Every street in Rome has at least one spot for a fabulous photo op. With all the food I eat when I’m in Rome, it’s no wonder that my favorite views require a climb. Not only are they great places to snap some photos, these five lofty locations let you look in awe at the Eternal City.
The Terrace atop the Castel St. Angelo
From the terrace, you look down on the celestial sculptures that line the Bridge of Angels and the Tiber as it winds its way through the city. To your right you have a birds-eye view of the grand buildings along the Via della Concezione leading to St. Peter’s Basilica. Spanning out in front of you are church domes, bell towers and building tops of the city center. In the distance, Rome's hills rise up and showcase the giant monuments that adorn them. Even farther in the distance are the rolling hills of the Castelli Romani. They provide a lush green backdrop in the day and one of sparkling lights, glimmering like fireflies, at night.
The Garden of Oranges (Giardino degli Aranci)
The garden, which sits on Aventine Hill, is one of the most tranquil spots in the city center. The park, bordered by orange trees, is known for being a lover’s lane for teenagers, but it's also a quiet place to rest or read. The granite terrace at the end of the garden gives you a northward view of the city. St Peter’s dome dominates the skyline. There are several ways to reach the hill, but the easiest to find is the one across from the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (housing the Mouth of Truth, made famous by Roman Holiday). You make a short climb along a zigzagged lane to reach the top of the hill and the park. Before descending back down, walk west to the Maltese Embassy. Look into the tiny keyhole of its green door to see the dome of St. Peter’s artistically framed in an arbor of greenery.
Atop the Dome at Saint Peter’s Basilica
From here you have heavenly views above Saint Peter’s square and the welcoming arms of the Bernini colonnades. Just as amazing are the 360 degree view of Rome and the lush Vatican Gardens. From the entrance to the top of the dome, it’s a 320 step climb. If climbing the cupola is not your cup of tea, you can take the elevator to the roof, and greatly shorten the distance. You do need to take the stairs for the final ascent to the top of the dome.
Janiculum Hill (Monte Gianicolo)
From Janiculum Hill, not one of the original seven hills of Rome, the chaos of Rome is far away. You look onto terra cotta roof tops that span infinitely outward. All the important monuments are in the distance, but they seem to belong to another city altogether - the Colosseum, the Baths of Caracalla, the grey block of cement that is Quirinale, the circular castle of St. Angelo, the Pantheon, the massive Monument Vittorio Emanuele; all are easy to locate. As you descend south, towards Trastevere, there is a bar next to Aqcua Paola's Fountain (Il Fontanone). It’s a treat to sit, drink and look out onto the sprawling city lights. It is a long and steady climb up via Garibaldi. If you would rather reserve your energy, you can take the mini bus #115 that stops along Viale Trastevere and brings you up the hill.
Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio)
Michael Angelo designed the Piazza Campidoglio to be a capitol for the “new” Rome, adding another building, Palazzo Senatorio, so the square now faces St. Peter’s Basilica. Prior to Michael Angelo’s design, Capitoline Hill looked out onto “old” Rome and the Forum. Either view is a commanding one, but I prefer the view of the forum where the Colosseum looms in background.
Wow, that was a workout! I think I need another plate of pasta.
Where is your favorite view of Rome or spot for a photo op?