Home of the Three Fountains, St. Agnes’ Basilica, and the Braski Palace/Museu di Roma
Located in the center of Rome, in the district of Campus Martius, the Piazza Navona is one of the most treasured of all of the piazzas in Rome. With only a 4-minute walk from both the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps, this beautiful piazza is home of the famous Bernini fountains, an eclectic collection of street artists, shops, open-air-cafés, wine bars, and restaurants.
My husband and I often get our exercise by walking this lovely piazza early in the morning when all is quiet. The square is surrounded by restaurants and terraces giving Piazza Navona a lively and delightful atmosphere during the day. This is a wonderful place to buy inexpensive paintings. We’ve purchased several here from local artists.
The most popular fair in this square is held in December where toys and crib figures are sold on the Feast of Epiphany, January 6th. Also known as the tradition of La Befana (an old lady who brings sweets and sugar charcoal) – the mythical figure visits all the children and the story has her arrive here in Piazza Navona.
In Ancient Rome, Piazza Navona was once a glorious stadium. You can see this from the oval shape when viewed from above. The stadium was built by Emperor Domitian in 86 A.D. It was called the “Circus Agonalis.” This originates from the Greek word “agones,” means contest or games. It is about half the size of the Colosseum and holds up to over 30,000 spectators. It was used for all kinds of games, including nude Greek athletic contests. Legend has it that at times they would flood the stadium and hold mock battles there for practice.
St. Agnes of Rome was martyred in this piazza, so a basilica was built here in her honor — Sant’Agnese in Agone (also called Sant’Agnese in Piazza Navona). This basilica is a 17th-century Baroque church. Some confuse this church with the other church across town where this saint is buried and where her relics reside, which is the Church of Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (Italian: Sant’Agnese fuori le mura.) That is a titular church and minor basilica in Rome, and nearby the Via Nomentana.
Also in this piazza is the Museo di Roma, known as the “Palazzo Braschi,” formerly known as the Braski Palace. Constructed in 1792, it is an official museum of Rome, showcasing works by many famous Italian artists including Nicola Salvi, the designer of the Trevi Fountain. Click here to learn more about the museum’s rich history. Click here for a FREE VIRTUAL TOUR of this museum.
Beautiful fountains can be seen all across Rome and THREE of them are located within the beautiful Navona Square, all which were designed in the Baroque architecture during the papacy of Gregory XIII. The largest and most famous fountain in this square is the Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed by Bernini. The two other smaller fountains were designed by Giacomo della Porta, an apprentice of Michelangelo. Continue Reading…
When visiting Rome be sure to explore the adorable Italian restaurants off the beaten path. You’ll be surprised some of the most delicious Italian dishes are served daily, just as if they were right from an Italian’s grandmother’s kitchen. I share my experience from L’Archeologia Cultura & Cucina Restaurant, which was founded around 1890 which is located on the old Roman Road called The Appian Way, about the importance of being adventurous and explore the local restaurants from the heart of Italy’s traditional cuisine. Fun Fact! The Appian Way was built in 312–264 BC and was one of the most important roads of the ancient republic—it connected Rome to Brindisi, in southeast Italy.
It’s great to see Italian staples such as polenta appearing on the menus of the restaurants in Italy and across the U.S. It’s reputation has certainly come a long way. Years ago the item was a way for Italian Americans, struggling to make ends meet, to satisfy appetites without breaking the bank. My father, for example, often told me stories of how the delicious cornmeal mixture was on his plate growing up in the Italian section of Jersey City more than once a week. It was inexpensive, but also tasty, and could be served in a variety of ways.
Polenta is porridge-like food made with fine cornmeal. It has been a staple food in Italy for centuries. Originating in northern Italy, this dish takes a 3 to 1 ratio of water and 45 minutes to cook to get a creamy-like consistency. Fine cornmeal makes the best polenta. Many let it cool, solidify, and then cut, bake, fry or grill it. It is often served with marinara sauce and grated cheese or other vegetables such as mushrooms.
The best polenta dish happens when a little TLC is given… Continue Reading
St. Thomas Aquinas – Feast Day January 28th
Thomas Aquinas was born in 1225 in Aquino, Italy at Roccasecca, in the castle of his father Landulf, Count of Aquino and his wife Theodora, the Countess of Teano. Aquino lies about 70 miles southeast of Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy.
Due to his great intelligence and serious demeanor, Thomas was sent at the age of five to be educated by the monks of Monte Cassino, the monastery founded by St. Benedict of Nursia. The monks later encouraged his father to send him at the tender age of 10 to the University of Naples. His quietness caused his classmates to nickname him the “Dumb Ox,” but by the age of 23 he was teaching philosophy at the University of Cologne, and published commentaries on Aristotle. A few years later, he was ordained a priest of the Dominican religious order.
Aquinas is famous for… Continue Reading.
Become A Virtual Farmer in 2022!
“I and my family is asking to help us in this wonderful program. The olive tree is a heritage of Italy, of Tuscany and the Torciano family has helped save 7200 old Olive trees. Each year, an olive tree absorbs large amounts of harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and returns oxygen ~730 kg CO2 per year!” This idea was born when Pierluigi Giachi found himself in this large hilly area in the Tuscan area… Continue Reading.
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