THE TREVI FOUNTAIN
Today, the Trevi Fountains stands, glimmering in iridescent marble – in no small part thanks to the restoration that took place in the early 2010s, funded by the Fendi Fashion House. The Trevi Fountain is not only a spectacular publics work project – although, of course, that it certainly is– but also an iconic symbol of Rome’s history.
Although the Trevi Fountain as we see it today was completed in 1762, its history extends back to the early days of Imperial Rome. In 19 BC, Ancient Rome was growing at an astonishing rate – but didn’t have enough water to quench the thirst of its growing population. Legend has it that a young Virgin found a source of water that would supply the city, and engineers built an aqueduct to Rome, from that stream. This Aqueduct became known as the Virgin Aqueduct. The Trevi Fountain is the terminal of the Virgin Aqueduct; the first place all that fresh water comes into Rome.
The central figure of the fountain is not Poseidon, as many people believe, but the Greek God Oceanus. According to Greek mythology, Oceanus commanded all waters – his river, supposedly, encircled the earth. Oceanus is supposed to represent the life-giving force of water, but also its power; all the rocks that support Oceanus and the other figures are carved to look artificially eroded.
On either side of Oceanus, in bas-relief, are two female figures. Trivia, the Virgin, is to left. Trivia holds the horn of plenty, signaling the abundance that will come with this fresh water supply to Rome. On the right stands Agrippa, a spear in her hand, overseeing the construction of the aqueduct.
The architect who designed the Trevi Fountain, Nicola Salvi, was no prolific architect/sculptor like the maestro Bernini. The Trevi Fountain was his only great public works project, and he died in 1751, with his masterpiece half-finished. If one is to only leave one thing to the world, let it be something like the Trevi Fountain, which has inspired generations of Romans and visitors for centuries. You’ll see it for yourself, throw a coin in, and here more of its fantastic history, on this private Rome tour.
The Pantheon is the world’s best-preserved Roman temple, and thank goodness that it is – because it was probably the most unique, ornately decorated, magnificent and symbolic Temple that Roman civilization ever produced.
Emperor Hadrian commissioned the building around 117 – 118BC and it took seven years to be completed. The Pantheon was finished in 127BC, when Hadrian returned to Rome for Syria, in order to consolidate his power. Hadrian conducted the ceremony which dedicated the Pantheon to all the Gods.
No other Roman Temple like the Pantheon survives; presumably because no other Temple was like the Pantheon. Vitruvius, a Roman chronicler, cataloged all types of Roman circular temples in the 1st century BC; there’s no mention of any construction like the Pantheon. The Pantheon was intended to be the Temple of Rome, the Temple of all the Gods everywhere, the Temple of Romans – and indeed, the entire Roman world that fell under the Empire.
Hadrian is commonly regarded as the most cultured Roman Emperor, and his construction of the Pantheon is certainly a testament to that. Not only did Hadrian commission an architect to create an innovative structure – he actually designed it himself. Hadrian had spent most of his career as a general in the East, and while there, developed a taste for all things Greek; including Greek mystery cults. The whole structure of the Pantheon is resplendent with rich symbolism.
The actual meaning of the Pantheon has been lost over the millennia – in part due to its esoteric and symbolic nature; how was one building be deified to all the Gods? We know very little about the internal decoration when the Pantheon was dedicated in 127 BC; much early writing has been lost. Even 100s years after its dedication, the true religious meaning on the Pantheon was lost to Romans.
However, new studies show that the design of the Pantheon may well have been influenced by Pythagorean geometry. Pythagoras – more famous for the triangle – also developed a religious cult based around holy numbers. The interior design of the Pantheon gestures towards this sacred geometry.
The hole in the center of the cupola is supposed to represent the number 1, the only indivisible number, associated with Apollo – he of no multiplicity – and the sun. That’s why that, at midday, when the sun is highest in the sky, the light of the sun lands centrally on the floor of the Pantheon. Aside from the hole, the cupola has 28 squares, receding outward from the central dome. These were intended the 28 days in the lunar calendar – also sacred in Pythagorean geometry.
Our private Rome tour will take you to the piazza of the Pantheon. From there, our expert, local guide, will illuminate you to the fascinating history of the building, and its transformation from a pagan temple to a Catholic Church. You’ll also be able to enjoy the sunlight reflecting off the magnificent, golden dome – a strange feature on a pagan temple, and the delight of Romans, ancient and modern, as you can see it glimmer for miles.
CAMPO DE’ FIORI
Today, Campo de’ Fiori is a buzzing, lively piazza of the modern city. Campo de’ Fiori is where our private Rome tour comes to a close, amidst the vibrant atmosphere of the morning market. Markets have risen on this square, every morning, for over 400 years. You’ll find fruit and vegetable stores positively aching under the weight of fresh produce.
Only the best of seasonal ingredients are available. If you’re lucky, you may catch puntarelle, a beautifully curly Roman salad that’s only available in Autumn/Winter, or fresh fava, that rise for their moment in the sun in May, before they vanish for another year.
At night, Campo de’ Fiori is wholly transformed. Market vendors have packed away their stalls and the young people come to out to play. The area is a popular nightlife spot, as you’ll see if you wander to the square around 6 o’clock in the evening. A multitude of bars are setting up their outdoor tables for the evening, turning on their fairy lights and the DJs are dusting off their decks. By the time 10 pm rolls around, the square is positively brimming with hip young Romans, foreign exchange students and tourists in the know, enjoying drinking and laughing with their companions.
Historically, Campo de’Fiori has not been as idyllic as it is today. Now, Campo de’Fiori represents some of the best aspects of Roman life – a great food market in the morning and a friendly, vibrant atmosphere at night. Although this area has been a center of commerce for a long time, for hundreds of years, another major activity took place here: public executions. Campo de’Fiori may mean ‘field of flowers’, but it’s likely that the name only references the flowers laid for those who died here.
In the center of the square stands a statue of a somber figure. His dark physique is shrouded in a cloak – look at him long enough, and his severity cuts through the joyous atmosphere like a knife. Giordano Bruno is the name of that cloaked, darkened man. He was executed in Campo de’ Fiori for heresy; because he was the first man in history to have the audacity to suggest stars were suns like our own, with planets orbiting them. And because he enjoyed practicing black magic of various forms.
The earliest attraction on the site of the Campo de’Fiori was the Ancient Theater of Pompey. This theater was the first public theater in Rome and one of the most impressive structures from the latter days of the Roman Republic. If you can image half of the Colosseum taped to the front of the Circus Maximus, you have an idea what it looks like. The theater was half an amphitheater – as we now know it – with a walled track at the back for racing and athletic games. Sadly, the theater is lost to time; the decline of the city’s population in the middle ages, and frequent flooding from the Tiber reduced it to ruins. By the time Campo de’ Fiori was paved over in the Renaissance, there was no theater left.
Our vibrant private tour Rome comes to a close in Campo de’ Fiori. You’ll arrive while the square is still dappled with early morning light and the most eager locals are already at the market, buying their fresh cheeses, fruit, and vegetables.
Campo de’ Fiori is the perfect place for the tour to end; if you decide to stay here at tour’s close, you can plonk down at a table in a café and enjoy some of the best people-watching the city of Rome has to offer.
Why Join Our Early Morning Historic City Stroll?
No one would deny Rome is an impossibly beautiful city, at any time of the day or night. But if you truly desire to see Rome at its best, you should join this Rome private tour and see her in the bright light of early morning.
Nothing compares to seeing marble monuments, astonishing Baroque fountains and beautiful churches, illuminated in the lovely orange light of the morning. Without any of the day’s normal crowds, you’ll get to experience the true affective power of these wonderful sights. The historic center is a kaleidoscope of different periods of history – which is why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See it for yourself on this Rome tour.