The Campidoglio—Capitoline Hill ☆☆

Campidoglio, Rome, Italy (Photo by Mike)

The Capitoline Museums, a Michelangelo-designed piazza, and killer views atop Rome's Campidoglio

The Capitoline Hill, behind Piazza Venezia's Vittorio Emanuele monument, has been the administrative seat of Rome's civic government since the 11th century, and was a highly venerated spot used for the highest of state occasions in ancient Republican Romewhere do you think we get the word "capitol" from?

The top of the hill is now marked by the trapezoidal Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo and a favored site for Roman wedding photos. You arrive via a long set of low, weirdly sloping steps that were built to accommodate carriages. 

The top of the staircase is guarded by two oversized (but oddly flattened) statues of the dioscuri, Castor and Pollux.

A half-hidden little path to the left leads through a miniature garden to the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. » more

The pavement of the piazza consists of a complex, twelve-pointed starlike pattern centered around the bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, his outstretched hand seeming to bless the city of Rome. This statue is actually a copy created in the 1990s using computers and lasers (real cool). The AD 2nd-century original now sits 30 yards away, behind glass in the Palazzo Nuovo wing of the Capitoline Museums.

The piazza is flanked on three sides by palaces, their facades tweaked by Michelangelo to create a harmonious whole. The central Palazzo Senatoriohouses the office of Rome's mayor.

The two side palaces house a twinned pair of Rome's top museums, collectively known as the Musei Capitolini, or Capitoline Museumsfilled with exquisite ancient marble and bronze sculptures, the remains of a colossal ancient statue, and baroque paintings by the likes of Caravaggio, Titian, Rubens, and Il Guercino. » more

The Campidoglio also contains a killer shortcut to the Forum. From the main square, walk around the left side of the Palazzo Senatorio, past a public drinking fountain with some of the sweetest water in Rome, and you'll find a stair that winds down along the Forum wall, passing close by the upper half of the Arch of Septimius Severus (great for close-up perusal of its reliefs), and then out around to the Forum's main entrance.  » more

Photo gallery
  • , Campidoglio, Italy (Photo by Mike)
  • Piazza del Campidoglio from the Palazzo del Senatorio, Campidoglio, Italy (Photo by Bruno)
  • The Cordonata (staircase), the Dioscuri, and the Palazzo Senatorio, Campidoglio, Italy (Photo by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT)
  • The Cordonata (staircase), the Dioscuri, and the Palazzo Senatorio, Campidoglio, Italy (Photo by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT)
  • Bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius, piazza del Campidoglio in Rome. Modern copy of a Roman original of the 2nd century CE, now kept in the Palazzo Nuovo, Musei Capitolini, Campidoglio, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Statue of Marco Aurelio (replica), Campidoglio, Italy (Photo by Marcok)
  • View of the Piazza del Campidoglio from the Palazzo Nuovo, Campidoglio, Italy (Photo by prasenberg)
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Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah

* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).


Sights on and around the Campidoglio

AD 2C equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (Photo by schizoform)
Capitoline Museums
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

These museums atop Rome's Campidoglio connected by the Tabularium house iconic ancient statues (she-wolf, colossal statue of Constantine, Lo Spinario, Dying Gaul, etc.) and great art by Caravaggio, Titian, and Rubens

A nighttime panorama over the Forum from the back of the Capitoline Hill (Photo by Laruse Junior)
Campidoglio Forum view
Rome: Tiber Bend

A secret panorama over the Roman Forum from the back of the Capitoline Hill

 (Photo by Ricardo André Frantz)
Santa Maria in Aracoeli
Rome: Tiber Bend

The sad story of the Santo Bambino at the Capitoline church