Walk Rome Route: Piazza Venezia – Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli – Capitoline Museums – Temple of Apollo Sosianus – Teatro Marcello – Jewish Quarter – Via del Giubonnari (shopping) – Area Sacra – Piazza Venezia
The Temple of Apollo Sosianus in Rome is worth visiting for many reasons – not only because of its archaeological interest, but because it is the gateway to other areas of Rome which are must-visits.
To find the temple, head to Piazza Venezia and stand facing the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument – turn left of the monument and take the winding Via Petroselli, which leads you past the steep steps up to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli and just a little farther long the road, the Capitoline Museums, both of which are must-sees in themselves, though the climb up to both can be taxing.
Carry on walking round the curved Via Petroselli and ahead of you will appear Teatro Marcello, which you will most likely have passed if you took a taxi from Fiumicino Airport into Rome.
This area of the Eternal City is known as Campus Martius, but used to be called the Flaminian meadows. If you visited the basilica and museum en route, you will be pleased to hear there is a pleasant cafe just before you reach the temple and Teatro Marcello, where you can buy lunch or an ice cream and relax. There is also a nice clean WC.
Onwards and upwards, the site is very compact – Teatro Marcello still hosts events, primarily concerts – and the top tier is now luxury apartments.
The temple ruins – principally the three columns which remain – sit next to the Porticus Octaviae and you can stroll among the debris of the ruins, piled along the pathway.
The Temple of Apollo Sosianus was renamed after Gaius Sosius, who rebuilt it. Before then, it was known as the Apollinar, which is a sacred site such as an altar. The site is thought to date from 5BC, but the three remaining columns of the temple date from the Augustan period (27 BC–AD 14). It was also Augustus who dedicated a further temple to Apollo on the Palatine Hill overlooking the Forum.
The rebuilding of the temple by Gaius Sosius temporarily faltered after Sosius took the side of Mark Antony in his war against Octavian (Augustus). It was only when Sosius and Augustus became reconciled that the temple was completed. The staircase leading to the temple was demolished when the Teatro Marcello was built, however – demonstrating how architecture in Ancient Rome was frequently remodelled to accommodate new buildings, sometimes with the materials or decorations from demolished structures being re-used for other new buildings.
The Temple of Apollo Sosianus is a small site, but it leads directly to the Jewish Quarter of the city, where there is also a Jewish Museum. The main winding street of the Jewish Quarter has shops dating from long ago, which cosy up to modern boutiques and shops and a host of wonderful eating places.
There are also many plaques commemorating those who lived in the Jewish Quarter and who died in the Holocaust – it is very moving to stand before the buildings where Holocaust victims lived and read something of the history of those who lost their lives.
However, there is a vibrant feel to the Jewish Quarter and a real sense of community, with different generations of families dining out together and children from the local school sometimes playing football in the street.
If you make your way along the main street of the Jewish Quarter, you will emerge onto Via Arenula. Turn right and a few doors along the street, there is a lovely patisserie and chocolatier, where you can enjoy coffee, cake or gelato and buy some luxury chocolates to take home.
Revived, cross the road and walk across the small garden square and you will find yourself in Via del Giubbonari, source of serious shopping and where my favourite shops for boots and bags are located – Alberti for shoes and boots (bargains at the back of the shop) and Frandi for bags. There are plenty of shops along Via del Giubbonari and in the tributaries leading off it to take you well into the afternoon or evening.
If you are too tired to shop, turn right out of the Jewish Quarter and keep walking along Via Arenula and you will find yourself at Area Sacra, which runs along Via Corso Emanuele, taking you back to Piazza Venezia.
Area Sacra di Largo Argentina is the site of four Roman temples discovered in the 1920s during building work. The site is now the home to some of Rome’s stray cats – cats being traditionally the guardians of temples. You are not allowed to feed them or bring one home, bu it is relaxing to watch them snooze among the ancient ruins while the traffic rushes past. Read more about Area Sacra.
Turn right out of Largo Argentina to make your way back to Piazza Venezia – you have now earned a snooze yourself. Buon viaggio!
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Set off to the Eternal City for a weekend of surprises in ROME ALONE, as unhappy housewife Bee and newly-divorced Alzheimer’s expert Dr Neil McCarthy leave from opposite ends of the country for a mini-break full of the unexpected that will change their lives forever as they make their way round the sites. Return to Rome with them three years later in ROME AGAIN and discover the forces at work which they never suspected on their first trip.
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In VERONA ALONE, newly divorced former cellist Moira decides to fulfil a girlhood dream of visiting Verona during the summer opera season. There she is taken under the wing of a quirky and generous American who appears to have a secret, which is only discovered when she finds herself all at sea with him. VERONA AGAIN sees three couples fight to save their relations – who will succeed, who will fail and who will lose the love of their life?
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