The Janiculum (Gianicolo) is a hill to the west of the center of Rome and one of the most beautiful spots to enjoy a panorama over the Eternal City. The Romans themselves consider it one of the most romantic parts of the city.
Janiculum Hill Rome (Gianicolo)
There are two perfect points along the hill from which to enjoy a breathtaking view over the city. The most famous one is from the Piazzale Garibaldi at the top of the hill. This one is best reached on foot from the Trastevere district.
The second vantage point is less well-known. The Faro (“Lighthouse”), designed by Manfredo Fanti (1911) and donated to the city by the Italians in Argentina, also offers a perfect panorama over Rome’s rooftops. The site can be reached by following the so-called Passeggiata del Gianicolo from the Vatican City.
The hill gets its name from the God Janus. In ancient Roman days the Janiculum was a center of the cult of this God and according to old Roman mythology there is even supposed to have existed a city called Janiculum there, built by the God himself.
Originally the Janiculum was not considered to be part of Rome itself, but thanks to its excellent location from a defensive point of view it was annexed to the city. A wall was built on the hill and so was a new bridge over the Tiber, in order to connect the Janiculum to the rest of the city.
These Aurelian Walls used to also contain the water mills where flower was created that was needed for bread. The water came down the hill through an aqueduct, which was destroyed by the Visigoths in the 6th century, but later repaired.
In 1849 the Gianicolo was the background of a battle between Garibaldi‘s men, who were on the side of the Republic of Rome, and the French troops who wanted to give the Pope his secular power over Rome back. A good number of memorial monuments dedicated to Garibaldi and to some of his soldiers can be seen alongside the roads of the hill.
Tourist Attractions Gianicolo
The most important tourist attractions along the Janiculum hill are the church of San Pietro in Montorio, which is built at the exact spot where Saint Peter is thought to have been crucified, and the Fontana Paola, a monumental fountain, which because of its enormous size has acquired the nickname Fontanone. Rome’s botanical gardens can be found along the slopes of the Janiculum.
Every day, exactly at 12 noon, a cannon is fired from the Gianicolo. This cannon used to be placed in the Castel Sant’Angelo and its shots were the sign for the churches of Rome to start ringing their bells. In 1904 the ritual was moved to the Gianicolo. In 1939 the practice was stopped, but 20 years later the custom was restarted, by request of the Roman people.