The Gianicolo

The Janiculum Hill (Gianicolo) is one my favorite spots in all of Rome, Italy

Gianicolo (Janiculum Hill)
Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi (stretched between the Trastevere and Borgo/Vatican neighborhoods)

Gianicolo tours
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• Illuminated Rome Night Tour with Aperitivo Rome Map

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View over Rome from the Gianicolo at night.
Nighttime panorama across Rome from the Gianicolo Hill. (Photo by Desmatron)
Rising above Trastevere, south of the Vatican, is a long ridge paralleling the Tiber called the Gianicolo (Janiculum), which is famously not one of the Seven Hills of Rome.

There are a few sights up here, but the most attractive feature is simply the sweeping view of Rome across the river, taking in everything from the Pincio gardens of the Villa Borghese on the left past the domes of the city center beyond the curve of the Colosseum on the right.

A Distant View
Lest you think my labeling this "one of my favorite spots in all of Rome" is mere frivolous hyperbole, I submit to you the purplest piece of prose I've ever penned, a veritable love letter to the view from up here at night that I wrote back in college, when I was about to leave life in Rome behind for a second time. It's called "A Distant View."

This panorama is thrilling by day and beautiful by night, when the Gianicolo doubles as Rome's Lover's Lane (lots of steamy Fiat windows and lip-locked lovers stationed every ten feet along the vista-kissed walls).

Acqua Paola

Toward the Gianicolo's southerly end is the Acqua Paola fountain, a gargantuan 17th-century basin and fountain made from marble taken from the Forum that serves as both the outlet for Trajan's aqueduct and the requisite backdrop for all Roman newlyweds' wedding photos.

San Pietro in Montorio

Bramante's Tempietto in the Gianicolo church of San Pietro in Montorio.
Bramante's Tempietto in the Gianicolo church of San Pietro in Montorio.
Halfway down the hill from here off Via Garibaldi is the church of San Pietro in Montorio (tel. +39-06-581-3940,, the courtyard of which houses Bramante's Tempietto , the epitome of Classically inspired Renaissance architecture in miniature, a tiny round Doric temple built over the spot where, back in 1508, popular belief erroneously held that St. Peter had been crucified.

You can see the Tempietto anytime—albeit from afar—by peering through the gate. When the courtyard is open (Mon–Fri 8:30am–noon and 3–4pm, Sat–Sun 8:30am–noon), you can actually walk around the Tempietto to the back, descend a tiny and tight staircase into its base, and see the altar with its traditional upside-down cross—no, it's not Satanists; this is the cross of St. Peter.)

Piazzale Garibaldi

Teh statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi atop the Janiculum Hill
The statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi atop the Gianicolo.
At the top of the hill rises a paved piazza around a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the general in charge of Italy's revolutionary troops during the unification efforts of the 1860s and 70s (sort of like the Italian George Washington, only he never got to run the country after he won, since Italy became a unified monarchy).

The Puppet Theater

Just north of Piazzale Garibaldi—under the trees behind the snack stands—is the kiosk for the Teatrino di Pulcinella al Gianicolo (tel. 06-582-7767). This open-air puppet theater features the Neapolitan hand-puppet Pulcinella (known to Americans as Punch, of Punch and Judy fame).

Half-hour shows of this traditional Italian entertainment run Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am to 1pm and 4 to 7pm. It's free, but you're welcome to leave a donation.


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This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in February 2011. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 2008–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett