To the west, Palazzo Venezia gives the square both its name and its darkest memories. From here, Mussolini once held crowds in thrall with his fascist oratory.
The grandly titled Palazzo della Assicurazione Generale di Venezia stands on the east side of the square. Standing in front of its majestic facade, you can glimpse the Colosseum in the near distance.
On the north side of the Piazza, Via del Corso, Rome’s surprisingly narrow main thoroughfare, runs up towards the Spanish Steps and the Tiber. Walk along the road for around 10 minutes, soaking up the atmosphere of one of the city’s principal shopping streets as you go, before turning right into Via d. Muratte. After another 4-5 minutes you’ll see the Trevi Fountain on your left.
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by Zoe travelwriter
Norwich, United Kingdom
April 22, 2003
The Piazza Venezia is incredible in terms of the buildings and statues. you can’t miss it as there is a huge monument to the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel. Behind this are the Capitoline museums and a huge geometric square designed by Michaelangelo. Originally the political heart of Rome this area is now home to the Roman City Council and other government buildings which are quite impressive. At the top of a grand staircase you will find huge stone Egyptian lions and classical statues. This also leads conveniently to the Forum area which is the major site of the Roman ruins. The view is fantastic and takes in several other areas of interest, e.g. Palatine and the Colosseum.
If you walk under the triumphal arch of Septimus Sevrus into the grounds of the ruins, you find what is left of Rome in 4th century AD. Some of the remains are littered on the floor as lumps of rock and pieces of column; some walls remain and a large part of the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius is still standing. Although any valuable materials were pillaged years ago you can still make out the image of the buildings and get some idea of what they were once like. It helps if you either have a knowledgeable guide or take a good guide book here, as nothing is labelled or signposted.
From here you can climb the steps to the Palatine area. This is where the emperors once lived and there are still some remains of the original palace walls and marble floors. The hill has excellent views to the South of the city over Aventine and consists of delightful ornamental gardens with orange groves and pathways through the pine trees. It is very peaceful up here and a nice place to stop for a picnic or just to rest the weary feet.
From Palatino it is a short, well–trodden path to the famous Colosseum. (Tip: get a guide at the Colosseum as you will get in quicker and get tons of info, too).
From journal Weekend in Rome
June 18, 2004
It starts okay with the Venetian palace: Palazzo Venezia (it used to be the Venetian Embassy to the Pontifical states). Pope Paul II, who was from Venice, had it built when he was still a cardinal. It truly represents the architectural style you can find in the Canals City. Mussolini had his offices there and was addressing the crowd from the balcony. He also had Via dei Fori Imperiali built so he could see the Coliseum from his office. Via del Corso, a central axis, runs from there all the way to Piazza del Popolo.
And then, you turn around towards the south side, and bam! The colossal Monument to Vittorio-Emmanuelle II, a white stone building most commonly known as "the wedding cake", a turn of the century structure that his now the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a sore sight for many Romans and travelers' eyes alike, and you can't deny that it's impossible to forget the Monument. Also, you can see it from afar, which helps while walking on your Roman discovery. Traffic is chaotic at this huge square and you will often find a policeman on their pedestal directing the traffic and looking like an angry orchestra director!
It's also a hub for many bus lines.
From journal La dolce vita a Roma.
Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
September 17, 2002
From journal When In Rome...
by Jose Kevo
October 17, 2001
To further compound the problem, the area is a central magnet for dropping off/pick-up points of motorcoach tour buses; especially along Via Dei Fori Imperali. And with the crowds come hordes of street vendors selling trinkets, discussed further in my "What Spoils" entry, and what I took to calling "Sidewalk Chef Wagons" - the movable, overpriced eateries appearing to serve everything with a wannabe cook who had more attitude than motivation and know-how.
This all helps set the stage for two structures current Romans seem to loathe the most, as well as the circus-crowd the area attracts - and they've no problem telling you about it. The Victor Emmanuel monument and Palazzo Venezia are two places they'd like to pretend don't exist, but their being hard to miss is the biggest part of the problem.
Emmanuel was the first official King of a unified Italy as we know it today. Seems he didn't want anyone to forget, but he couldn't take a chapter from former emperors and simply build an arch or tower. Taking 40 years to complete, the Il Vittoriano literally dwarfs EVERYTHING in the area with the brashness of the white marble structure blending with nothing in color or architectural style. Guidebooks say Romans refer to this as the "typewriter" or "birthday cake" building; listening to nearby shopkeepers, you can only imagine what they say that's unfit to print! The structure is ego-gone overboard at it's best, but I found it to grow on me from the many different levels with varied artistic, architectural styles incorporated. Unfortunately, you can't get an indepth look as the monument is sealed off with armed guards for security reasons. Any wonder why? This Romans see; the other they remember!
Directly across is the 500+-year old Palazzo Venezia which houses a museum and gallery that has a $4 admission fee. Most unforgettable, it also once housed facist dictator Mussolini who, during the early-to-mid 20th century, went on a self-serving campaign to have large sections of historical Rome eradicated to clear way for his new empire in hoping to restore a world power. (His greatest efforts can be seen in the modernistic EUR complex somewhat south of the city.) On the elongated side of the Palazzo is the famous balcony where Mussolini used to address the crowds.
From journal CRASHCOURSE - Modern Day Gladiator 101