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Rome

Too many words are wasted on Rome, and they end up all saying the same thing. Because Rome was and is THE city, and contains within it many different districts. Rome contains the Vatican state and is the seat of the Papacy, and is therefore the centre of Christianity.

It has been called into question and threatened by several thousands of years of disputes and modernism, heresy and apostasy, reforms and counter-reforms, exiles and escapes, resurgences, sieges and breaches, pacts and agreements.

But, in spite of everything, in Saint Peter (that is the Square, the Basilica and also the historical figure), in the patriarchal basilicas (San Giovanni in Laterano, San Maria Maggiore and San Paulo Fuori le Mura) and in the catacombs, one finds solid rock to cling on to.

Rome is home to the memory of imperial power and the splendours of the ancient period are found on every quiet corner, and every bustling square, and every shady alley or sunny garden: from the Colosseum to the Imperial Forum, the Domus Aurea, the Panthenon and the Circus Maximus.

Rome is home to the marks of the great Renaissance, when the artistic movement (and the pecuniaries who supported it) became that of the Popes rather than that of the lords and Tuscany. The church, in terms of the building, became the ground for architectural experimentation (Saint Peter in Montorio with the temple of Bramante, and Santa Maria della Pace, with frescoes by Raphael), or for renewal and renovation, like Santa Maria in Aracoeli, with influences from Pinturicchio and Donatello. The fervour and fashion of the princely palaces spread (Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo della Cancelleria, Villa Farnesina), and the passion for the geometric influenced the design of the squares (Campidoglio di Michelangelo).

Rome was also home to the Baroque explosion of the 17th century, and is perhaps today the most Baroque city in its spirit. Architects such as Bernini and Borromini designed and built the Roma del Quirinale, the Piazza Navona, and the Palazzo Spada. They were influenced by the genius of the Caravaggio masterpieces that flooded the city.

Then, the famous eternal city welcomed Futurism and Rationalism, liberty and brave modernism (such as the Euro, buildings of Ostia, the Auditorium Parco della Musica of Renzo Piano, the Maxxi [National Museum of the Arts of 21st century]).

And still Rome is the home of prestigious museums, such as Galleria Borghese, Galleria Doria Pamphili, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Scuderie del Quirinale, Chiostro del Bramante, Villa Giulia, Musei Capitolini, Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Barberini, i Mercati di Traiano.

One finds also a vast cultural offering when it comes to theatres: the Teatro dell'Opera with the summer season when it transfers to the Caracalla Baths, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with its famous orchestra, the Teatro Brancaccio and the Teatro Sistina, the most common for musicals, the very central Teatro Argentina and Teatro Eliseo, and the summer Globe Theatre in Villa Borghese.

Viterbo e alta Tuscia

Viterbo has been described as the "Città dei Papi" (City of Popes). In fact, from 1266 the Papal Palace welcomed the Papal Court, desiring the peace that was no longer guaranteed by the Roman authority...

Here, 5 conclaves were held for the election of the Pope: in 1271 the Cardinals had gathered for more than 30 months without reaching an agreement. The public, tired of waiting, closed the door of the Palace “cum clave” (with a key, which is where the word “conclave” comes from), reducing food provisions to the Cardinals, and they opened the roof. Not long afterwards Gregorio X was elected Pope. Not far from Palazzo Farnese (fourteenth – fifteenth century) San Pellegrino emerges, a completely preserved thirteenth century district, with the churches of San Pellegrino and San Maria Nuova (11th century). Viterbo is adorned with numerous beautiful fountains with different designs, such as the one in Piazza della Rocca, designed by Vignola. Another important monument is the Rocca Albornoz, current home of the National Museum.

In the provincial territory the Lakes of Bolsena and Vico emerge, formed from ancient craters, whilst in the hills of Tarquinia one can find an Etruscan necropolis with more than 200 graves: preserved here the largest vivid heritage left by the Etruscans.

The province of Viterbo, largely occupied by Alta Tuscia, includes many famous places ranging from Proceno to Acquapendente, from Bolsena to Montefiascone, from Vetralla to Sutri a Monterosi. The villages of Bagnaia and the famous Villa Lante stand out, the latter a marvellous example of a late Renaissance residence with an Italian garden, and Caprarola, with the Palazzo Farnese, another Renaissance residence in a pentagonal shape. Other notable places to visit are the park of the Mostri di Bomarzo, which has fantastic sculptures, and the ancient village of Montecalvello which is situated around a castle where the famous painter Balthus lived for thirty years, a representative of contemporary painting.

Circeo and Ulysses Coast

The Circeo National Park has much to offer as it goes from forest to coastal dune, and hosts various species of animal.(such as the peregrine falcon and the sea eagle).

Close to the beaches, Sperlonga is a delightful Medieval town, with narrow streets and buildings overlooking the sea, with the Tiberio cave nearby, where artefacts dating back to the first century were found. Other enticing towns on this stretch of coast include San Felice Circeo, made up partly of a Medieval structure high on Mount Circeo and partly of a more modern area at the foot of the mountain, and Formia, overlooking the Gulf of Gaeta with beautiful beaches and remains of the Roman period.

We finish with Terracina, dominated by the Temple of Jupiter Anxur which looks over the historic Medieval centre, and Gaeta, on the slopes of Mount Orlando, with its castle, cathedral and the Church of San Giovanni al mare (with a splendid spherical dome in an arabesque style and a sloped floor to drain water at high tide).
Beyond the coast, the islands of Ponza and Ventotene ensure a pristine sea, rich in sea life, ideal for underwater activities.

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