The subject of an endless number of historic plays and movies, the stories surrounding Rome have permeated the depths of Western culture. From The Vatican to the Colosseum, Rome's deep history and cultural significance is evidenced by every monument and palazzo. Seeing Rome as it is today, it may be hard to imagine that this sprawling metropolis began with a small settlement of shepherds and farmers near the Tiber River on Palatino. It is said that Palatino is where Romulus founded the city and where Augustus, the first Emperor, built his home. The old city occupied six other hills (Quirinale, Viminale, Esquilino, Celio, Aventino and Capitolino), though the modern city extends far beyond those confines.
Quirinale is the highest of the seven hills. Atop its summit is Piazza Quirinale, with its colossal statues of the horse tamers, Castor and Pollux and the Palazzo del Quirinale, where the president of the Italian Republic lives. Across from the Palazzo are the Scuderie, former horse stables that are open to the public thanks to the renovations of architect Gae Aulenti, who created a functional exhibition space inside the building.
The Viminale sits next to Quirinale. It is smaller in size, split into two by Via Nazionale, and dominated by the huge Palazzo delle Esposizioni building (designed by Pio Piacentini) on Piazza della Repubblica, near Rome's principal railway station, Stazione Termini. Piazza della Repubblica is one of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome. The restored Fontana delle Naiadi is proudly on display in the center of the piazza.
Esquilino was the home of the great poets Virgil and Orazio. It has three peaks, one of which is Monte Oppio, where you can find the ruins of Domus Aurea, finally opened to the public after years of restoration. Initially, Esquilino was a suburb of Rome, which is why the nickname exquilini (non-tenants) was given to its inhabitants. The term may be the origin of the hill’s name.
Celio & Aventino
Celio has a long promontory, called Monte delle Querce, as it was once home to many oak trees (querce). It is possibly the greenest and most charming of the seven hills and is home to Parco del Celio and Villa Celimontana. There are many beautiful buildings here, especially along the magnificent Appia Antica. Almost all are places of worship. Both Aventino and Celio have few inhabitants. Aventino is rich in important medieval monuments such as the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, where the famous Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) is housed.
Situated between Palatino and Quirinale, this area was the religious and political center of the city during the Roman Era. It is dominated by the Michelangelo-styled Piazza del Campidoglio, perfectly proportioned, with a statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius on horseback in the center. The Capitoline Museums are located here and have some of the most precious art collections in the world.
The seven hilltops offer a number of beautiful views, but the most breathtaking panoramas can be seen from outside the confines of the original Seven Hills. To the west of Capitolino and the Tiber River in the Vatican City, you can enjoy a glorious view of the city from the dome of San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica). To the north of Capitolino, a visit to the gardens of Pincio, a part of the Villa Borghese that overlooks the Piazza del Popolo, will yield equally splendid panoramic views.
Trastevere is undoubtedly one of the most charming areas of the city, and one of the most crowded areas too - especially on summer evenings. Many people (foreigners and Romans alike) want to live in this highly desirable district, home of historic churches such as the Santa Maria in Trastevere. North of Trastevere near the Vatican City, Gianicolo, the second city's second tallest hill, treats visitors to an unforgettable view of the city. Finally, Eur, one of Rome's most modern neighborhoods, is home to some fascinating Fascist-style architecture, as evidenced by the many offices and administrative centers in and around the Piazzale delle Nazioni.