Basilica of San Clemente in Rome: three layers of history

After visiting the Colosseum, nearby there’s another attraction not to miss: the basilica of San Clemente. It’s much more than the current church which goes back to the Middle Ages: below there are several levels of ancient constructions, oldest of which are of the first century AD.

San clemente undergroundThe site has experienced several phases of which different architectural levels have been conserved up to our days: in the 2nd century more building work took place, and a beautiful and spacious private residence was constructed. About 100 years later, a part of this building was transformed into a sanctuary of the divinity Mitra, whose cult was getting more and more popular in Rome at that time, especially amongst the army. During this phase an altar was built, and the sanctuary was transformed to look like the interior of a cave. The cult of Mitra was practised actively here at least until the beginning of the 4th century, and at some point after that the temple seems to have been intentionally destroyed in order to transform it into a Christian church towards the end of the 4th century. In the Middle Ages, in 1084, it was destroyed by the Normanssan Clemente Rome.

The current basilica, only slightly lower than the street level, was constructed in 1108 by the Pope Pasquale II on top of the earlier layers, which at that time remained covered. The medieval basilica, adorned by amazingly beautiful and sumptuous mosaics, was restored in the beginning of the 18th century. The ancient layers were uncovered only in the 1857, and can now be visited with a guide.

The basilica is located just a short walk from the Colosseum, in Via Labicana 95. You can book a guided visit to the underground layers either by e-mail or by phone: 0039 06 8530 1758. You can also attend without reservation, especially in low season. To get there for example from the Termini station, take the metro line B. To be able to move around the city easily, be sure to book a central hotel, such as the hotel Carlito’s Way or the Nice Hotel, located in the Termini neighbourhood.

The Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome

Rome has such a multitude of historical and archeaological attractions to offer, that it’s quite difficult to decide which to go see, besides the most obvious ones sucapollo of Veiih as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Pantheon and Piazza Navona… Don’t forget that the local history is more than just the ancient Roman Empire: there was a highly developed civilisation in the region of Lazio much before the Romans: the mysterious Etruscans!

What do you really know of the Etruscans? Maybe not all that much..? Well, then the place to go, when in Rome, is the Museo Etrusco of Villa Giulia, which houses many of the most significant archaeological findings on Etruscans.

Some of the most precious and interesting objects of the museum are the bilingual (Etruscan-phoenician) golden plates with an inscription dedicated to a goddess. Other main attractions are the contents of the so-called “Warrior’s tombâ€? (from the 6th century BC), the “Sarcophagus of the Spousesâ€? – a magnificent statue discovered in the Etruscan necropolis of Cerveteri and the famous statue of Apollo, the “Apollo of Veiiâ€?. This statue of the 6th century BC, representing Apollo with the tipical mysterious “Etruscan smile” on his lips used to adorn a temple in the Etruscan city of Veii and it is considered the greatest piece of Etruscan art conserved to our days.Sarcophagus of the Spouses statue

The building itself is another object of interest: it was constructed in the 16th century for the humanist pope Julius III with the participance of for example Giorgio Vasari and Michelangelo and is a beautiful example of the manieristic architecture.

The museum of Villa Giulia is located in the area of Valle Giulia, and to get there you can take the trams 3 (from Trastevere or the metro B stops of “Colosseo� or “Piramide�) or the tram number 19 from Porta Maggiore. For additional information on the museum or to book your tickets on line, you can use the “Ticketeria�-service. At the museum you can rent an acoustic guide for an additional fee. Reduced tickets are available to European Union citicens under 25 years of age.

For more tourist information and hotel or tour reservations try this site.

Typical Roman Food

Planning a winter break in Rome? Or your summer holidays? It doesn’t really matter when you travel, the important thing to get the most out of it is: when in Rome, do Pastaas the Romans do, right? So what do the Romans eat? Well, pasta and pizza, of course, but the answer is not that simple…

In Italy, it’s not just spaghetti with meat balls, but you can find dozens of different forms of pasta: spaghetti, fettuccine, bucatini, penne, fusilli, farfalle… And with hundreds of different sauces: ragù, sugo di pomodori, pesto, arrabbiata, boscaiola, porcini mushrooms… Some of them are sort of national, eaten in all of Italy, like the classical tomato sauce or pesto, but many are regional and local delicacies. So which are the roman specialities?Roman food: Bucatini all'amatriciana

Well, some of the most famously Roman pasta dishes are the spaghetti carbonara (actually invented on the basis of the egg powder and bacon brought to the locals by American soldiers during the World War II!) and the bucatini all’amatriciana, both with the delicious Italian bacon, pancetta. Then especially in the winter there’s the hearty “pasta ai fagioli�, pasta witRoman bruschettah beans.

And it’s not just pasta, of course! As starters, the Romans love to have “bruschetta�: a kind of toast with garlic, quality olive oil, and then on top of it almost anything you want, but most tipically sliced tomatoes. Also the “supplì� fried rice balls with mozzarella filling, are absolutely worth trying!

As to second courses, a delicacy not to miss is the “saltimbocca�, literally “jump in the mouth� (probRoman pecorino cheeseably called so because it’s so good!), which consists of slices of veal and prosciutto ham, cooked in marsala wine with leaves of sage. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try the “trippa�, the traditional triple stew… For side dish, a tipical choice would be artichokes, “carciofi�, cooked “alla romana� with butter and salt, or “alla giudia�, deliciously crunchy with garlic and parsleRoman local winey.

As a Roman dessert, try the “crostata con la ricotta�, a sort of a sweet and crusty cheese cake or the “torta della nonna�. Also the local cheeses, such as the tasty “pecorino romano� are good and popular desserts.

To drink you should choose any of the local wines form the Castelli Romani area, white or red, popular in all Italy.

For other travel tips, restaurant recommendations, information about Rome hotels and Rome city tours see these links and booking tours or accomodation try the!

Ideas for daytrips from Rome

In the outskirts of Rome, there are a number of interesting small towns with an amazing history and incredibile beauty to offer to those who wish to see more than just the basic, “obligatory� sights in the Rome city itself.

cerveteri etruscan necropolisBefore the growth of the Roman Republic and then Empire, the area around Rome was inhabited by the Etruscans, who have left behind many signs of their highly evolved culture and society. Some of their heritage can be admired in Cerveteri, a small town that hosts a huge Etruscan necropolis with more than 400 tombs of the 8th-2nd century BC., disposed in the form of a “city of the dead�. The most interesting objects found in the tombs are now hosted in the Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome, but the necropolis is definitely worth seeing, being a beautiful enchanted place. To get there, take a bus from the metro-A station of Lepanto and then walk form the center of Cerveteri, which, by the way, is also worth visiting.

viterbo, RomeAnother town of Etruscan origin, Viterbo, has a beautiful medieval old-town, mostly of 12th-14th century, and is known as the “City of Popes�, having offered refuge to many a medieval pope during the frequent political conflicts. Some of the main attractions are the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, tha Palazoo dei Papi, the Villa Lante di Bagniaia with its marvellous garden and of course the city center itself with its narrow streets and the atmosphere of times long gone. From Rome you can get to Viterbo by train: fromVilla Gregoriana cascade, Tivoli Rome Termini or Ostiense stations it’ll take about an hour and a half.
Tivoli is yet another beautiful smalltown about 1 hour drive from Rome, with a COTRAL bus leaving from the metro-B Ponte Mammolo station. The ancient town, located on the Aniene river, was under the influence of Rome as early as 4th century BC, and flourished again in the Middle Ages, under Frederik Barbarossa. The main attraction today are the 16th century Villa d’Este of the cardinal d’Este, the Roman amphitheatre, the beautiful Villa Gregoriana with it’s waterfall, and the ruins of the ancient Villa Adriana, the palace of the emperor Hadrian, outside the city center.
Ostia beach RomebmpIf you want nothing too complicated and not too far away, you can always go to the sea: in the summer the whole city seems to move over to the beaches of Ostia, and in the winter time you can enjoy in peace and quiet the storming sea… And of course, the whole “Lungomare�, that is the road coasting the sea, is crowded with restaurants specialised in seafood! Going to Ostia couldn’t be easier: first take the metro line B to Piramide and then just switch for the train for “Lido di Ostia�. Get off at Ostia centro or Stella Polare and it’s just a few steps to the sea!

To do some exploring it’s good to stay in a centrally located hotel, such as the brand new Yes Hotel near the Termini station, or the already well-known Hotel or Hostel Des Artistes, both close to the station as well.

Capitoline Museums : Special Exhibition

Painting by Lanfranco

Palazzo Caffarelli in the Capitole Museums in Rome in Piazza Venezia is holding an exhibition of major importance until 28 january 2007, the “Officina Emiliana� (the Emilian Workshop), which travels throughout Italy, and where you will admire some 40 works of great painters as Correggio, Guercino and Lanfranco made between the 15th and 18th century.
The collection, which is composed of works by artists orginary from Emilia and Romagna is owned by the Bank of the same name, The Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna. The collection began in the 60s and was enlarged throughout the years and this is a successful example of private sponsoring aiming at art, culture and territory with a public interest since the recovering of these works also means the taking care of them, which may not have been possible and also made it possible for the public to be able to admire these works. At the beginning the choices were casual since the works were to furnish the offices only, and slowly it turned out to be a cultural project instead.
Musei CapitoliniThe exhibition proposes a chronological visit through the works of great painters of the emilian school.

The location is off Piazza Venezia, which is close to the Colosseum in central Rome and is in walking distance from Yes hotel Rome, or in easy reach by bus from the Termini station

Visits are from Tuesdays to Sundays between 9.00 am and 8.00 pm.
Ticket is 8 euro and includes the Capitole Museums too or 4,50 euro for the exhibition only.

Palazzo Barberini Rome

Palazzo Barberini

Palazzo Barberini is the building where the Nationaly Gallery of Ancient Art is hosted and is located in the very historical centre of Rome close to Via Veneto and our Bed and Breakfast Dei Cappuccini and the American Embassy in Rome.

The building was built back in the early 1600s by the family Sforza for Maffeo Barberini who then became pope as Urban VIII. It had been projected by Francesco Borromini and Carlo Maderno, and was taken over by Bernini when C. Maderno passed away. The very elegant helicoidal staircase and also many decorative elements were designed by Borromini, while the great hall was decorated by Pietro Da Cortona.

Staircase by BorrominiThe Gallery was founded in 1895 and was projected to host works from various private collections. Many great artists feature such as Caravaggio, El Greco, Tintoretto, Raffaello, Tiziano, …

Opening times are Tuesday to Sunday from 09.00 to 7.00 pm. You can book your tickets by telephone at +39 0632810 or fax at +39 0632651329. The tickets are 6.20 euro.

It is located in Via Barberini 18 , the nearest metro stop is Barberini on line A.

Rome – All about Coffee

Coffee beans

Coffee or caffe as it is called in Italian, is a very important part of the day here in Rome. You will find it available in every restaurant and bar. It is as common as water but there are loads of different flavours and lots of different ways it can be served.

Treat yourself to a caffe latte (hot milk mixed with coffee) in a glass for breakfast or a cappuccino which is also usually had in the morning. And if you are to stay in our cosy Yes Hotel you will be able to taste real italian coffee at its best when having your complimentary breakfast in the morning.

CappuccinoBe careful when ordering a caffe. You will be served coffee in what looks like a cup from a child’s tea set. Complete with a miniature saucer and spoon. You have just asked for an espresso. You know the saying that dynamite comes in small packages. You have just ordered a lot of dynamite in a really small package. This cup even though it is really small should keep you on the go for hours so it should be impossible for you to run out of energy while you are touring during the day. Another nice way to have a coffee if it is really hot is to order a caffe freddo (iced coffee) or a granita di caffe con panna (coffee with shaved ice and topped of with whipped cream).

CoffeeThere are a lot of good coffee houses in the city centre. They all have their own special blends of coffee and they also sell their own coffee beans.

Another great idea would be to buy an original Italian coffee machine. Bialetti make without a doubt the best and most durable coffee pots on the market. They are operated manually and are a pleasure to use. They can be bought in loads of shops and the closest one being the SIR supermarket. Located a short walk down the road from the hotel in Piazza Indipendenza and the American Embassy in Rome.

Caffè GrecoSizes range from a 1 shot all the way to huge 12 shot pots. Just look for the L’Omino (Little Man) with his moustache and his hat and you can’t go wrong.

Another thing is to keep your eyes peeled for would be to buy some good coffee to use in your new pot. You can buy fresh beans or go for the supermarket pre-packed stuff its up to you.

You can’t come to Rome without trying the coffee. It is good the whole year round!

See Rome in two days

If you’re just passing through Rome on your big tour of Europe, or taking a long weekend off and only have a couple of days to enjoy one of the most beautiful cities of the world, the question is: what to do, where to go, what to see and what to miss. Well, here are some suggestions!

Saint Peter's Church in RomeIf you’re on a really tight time schedule, I suggest you skip the Vatican Museums and just go and see the Saint Peter’s Church and the famous round Piazza in front of it. Also, while you’re in the area, walk to the river and see the round fortress Castel Sant’Angelo, constructed as the tomb of the emperor Hadrian but ended up as a hiding place of the popes in the tumultuous middle ages. From there it’s just a stones throw to the Navona Square, famous for it’s huge fountains and street artists that’ll paint your portrait in an instant.

By now, you’ll probably be tired and starving, and that’s just as well, as the surroundings of the Navona Square are a perfect spot for a nice little lunch. Better to stay a bit out of the actual square, since the prices of the restaurant go by address in the city center, and if you have the good sense to go even just around the corner from the tourist attractions, you can save a lot of money! After lunch, don’t forget that some of Rome’s more famous ice-cream bars, such as the Giolitti, are in the area, and you simply must have a go!Trevi Fountain in Rome

Now a quick look at the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain, both located at a short walking distance from Navona Square. And don’t forget to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain to make sure you’ll get to come back one day! Then to the hotel to have a rest and change into something nice for dinner!

If you only have a couple of days, for dinner you simply must go to Trastevere, one of the oldest, and most Roman, neighbourhoods. Trastevere comes from the Latin words meaning ’on the other side of the Tiber’, and that Trastevere, Romeis exactly where it is. This is where the locals go out for dinner: as a matter of fact the area is crowded with small and cosy tipical Roman restaurant, trattorias and pizzerias, just take your pick. And after dinner the custom is to have a drink in one of the small and crowded bars, so go with the flow…

Better get home early though, since the second morning you need to get up early for your Roman shopping experience: try the markets. If it happens to be a Sunday, head for the famous Porta Portese flea market, and on any other day the best address is the Via Sannio market at Porta San Giovanni, so that after shopping you can also take a look at the Rome second most famous Church, after Saint Peters that is.

Then for lunch to the Campo de’ Fiori in the heart of the historical center. After that, if you have the time and the nerves, take a walk on the Roman Forum before jumping on a bus on the Venice Square to make your way to the Gianicolo hill, where you ’can admire the entire city’, quoting an ancient epigram… The view is from the hill top awesome, and the place itself is beautiful, perfect for a romantic walk hand-in-hand. In the neighbourhood there’s also the huge and wonderful Doria Pamfili park.

By now there’s not much left of your two days, so just some suggestions for the last few Colosseum, Romehours you might have: there’s the beautiful Santa Maria in Trastevere Church at the foot of the Gianicolo hill, and just over the river the ancient church of Santa Sabina, next to the piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, where you can see Saint Peter’s through a famous key-hole… And on your way back to your hotel, don’t forget to stop at the Colosseum, which is located conveniently on the line B of the underground.

The important thing, of course, when you have little time at your disposal, is to choose a centrally located hotel with good connections, such as the new, classy Yes Hotel at the Termini station, or the budget options Carlito’s Way or Nice Hotel. Both are located close to the Termini station, which is the main station of the city, and has a huge number of bus and metro lines crossing there, so the location is perfect to take the most out of your stay in the eternal city!

Activities just outside Rome


Rome is perfectly situated in Italy for alternative activities besides site seeing. The most common outside sports are climbing, trekking, snowboarding and skiing. There are lots of locations near Rome to visit and get out into the open.

If you are a climbing enthusiast you will be spoiled for choice. There are plenty of places to go that are between an hour and an hour and a half away. Although bouldering and sport climbing are really popular in Italy, there are places to go traditional climbing. Although usually a summer sport, you can still climb outdoors during the winter months on a sunny day. Be prepared and dress warmly because it will be cold.

skiing.jpgsnowbord.jpgIf you need to get your climbing fix for the duration of your stay and it isn’t possible to leave the city, then you can always visit a few climbing gyms. There are two that are located in the city. Club Lanciani and Ecole Verticale The gyms are bouldering only but the facilities are great with lots of interesting routes. There are also showers, lockers and even saunas available at Lanciani.

During winter, snowboarding and skiing is possible in several locations close to Rome Campo Felice, Campo Imperatore, Ovindoli, Roccaraso. Particularly in the Abruzzo National Park.The park consists of 150,000 acres of protected forests which cover two thirds of it. There are also plenty of trails to hike along and lots of wildlife to see during the summer months. The park is also only a 2 hour drive from the city. This makes it a very convenient stop for a day trip that will be unforgettable.

My bike holiday in Abruzzo

My Bike Holiday Abruzzo

Another activity that can be enjoyed during the summer in the park is mountain biking. Experienced guides will take you on several trails through this enormous park with its forests, rolling hills and mountains. Not far from the National Park, about 40 min. by car situated on the coast of the adriatic sea, a group of bikers from little town close to Pescara airport, organize, every spring and summer, lovely bike tours betwen beach-coast and mountain the will make your trip like an unforgetable experience, visit the web site My Bike Holiday and enjoy it. Alternatively for those who have only little time you will also be able to enjoy the Villa Borghese Park in the heart of Rome, which is a great place to bike.

Kite Surf

The Ostia beach is also near Rome if you want to get some sun and it’s just one stop away from Ostia Antica.

Ostia Lido is the famous beach close to rome and many activities are possible there during the summer, beach volley, wind surf, kite surf. Visit Corallo beach web site to also get info about the wheather and wind. The beach is also easy to get to from Yes Hotel Rome, Hostel-Des-Artistes-Rome, Nice-Hotel-Rome and Carlito-Hostel-Rome, by taking the metro line B from Termini station in Rome to “piramide” then take a train from there to Ostia Lido. From there it’s 10 minute walk to the beach.

Rome: Via Appia Antica – Ancient Appian Way

cecilia-metellas-tomb-on-via-appia-antica.bmpThis street, Via Appia, later named Via Appia Antica to discern it from the more recent Via Appia Nuova, was constructed in 312 B.C. by the Roman concul Appius Claudius and named accordingly. It was meant t be the new main route towards the southern province of Campania. What’s there left to see now, is it just the remains of an ancient street? No, actually there’s much more.

To start with, there is the Appia Antica Park, a protected area where you can enjoy beautiful sceneries created by nature or history, comfortably close to the city. The park offers a wide range of services to the visitors, such as guided tour, bicycle rental, horse back riding and restaurants.


Along the Via Appia Antica are also located most of the catacombs of Rome: those of Saint Calistus, Saint Sebastian and Saint Domitilla which all date to the second century. To see the opening hours and ticket prices or just to polish up your knowledge of the early phases of the Christian Church, have a look at the site of the Roman catacombs.

On Via Appia Antica you can admire the huge sepulchral monument of a remarkable lady, Cecilia Metella, daughter of an ancient Roman war hero and wife of the great general Crassus, Cesar’s ally. The tomb was constructed around the year 50 BC. Along the way, you can see many more modest family tombs with the portraits of the family members sculpted on the grave.

appia-antica-park.bmpHow to get there from your hotel? Well, if you’re feeling lazy, you can just jump on a tour bus – the Archeobus – which does a 2-hour tour starting fro the Termini station in the city center. But if you’re going on a nice sunny day, the best option is to take the bus from the center to the beginning of Via Appia and then rent a bicycle to explore the area! For example the bus number 218 from the S. Giovanni metro station (of the line A) will take you there.

While planning you stay in Rome, try also booking your accomodation in the brand new and sofisticated Yes Hotel in the Rome city center, or, if you’re looking for easy atmosphere and nice company, in the Hostel Des Artistes near the central Termini station.