Sunday, 11 June 2017

Janiculum Passeggiata

Although not classed as one of the seven hills of Rome, Janiculum Hill is one of the highest and wonderful views reward those who make the climb . It is named after the cult of the god Janus whose priests were believed to have used the hilltop location to look for auspices or signs from the gods.

The figure of freedom fighter Giussepe Garibaldi looms large as you make your way up through the trees from the streets of Trastevere.

The Mausoleum of the Garibaldini is one of the first sights you will see as you near the summit.

This monument was ordered to be built by Mussolini in 1941. It contains the bones of valiant fighters who fought alongside Garibaldi, the popular hero from the era of Italian Unification. Constructed of white travertine marble it is engraved with the words 'Roma O Morte' (Rome or Death) and is guarded by bronze She-Wolves.

Continue along to the glorious Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, a 'mostra' or showcase fountain that signifies the entrance of an aqueduct into the city. In this case it is the Aqua Paola, originally built by Emperor Trajan and restored by Pope Paul V of the Borghese family, whose symbols of an eagle and a griffin can be seen on the fountain.

The fountain is a great example of Roman recycling. The materials used came from the Temple of Minerva in the Forum of Nerva and four of the six columns came from the facade of the original St Peter's Basilica.
Unfortunately the water from the aqueduct is not fit for consumption, leading to the phrase 'acqua paola' which means worthless.

Needless to say there is a stunning view of the city from here.

The cistern for the Acqua Paola fountain is hidden behind an unusual facade which can be seen as you head towards Piazzale Garibaldi. This is the facade of the house which was once  home to Michelangelo and originally stood on the slopes of the Capitoline Hill. It was pulled down to make way for the Vittorio Emanuele Monument. 

Piazzale Garibaldi is dominated by an equestrian statue of the man himself. It recalls the heroic events on the Janiculum when the French army attacked the city in 1849. Garibaldi and his men fought off the superior French army for weeks before being overwhelmed and forced to withdraw.

Again there are wonderful views from here and you might just spot the parakeets that have made their home in the city. They were first spotted in Villa Pamphilj in the 1970's and since then have set up breeding colonies in other parks and tree lined neighbourhoods. It is thought that originally they either escaped from aviaries or were released by their owners and have adapted to living in an urban environment. Not sure that the locals appreciate this touch of the tropics in their city - they view them as an out of control invasive nuisance!

If you happen to be on the hill around midday you will see the daily ritual of the noon firing of the cannon.

This side of the piazza is a wonderful place to watch the sunrise....

....while across the road is perfect for sunset.

Continuing on you will see the statue of Guiseppe Garibaldi's wife,Anita , who fought alongside him. She is portrayed holding a baby in one hand and brandishing a gun in the other. The statue is the work of Mario Rutelli who was also responsible for the Fountain of the Naiads in Piazza della Repubblica.
Anita Garibaldi lies buried beneath the statue.

This particular monument also play a pivotal role in the novel Early One Morning by Virginia Baily.

The area between the two statues contains busts honouring Italian patriots.

Continuing downhill you will come across the strange sight of a lighthouse. Known as the Manfredi lighthouse after its creator, it was a gift from Italian immigrants in Argentina to the city of Rome.

Again there are amazing views from here.
The Janiculum is a lovely place to bring children, especially at the weekend. There is a carousel, a puppet show and, of course, balloons.

Whatever time you take your Janiculum passegiata you can be sure that Garibaldi will be there watching over the city that he and his compatriots fought so hard for.

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