Yesterday I visited the site Roma Sparita which is dedicated to old photos of the City of Rome going back 140 years or so. What is often funny about those photos is how little Rome has changed since. A lot of internal renovations but few exterior renovations or few changes to the street scape.

Here is what I mean,

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The Pontifical Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (St-Mary Major), seen from the back. Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the first churches built in honour of the Virgin Mary, was erected in the immediate aftermath of the Council of Ephesus of 431, which proclaimed Mary Mother of God.

The photo was taken around 1860 just before Via Cavour was built. Via Cavour today passes in front of the Egyptian Obelisk and runs from left to right on this photo. The area then was mostly vineyards. It was then outside the centre of the city, today it is in the centre of the city. The triangle shape street scape with the treelined border still exist today known as Via del’Esquilino, however the area was completely built up by 1890, so you are looking at a view prior to massive re-development after 1870 when Rome became once more the Capital of a unified Italian State. The buildings on the right of the photo are still there today. Another interesting point on this photo is the Campanile or bell tower made of brick original to the old basilica. The basilica got its baroque look after 1600. All that was done was simply to resurface the exterior keeping the original inside. This church bearing the designation Pontifical means that under the Treaty of the Lateran 1929 between the Italian Republic and the State of the Holy See (Vatican) the building is protected under Diplomatic Treaty, in other words it is Vatican territory.

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If you were to walk from the back of the church down the street you would arrive at the top of the Spanish steps some 4 km away in a straight line. A very nice walk passing in front of other major palaces and museums stopping on the way for a little espresso.

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 Another nice area to walk is along the Lungo Tevere, along the Tiber river, you can walk for km and it is nicely shaded, the river meanders some 60 meters below. This wall was built in 1870 to stop the annual winter flooding of the Tiber inside the city.

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Finally this view from the roof tops, near Sant Andrea della Valle (Tosca’s Church) in the centre of the city not far from the Farnese Palace. Just love those roof top terrace garden, so pleasant to sit there in the late afternoon when the sun finally dips. There is always a cooling breeze in the early evening, Rome is only 35 Km from the sea.

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