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Walking Rome Paperback – March 6, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: Cities of a Lifetime
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426208723
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426208720
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The Eternal City is showcased.” –Publisher’s Weekly

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Neighborhood Walk: Piazza di Spagna to Villa Borghese
 
1. Ara Pacis: The Pax Romana is the theme of this ancient monument on the banks of the Tiber. Reconstructed in the 1930s from remnants scattered across scores of museums, the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) was commissioned by the Roman senate as a tribute to Emperor Augustus and the peace that followed his imperial expansion. The rectangular structure is now enclosed within a museum designed by American architect Richard Meier and opened in 2006. The monument is covered in intricate carvings, including renderings of Augustus and his family, a scene that may have represented the dedication of the Ara Pacis in 13 b.c. Across the street is the crumbling Mausoleum of Augustus, no longer open to visitors and badly in need of restoration.
 
2. Piazza di Spagna: Named after the Spanish Embassy that once overlooked the square, the Piazza di Spagna has been the coolest place to hang out in Rome for nearly 300 years. The neighborhood has long attracted foreigners—Lord Byron, Keats, Shelley, Goethe, Ibsen, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Hans Christian Andersen are among the artistic hipsters who frequented the local inns and cafés. The Spanish Steps were added in the 1720s to connect the square with Santissima Trinità dei Monti, the Renaissance church on the hilltop above. La Barcaccia, the boat-shaped fountain at the base of the Spanish Steps, predates the stairway by a hundred years. The area’s chic boutiques are a recent addition.
 
3. Keats–Shelley House: Perched on the south side of the Spanish Steps, the building is a holy grail of the early 19th-century English Romantic movement. Poet John Keats moved here in 1820 and died, aged 25, from tuberculosis the following year. Percy Bysshe Shelley lived nearby. He perished in 1822 when he drowned off the Italian coast. Memories of them linger on, as do those of the other Romantics that round out the collection of this marvelous small museum. Exhibits include Keats’s death mask and an original manuscript by Mary Shelley, wife of the poet and author of Frankenstein.
 
4. Piazza del Popolo: Once the spot where religious heretics were executed, the Piazza del Popolo is now the “people’s square” and a venue for mass political gatherings. From here a Roman road called the Via Flaminia began its journey north up the Italian Peninsula. On the square’s southern side, baroque twin churches—Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto—flank the Via del Corso. The whitewashed Porta del Popolo on the northern side was Rome’s primary gateway through much of the Middle Ages and beyond. Architect Giuseppe Valadier conceived the current square in the early 19th century, including ramps and steps that ascend the Pincio hill and an Egyptian obelisk that once graced the Circo Massimo.
 
5. Santa Maria del Popolo: Raphael, Caravaggio, and Bramante were among the Italian masters who contributed to this lavish church on the north side of the Piazza del Popolo. According to legend, the original church on the site was created to vanquish the ghost of the long-dead Roman emperor Nero, who was buried nearby. It was replaced by the current Renaissance structure, commissioned in 1472 by Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere. Among several frescoes by Pinturicchio, don’t miss a delightful “Adoration of the Christ Child” above the altar in the Della Rovere Chapel. Raphael designed the ornate Chigi Chapel for the wealthy banker Agostino Chigi. A pair of Caravaggio masterpieces—“The Conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus” and “The Crucifixion of St. Peter”—hang in the Cerasi Chapel.
 
6. The Pincio: The lofty green space above the Piazza del Popolo is the Pincio garden, the western sector of the extensive Villa Borghese gardens, but in many respects its own little world replete with busts of notable Italians, an unusual water clock, and the San Carlino marionette theater. The symmetry between square and garden is not accidental: Giuseppe Valadier designed both during the French occupation of Rome under Napoleon. The Piazza Napoleone is an excellent perch to view the Popolo neighborhood directly below and St. Peter’s in the distance.
 
7. Villa Giulia: Built as a country palace for Pope Julius III in the 1550s, the ornate Renaissance villa now houses the Museo Nazionale Etrusco, Italy’s premier showcase of regional art and artifacts predating the Roman Empire. Among its many treasures are the Etruscan Sarcofago degli Sposi (Sarcophagus of the Spouses), an incredibly lifelike terra-cotta rendering of a married couple reclining on a banquet sofa, from the sixth century b.c. Set in the northwest corner of the Villa Borghese, the building reflects the extravagant lifestyle of Renaissance popes, in particular a two-story nymphaeum (water grotto) in the garden where Julius entertained guests in summer.
 
8. Villa Borghese: Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who created the villa and its surrounding gardens, amassed a substantial fortune in the early 17th century via family connections and a devious nature that would have put Machiavelli to shame. The villa now houses the Galleria Borghese, while the gardens have become Rome’s most popular park. Stroll along gravel pathways shaded by umbrella pines—perfect on a hot day—and admire statues and classical-style ornamental temples. At the center is the Giardino del Lago (Garden of the Lake), with its boating lake. Don’t miss the delightful art nouveau Fontana dei Fauni (Fountain of the Fauns). At the north end of the park, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna has a good display of 19th- and 20th-century art.
 
9. Galleria Borghese: The Villa Borghese, housing the Galleria Borghese, originated as a temple to pleasure, a place to show off the art that belonged to Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1577–1633), a nephew of Pope Paul V. He would bring guests through the landscaped gardens and wow them with lavish banquets, entertainments, and his stunning collection. Although Napoleon later carried off many of the prized ancient sculptures to the Louvre in Paris, the core Renaissance collection and the baroque pieces that Scipione commissioned for the villa are still in place.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Compact enough to fit in my handbag.
Nicolina Vervoort
The book was a gem for the photos and general information as well.
E. glasheen
I will definitely take it on my next trip.
Valerie Longhurst

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mary Folley on September 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the format of this book. Organized in bite-sized geographic sections, Ms. Parla brings each neighborhood to life so that you do not miss the best bits of Roman history while you make your way through the city, which can be overwhelming to a visitor. You will also find handy tips about places to shop, dine, and take a break during your sightseeing excursions. The book is small enough to carry in a pocket or handbag, and it is full of easy to read maps and photos of points of interest.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By JeffR on November 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought this because a friend had used the author as a guide in Rome. Katie Parla wasnt available at the time we were there but recommended her book which otherwise would have been below our guide book radar. Used it everyday to plan itinerary's during a two week stay and carried it everywhere often finding unplanned high points as we cruised around the city on public transportation. A little light on background and in depth material, buts whats there is concise and makes it very easy to find what you want when you want and help you get around. Have used others of its type for other major cities, Paris, Barcelona, Istanbul. this one was best by far. Also recommend her app Rome Foodie.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Don Ewing on February 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The city was divided into manageable areas, with tours for each area. The miles and approx time of each tour where also included. I liked the tips on food, best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nicolina Vervoort on June 13, 2013
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Wonderful walks including the best the city has to offer. Interesting extras . Takes all hard work out of navigating a new city without compromising the enjoyment. List of nearby eating establishments and price range. Compact enough to fit in my handbag.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TKaren17 on March 26, 2014
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I have an upcoming trip to Italy later in the year and I had already purchased a couple of guidebooks that were highly recommended, but this one is BY FAR the nicest and most informative of all of them! This book is PERFECT for how and where to start your day of sightseeing, which buses to take, how long it will take you to get there, how much time you should plan to spend at each attraction, and even the cost of entrance fees and telephone numbers. Each chapter is specific to one of Rome’s 'neighborhoods' and has maps with clearly marked routes to walk, the metro stations, bus stops….everything you need to know whether you are planning an extended stay in Rome or just a quick stopover. It streamlines your agenda so you can see and do the specific things that interest you regardless of how much time you have to spend in Rome. Every page has beautiful color pictures, and it is also a very convenient size for a small backpack or purse. This is by far the absolute BEST city guidebook I have found!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. glasheen on October 18, 2013
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This was the only Rome tour book, ( we had at lest 7) that gave us information on Trajan's Market and the Musuem inside as well as information to find this amazing end area of the ancient Roman forum. The Museum is on the Quirinale and there is not access from the forum itself so you could miss it and that would be a loss. The book was a gem for the photos and general information as well. Small easy to carry with you, very nice map.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Longhurst on February 10, 2014
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unfortunately I bought this book after my trip to Italy. It showed me a number of things I missed whilst in a particular area. The walks are well planned and informative and there are many things not mentioned in other guides to Rome. I will definitely take it on my next trip. Meanwhile I can reminisce as I follow the walks in the book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Krakora on August 6, 2012
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This book is ideal for the first time visitor and for the returning visitor. The maps, pictures, and descriptions are very helpful.
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More About the Author

Katie Parla has written, edited and contributed to more than 20 food and travel books. She has written titles for National Geographic, Time Out, Rough Guides, Dorling Kindersley, Fodor's, and Insight Guides. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times, and is the author of the blog Parla Food and the apps "Katie Parla's Rome" and "Katie Parla's Istanbul".

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