The seven hills of Rome is not only a classic film starring singer Mario Lanza, the seven hills also form the foundations on which Rome was built.
Anyone who has visited Rome will know how the terrain can suddenly rise up before you – and before you know it, you are plodding up an unexpected hill. The area round Quirinal Palace means that, take a left turn from the Trevi Fountain or a right turn from Via Nazionale and suddenly you will need the sure footing of a mountain goat.
The seven hills of Rome are the Palatine Hill, the Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, and Aventine Hill.
Their Latin names are Mons Palatinus, Mons Capitolinus, Mons Quirinalis, Mons Viminalis, Mons Esquilinus, Mons Caelius and Mons Aventinus. The Palatine Hill is slap bang in the centre of Rome, next to the Capitoline – where the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument is built, Rome’s city hall. Ancient Rome originally was built around the Palatine Hill, where the Forum and nearby sites like the Colosseum and Circus Maximus are situated.
The legend is that the twin brothers who founded Rome, Romulus and Remus, were abandoned on the River Tiber and their cradle washed up at the foot of the Palatine Hill. They were the sons of the god Mars, but were brought up by a shepherd, having been suckled by a she-wolf. The legend gives rise to the famous image of the twins being suckled, with a statue of the scene to be found overlooking the Forum on Capitoline Hill.
The Palatine Hill over time became a desirable area to live – in 63BC Octavian, later Emperor Augustus, was born on the Palatine Hill. The house of his wife Livia still stands on the hill along with other important sites and a spectacular view of the Forum. There is also a public lavatory on the Palatine Hill, always good to know when you are trekking round the vast site of the Forum.
Keen walkers will enjoy making their way round the seven hills – but those who are less mobile should not be put off visiting the Eternal City. The centre where the main historic sites are is pretty flat – but watch out for those cobbled roads – and there are plenty of taxis on hand to whisk you to more inaccessible sites.
Start with the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, from where you will enjoy fantastic views of Rome ancient and modern.
Rome is a city which needs to be visited and revisited over and over. Plan which areas you are going to see on each trip – and take comfortable shoes and a spare pair to carry with you – climbing every mountain in Rome takes stamina and memory foam insoles!
Some of the sites and temples you will find on the various hills include:
Palatine – House of Livia
Capitoline – Capitoline Museums
Aventine – Temples of Diana and Ceres
Esquiline – Temple of Juno Lucina
Quirinal – Quirinal Palace
Viminalis – the Diocletian Baths in Piazza della Repubblica are at the foot of the hill
Caelian – Caracalla Baths, walkable from the Colosseum
There are also other hills in Rome – you will find the church of Trinità dei Monte at the top of the Spanish Steps sitting atop Monte Pincio, with the Borghese Gardens just round the corner and Via Vittorio Veneto snaking up the hill a few streets away. This explains why the climb up the Spanish Steps is so taxing after a long day of sightseeing. Make sure you stop at Babington’s at the foot of the steps for refreshment before you set off up yet another hill!
All images copyright A. Meredith 2017-18
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Set off to the Eternal City for a long weekend 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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