My life and times in the eternal city and beyond

Visiting Rome’s Wedding Cake 

No it’s not really called the wedding cake. Or the typewriter for that matter. Rome’s monument to Italy’s first king, Victor Emmanuell II and fallen service men is officially the Altare della Patria or Il Vittoriano. Given it is big (many say cumbersome and a bit too imposing) and white, it has often been nicknamed as such by foreigners and visitors to the city. Since living in Rome, the monument which polarises Romans (they either love it or hate it) has become a symbol of home for me. In that every time I return to Rome from my travels and drive or walk through Piazza Venezia, I look up and say to myself, “I’m home.”

While I see the square and monument regularly and have been to an exhibition here once, I’d never climbed to the rooftop terrace (well technically I still haven’t; it’s only 5 flights of stairs, but I was able to use the lift*) until today. It’s hard to describe how it felt being so up close to all that white marble (I actually had to touch it!) and looking out to the domes and rooftops of Rome.

From one side of the terrace you look out to the Teatro Marcello and Piazza Venezia. The skyline is dotted with the domes of Sant Andrea della Valle, St Peter’s and the Saint Agnese in Agone Church. You can also see Janiculum Hill and other bell towers and monuments. From the other is the view of Via dei Fori Imperiali, the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and even the basilica of Saint John in Lateran. The terrace also features a cafe and the best part about my visit, was that it was free – such a great way to spend a couple of hours in Rome without breaking the bank. To use the panoramic glass elevator, the cost is €7 but be prepared for long queues. Today I gave it a miss!

What’s more, is that through a small access gate you can reach the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli which is located at the highest point of Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill).  Colloquially known as the church where Roma captain Francesco Totti got married, it is also the official church of the City of Rome council and a stunning mix of frescoes, mosaics and a gothic glass window that can be seen from outside the front. It’s a sneaky way to visit the church which sits up top over 100 stairs.   Heading down you also have a pretty view of the Campidoglio Square. Highly recommended for when you have a free morning or afternoon in the eternal city.

Signing off from Trastevere,
Baci, Maria

*Note: the internal lift inside the Vittoriano is for use only by people with physical limitations / disability. 

7 Discussions on
“Visiting Rome’s Wedding Cake ”
  • Ciao, Love your expressive description of “The Typewriter” as a Roman friend pointed it out to me too many years ago. I’m taking your notes with me when I visit Rome later this year. Grazie mille da cuore.

  • Yes it is a very different building to what we normally see in Rome or even what we imagine to be there, but I don’t mind it. You certainly cannot miss it.

  • Some new information for my next visit
    But to me the Piazza brings fear! There is no safe place to cross to the monument and it seems like 10 lanes of traffic coming at you! My rule has to wait for a nun to come along and follow on her down-wind aside!

  • Oh Austen I know – it’s crazy! Crossing the road in Rome is something I’ve mastered over years. Surprisingly if you just start crossing, cars do stop! But make eye contact always. Good luck 😉

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