Tag Archives: Santa Maria

Rome 101: How to Decipher the Eternal City of Rome Italy

Piazza della Bocca della Verità - Street sign ...
Look for Piazza della Bocca della Verità; a Street sign in Rome where you can find Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church.

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The interior of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church
The name Cosmedin comes from the Greek word “kosmidion”, meaning ornamented, thanks to its beautifully decorated interior. The interior of the Medieval church of Santa Maria has some of the interesting internal elements including: beautiful floor mosaics, the bishop’s chair, the baldachin and the medieval choir enclosure.

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The crypt, constructed in the eighth century, is located beneath the altar and was built to store the relics taken from the catacombs by Pope Adrian I. The crypt is shaped like a small basilica. The side walls have several niches, each with shelves made of marble, where the different relics are displayed.

Another treasure worth discovering is the glass shrine with the skull of St Valentine, patron saint of love, located on the left side of the church.

St. Valentine's skull


The Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church
The restored Medieval facade of Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church has a portico with seven arches. Visitors line up to  place their hand in the mouth of the legendary Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth). Legend has it that if a person places his or her hand in the mouth of the statue and lies, the mouth portrays a human face with an open mouth which is believed to close upon the hand of any perjurer.
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Next to the church’s porch is an impressive Romanesque bell tower built during the twelfth century.

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Fontana Alla Bocca DellaVerita
The belltower of S. Maria in Cosmedin towers o...
The bell tower of S. Maria in Cosmedin towers over the fountain like a medieval skyscraper.

Rome is considered the magnificent Eternal City;  her history is complex and spans more that 2760 years.

Rome was the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. Its historic city center is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The best way to decipher Rome is to visit 7 principle areas of this magnificent city:

Christian Rome, Imperial Rome, Medieval Rome, Renaissance Rome, Baroque Rome, Neoclassical Rome and modern Rome.

Christian Rome can be witnessed in the Vatican City and the Patriarchal Basilicas: San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore and St. Paul Outside the Walls, as well as the Catacombs.

Let’s tour these 7 principle areas:

English: Temple of Venus (Rome) in the Forum R...

1. Imperial Rome contains the splendors of the Roman Emperors. Many of the Imperial Sites are visible from the Capital including: the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums, the Forum Romanum (Foro Romano); the Palatine (Palatino), the Domus Aurea, the Pantheon and Circus Maximus.

Though in ruins, the Flavian Amphitheatre, now...
The Colosseum
Roma-santa maria in trastevere

2. Tour Medieval Rome where you can visit: TrastevereSanta Maria in Trastevere; the Basilica Santa Cecilia; Santa Maria in Cosmedin with la “Bocca della verità”; and San Clemente.

Roma - Piazza Bocca della verità-fontana
I love Roma
Deutsch: Die La Bocca della Verità (Mund der W...
La Bocca della Verità (the Mouth of Truth) in Rome
Part of the colonnade of Piazza San Pietro wit...
The Vatican

3. The Florentine Renaissance moved to Rome at the end of the 1400s. The popes were obsessed art patrons who embellished the city with magnificent art and architecture. They built magnificent churches like San Pietro in Montorio with the Tempietto del Bramante;  and Santa Maria della Pace with frescoes by Raphael.

Existing churches were renovated; Santa Maria in Aracoeli had a face-lift by Pinturicchio and Donatello. Royal palaces were built including: Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo della Cancelleria, and Villa Farnesina.

The piazzas were embellished, the Campidoglio became one of  Michelangelo‘s Roman masterpieces.

In Renaissance Rome, tour The Vatican City. Visit St. Peters Square and the Vatican Museums to witness the work of the Popes as art patrons.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Self-Portrait

4. Tour Baroque Rome (Il Barocco) which thrived in the 1600s dominated by architects like Borromini and Bernini. Baroque Rome includes: Palazzo del Quirinale, residence of the President of the Republic;  Piazza Navona and the Four Rivers Fountain and Borromini’s church of St. Ivo alla Sapienza and Palazzo Spada.

Walk in the footsteps of Gian Lorenzo Bernini  to Piazza Navona and then visit the elephant Obelisk in front of S. Maria sopra Minerva.

The Pulcino della Minerva, a famous Gian Loren...
The Pulcino della Minerva, a famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini elephant sculpture has a base supporting one of the eleven Egyptian obelisks in Rome.

This period in Rome celebrates the contributions of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

To witness his genius, visit San Luigi dei Francesi, Sant’Agostino and Santa Maria del Popolo. Visit the Galleria Borghese, a treasure trove of Baroque in Rome.

Roma, Villa Borghese, Galleria Borghese, facciata.
Villa Borghese contains Galleria Borghese
The Rape of Proserpina
The Rape of Proserpina at the Galleria Borghese

5. In the transition from Baroque to Neoclassicism, Rome re-created the Piazza del Popolo, and built the Vittorio Emanuele II monument known as Il Vittoriano).

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6. In Rome, you are surrounded by the sights and sounds of Modern Rome. On the southern bank of the Tiber River of you will find the newest bridge, it leads to Auditorium Parco della Musica, the MAXXI Museum of Contemporary Art designed Zaha Hadid and the Olympic Stadium.


Enjoy a spectacular Vino con Vista in Rome. This glorious Eternal City is alive with cultural centers and contemporary events including: the Borghese Gallery, the Doria Pamphilj Gallery, GNAM, the Macro, Scuderie del Quirinale, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Chiostro del Bramante, Villa Giulia, the Capitoline Museums, Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Barberini, Palazzo Massimo, and Trajan’s Markets.

Check out the musical events: Teatro dell’Opera’s summer season at the Caracalla Baths; the orchestra at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia; the Teatro Brancaccio and Teatro Sistina for Broadway musicals and Shakespeare’s summer home in Villa Borghese’s Globe Theatre.

7. Where is the best Food and Wine in Rome? Decanter Magazine has compiled a list of the best restaurants in Rome:


These restaurants generally require reservations.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Ecstasy of St. Teresa, ...
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Ecstasy of St. Teresa, 1647-52

Interior of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, Italy

I have written posts about all of these amazing periods, people and places. Read my blog posts and join me for a tour the Eternal City.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com

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Filed under Attractions in Rome near the Capitoline Museums, Italian Architecture, Italian art, Italy, Italy Travel Guides, Roman Amphitheater, Roman Architecture, Roman Emperors, Rome History, Rome Italy, Rome's Spectacular Piazzas