When you’re in Rome, you will eventually find yourself in Piazza Venezia because it is close to other famous sites like Campidoglio, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Be careful traversing across this square where you’ll experience the chaos of Rome traffic. I had to warn my husband about crossing the streets in Rome – the trick is not to hesitate and walk forward. Thank goodness it didn’t take him long to get the hang of it. My advice – if in doubt, use the crosswalk!
The largest attraction in Piazza Venezia is the Vittorio Emmanuel II Monument made out of marble to commemorate Italian unification. This monument is not well liked by the locals. It’s been referred to by many nicknames but the one that has stood out for me is the nickname – “The Wedding Cake”. Check out the photo below to see what I mean. There is an eternal flame burning at the bottom of this monument to mark the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The monument houses the Reunification museum and the “Rome from the Sky” glass walled elevator.
Here are a couple close up views:
If you look directly across from the Vittorio Emmanuel II Monument, you will notice a building with a covered porch. The palace is named “Palazzo Bonaparte” after Napoleon’s mother (hard to see the name at the top right of the photo below but I’ve inserted another that shows it more clearly). When Napoleon conquered Italy in the late 18th century, he brought his mother to Rome to live there. She lived in this palace until she died. The covered porch is still intact today. If you ever find yourself in Piazza Venezia, look for the green covered porch! By the way, if you follow that street at the bottom right where the shadow of the building next door has fallen, you will end up at Piazza del Popolo.
Now turn your attention to the left of the piazza where you will see Palazzo Venezia (origin of the piazza’s name), built in the mid-15th century. This palace was home to popes, later given to Venice to use as their embassy, then Benito Mussolini used it as his headquarters. Can you see the balcony? Mussolini addressed the people from there. Today, it houses the collection of the Museo del Palazzo Venezia.
To the right just behind the Vittorio Emmanuel II Monument (if you’re looking at it head on) is the church of Santa Maria Aracoeli (climb the 124 steps and be rewarded with beautiful art work inside),
and Campidoglio. See the 360 view of Campidoglio here http://www.360cities.net/image/piazza-del-campidoglio-a-roma#5.15,-16.45,50.0 In the middle of this piazza, designed by Michelangelo, is the statue of Marcus Aurelius.
There is a lot to see in this piazza. You’ll find men in gladiator costumes standing in front of the Vittorio Monument. We were amused at the tourists getting their photos taken with them. Just take it all in and be careful crossing those streets!