Friday, June 10, 2011

Santa Maria Maggiore

Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore
closest metro - Termini

The Basilica was founded in the 4th century on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. It is one of the four Papal Basilicas in Rome along with San Giovanni in Laterano, St Peter's, and San Paolo Fuori le Mura and is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The church was restored and extended by many popes over the centuries. It retained the original structure inside although it was fully restored and renovated in the 18th century with most of the interior decorations and the facade from this time.
The church contains mosaics of the Old Testament from the 5th century and the mosaics by friar Giuliano Torriti in the apse date from 1295.
The church holds one of the oldest icons of the Virgin and Child, the Salus Populi Romani. It is known to be over 1000 years old and suggested to have been painted by Saint Luke.
The frescoes in the sacristy are by Passignano and Giuseppe Puglia.
The Pauline Chapel has a strict NO phototgraphy policy. The frescoes are by Guido Reni, Giuseppe Cesari (Cavailiere d'Arpino) and Giovanni Lanfranco.
The church interior decorations completed in 1580 are by a team of artists directed by Cesare Nebbia and Giovanni Guerra.

The church has many tombs of Popes and cardinals and it also holds the family tomb of Bernini.

The church is open every day from 7am until 7pm. Guide books are available inside and outside is a free toilet.

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Helpful Hints

Getting Around

I found walking Rome was the best way to see everything.

The metro, trams and buses are also an easy and cheap option.

Buses and the metro can get crowded. Tickets must be bought before boarding and validated.

Beware of pickpockets.

Buses 40 (express) and 64 start at Termini and end near Saint Peter's, traveling past places of interest, returning the same way.

Some stops along the 64 route are:


Piazza Venezia

Via Nazionale

Corso Vittorio Emanuele II

Bus 75 takes you past the Colosseum to Trastevere

Bus 910 takes you to Villa Borghese

Ticket Options

€1.50 B.I.T (Biglietto Integrato a Tempo) is the standard ticket valid for one metro, unlimited tram or bus rides within 100 minutes.

€7.00 B.I.G ( Biglietto Integrato a Giornaliero) is a daily ticket valid for unlimited metro, tram, bus and train travel within Rome.

Purchasing Bus and Metro tickets.

Newsstands, train stations, metro stations, kiosks with the ATAC logo and tabacchi shops sell tickets for the metro, trams and buses.

Large fines apply to travelers not holding or validating their ticket. Tickets once validated start from the time they have been stamped.

These are a few of my favourite books about Rome

The Cardinal's Hat by Mary Hollingsworth
This book tells the story of one of the sons of Lucrezia Borgia who became a cardinal during the 16th century.

The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev
I love this book telling the story of Caterina Sforza who was fighting against the Borgia pope to retain the rights of her land and her freedom.

The Popes by John Julius Norwich
A detailed but easy and enjoyable book to read about the history of the papacy and the popes.

The Pope's Daughter by Caroline P Murphy
This book describes in beautiful detail, the life and times of Pope Julius II daughter, Felice della Rovere.

The Families Who Made Rome by Anthony Majanlahti
I love this Book! It explains the families who made Rome what it is as we see it today and also looks at their triumphs, scandals and failures.

Rome by Robert Hughes
This book explains Rome from its beginning and expands on the Renaissance and Baroque until present times.

The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr
Another of my favourite reads about a lost Caravaggio painting and the search for its provenance.

other sites I trust for information on Rome are:
Rome Art Lover
Churches of Rome wiki