Among the Seven Hills of Rome, lies the Palatino, which, according to legend is where Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome were miraculously saved by a wolf. Rome is said to have been founded there in 753 BC, and indeed the site has been dated back to the 8th century BC. Whether you believe in Roman gods or not, the Palatino is a beautiful piece of land that will stretch before you not only in space, but in time as you take in the majesty of the very spot where so much of Western culture is said to have begun.
Touring the Palatino
While the genesis myth of Rome is reason enough in itself to visit the Palatino, the area also has many beautiful sites and ruins to see. The land has been developed by many people, and so has hosted many structures, but the most prominent ruins today are those of Emperor Domitian. His main imperial palace stood on the site for 300 years and was divided into three areas: the Domus Flava, Domus Augustana, and a stadium, all of which were built in the 1st century AD.
All three areas are worth having a look, and the complex itself is easy to navigate. The first area, the Stadio, served as a stadium for games much like other amphitheatres in Rome. The old saying, bread and circus, held true even for emperors, as the Flavian Dynasty would have had their own private area to hold games. In holding with Roman tradition, the stadium area, which is easily discerned by its sunken appearance, also led to a private (yet public) bath, where the imperial family would have undoubtedly spent many nights soaking in luxury.
Though some buildings on the Palatino are closed to the public, tourists can visit Casa di Augusto, where Augustus would have lived. The building is close to the Casa di Livia, which belonged to his wife. Casa di Augusto features beautifully vivid frescoes, which were decorative staples of Rome and an influential art style that was revived during the renaissance. Casa di Livia also features frescoes and an atrium, but unfortunately is closed to the public in order to preserve the piece.
The Palatino is beautiful in its own right, with amazing gardens that were first planted during the Renaissance when the world was reclaiming classical artwork and philosophy. The Orti Farnesiani is a beautiful botanical garden and one of Europe’s oldest surviving cultivated garden. This breathtaking spot overlooks the Roman Forum, which is another must-see site.
Nearby is a vineyard where people often picnic in the shade of the fragrant plants. Also close to Orti Farnesiani, is the Criptoportico, the place where Caligula is rumored to have been murdered. The tunnel has served several purposes over the years, but most recently it’s been host to temporary exhibits, so it’s definitely worth checking out even if it’s not your first time there.
Finally, a trip to the Palatino isn’t complete without going through the museum dedicated to the site – Museu Palatino. Since the hill is said to have been the place whence Rome sprang, tourists and even locals should take a voyage through history and visit with the museum’s artefacts while taking in the rich mythology of the ancient world. You don’t have to believe that it’s where a wolf suckled two scared infants, but you cannot deny the beauty of the place that is said to be the wellspring of ancient Rome and all its might.