For those who want to experience the glory of Ancient Rome, there’s nothing better than paying a visit to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. These remarkable archeological sites are a testament to the wealth and power of the ancient empire, the ingenuity of Roman engineering and ultimately a reminder of how similar we are to our ancestors. They’re a great introduction to the Eternal City and rank as the most visited attractions in Rome, drawing over 4 million people each year to walk over ancient stone and reimagine life as it would have been 2,000 years ago. Rome is unique for showcasing its rich heritage and history here continues to live alongside the 21st century city – a unique temporal typography that is both riveting and humbling for modern-day tourists who can experience one of the world’s greatest empires.
The Colosseum may be the crowning achievement of the city for its enormous size and majesty but the Roman Forum sheds more insight onto daily life of the ancients: the Roman Forum is where the story of Rome began and unfolded over the centuries. Situated atop the ruins of the forum lies the Palatine Hill, one of the Seven Great Hills of Rome and the symbolic and probable origins of the city. According to legend, this is where Romulus and Remus were born, its where Romulus began his empire and where centuries of emperors built their residences to point to a royal lineage and consolidate their power.
The Palatine Hill has numerous important ruins and monuments, including the Flavian Palace, the Stadium of Domitian and remains of the House of Augustus and House of Livia. During the Middle Ages, many churches were built on the Palatine Hill and in the 16th century, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese bought some land on this highly sought-after location to build a private botanical garden. The Farnese Gardens were recognized as the first private botanical gardens in Europe and they featured plants from all over Italy set within a beautiful example of Italian garden architecture. The original flora and fauna were lost over time but laurels, cypresses citrus trees and damask roses have been replanted to help recreate the garden’s former glory.
A new exhibition in Rome, “The Palatine And Its Secret Garden” helps explain the history of this fragrant garden and has been marked by the opening of two uccelliere, or aviaries, that have been closed to the public for the last 30 years. These gorgeous twin structures have been carefully restored and stunning sculptures are currently on view within them. Visitors can also enjoy an immersive light show in the atmospheric Ninfeo della Pioggia that helps paint a picture of what the original nymphaeum looked like centuries ago. I got to enjoy a walk through the Palatine with my friend Elyssa Bernard of RomeWise (a wonderful resource for all-things Rome) and she even put together a lovely video of the gardens which you can see here!
The Palatine And Its Secret Garden exhibit has been organized by Italian publisher Electa Editore in partnership with the Parco Archeologico del Colosseo and is on view until October 28, 2018. It is part of a combined €12 ticket to the Colosseum and Roman Forum and a catalogue of the exhibit is available for purchase online.