Duration: 3 hours
Villa Farnesina, Church of S. Maria in Trastevere, Church of S. Cecilia in Trastevere
Rome is a city like no other. It is a great museum, a living-room to cross on tiptoe.
There is a hidden Rome on the right bank of the Tiber, concealed among the lanes and alleyways, but which can claim the greatest artistic legacy in the city. Many travel quickly along the embankment in search of a parking space, but only a few take note of the grand red-painted mansion set in a large, fenced garden. We are going to explore the Villa Farnesina, whose rooms were decorated by some of the best painters of the 16th century, including Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael), Sebastiano del Piombo and Il Sodoma. The Villa belonged first to the Chigi and then to the Farnese families, and is sure to delight you with the sensual, gentle charm of these frescoes. Starting from the delightful loggias depicting Psyche and the Triumph of Galatea, both painted by Raphael, you will then feel quite baffled by the Hall of Perspectives, and complete your tour in the romantic setting of the Marriage of Alexander and Roxana. But the area of Trastevere (Trans Tiberim or “beyond the Tiber”) offers more than this. The district is the beating heart of Roman life and still retains its original character, thanks to the winding alleyways paved with cobblestones and the dozens of mediaeval houses crammed into its streets. It is one of the liveliest and most characteristic parts of Rome, and the oldest part of the district contains a whole network of narrow streets punctuated by many squares. These include the square in front of the Church of S. Maria in Trastevere, and the one fronting the Church di Santa Cecilia in Trastevere which stands right on the site of the house where the saint lived. Indeed, excavations under the church have revealed the remains of a Roman domus dating from the 2nd century A.D. which later became the home of the saint: the Titulus Caeciliae. The church also houses some real masterworks such as the ciborium by Arnolfo di Cambio, the famous statue of Saint Cecilia by Stefano Maderno and one of the rare and precious examples of painting from the 13th century, signed by Pietro Cavallini.