We start our tour visiting the Villa Farnesina
, the quintessential example of Renaissance suburban villa in Rome built by order of Agostino Chigi. He was a rich banker from Siena, who with unrestrained spending employed the youngest and most brilliant artists of the time. The greatest feature of the villa is the loggia with painted frescoes by Raphael
on the ground floor depicting the classical and secular myths of Cupid and Psyche
, and The Triumph of Galatea
. On the second floor are trompe-l'œil frescoes by Baldassare Peruzzi
, the architect of the building, who wanted to give the idea of a grand open loggia with city and countryside painted views beyond.
After our visit of the Villa we start our walk into the district of Trastevere.
Trastevere means 'beyond the Tiber' and simply defined the right bank of the river or the smallest part of the old city versus the largest section located on the left bank. Once it was the residence of immigrants from the East and centuries later transformed into a medieval urban area. Trastevere still maintains part of its character thanks to its narrow cobbled streets lined by medieval houses
. Our walk through this area will lead us to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere,
the true heart of this old neighborhood. Here the local inhabitants, students and artist linger around on balmy afternoons and evenings. We will enter the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere
. This church is considered the first in Rome to be dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. Today we see the 12th century church with reused ancient Roman columns holding up the nave and an apse decorated with fine 13th century mosaics.
Further on we will cross the river Tiber over one of the oldest Roman bridges to Isola Tiberina
. This small island was always dedicated to curing and healing. Starting from the 3rd century BC when the temple was built dedicated to Asculapius, the god of medicine, up to the 16th century, when the followers of Saint John founded a hospital, still in service nowadays. Standing on the island is also the closest you can get to see the ever-flowing stream of the Tiber River and the Ponte Rotto
As we continue crossing another old Roman bridge
, we observe the only square domed temple in Rome, the main Synagogue
built in 1904 and the largest building in the Jewish section of Rome, the Ghetto
. Pope Paul IV created the ghetto in 1555, when he ordered all the Jews to be confined here. Walls that encircled the Ghetto were pulled down in 1848. They started to demolish many of the overcrowded crumbling buildings, where Jews had been forced to live in for centuries and the entire area was restructured in 1888 with the opening of 3 main streets. As we walk through the ex-ghetto and you hear our stories about the main events of the oldest Jewish community in Western Europe you will notice one thing. This district is still today the hearth of a very lively Jewish community filled with kosher restaurants and bakeries. At last we will walk by the ruins of Portico of Octavia
, built by emperor Augustus for his sister. We will end our tour by another great ancient Rome feature, the Theater of Marcellus
also built by order of Augustus in 12 BC.
If interested in a more specific tour of Jewish Rome, we can spend one hour extra visiting the Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum. These visits will be conducted in collaboration with the Cultural Association "Le Cinque Scole”.