In ancient times, Rome was well known for its seven hills that circled the city and provided protection and natural resources. Of the seven, tourists tend to be most familiar with Palatine Hill — now part of the Roman Forum admission ticket — and Capitoline Hill — home of the famous Capitoline Museums.
The seven original hills all are on the east side of the Tiber River, but there also is Janiculum Hill — Gianicolo in Italian — on the west side. Wedged between the Vatican to its north and the neighborhood of Trastevere to its south, Gianicolo very well could provide the best view over Rome. As shown in the travelgasm.com photo above, the view is particularly charming just before sunset as the sky changes to shades of orange and pink and casts a warm glow over the city's many belltowers and domes.
Other Gianicolo Attractions
The main attraction is the view itself, but there are a handful of other structures on Gianicolo Hill that tourists tend to admire as well:
- Chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio - Perhaps built in 1481, this attractive church is believed to be the location where St. Peter was crucified. If you decide to walk between this church and other nearby attractions, please be careful. It is an unpleasant walk along the shoulder of the road. If traffic is heavy and it feels unsafe, there is no shame in skipping the church.
- Fontana dell'Acqua Paola - Built in 1612 as a beautiful source for spring water for the Vatican, this fountain is far less famous internationally than the Trevi Fountain, but it is a popular spot for locals to take wedding photos.
- Terraza del Gianicolo - This terrace provides the least obstructed views over the city. At noon, there is a cannon fired each day, originally for the purpose of synchronizing clocks in the city.
- Faro del Gianicolo - Built in 1911, this small decorative lighthouse was placed on the hill by Italians living in Argentina to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the unification of Italy. This area also has great views over the city but receives fewer tourists than the Terraza del Gianicolo and tends to be less crowded accordingly.
There is no significant place to eat near the top of Gianicolo Hill that is convenient to reach on foot, but there are stalls around Terraza del Gianicolo that sell drinks and snacks. For a proper meal, Trastevere down the hill has plenty of good options.
Ride the Bus
It is possible to hike to Gianicolo Hill from either Trastevere or the Vatican — and we made the mistake of hiking up from Trastevere and down to the Vatican on our first visit. The hike is not pleasant. From Trastevere, the sidewalks disappear on the way up, and you often are left walking on the shoulder of the road with the hope no one will run over you. From the Vatican, the sidewalks are narrow and often hemmed in by multistory concrete retaining walls.
The view from the top of Gianicolo definitely is inspiring, but the hike only inspired us to take a bus on our next visit. We would strongly suggest that you do the same. Below, we've mapped out the bus options as well as the part of Gianicolo Hill that is worth visiting on foot, most notably a portion of Passeggiata del Gianicolo.
How to Get Here: Bus 115 and 870 go to the top of Gianicolo Hill. Bus 115 will be the most logical for the majority of visitors, with a route that winds through much of Trastevere and connects near the Vatican, as well. The Psg Gianicolo/Villa Corsini stop is the most convenient place to hop off the bus. This stop is just past the popular Fontana dell'Acqua Paola (fountain) and a short walk to the Terrazza del Gianicolo observation point. If you follow our suggested walk, the Psg Gianicolo/Anita Garibaldi stop is a logical place to catch a bus to Trastevere.
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