When Rome is Your Campus: Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia is one of Rome’s most iconic sights. It is commonly featured on postcards, calendars, and other souvenirs. Just by looking at a photo of the square you can almost hear the traffic roaring by. Above all else, Piazza Venezia is a place that every JCU student has come to know and love. You can’t get downtown without passing through and stopping to glance up at the giant white “wedding cake” monument, or watching the crowds of tourists pause for a photo opportunity in the middle of the piazza.

But how much do you really know about this famous square?

Piazza Venezia

Here are 5 fun facts about Piazza Venezia:

1. The Vittoriano

The famous bright white monument towering over Piazza Venezia is the square’s most notable landmark. The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument is also known as the Vittoriano, the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), or even (somewhat disparagingly) the Wedding Cake or the Typewriter. Whatever you choose to call it, you will probably agree that it has quite a strong presence. Construction on the monument began in 1885 and was completed in 1935. It was named after Italy’s first king in honor of the unification of Italy. It also holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with an eternal flame on the front steps of the monument representing the lives lost in World War I. Climb to the top of the Vittoriano for one of the most spectacular views of the city!

2. Mussolini’s Balcony

The Palazzo Venezia, located to one side of the square, is one of the oldest civil Renaissance structures in Rome. Although the palace used to house the Pope, it became a government building in 1916 when Mussolini made it his headquarters. Many of the dictator’s most famous speeches and public addresses were given from the balcony overlooking the piazza. You can still see the balcony today, so make sure to look up next time you’re passing through Piazza Venezia.

3. Michaelangelo’s House

Across from the Palazzo Venezia is another large building: the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali. This more modern building – finished in 1906 – belongs to a famous insurance company. When it was built, it was designed to match the Palazzo Venezia. In order to create a more uniform look in the piazza, they tore down the house that was already in that spot  – and that building just so happened to be where the great artist Michelangelo lived and died.

4. Capitoline Hill

Right behind the Vittoriano, just a two-minute minute walk from Piazza Venezia, is the Piazza del Campidoglio, located on the Capitoline Hill. Although the Capitoline is the smallest of Rome’s seven hills, it is considered to be the most important. Today it symbolizes the heart of Rome and is packed with history. Next time you’re passing through Piazza Venezia, make a quick pit stop to the Campidoglio and check out the beautiful square designed my Michelangelo himself.

5. Via Del Corso

On the opposite side of Piazza Venezia is the entrance to Via del Corso, one of the most famous streets in the city. This shopping street is a mile long and stretches all the way to Piazza del Popolo. Take a stroll down this busy street, walking past historical monuments and beautiful architecture, while visiting your favorite stores for clothes, shoes, cosmetics, and more. Spending an afternoon walking around Piazza Venezia and up Via del Corso is just one of the many beautiful ways to enjoy the Eternal City.

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