only the head of Hermes remains). Originally the statues were part of a four-figure scene representing one of the twelve labors (or dodekathlon) of the hero before his apotheosis among the divinities of Olympus. Discovered in 1916, the statues were commissioned by Tarquinius Superbus in about 510 – 500 BC to decorate the Temple of Veio in Portonaccio. It is attributed to Vulca, a famous Etruscan sculptor who was born in Veio.




5. The Chigi Vase


The Chigi vase is one of the most important examples of proto-Corinthian art. The vase or olpe is an ancient wine decanter made in Corinth in about (640-625 BC) and brought to Veio, where it was discovered in 1882. It is a unique exemplar of grecian polychromatic painting found in Italy.

The technique used and the black figures are typical of that time, yet the brown, yellow and white colors are not. Among the scenes depicted is the Judgment of Paris and a battle. Scenes depicted on objects of that period showing this type of complexity are usually considered high ceramic art.The artist, active between 640 – 630 BC, is known as the Chigi Painter (Pittore dell’olpe Chigi). However, some authors favor the appellation “Macmillan Painter” after the perfume bottle (aryballos) with lion-head mouth from the Macmillan collection exhibited in the British Museum in London, attributed to the same artist.


6. The Castellani jewellery collection

The Castellani collection features one of the finest collections of antique jewellery in existence.


7. The Cista Ficoroni

Cista Ficoroni Villa Giulia

Heracles (right), Eros (center) and Iolaus (left). Foot of the “Cista Ficoroni”, an Etruscan bronze toilet box, 4th c. BC.


The Cista Ficoroni is a rare toilet and jewelry box used to store objects used for the care of the body. The cistae were usually cylindrical, with engraved decoration. The Ficoroni Cista, named after Francesco Ficoroni, an antiquarian who found it in Labico (now Lugnano) in 1738. It is the largest and most refined surviving example of a cista. Both the names of the artist and the person who ordered the cista, most probably as a wedding gift, appear in an archaic Latin inscription.


Cista Ficoroni

Cista Ficoroni


Photo credits (top to bottom): All photos © Rome Bit by Bite, except Villa Giulia first court by dalbera; Villa Giulia ninfeo by mmarftregjo; feet of the sarcophagus and Apollo statue by Klio; Sarcophagus by Fraaxe; Cista Ficoroni by Haiduc; Cista Ficoroni by Sailko;