Il Vittoriano degli Italiani: Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II ☆☆☆

The National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, aka Il Vittoriano, aka the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Nation), Il Vittoriano, Rome, Italy (Photo by Paolo Costa Baldi)
The National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, aka Il Vittoriano, aka the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Nation)

Universally known as "The Wedding Cake" or "The Giant Typewriter," the Victory Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II at the very center of Rome is the hideously ugly monument you gotta love anyway

Variously derided as "The Wedding Cake" or "The Giant Typewriter," the Monument to Victor Emanuel IIRome's blindingly white elephant of a commemorative pile of marble devoted to modern Italy's first king—became a whole lot friendlier in 2000 when they decided to reopen it to the public, free of charge.

Now you can scramble up the snowy white steps of "Il Vittoriano," past the guards on the eternal flame to Italy's unknown soldiers and numerous self-important relief carvings of events during Italy's 1860s/1870s Risorgimento unification movement, to the monstrous colonnade at the top.

Here, the views sweep across central Rome to the front, and across the Forum and Imperial Fori behind.

For an even more magnificent view, pay to ride the elevator all the way to the top, the Terrazza delle Quadrighe terrace around one of those massive bronze horse-pulled chariots looking as if they are about to take off from the monument's roof. Up here, you get a 360-degree view over the heart of Rome.

Note that the main, obvious entrance on Piazza Venezia closes at 4pm, but you can get itno the monument later via side entrances: off Piazza del Campidoglio, off Piazza d'Araocoieli (via a service elevator) and from within the Museo del Risorgimento on the Via dei Fori Imperial side (around to the left when approaching the monument).

Photo gallery
  • The National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, aka Il Vittoriano, aka the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Nation), Il Vittoriano, Italy (Photo by Paolo Costa Baldi)
  • , Il Vittoriano, Italy (Photo by Libera latino)
  • , Il Vittoriano, Italy (Photo by Blackcat)
  • , Il Vittoriano, Italy (Photo by Greg Schechter)
  • The Altare della Patria, Il Vittoriano, Italy (Photo by Darafsh)
  • The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Vittoriano, Il Vittoriano, Italy (Photo by Vyacheslav Argenberg)
  • A view of Piazza Venezia from Il Vittoriano, Il Vittoriano, Italy (Photo by Pe-Jo)
  • View from the Vittoriano, Il Vittoriano, Italy (Photo by Zoran Kurelić Rabko)
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How long does Il Vittoriano degli Italiani take?

Well, you're going to have to look at it—it's smack in the middle of Rome. If you want to climb up it, give it at least 25 minutes: it'll take about 10 minutes each way, plus however long you hang around the colonnade, gazing out over the Forum. The ticket office for the elevators closes 45 minutes before the site itself.

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.).