Quirinale

Rome's highest hill, the Quirinale, has housed ancient Roman senators, 17th and 18th century popes, and, with the end of papal rule, Italy's kings. West from Via Nazionale, the hill is set with various jewels of the Baroque era, including masterpieces by Bernini and Borromini. Nearby stands Palazzo Barberini, a grand and gorgeous 16th-century palace holding five centuries of masterworks.

Crowning the Piazza del Quirinale is the enormous Palazzo del Quirinale, built in the 16th century as a summer residence for the popes; it became the presidential palace in 1946. Today, you can tour its reception rooms, which are as splendid as you might imagine. The changing of the guard outside on the piazza (Sundays at 4 pm, 6 pm in summer months), is an old-fashioned exercise in pomp and circumstance.

While Bernini's work feels omnipresent in much of the city center, the vast range of his work is particularly notable here and in Repubblica. The artist as architect considered the church of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale one of his best; Bernini the urban designer and water worker wrought the muscle-bound sea gods who wrestle in the fountain at the center of Piazza Barberini; and Bernini the master sculptor gives religious passion corporeal treatment in what is perhaps his greatest work, the Ecstasy of St. Teresa, in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, in Repubblica.

POINTS OF INTEREST

Fontana delle Api

Decorated with the famous heraldic bees of the Barberini family, the upper shell and the inscription are from a fountain…

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Quattro Fontane

The intersection takes its name from its four Baroque fountains, which represent the Tiber (on the San Carlo corner), the…

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Palazzo del Quirinale

Pope Gregory XIII started building this spectacular palace, now the official residence of Italy's president, in 1574. He planned to…

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