Roma Experience Spring-Clean Pacentro on Ecological Day

Italy seems as if it’s full of charming mediaeval hilltop villages – and it is – but perhaps none are as wholly charming as Pacentro. Gorgeous mediaeval Pacentro sits atop a hillside only a couple of hours outside of Rome, looking down upon the forested valleys of the magnificent Majella National Park.

Pacentro, although not a top tourist destination, holds a special place in the Roma Experience team’s heart. Despite being named one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, Pacentro is perhaps best known as the town Madonna’s family is from. However, Roma Experience knows it as the home of our business development partner, Robert Pardi. Rob’s Bisnonno grew up in Pacentro, before he crossed the wide sea to the States.

Which is why Rob was so eager to participate in Pacentro Ecological Day. Once a year, on April 15th, towns across Abruzzo participate in big clean-up operations; a generous act of Spring cleaning, if you will. Pacentro is no different, and last weekend Rob took to the streets, along with his friends from the Borgo, to give the village of Pacentro a good Spring-clean.

Pacentro: A Most Beautiful Village

Abruzzo, the region Pacentro is within, is renowned for its spectacular natural beauty – and Pacentro is in a prime location. The mediaeval Borgo sits inside Majella National Park, an area with some of the most diverse flora and fauna in Italy. Take a hike through Majella and expect to see rare species of deer and birds; the park is positively brimming with life. Some of Italy’s last native wolves and bears call Majella home. These animals all live within an astonishing natural landscape, dominated by craggy mountains, rich green pines, and an amazing diversity of flowers.

Perhaps such close proximity to these natural wonders is what motivates the people of Pacentro to keep the town beautiful. Of course, that was a big motivating factor for Rob – but he had a more personal reason for participating in Pacentro Ecological Day. Before Rob’s Bisnonno emigrated to America, he was born and raised in Pacentro. As an adult, Rob was determined to reconnect with his Italian roots. After visiting Pacentro, he found himself falling in love with this little village atop a hill, before eventually buying a home there. Rob wanted to give something back.

“My Great-Grandfather left to give me opportunities,” Rob told me, “but he was raised here. His experience in this town shaped my upbringing. Now, I live here. Taking part in Pacentro Ecological Day is great. The whole village unites to re-beautify Pacentro.”  Rob spent his day sweeping the city’s streets, picking up trash and planting flowers. “Only red flowers though. The people of Pacentro are very insistent on their color scheme!”

Reconnect With Your Italian Roots

Rob’s experience with Pacentro inspired our Ancestor’s Tour of Italy. We now offer the descendants of Italian emigres the chance to reconnect with their heritage, on a full-tour of the town their ancestors come from. For Rob, reconnecting with his ancestral home altered his life forever. Now, he counts the inhabitants of Pacentro as firm friends. Not many tours can promise to forever change your life – but if any can, it’s our Ancestor’s Tour.

As a team, Roma Experience care about preserving the remarkable heritage and unique beauty of Italy, which is why we’re proud Rob represented us at Pacentro Ecological Day. Keeping Italy looking gorgeous is a great way to give back to a country that’s produced so much beauty, that the whole world enjoys. We look forward to the next Ecological Day!

by Annie Beverley

Have The Best Easter: Rome Easter Week Events

No matter when you visit Rome, the city is always beautiful.

In Autumn, Rome is all orange and gold. In Winter, a glimmer of frost on the marble monuments gives them a haunting beauty. Summer’s heat fills the city’s sprawling café-restaurants with music and laughter, as soon as the sun goes down.

At Easter Rome is full of the vibrancy of renewal: the city’s cherry trees are in bloom, flowers have exploded on the city’s balconies, and pilgrims gather, to hear the story of Jesus’ triumph over death.

If you want to experience the best of the Eternal City’s charming idiosyncrasies, at Easter Rome comes into its own. See how vibrant the religious life of the city is and enjoy some unique cultural events.

Read on to discover everything to look forward to this Rome Easter Week 2019.

Palm Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Rome’s Easter celebrations really begin on Palm Sunday. In Christian tradition, Palm Sunday was the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, and was greeted by crowds of supporters, waving palms.

The day is commemorated in Rome with a special mass by the Pope in St. Peter’s Square. First, at 9:30am in the morning, Pope Francis will bless the pilgrims. Then, there is a procession with the palms and a mass.

All tickets for Papal masses are free – if you want a ticket, click here.

Easter in Rome: Chocolate Bonanza, April 16, 2019

One of the best things to do in Rome during Easter week? Eat!

This Chocolate Bonanza is one of the best ways to celebrate one of the best things about Easter: the proliferation of sweet treats. Roma Experience are offering an exclusive, one-off Chocolate Bonanza Tour Event, and for those with a sweet-tooth, it can’t be missed.

Relish the opportunity to visit some of the city’s best chocolatiers, go to a slow-food chocolate market and finally, visit a real-life chocolate factory, to see how artisan chocolate is made! My stomach is rumbling just thinking about it…

Maundy Thursday, April 18th, 2019

The first mass held on Maundy Thursday is the Chism Mass, held in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30 am. Pope Francis will bless the 3 oils that are used in the life of the Church. The Chism Mass was only revived in the 1960s, when a text by early-Christian theologian Hippolytus was discovered, which described the mass’ wide-spread practice in the 3rd century AD.

Churches all across Rome will hold their traditional Maundy Thursday service that evening. Priests all over the city will recreate the most striking moment of Jesus’ final evening: when he washed his disciples’ feet. After the congregation, the Priests of Rome will wash the feet of their congregation. If you’re a believer, this is an event not to miss.

Good Friday April 19th, 2019

Arguably, the most spectacular event of Rome’s Easter Week is held on Good Friday. At 9pm in the evening the celebration of the Via Crucis is held at the Colosseum. The Pope, with a procession of the faithful, carry a reproduction of the cross from the Colosseum to Rome’s Palatine Hill.

Many in the crowd hold candles – to represent that Jesus is the light of the world. The procession of the Stations of the Cross is a truly spectacular event to behold, whether you are Christian or not. Set against the beautiful backdrop of some of the most iconic sights of the Eternal City, this is an event you cannot miss.

Easter Saturday, April 20th, 2019

The vigil on Easter Saturday marks the congregation waiting for the resurrection of Christ. A mass is held in St. Peter’s Basilica, which is first proceed by the faithful gathering around a holy fire lit in the Square, to symbolise Jesus as the light of the world.

Easter Sunday, April 21st, 2019

On Easter Sunday, the Pope holds his blessing to Rome and the world from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. The congregation gather in the square to receive the Pope’s blessing. People from all over the world come to attend the mass on Easter Sunday, so competition for tickets is fierce. If you’re looking to attend, consider getting tickets sooner rather than later.

This Easter Sunday in Rome falls on another special day: the anniversary of the mythological founding of Rome, which was, apparently, 2,771 years ago. Enjoy a special parade of Gladiators and other Ancient Roman types at the Roman Forum at 10am. Choose whether you’re more of a pagan or Christian disposition first – the mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and the celebration of Rome’s birthday clash.  

Across Easter Week

From April 17th to mid-November, a special multimedia show will be held in the Forum of Caesar and the Forum of Augustus. Recreations of the buildings of the Roman Forum, at the peak of the Roman Empire, will be projected on the existing Roman Forum. Audio guides are available to hear the history of the Forums narrated. Look here to find the availability for this event during Easter Week.

Why Visit Rome During Easter Week?

At Easter Rome shows some of its most beloved characteristics. Many of the events held throughout the city reveal the current of communal spirit that still runs through this capital of capitals. The city is radiant with color; spring flowers have sprung up all across the Eternal City – and, its jacket weather! You can eat outside at evening, enjoy the rare and strange festivals of Rome at this time, and if you’re Catholic, participate in the vibrant religious festivals. Seasonal vegetables are popping up across markets, and its not too hot to indulge in a Chocolate Bonanza. Visiting Rome at Easter might be the perfect time.

by Annie Beverley

Espresso on the counter of a café in Rome

10 Best Cafés in Rome

from the team at Coffee Geek

Rome, a city with a rich historical heritage, is also known for great coffee culture. The city has a dazzling array of bars, as cafés and coffee shops are generally referred to. Italians prefer espresso and cappuccino over other varieties of coffee — many drink as five or more espressos in a day!

Check out our roundup of the 10 best cafés in Rome, in no particular order.

ANTICO CAFFÈ GRECO

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Miscela Arabica tutta le vita ☕??

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Caffe Greco has a Renaissance-era charm to it which is recorded in the paintings and the decor, which will surely entice you…

Opened in the 1760s, it has had some popular thinkers, artists, and intellectuals like Mark Twain, Goethe, Stendhal and Casanova who have visited. You may have to shell out some extra Euros for coffee but the ambiance of the place is worth it.

86 Via Condotti; +39 06 679 1700

BAR DEL CAPPUCCINO

Bar del Cappuccino — the name says it all — is known for its Cappuccinos with an artistic touch. Owner and barman Luigi Santoro makes the best cappuccino downtown — tasty, fine, and pleasant to look at. Besides the usual hot coffees, this café also offers cold cappuccino options during warmer days.

50 Via Arenula; +39 06 6880 6042

 

SANT’EUSTACHIO IL CAFFÈ

Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe is an ideal representation of one of the best cafés in Rome and has been serving Romans since 1938. The café is popular among visitors too, as it’s about two blocks from the Pantheon. There are seats out front too.

If you want a late night coffee in Rome, this is the place; it’s open every day until 1 am. However, they do charge more if you are seated as compared to ordering over the counter. The Sant’Eustachio’s super secret recipe is roasted in the back of the store over a wood-burning stove that’s been functional since 1948.

82 Piazza Sant-Eustacchio; +39 06 688 02048

SCIASCIA CAFFE

Sciascia Café is a centuries-old café with casual charm and retro looks.  The café’s old fashioned look is lifted with burnished wooden paneling, period artwork, and vintage machines. Sciascia’s close proximity to the Vatican makes it an even more compelling spot to grab a cup of coffee. Their signature coffee is a punchy espresso served in a porcelain cup lined with melted dark chocolate.

Via Fabio Massimo 80/a; + 39 063211580

LA CASA DEL CAFFE TAZZA D’ORO

La Casa Del Caffe Tazza D’Oro’s location and ambiance certainly set it apart from other cafés in the city. The café is situated across from the historic Pantheon. Tazza D’Oro roasts its own coffee and even ships it abroad to other countries. Tracing its roots to its establishment in 1946, you can go for espresso or cappuccino, but certainly must try the renowned granita al caffè, a frosty-slushy coffee served with whipped cream.

84 Via degli Orfani; +39 06 678 9792

CANOVA TADOLINI

Canova Tadolini is a definite stop for art lovers who want to enjoy amazing coffee as they gaze at beautiful artworks. Canova Tandolini is a museum-bar, which was originally the workshop and studio of Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova. Guests can wander through the plaster casts made by ace stone carvers Antonio Canova and Giulio Tadolini, while enjoying amazing coffee and tasty cakes.

150A/B Via del Babuino; +39 06 321 10702

GIOLITTI

Giolitti’s famed customer list qualifies it as one of the best places to have coffee in Rome. This café’s history goes back to 1890 when it served its creations to the Italian royal family. The café is nicknamed the “second parliament”, since on any given day you may bump into politicians, including the Prime Minister of Italy. Famous personalities in the past, like Pope John Paul II, and presently, Sharon Stone and the daughters of former US President Barack Obama, are on its customer list. This café is also known all over the world for its award-winning gelato. The espresso tastes even better after a gelato or two.

40 Via Uffici del Vicario; +39 06 699 1243

FARO – CAFFE SPECIALTY 

Farro, established in 2016, is a recent entry into the coffee scene at Rome. The café claims itself to be Rome’s first specialty coffee shop. Unlike other traditional cafés in Rome, it has a contemporary ambiance with a spacious sitting area and natural light illuminating the café. The house blend comes from Italy-based Gardelli. You can actually go through an educational quest as the staff and the baristas share knowledge of coffee production process. Faro also offers a kind of tasting menu of single-origin coffees accompanied with descriptions of the flavor notes.

55 Via Piave; +39 06 4281 5714

ROSCIOLI CAFFÈ

The Roscioli family is one of the premier names in the food industry in Rome, who have a restaurant, bakery, pizzeria, a wine school and a café in the heart of the city. Roscioli Café uses Arabic beans from Torrefazione Giamaica Caffè, an artisanal roaster based in Verona. Their baristas use brewing techniques that are not common among Romans, like, pour-over and siphon. The café has got a variety of traditional sweets as well including its famous cream-filled bun Maritozzo that go well with espresso all day.

16 Piazza Benedetto Cairoli; +39 06 8916 5330 

TRAM DEPOT

Tram Depot, housed in a vintage tram carriage, is located in Rome’s trendy Testaccio district. The café runs seasonally from April through October and offers a selection of coffee from Parma-based Lady Café. The tram carriage has been remodeled to serve coffee during the day time. You can drink cocktails during the nights and until the wee hours. Apart from a range of coffees, including siphon and dripper varieties, the café also serves fresh juices, smoothies, pastries, and sandwiches.

13 Via Marmorata; +39 06 575 4406

There is a lot of coffee in Rome, but don’t settle for anything but the best cafés in Rome. To get your caffeine fix in style, put these ten cafés on your must-visit list.

 

The Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum, as taken from above on the Palatine Hill

What to See in the Roman Forum? The Basilica of Maxentius!

You can’t miss it. The Basilica of Maxentius dominates the labyrinthian ruins of the Roman Forum and towers over the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Countless tourists will have taken photos of this remarkable architectural wonder, that so immediately awes you with its sheer size and scale. Astonishingly, the Basilica of Maxentius only becomes more impressive when you know the story behind it.

The History of the Basilica of Maxentius

The Basilica is named after Emperor Maxentius and construction work began during his reign, in 308 AD. Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge — the beginning of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity — and it was only under his orders that the remarkable Basilica was completed, in 312 AD.

The Architecture of the Basilica of Maxentius

The Basilica’s sheer size distinguishes it as remarkable; at the time, it was the largest building in Rome. The Basilica’s vaulted ceiling stretches 130ft high and its floor spans 6561 square feet. A colossal statue of Constantine stood in the apse. An Ancient Roman who walked into the Basilica of Maxentius must have felt a lot like a modern pilgrim as he enters St. Peter’s; overwhelmed by the vast interior space and artistic flourishes.

The Basilica’s architects were clearly inspired by the grand, Imperial Roman Baths, such as the Baths of Diocletian. Other Roman Basilicas, such as the Basilica Ulpia in the Forum of Trajan, were clear influences. Cutting-edge engineering techniques were used to build the Basilica of Maxentius, that had recently been trialed on the Markets of Trajan.

What Was A Roman Basilica?

Today, we associate the word ‘Basilica’ with major Roman Catholic Churches; St. Peter’s Basilica is, of course, the one which immediately springs to mind. However, among Ancient Romans, the word ‘Basilica had a different meaning.

‘Basilica’ derives from a Greek expression, which literally means ‘Royal Walkway’. In Ancient Rome, a Basilica essentially functioned as a modern town hall — with a few ancient flourishes. The Basilica of Maxentius would have been used for commercial and administrative business. It’s likely that the offices of the Prefect of the City would have been found within.

How the Ancient Basilica Became the Christian Church

Constantine and his successors were the first to Christianize the Basilica, to make these government buildings the modern churches we know today. Constantine thought that the layout of the building — already shaped like a Crucifix — would be perfect for Christian worship.

The sheer size of the pre-existing Basilicas gave them a logistical advantage, as a logical site of Christian worship, as they could easily accommodate a large congregation. Another advantage of Basilicas is that they were free from the Temple’s pagan associations.

The Basilica of Maxentius Today

As Christianity spread, the origins of the Basilica were all but forgotten. the 9th and 14th century, earthquakes destroyed a large part of the Basilica of Maxentius, but what remains is magnificent nonetheless – it is by far the biggest building in the Roman Forum.

You can visit the Basilica of Maxentius and explore some of the other wonders of the Forum on our Roman Forum tour, which also includes the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of basilicas of Rome, we also recommend our Papal Basilica tour. This unique, private tour, includes visits to three of the major Papal Basilica: San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo Fuori le mure.

The ultimate Basilica is, of course, St Peter’s Basilica, which is best experienced on a Vatican Museums tour. Enter St. Peter’s directly, after visiting The Sistine Chapel. Allow wonder to wash over you as you marvel at the spectacular architecture, in what is arguably the most beautiful building in the Eternal City. The connection between the evocative ruins of the Roman Empire and St. Peter’s should only enrich your experience of Rome — and allow you to appreciate this wondrous city all the more.

Temple of Peace in the Roman Forum

Rome’s Lost Treasures: The Temple of Peace

Could it be? One of the most beautiful creations the world had ever seen? Both Pliny and Herodian pondered this; the latter called The Temple of Peace “the largest and most beautiful of all the buildings in the city”.

In Rome — a city already renowned for its architectural splendor — the Temple of Peace stood out. The Temple of Peace was built in AD 71, to commemorate Vespasian’s defeat of the Jewish revolt. The Temple was one of Rome’s most important monuments, for a short, glimmering century. Josephus, Roman historian, described it thus:

When the triumphal ceremonies were over, as the Roman empire was now firmly established, Vespasian made up his mind to build a temple of Peace. This was completed with remarkable speed and surpassed all human imagination. Not only did he have unlimited wealth at his disposal; he also adorned it with paintings and statues by the greatest of the old masters. In fact, in that temple were collected and deposited all those works that men had hitherto traveled over the whole world to see, longing to set eyes on them even when scattered in different lands. There too he laid up the golden vessels from the Temple of the Jews, for he prided himself on them; but their Law and the crimson curtains of the Inner Sanctuary he ordered to be deposited in the Palace for safe keeping.”

Most of this amazing structure is completely lost. You’ll struggle to find a trace of the temple on a visit to Trajan’s Market. Most of what we know about the Temple of Peace comes from written accounts and the Forma Urbis, a detailed marble map. The surviving documents help us to picture the size and splendor of the temple.

The Temple of Peace was, by all accounts, an enormous complex of richly decorated rooms. Internal courtyards were full to the brim with artistic masterpieces, including a sculpture by Praxiteles, the famous Greek sculptor. Treasures taken from Jerusalem and artworks taken from Nero’s pleasure palace, the Domus Aurea were other highlights of The Temple of Peace’s Collection. The Temple of Peace was a triumphal monument, a place of worship, and a public art gallery — all in one.

Ancient writers were clearly in awe of the Temple of Peace and its astonishing art collection. Today, its easy for a modern reader to find their reactions frustrating — what happened? How is it possible that such a culturally important, sacred place, disappeared completely and left behind nothing, but a fragment of marble floor?

According to Herodian, the Temple of Peace was destroyed by a catastrophic fire in 191 AD. The destruction of the Temple was a calamity not only for culture but brought ruin to many wealthy Romans, who used the temple as a kind of safety deposit box. “It was also the richest temple in the city,” Herodian tells us, “since it is decorated with numerous gold and silver items that people deposited there to keep them safe — a caution which the fire rendered futile, sending many wealthy people into poverty.”

What had once been the Temple of Peace was, by the 6th century, known as the Forum of Peace. This once great art collection was now just an open space, not a building, and cattle grazed among its ruins. Fire, time and, perhaps most destructive of all, indifference, meant the temple, essentially, no longer existed.

The Temple of Peace is one of many amazing Ancient Roman monuments that have disappeared. The Colossus of Nero – a gigantic bronze statue of the emperor that gave its name to the Colosseum – is another, as is a multi-story monument on the Palatine, known as the Septizodium. Don’t only imagine the ruins that present themselves before your eyes, restored to glory, on your next walk through Rome. Strain your imagination and try to picture the countless temples and monuments that have vanished without a trace.

There is not one Rome, but a multi-layered Eternal City, which can only be understood and properly explored with the help of an expert. To learn more about Rome – both past and present – join our Rome tours and explore the city in the company of an expert local guide.