Duration: 3 hours
Theater of Marcellus, Forum Boarium, S. Maria in Cosmedin, the Mouth of Truth, Arch of Janus, Arcus Argentariorum, Church of S. George in Velabro, Circus Maximus
May you never see anything greater than Rome.
The Forum Boarium, literally the “cattle market square”, situated on the left bank of the Tiber (between the Aventine and Capitoline Hills), was once the focal point around which the city of Rome flourished and expanded. The vestiges of many temples are still to be seen in this area, which was also the city’s first river port, the Portus Tiberinus, where all sorts of goods from every corner of the Empire were bought and sold, and where the first commercial and cultural exchanges with Greece, Phoenicia and Egypt happened. Our tour will begin at the Theater of Marcellus, erected by Augustus: one of the oldest arenas still standing, it could accommodate up to 20.000 people. A short walk through the Forum Boarium will bring us to the church of S. Mary in Cosmedin (VIII century), built over the remains of the ancient building of Statio Annonae, one of the food distribution centers of ancient Rome. Left to the main door is the celebrated Mouth of the Truth (Bocca della Verità), which was once a drain covering and is now one of the most photographed spots in the city. Every day, dozens of tourists wait in line to take a picture with their hand inside the stone mouth – who doesn’t remember the famous scene of Roman Holidays where Gregory Peck pretended to have his hand chopped by the Mouth? We will walk under the Arches of Janus and the Argentariorum, just a few steps away from the Church. Then we will enter San Giorgio in Velabro, a church built in the 9th century in a spot not too far from where the she-wolf was believed to have found Romolo and Remo. Not too far from there is the Circus Maximus, the biggest arena of ancient Rome, which could house up to 250.000 people. It dates back to the VI century B.C., under the rule of mythical king Tarquinio Prisco. It was the backdrop for the popular chariot racing contests, which the Romans could never get enough of. In 1959, the chariot race featured in the movie Ben Hur was supposed to be shot in this very arena. However, the cultural heritage department denied their authorization, and the movie set had to relocate to the Circus of Maxentius, on the Appian Way.