What & where to eat in Rome: Gianicolo
A little bit of history
The Gianicolo (Janiculum) is a hill in Rome. Although the second-tallest hill in the city, the Janiculum is not one of the proverbial Seven Hills of Rome. To clarify, the hill raise o the west Tiber side, which was outside the boundaries of the ancient city.
The Janiculum name comes from Janus, the latin name for Jupiter. So, it was a center for the cult of the god Janus (the two-faced god ). Certainly, overlooking the city, this was a good place for augurs to observe the auspices. In Roman mythology, Janiculum is the name of an ancient town founded by the god Janus. King Ancus Marcius, to prevent an enemy from occupying Rome, annexed the hill. Therefore, he fortified the hill by a wall, built a bridge across the Tiber to connect it.
The Gianicolo is the historycal site of a bloody battle in 1849. The forces of Garibaldi (The “hero of the two world” , as Italians call him) against the French army. Garibaldi was defending the revolutionary Roman Republic against French forces. French were fighting to restore the temporal power of the Pope over Rome. Monuments and a series 228 busts decorates the gardens. Those are dedicated to Garibaldi and to the fallen in the wars of Italian independence.
Today the Gianicolo is one of the best locations in Rome. Offers a panoramic view of central Rome with its domes and bell towers.
On the main Belvedere, there is the statue of Garibaldi riding his horse. Not far the statue and tomb of Anita Garibaldi, his faithful wife. Other sights on the Janiculum include the church of San Pietro in Montorio. Formerly thought to be the site of St Peter’s crucifixion. A small monument known as the Tempietto, designed by Donato Bramante, marks the supposed site of Peter’s death.
The Janiculum also houses a Baroque fountain built by Pope Paul V in the late 17th century, the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. This fountain amazingly overlooks Rome.
Several foreign research institutions, including the American Academy in Rome and the Spanish Academy in Rome are here. The Hill is also the location of The American University of Rome and Pontifical Urban University. The Pontifical North American College, as well as the Orto Botanico dell’Università di Roma “La Sapienza” are both on the hill. Take a look to Palazzo Montorio, residence of the Ambassadors of Spain, the most beautiful Embassy site in the world.
When to go
Since this is mainly a place where you can enjoy one of the most beautiful view of Rome, my suggestion is to come here at sunset. Trust me, you can see the entire Rome with a stunning red and orange light, and it’s something you will never forget.
However, daily at noon, il cannone (cannon) fires once from the Janiculum in the direction of the Tiber as a time signal. This tradition goes back to 1904 (following an old tradition necessary to syncronize all bell towers clocks). There is a little ceremony that excites kids and adults every day.
What and where to eat in the Gianicolo area
Firstly, best restaurants of this area:
Carpe Diem (Via di San Pancrazio 3/5), a small restaurant with an amazing terrace, where you can enjoy both lunch and dinner in a lovely atmosphere, with typical Italian and Roman food;
Antico Arco (Piazzale Aurelio, 7), an elegant restaurant with a wide selection of wines and creative and innovative recipes.
Coffe houses and gelato shops around:
If you want to have a coffee while you walk around the Janiculum, the best place where you can go is the Bar Gianicolo (Piazzale Aurelio, 5). You’ll find amazing coffee, but you can even enjoy a very good aperitivo from 6 pm. Easy-going atmosphere.
Litro (Via Fratelli Bonnet, 5) – Natural breakfasts, natural wines, friendly mood, aperitivo happy hour. Beloved by expats living around.
Of course, if you’re coming to Rome in summer, you can’t miss a stop for an ice-cream. Do not call it ice-cream anyway, this is gelato.
A gelateria (gelato store) is the best place where you can find some refreshment. Gelateria San Pancrazio (Piazza San Pancrazio 17/20), is a very simple and not too fancy place. Trust me, the gelato is amazing (try the zabaione)!
How to reach it
The Janiculum is always opened, so you can come here anytime and enjoy the amazing view.
Bus lines: 34, 46, 46b, 64, 98, 881, 982, e 916 ( piazza della Rovere), 23 , 280 e 116 (Lungotevere Gianicolense), 870 ( piazzale Garibaldi).