PIAZZA DELLA REPUBBLICA: THE BATHS OF DIOCLETIAN AND THE WORK OF MICHELANGELO

THE SQUARE

Located a short distance from Termini Station, Piazza della Repubblica is one of the most beautiful places in Rome. Known until the second post-war period as Piazza dell'Esedra, owes its ancient name to the imposing semicircular area that in imperial times delimited access to the Baths of Diocletian. Located at the entrance of Via Nazionale, a famous shopping street, Piazza della Repubblica is dominated by two twin buildings of neoclassical design built by architect Gaetano Koch at the end of the 19th century. In the centre of the square stands the magnificent fountain of the Naiadi, a monumental work created in 1901 by the Palermo sculptor Mario Rutelli.

THE BATHS OF DIOCLETIAN

With an extension of over 13 hectares, the Baths of Diocletian represented the largest thermal plant built in ancient Rome. Built between 298 and 306 AD, they occupied the flat area between the Viminale and the Quirinale, the hill on which stands the homonymous palace built between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which since 1946 houses the residence of the President of the Italian Republic. Together with the Crypta Balbi, Palazzo Massimo and Palazzo Altemps, the Baths of Diocletian constitute one of the four offices of the National Roman Museum, which can be accessed with a single ticket from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9.00 to 18.30 (www.beniculturali.it). Access to the spa includes a visit to the sumptuous Tenth Hall, where are kept the tomb of Platorini and the two burials chamber from the necropolis of Via Portuense.

THE BASILICA OF SANTA MARIA DEGLI ANGELI E DEI MARTIRI CRISTIANI

The ancient environments of the frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium, once the beating heart of the Baths of Diocletian, were incorporated by Michelangelo Buonarroti in the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri Cristiani, commissioned by Pope Pius IV Medici in 1561 (www.santamariadegliangeliroma.it). In the 18th century the church underwent a series of interventions by Luigi Vanvitelli, who modified its sober and essential style adding architectural motifs of Baroque and Neoclassical conception. In the transept you can admire the meridian line, a long bronze line set in the marble of the nave, commissioned by Pope Clement XI on the occasion of the Jubilee of 1700. The visit includes the possibility to walk in the cloister of the Certosa, made by Jacopo del Duca at the end of the sixteenth century starting from original drawings by Michelangelo.

THE OPERA HOUSE

In Piazza Beniamino Gigli, close to Via del Viminale, there is the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, otherwise known as Teatro Costanzi. Built in neo-renaissance style by the architect Achille Sfondrini, it was inaugurated in 1880 with an edition of the Semiramide by Gioacchino Rossini. The composer Pietro Mascagni directed the first of the Cavalleria rusticana in 1890 and was its artistic director from 1909 to 1910. Among the memorable performances, performed in this magnificent arena, there is the edition of Le nozze di Figaro directed by Luchino Visconti in 1964. In 2011 Riccardo Muti was appointed honorary director for the life of this important institution, whose rich programme hosts operas, ballets, classical and contemporary music concerts (www.operaroma.it).