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Capitol Hill in Rome

Capitol Hill in Rome - Via dei Fori Imperiali (part 2)

Welcome A Road Retraveled Travel Videos and Blogs.

In the previous episode (Via dei Fori Imperiali Part 1), we visited Rome’s famous via dei Fori Imperiali’s controversial and fascist past, and began the tour of famous ancient and more recent sites on and around this popular boulevard….starting with where it begins: Piazza Venezia with the highly recognizable, monumental monument dedicated to unified Italy’s first king, Vittorio Emmanuele II.

In this episode, we move on to Capitol Hill…where history preceedes the Roman Empire, and many of Rome’s most precious pieces of art and artifacts are displayed inside the very popular Capitoline Museums.


BONUS FEATURE on A Road Retraveled Travel App: We saw the legendary Capitoline Wolf with infants Remus and Romulus, but is there archaeological evidence right nearby that the legend is indeed true?  Also on the app you can download a beautiful original wallpaper photo of the Eternal City, AND a PDF file with valuable information on what modes of public transportation you can take to via dei Fori Imperiali, and visitor information for the Vittorio Emanuelle Monument and the Capitoline Museum. Thank you everyone for purchasing the app, and supporting the show.


Capitoline Hill in Rome

Capitol Hill from Archaic Period to Today

Next to il Vittoriano is the Capitol Hill…one of the 7 hills of Rome. SInce the 16th century, it has been called Campodiglio in Italian. This hill has some interesting beginnings…on this hill was one of the largest and most beautiful temples in Rome dedicated to the Capitoline Triad, initiated by Rome’s 5th Etruscan king, Tarquin the Elder.

The Capitoline Triad was a group of three supreme deities in ancient Roman mythology: Jupiter (the king of the gods), Mars (the god of war) and Quirinus (which means Spear and is also a metaphor for Janus, the 2-faced god of beginnings and endings). The name Capitoline did not originate with ancient Rome’s extreme capital punishments, but it began with the legendary recovery of a human skull – or caput in latin,  when the foundation for the Temple of Jupiter was dug up.

The trapezoid Piazza del Campodiglio and the palazzi surrounding it were designed by Italy’s famous master, the one and only Michelangelo. He was commissioned by the Farnese Pope Paul III to create a symbol of the new Rome to show off to Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, when he visited Rome in 1538.

The centerpiece equestrian bronze was spared from being melted down during Rome’s large scale recycling scheme during the Medieval and Renaissance eras, due to mistaken identity. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius here was confused for Emperor Constantine, who legalized Christianity. One can suppose they maybe look alike….sort of. The sculpture in the square is a contemporary copy…the original is inside the Capitoline Museums, one of the most famous museums in Rome that one should visit!


Capitoline Museums in Rome on Capitol Hill

The museums are housed in three palazzi: Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo Senatorio, and Palazzo dei Conservatori. The museums trace their origins to 1471 when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of prized bronzes to the citizens of Rome and placed them on Capitol Hill. The collections have since grown to include a vast number of Ancient Roman Statues and artifacts, Medieval and Renaissance art, jewels, coins, and many other items.

In the video I show you some of my favorite pieces here worth checking out:  on the 2nd floor of Palazzo dei Conservatori is the bronze Lupa Capitolina, the Capitoline Wolf - inspired by the she wolf who nursed Remus and Romulus, the legendary founders of Rome. The twins were added to the she wolf some time later, and together they form the iconic symbol of Rome itself. You see the she wolf nursing the twins all over Rome!  I didn’t mention WHEN the Lupa Capitolina was created because scientists and historians can’t seem to agree: was she built by the Etruscans in 500 BC….or sometime between 13-15 centuries AD? That’s like a 2000 year difference….you’d think they’d narrow it down a bit more.

Also not to miss is the beautiful and graceful Capitoline Venus in Palazzo Nuovo, the lovebirds Cupid and Psyche, and the poignant Dying Gaul, the ancient Roman marble copy of a lost Hellenistic sculpture of the fallen soldier laying on his shield with his weapons beside him.   You can see all these beautiful works of art in the video!

In the New Wing is the glass covered hall – the Sala Marco Aurelio, with the original equestrian bronze whose copy we saw in the piazza outside. Also scattered around are humongous body parts belonging to Emperor Constantine.

Other classic sculptures worth seeking out are Commodus as Hercules – Commodus was the crazy roman emperor who considered himself a gladiator, an identity crisis that got him assassinated for disgracing his imperial title. He was also the emperor featured in the movie Gladiator…and if I remember correctly, he was killed in the arena at the end of the film. Michelangelo’s bust….Bernini’s Medusa on a good hair day,  and the famous 1st century BC Greek bronze, Lo Spinario – a young buy focused on picking a thorn from his foot.

Another interesting place to visit inside the museum is the hall of Ancient Languages.

Hall of Ancient Languages at Capitoline Museum on capitol Hill

Although Latin was the official language of the State, this vast collection of funerary inscriptions is a hogde podge of different languages spoken in Ancient Rome representing the various conquered states. It looks like a boring place at first, but when you start reading the translations of some  epitaphs, you get a glimpse into what people were doing some 2000 years ago. Some example are:

I who at one time was rich through earnings gained through the juice of grapes….


Lucius Lucilius Rufus, son of Lucious, registered with the Publilia tribe, originally from Vernoa, soldier of the 5th praetorian cohort, he served 9 years, he lived 28 years.


Here’s one from 2nd century AD: Caius Pomponius Heracon, a great planner and builder of ships who lived 25 years.

This one from 1st century BC reads: I am Lucious Lutatius Paccius, seller of incense, one time slave of King Mithridates.


In the vide you will see MORE incredible inscriptions from tombs of local Romans that reveal secrets of what life was like in Ancient Rome.

Nearby is the Tabularium, the 2000 year old official records office of Ancient Rome that also housed the offices of many city officials. Not much to see here, but wait until you look out  -  in the video you will see a most fantastic view of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill behind it! This view alone is worth the entry fee!!

If touring the museum leaves you exhausted and in need of a caffeinated pick-me-up, you can stop at its cafe for a drink, a coffee, or a bite to eat…as well as admire  a different view of Rome.

Thank you for visiting A Road Retraveled and watching the travel videos. See you soon in Rome!

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