Rome is full of wonderful piazzas and one of the main squares – even though it is actually an oval – is Piazza del Popolo.
Located at one end of the Via del Corso where it meets Via del Babuino (literally “Baboon Street”), Piazza del Popolo is named after the church of Santa Maria del Popolo – and it literally means People’s Square.
There are actually two churches at the entrance to the piazza – Santa Maria in Montesanto forms a twin to Santa Maria del Miracoli. They were built in the same style between 1662 and 1679.
In the centre of the piazza is an Egyptian pylon – more Roman war booty – dedicated to the pharaoh Sety I. It originates from Heliopolis and was moved from the Circus Maximus to the centre of the square in 1589 on the orders of Pope Sixtus V.
At the northern side of the piazza is the Porta Flaminia, leading to Via Flaminia, one of Rome’s major arterial roads which eventually leads to the Adriatic coast, stretching from the Gulf of Venice to Puglia. Pope Pius IV ordered the building of the Port Flaminia in 1562, so that pilgrims entering the Eternal City would feel the majesty of Rome. The architect commissioned to build the huge entrance was Nanni di Baccio Bigio.
The Porta Flaminia is now called the Porta Popolo and the current layout of the piazza was designed from 1811 onwards under the architect Giuseppe Valadier.
It is a vast space full of architectural splendour and statuary, such as Neptune’s Fountain and a graceful figure of Ceres.
You can read more about this statue and the festival of Ieiunium Ceres in my blog dedicated to the festival.
Piazza del Popolo is a lively, vibrant piazza which also borders the Borghese Park. There are plenty of cafes and bars to enjoy lunch at – plus if you approach the piazza from Via del Corso, you can also visit Goethe’s House, which is at the top of the Corso. It is usually a quiet and cool retreat from the heat of Via del Corso – you can read more about Goethe’s House in my blog.
After lunch in Piazza del Popolo, a stroll in Borghese Park under the shade of the trees is a perfect way to spend the afternoon in the heat of Rome. There are cafes in the park, plus the opportunity to cycle, skateboard or visit the Borghese Museum (pre-booking necessary). Or just find a bench and enjoy some peace and quiet in a lovely natural setting, away from the hurly burly of tourist Rome.
Want to go to Rome now? Download the ROME ALONE series and take off for Rome, Verona and Venice – with pitstops in New York, Berlin and Amsterdam – for the perfect holiday without leaving home!
ROME ALONE and ROME AGAIN
The ROME ALONE series of books was first published in 2015 and begins in the Eternal City with ROME ALONE, where Alzheimer’s expert Dr Neil McCarthy and unhappy housewife Belinda Rightson (Bee) both decide to spend a long weekend to forget their marital woes. Three years later in ROME AGAIN the dark forces at work on their first trip begin to emerge.
ROME ALONE was one of 100 winners of the Writers’ and Artists’ Centenary New Novel Award.
In VERONA ALONE and VERONA AGAIN, the story continues.
Trevi Fountain, Rome
VERONA ALONE & VERONA AGAIN
In the sequel, VERONA ALONE, Dr McCarthy’s former sister-in-law and professional cellist Moira celebrates her divorce in Verona, after a dismal attempt at online dating.
In the city of love, Moira meets a gallant American tourist, who takes her under his wing. However, her new friend proves unreliable and appears to have a secret. When he suggests that Moira accompany him to Venice, the truth about him begins to reveal itself, with terrifying results.
VERONA AGAIN sees FBI Special Agent Edward Fenshall and his colleague Karl O’Rourke relaunch the hunt for Romanian capo dei capi Diego Lazlo Dagobert, whose yacht is heading for Venice. Dagobert’s real identity is unknown and he frequently disappears off the radar, but it seems they now have a chance to apprehend him and link him to the opioid scandal gripping the world.
What happens in Venice does not stay in Venice, however, and the operation has unforeseen consequences for both Edward Fenshall and Dr Neil McCarthy.
There are consequences for Moira, too, as she finds she has to return to Verona in search of the past and a ghost that haunts her, which she must lay to rest before she can move forward.
DOWNLOAD THE ROME ALONE SERIES
Download ROME ALONE
Download ROME AGAIN
Download VERONA ALONE
Download VERONA AGAIN
The ROME ALONE series contains humour, sexual content and adult themes which some may find upsetting.
Images: Creative Commons Licence except where stated.