Quartiere Coppedè, architecture, Piazza Mincio, Via Tagliamento, Art Nouveau

Quartiere Coppedè: An Architectural Wonder

Rome has no shortage of enchanting neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct flavour, but Quartiere Coppedè might just be one of its most magical.

Rome has no shortage of enchanting neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct flavour, but Quartiere Coppedè might just take the cake as one of its most magical. Tucked away between Piazza Buenos Aires, Via Tagliamento, and the larger Viale Regina Margherita, the small neighbourhood (in reality, a complex of buildings) looks like the set of a fairy tale movie with its inimitable stylistic flourishes and warm colours: burnt orange, marigold, peach, and rose, all interwoven with dark green climbing vines and heavy, lush boughs. It is truly a hidden gem, one that escapes the notice of most tourists (and even some Romans!), a fact that could account for that matchless feeling of stepping out from the city and into another world–quiet, sequestered, and entirely distinguished from its surroundings. 

If you are expecting to see the usual metropolitan hustle and bustle, you might be disappointed. This is where you come to slow down and step away from the traffic jams and stagnant crowds near better-known sites. Possibly the greatest charm of Quartiere Coppedè lies precisely in the fact that it is unpretentiously marvellous, beautiful on its own without the whistles and bells of tourist attractions, blissfully unconcerned with its rank in the hierarchy of things to see when in Rome. There are no restaurants, no cafés, no shopping centres. The little streets surrounding Piazza Mincio, the main square of the neighbourhood, are for getting lost in at a leisurely pace. Which also means that you do not have to spend a single dime to partake in its splendours. No tickets, no queues, no hassle.

The ornate quarter, situated in the Trieste area of Rome, was designed by Florentine architect Gino Coppedè, from which the eponymous district takes its name. The prolific and successful artist would be commissioned on a series of projects in Genoa, Messina, Naples, and Tuscany. Quartiere Coppedè was built in the early twentieth century, between 1915-1927, and is an eclectic–and eccentric–amalgamation of wildly diverse styles, ranging from classical, medieval, and gothic to Baroque, Art Decò, and Art Nouveau. The bold and imaginative architecture is reminiscent of Spanish architect Gaudí’s famous Barcelona masterpieces, such as the Sagrada Familia and Casa Balló. 

It is advisable to start your journey into the quartiere from the top of Via Tagliamento, turning left onto Via Dora. Approaching it from this angle, you will happen upon a magnificent arch uniting two structures resembling turrets, the so-called Ambassador’s Buildings (“Palazzi degli Ambasciatori”). Even at this early stage, there are so many fantastic details that vie for your attention, like the Madonna and Child in a niche under a green lantern, off to the right side.

Directly above you, once you have walked under the arch, you will see an iron chandelier with pendulous seahorses and tendril motifs. Follow the narrow Via Dora to the vanishing point of this architectural work of genius on Via Brenta, the whimsical “Villino delle Fate”, or Fairy House, located right next to another focal attraction of the quartiere, the “Fontana delle Rane” or Fountain of the Frogs, built in 1924. The decorative fountain, in the middle of Piazza Mincio, around which the neighbourhood spans out, witnessed history. The Beatles jumped into the fountain after performing across the street on Via Tagliamento, at the iconic Piper club, one of Italy’s most famous, founded in 1965. The club hosted some of the most celebrated stars of the Italian beat and rock music scene, such as Equipe 84 and I Delfini, as well as many groups of international renown, including Pink Floyd and Procol Harum.  

To the right of the Fontana delle Rane, and right across from the aforementioned Fairy House, is the “Palazzo del Ragno” or Spider Building, which derives its name from the large decorative spider above the front door.

Details such as this abound in the dreamlike neighbourhood, all summoning the visitor’s attention. Different buildings, residential or otherwise, take inspiration from a wide range of artistic movements and from classic Italian symbols used in the representation of different regions or cities in the country. The winged lions of Piazza San Marco in Venice decorate the lateral, frescoed façade of the Fairy House. A little farther down and you can see Rome’s famous She-Wolf nursing the city’s ancient founders, Remus and Romulus. 

The quartiere is heavily populated with embassies, including that of South Africa on Via Tanaro, Sweden on Via Serchio, and those of Bolivia and Morocco on Via Brenta. Film buffs will be thrilled to know the neighbourhood was also used as a setting in the production of several films, including Inferno by Dario Argento, the giallo-noir Il profumo della signora in nero (“The perfume of the lady in black”) by Francesco Barilli, and the comedy Il cielo in una stanza (“The sky in a room”) by Carlo Vanzina. 

To get to Quartiere Coppedè, you can take bus 92 from Termini to Via Tagliamento, a ride of about fifteen minutes. From Via Tagliamento, it is roughly a two-minute walk to the neighbourhood. If you are not opposed to a journey on foot, you can also take the metro, Line B in the Jonio direction, getting off at Policlinico and walking first to Viale Regina Margherita, then to Piazza Buenos Aires, which is right in the vicinity of our destination.  

Viale Regina Margherita, on the east side of the Tiber River, is a large street that intersects with another main street, Via Nomentana. Both are major places of interest in Rome and offer a host of bars, restaurants, gelaterie, shops, and activities to enjoy. The Chiesa di Santa Maria Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrows) at Piazza Buenos Aires is also close by. The Neo Byzantine church is the first national church in Rome for a Latin American country, and it is certainly worth visiting for its beautiful interiors. Villa Ada Savoia is home to breath-taking gardens and Roman ruins, and is only a ten-minute bus ride away. Villa Borghese, home also to the Bioparco of Rome, Italy’s oldest zoological gardens, is also only ten minutes away by bus. Villa Torlonia, with its famous “Casina delle Civette,” or House of the Little Owls, is another villa with spectacular surrounding gardens and museums. The Casina delle Civette is a must-see, much in keeping with Coppedè’s theme of unusual and fanciful architecture! The House hosts a series of paintings, mosaics, and stained glass in its twenty rooms.

While there are no places to eat within the neighbourhood itself, there are many to choose from in the surrounding area. Capo Boi, on Via Arno, specialises in seafood. PummaRé Parioli serves excellent pizza and is always packed with locals. If you are craving something other than Italian fare, Sushi Shop, on Via Po, offers fresh sushi. All restaurants are a mere five minutes away on foot from Piazza Mincio, at the centre of Quartiere Coppedé. 

Coppedè, despite being off the beaten path, is not to miss. Whether you are a lover of unique architecture or are simply looking for that perfect Instagram photo-shoot, Quartiere Coppedè will doubtless fascinate you. It especially lends itself to couples and solo travellers in search of tranquillity. It is a delightful area that can be explored in the span of less than a morning, with more than enough time left over to dedicate to other sites in Rome. You can conveniently make the most of your day by supplementing your excursion to the quartiere with a guided tour of Rome’s abundant landmarks, including the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Children playing in the foreground against the background of Ostia beach

Beat the Heat & Visit the Best Beaches Near Rome

Rome’s a wonder, obviously; the Eternal City’s a treasure trove of world history and high-culture. But boy, does she get hot in the summer months. If you’re planning a visit to Rome in June, July or August, don’t discount leaving the city behind for a day to visit one of the best beaches near Rome.

Not only do these beautiful beaches provide some respite from the sweltering city, but they offer stunning waters and immense natural beauty.

Ostia Lido

Although Ostia beach doesn’t have the highest quality sea or sand, it is the closest beach to Rome. Hop on the train at central station Piramide and you’ll be at Ostia Lido in half an hour.

Ostia is the most convenient beach for a quick visit. If you like the idea of a seaside swim in the morning and then return to the city for culture come the afternoon, Ostia Lido is for you. Alternatively, if afterward you fancy a private tour of Ostia Antica’s spectacular ruins, that’s an option too!


Fregene is Ostia Lido’s slightly cooler older brother. This beach attracts the young and hip from affluent Northern Rome and has a glamorous, laid back vibe. Bars with loungers like Singita Miracle Beach provide a place to chill during the day, and kick back with a cocktail come nightfall.

Santa Severa

If you’re looking for a beach with a family-friendly vibe against a beautiful backdrop, why not try Santa Severa? This gorgeous beach sits in the shadows of a mediaeval castle! Santa Severa offers better sea and sand than both Ostia and Fregene. If you want to experience traditional Italian charms by gorgeous waters close to Rome, this is the beach for you.

Santa Marinella

In terms of proximity, sea/sand quality and vibe, it’s hard to beat Santa Marinella as one of the best beaches near Rome.

Santa Marinella is tucked inside a cove and boasts miles of brown sand and azure waters. The beach rarely gets very busy and maintains a relaxed vibe, even at the height of August’s heat.

Bring a towel or rent a lounger – it’s up to you. Either way, it makes for an enjoyable day in Santa Marinella.


Saubadia may be a little hard to reach on public transport, but the extra effort is well worth it to discover a beautiful beach. Saubadia has a Bandiera Blu award, which distinguishes it as one of the cleanest beaches in Italy!

Although it’s a little further out of the way, a visit to Saubadia is certainly worthwhile, as its one of the most beautiful beaches, clean and long, you’ll find near Rome.


Anzio is an underrated gem. Like Saubadia, this beach has a Bandiera Blu award. However, it is much easier to access from Rome. Simply take the train to Anzio and walk the short fifteen minutes to the sea.

When you’re there, you can relax on one of the best beaches near Rome. You know this beach is good — the ruins of Emperor Nero’s Villa sit behind it!


Last but not least, there’s the beautiful beach at Sperlonga. Undeniably, Sperlonga is the most beautiful beach near Rome. Sperlonga beach has been recognised as one of the cleanest beaches in Italy for nearly two decades, and its credentials do not disappoint.

The beach and water are of a beautiful quality, and once you’re done with sun and sand, you’re sure to find a quaint place to eat in the charming town.

Ready to Visit the Best Beaches Near Rome?

Why not! All of the above beaches are by towns that are accessible by public transport from Rome’s central stations. One of the great joys of Italy is being so close to the sea wherever you are; the magic of this narrow archipelago.

If you want to see another side of la dolce vita on your Roman holiday, pay a visit to the best beaches nearby. You’ll get to experience the beautiful Italian seaside — a point of national pride — and beat the city’s heat.

by Annie Beverley

3 people stood in front of Michelangelo's Last Judgement

The Best Way to See the Sistine Chapel? Undoubtedly!

by Sandra Robbins

I just went on Roma Experience’s Sistine Chapel Closed-Doors Experience. Not only is it, undeniably, the best way to see the Sistine Chapel – it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  

Nothing compares to standing in the Sistine Chapel with only ten other people. All of Michelangelo’s frescoes appear more beautiful – even the colors are better.  

As a lover of Rome and art history, I’ve visited the Sistine Chapel many times. The Sistine Chapel may always be beautiful – but nothing compares to standing in an empty Sistine Chapel. The experience brought a tear to my eye.  

In this blog, I’ll describe the highlights of this After-Hours Sistine Chapel Tour – and you can decide for yourself if the best way to see the Sistine Chapel is for you. 

What I Did on The After-Hours Sistine Chapel Tour 

The best part of Roma Experience’s Sistine Chapel tour is that you don’t only visit the Sistine Chapel. You get to see rooms in the Vatican Museums that are normally closed. Our guide knew everything about the secret history of Vatican City; it was a real revelation.  

The artwork in these hidden rooms is of equal (or better quality!) than the works in the Vatican Museums. And the best bit? I was in these astonishing rooms, full of spectacular artwork, with only 10 other people! 

This tour isn’t only the best way to see the Sistine Chapel – but the best way to see the Vatican.  

16th Century Bramante Staircase

The original 16th century Bramante Staircase as seen from above
The original 16th century Bramante Staircase as seen from above

I was really looking forward to the Bramante Staircase, because I admire the work of the architect so much. It was originally built so carriages could drive up to the Pope’s apartment – that’s the life. 

Honestly, it was as good as I hoped. The staircase was strange to walk up, because it was so unusually steep and wide – and a cobbled floor inside feels weird. 

From the top, there was an astonishing view of Rome. I felt like royalty. 

The Cabinet of Masks 

The Vatican Museums Salon of Animals - with a sculpture of a lion attacking goat, front central
The Vatican Museums Salon of Animals – normally closed to the public!

The Cabinet of Masks was a highlight – it was way more special than I’d imagined it could be. We went through three different rooms in the area that’s called the Cabinet of Masks.  

First, we went through the Hall of Animals. It had an amazing collection of ancient sculptures of animals. The room was absolutely full to the brim with boars, bears, bulls… marble animals everywhere.  

Among the sculptures was a preserved lobster and crab, which were quite the weird highlight for me! 

Next, we went through the Gallery of Statues. It was so nice to see this corridor full of ancient statues, without a living soul in it, just me and the group looking down at it.  

After that, we went through to the Cabinet of Masks itself. Honestly, the only way I can describe this room is elegant. The statues in it were so gorgeous, and the Roman mosaics on the floor were so detailed.  

Most of the stuff here was taken from the Villa of Emperor Hadrian – and these artefacts are clearly worthy of an Emperor! 

The Niccoline Chapel  

Frescoes by Fra Angelico in the Vatican's Niccoline Chapel
The frescoes by Fra Angelico in the Niccoline Chapel were spectacular!

The Niccoline Chapel was built as a private chapel for the Pope, and when you walk in you get a sense of it as a really holy place.  

Fra Angelico’s frescoes look a million times better than they ever do on pictures. The colors were so vibrant. The pinks and blues positively sparkled, like it was painted yesterday. My personal favorite was the gold detail – it really shimmered.  

The Raphael Rooms 

An image of Raphael's School of Athens in the Vatican's Raphael Rooms
By the time we got to the Raphael Rooms, they were empty!

We did pass through ‘normal parts’ of the Vatican Museums on this After-Hours Sistine Chapel tour. Lots of it I’d seen before, and although all of it never ceases to impress, something truly special happened at the end of the day. 

The Raphael Rooms were totally empty by the time our group got there. The School of Athens has always been one of my favorite works of art, but I’ve often had trouble seeing it properly with the crowds. Now, I got to take the time to properly look at this gorgeous painting, with no one else around. Seeing The School of Athens like that makes for an experience I’ll never forget. 

The Sistine Chapel 

The Sistine Chapel, with Last Judgement in the altar wall, empty, with our figures in the foreground
Nothing compares to seeing the Sistine Chapel empty

The whole after-hours Sistine Chapel tour lasted half an hour – and I had to pinch myself for the first 10 minutes.  

The majesty of an empty Sistine Chapel is hard to describe. At first, it feels like you’re in a picture in an artbook – like you’re standing in reproduction of Michelangelo’s great works. Slowly, it sinks in that you’re really there – in the Sistine Chapel. An empty Sistine Chapel! 

I had the time to really admire the masterpieces. I noticed details on The Last Judgement like I’d never seen before. Honestly, it was the first time that I’d seen the Botticelli paintings on the side wall. Everything was brighter and more dignified when the chapel was empty of the days crowds. 

It was a sublime experience of one of the world’s greatest masterpieces – and an experience I’ll treasure forever.  

Why I Chose an After-Hours Sistine Chapel Tour 

I am fascinated with the art of the High Renaissance and love all the Great Masters; Raphael, Da Vinci, Michelangelo.  

Because of my passion for Renaissance art, I’ve visited Italy many times, and have been to all the main cities. However, I kept returning to Rome, and in particular, to the Sistine Chapel.  

There’s something about Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes that never fail to inspire me. However, often the Sistine Chapel is so busy. The guards ‘shhh’ you and tell you to move along. Truth be told, it’s not the most relaxing experience of one of the greatest artworks the world has ever produced. Which is why I decided to take this After-Hours Sistine Chapel tour.   

It was the best decision I could have made. I had an incredible time – and it really is the best way to see the Sistine Chapel.  

500 Years of Da Vinci: Leonardo’s Best Works in Italy

May 2nd 2019 marks the 500 year anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. Throughout May 2019, events in celebration of the Renaissance’s greatest Great Master will take place across France (where he spent his later years) and Italy.

Many of Leonardo’s most famous artworks are in Paris’ Louvre, including his iconic Mona Lisa. However, Italy doesn’t lack artworks by the Renaissance’s greatest Great Master. Da Vinci’s masterpieces in Italy include The Last Supper, the Annunication and his only surviving self-portrait. We’ll break down exactly where you’ll find Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpieces in Italy.

Despite only producing 15 complete paintings, Leonardo da Vinci is considered one of the greatest artists of all time. Leonardo introduced subtle, psychological realism to Renaissance art. The quietly sparkling eyes of his subjects, and the mysterious half-smile of Mona Lisa, demonstrate his mastery of human expression.

Roma Experience are proud to offer 15% off all Roma Exprience tours in May with our code ‘DAVINCI’, in celebration of the great artist’s legacy.

Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper in Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan.
The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci

In the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, you’ll find what might just be Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous work in Italy: The Last Supper.

The last supper was painted between 1495 and 1498, when Leonardo was in his 40s. Today, it’s a highlight of any visit to Milan. However, its quite a miracle The Last Supper survived the ages.

Leonardo used a new painting technique called a secco, which left the work particularly prone to decay. In the 17th century, the monks who lived in the convent tried to raise the floor — and removed the feet of Jesus in the process. In the 19th, over-eager restorers removed a lot of Da Vinci’s original work. Then, in the 20th, Santa Maria delle Grazie was bombed in WWII.

Despite all trials, The Last Supper has survived. Today, it remains an evocative rendering of Jesus’ final evening.

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan

Within Milan’s historic library, the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, you’ll find a small but mighty collection of Renaissance art. Alongside Raphael’s sketches for The School of Athens (found in the Vatican’s Raphael Rooms) and Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit, is Da Vinci’s Portrait of a Musician.

For many years, people believed the subject of Portrait of a Musician was the musician and composer Franchinus Gaffurius, who worked for Milan Cathedral. However, new Dutch research claims the drawing may be a young portrait of Leonardo da Vinci….

Gallerie dell’Academia, Venice

Vitruvian Man, Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo’s scientific sketch books, known as Codexes, are scattered across the world. One Codex is owned by Bill Gates; another by the British Family.

Perhaps the most iconic remains in Italy. You’ll find the most famous sketch from Leonardo’s notebooks in Venice: his Vitruvian Man.

However, don’t plan a visit to see this work alone. Vitruvian Man is particularly susceptible to age damage because it was made on paper with ink. Because of this, Vitruvian Man is only displayed publicly irregularly.

Biblioteca Reale, Turin

On the ground-floor of Turin’s Royal Palace — a UNESCO World Heritage Sight — is a spectacular historic library which houses many of Leonardo’s most beautiful sketches.

The library houses Da Vinci’s study for The Baptism of Christ and Virgin of the Rocks, which are incredibly impressive in their own right. However, Biblioteca Reale can also claim Leonardo’s only verified self-portrait, sketched when he was 50 years old.

Galleria Nazionale di Parma, Parma

Head of a Woman, Leonardo da Vinci

Visit Parma for the food (proscuitto and parmesan, two Italian favorites, come from the region) and stay for the artwork. Galleria Nazionale di Parma boasts an incredible collection of Renaissance art, and among them is Da Vinci’s Head of a Woman.

Head of a Woman manages to capture internal thought on a painted subject, much like Leonardo did with his Mona Lisa. As well as a triumph of psychological subtlety, Head of a Woman is a triumph of beauty. Her lidded eyes are downward facing and she does not address the viewer; her skin is positively radiant.

Vatican Museums, Rome

There are a million reasons to tour the Vatican Museums in Rome. From Michelangelo’s magnificent Sistine Chapel ceiling to the extensive collection of Classical Statuary, you’d be hard-pressed to find a gallery more spectacular.

Among the reasons to visit the Vatican is Leonardo da Vinci’s unfinished St. Jerome in the Wilderness. Although this painting is sparse, the depiction of an emaciated St. Jerome, alone and looking to the cross, is a deeply evocative rendering of faith.

Uffizi, Florence

The Uffizi is Italy’s most popular gallery and why is no secret. Some of the greatest masterpieces of the Renaissance can be found in the Uffizi, including works by Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, Michelangelo — the list goes on and on.

Three works by Leonardo da Vinci can be found in the Uffizi, which is a special treasure considering only 15 of his paintings survive. Join an Uffizi gallery private tour and see his Annunciation, Baptism of Christ and Adoration of the Magi.

Discover Leonardo da Vinci’s Works in Italy

Italy is where Da Vinci was born, raised and become a great thinker. The fertile atmosphere of the Italian Renaissance set Leonardo da Vinci up for greatness. Now, a visit to Italy promises the chance to see many of the Great Masters most moving works.

by Annie Beverley

testaccio, ostiense, street art, contemporary art, murals

The Dazzling Street Art of the Ostiense District

The Ostiense district of Rome is home to some of Europe’s most impressive street art, the result of initiatives to attract attention to a neglected area.

Unlike Rome’s more distinguishable sites, such as the Coliseum, the Vatican, the Forum, or the Vittorio Emanuele II monument, the Ostiense District is not the first destination to spring to the tourist’s mind when devising an itinerary for a Roman getaway. And yet, the quarter, situated to the south of Rome’s historic centre, holds some of the most dazzling street art in all of Europe. Rome’s street art is so famous, there is even an app–appropriately named “Street Art Roma”–to help you navigate all the labyrinthine paths through the open-air galleries of the city, of which there are plenty. 


Art is necessarily self-expression, whether through the conscious process of the artist inserting him/herself into the work or through interference of the subconscious. But conventionally, street art, contrary to the commissioned, paid or otherwise requested work in curated galleries, is just as its name suggests: of the street. It is marginalised, often spontaneous, subversive, an act of rebellion against the dictates of the larger municipality. Its tradition is deeply rooted in political expression and dissatisfaction, and it is executed in defiance of the law, often seen as defacement of public property or vandalism. But what if it were authorised, given the benefit of legality, encouraged? What significance could that have for the broader landscape of Rome? Art adorns every corner of this ancient city, from the friezes of its grand monuments to the small icons and portraits of the Madonna and Child that grace the quoins of its buildings. So why stop centuries back in time? It seems only a natural progression for modern art to continue the legacy and claim its place among the ancient ruins.


All this was coursing through my mind as I walked down the busy Via Ostiense, from which the surrounding area, between Piramide and San Paolo, takes its name. The industrial neighbourhood was home to the working classes of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. You can still see relics from that era, like the large gasometer west of Via Ostiense, and the numerous warehouses and old factories. The peripheral area fell into neglect later on as more central zones of Rome were prioritised, but it has since undergone quite the transformation, attracting both tourists and local youth for its vibrant nightlife. 

Perhaps one of the most significant and noteworthy investments to promote the area and direct public interest to it was indeed the street art initiative conceived by contemporary art gallery 999Contemporary. Under the auspices of the Department of Culture of the capital, legitimising and commissioning this form of popular artistic expression, the project saw contemporary artists give life to the walls and buildings of Ostiense with over thirty, vibrant, eye-catching murals. The artists include, to name a few, Brazilian street artist Herbert Baglione; Italian artists Sten&Lex, whose work also features in other major cities, such as London, Paris, and New York; graffiti artist Alejandro Hugo Dorda Mevs, known as Axel Void; Agostino Iacurci, Italian artist of international fame; and JB Rock, one of the most famous artists in Rome’s street art scene.


On the walls of underpass on Via Ostiense are murals of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Romantic poet whose life was inextricably bound to Italy, and Antonio Gramsci, Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician. Both are buried in Rome’s Cimitero Acattolico, or Non-Catholic Cemetery, also called the Protestant Cemetery. The cemetery is a stone’s throw from Ostiense, in Testaccio. It is one of Europe’s oldest in continual use, and it contains the graves of a number of internationally celebrated figures.


Intersecting Via Ostiense from the west side is Via del Porto Fluviale, another spot to admire the urban art scene. The murals of artist Iena Cruz are especially captivating for the added reason that they are executed with the sustainable and ecologically-friendly ‘Airlite’ paint, which neutralises the effect of pollution on the buildings.


East of Ostiense is the suburb of Tor Marancia. The neighbourhood was originally a sort of ghetto in which those families uprooted from their homes in Rome’s centre to accommodate Mussolini’s project to create Via della Conciliazione, near the Vatican, were relocated. It too has experienced a lively transformation with another public art initiative undertaken by Big City Life, a project of 999, in collaboration with residents of the neighbourhood’s housing project. International artists used the sides of eleven buildings in Tor Marancia as their canvases, painting impressive murals in bold colours, the striking imagery infusing the monotone space with new life.

The combined efforts of the city, the artists, and the activists who worked to bring Rome’s neglected quarters to the world’s attention have succeeded in doing just that. Once you are there, in the Ostiense District, on Via del Gazometro, on Via del Porto Fluviale, in Tor Marancia, it is virtually impossible to miss the massive, monumental works of art gracing the industrial architecture. And the best part of it all is that, in true equalising and philanthropic fashion, this art is accessible to all those who pass through the quartieri.

The Ostiense District has become a trendy part of town, for other reasons in addition to its dynamic art scene. The area is home to part of the University of Rome III (Roma Tre) campus. The Centrale Montemarini, on Via Ostiense, hosts a grand collection of ancient sculptures. Once a public electricity plant, the building now contains a permanent exhibition of classical art. This too is part of the initiative to transform the district into a hub for culture and the arts. The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is likewise located in the vicinity, south of the Roma Tre campus. It is one of Rome’s four major basilicas, along with Santa Maria Maggiore, San Pietro, and San Giovanni in Laterano. The Ostiense railways station is a landmark of twentieth-century history, one to see in and of itself. Opened in 1940, it was designed in classic fascist modernist architectural style, with a relief on the façade depicting mythical figures and mosaics on the pavement representing diverse themes linked to the history of ancient Rome.


Ostiense also boasts the world’s biggest Italian supermarket, Eataly. The gastronomic giant has stores in international locations as well, including in the United States, Japan, Brazil, and Germany. This particular store has four floors, eighteen different restaurants, and a plethora of gourmet food products. From the freshly baked focacceand pastries to the artisanal gelato and the colourful fruits and vegetables of the vast produce section, Eataly is a delightful culinary experience, a taste of authentic Italian fare, on a grand scale.

You can get to Ostiense by taking Line B of the Metro from Termini, in the direction of Laurentina. The ride has four stops to Piramide, at which point you can reach Ostiense on foot in less than ten minutes. You can also take the Pisa Central regional train from Termini, which will take you to the Ostiense station. The ride is about ten minutes. 

You can book walking tours to explore the street art of the district. If you are an art lover interested in Italian art’s more classic masterpieces, you can book a VIP tourthat will take you on an intimate exploration of Caravaggio’s work, with stops at the restoration lab and the churches that host the Baroque master’s most famous pieces. You can also experience the art gallery that is the majestic city of Rome itself, with tours of the Vatican and other famous landmarks, by clicking here. There is no shortage of sights to see in the Eternal City.

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