From Campidoglio to Piazza Venezia
In antiquity, the Capitoline Hill represented Rome's military, civil and religious sovereignty. It was a symbol of its magistracy.
Its robust structure dominated the Tiber's ford, rendering it able to maintain defences and as such, become the centre of privileged power. Its inhabitants made treaties, negotiated, dreamt, celebrated victories and pronounced and carried out sentences. The Capitoline is the lowest Roman hill.
The Campidoglio was progressively abandoned at the end of the ancient world, even to the point of losing its original name which was substituted by Monte Caprino. Over time, it enjoyed a renewal that culminated in its definitive rebirth during the 16th century with the systemisation by Michelangelo. His works significantly reversed the urban and monumental orientation of the hill by placing its back to the ancient, pagan Forum and facing the Pope's new city.
This square owes its name to the palace that the cardinal of Venice, Pietro Barbo, who was later elected Pope under the name of Paul II (1464-71), built on the palace that at one time hosted the cardinals of San Marco. In ancient times, the piazza was called San Marco; however, when Pius IV conceded a portion of the Palace to the Most Serene Republic of Venice for their embassy, the piazza took its current name of Venezia. Piazza Venezia was the location of the finish line for the celebrated Corsa dei bàrberi, a horserace without jockeys. The current aspect of the piazza is the result of numerous demolitions performed between 1885 and 1911 in order to build the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II. During the last century, the piazza became famous throughout the world for the assemblies held during the twenty-year Fascist period by Mussolini and his numerous speeches from the balcony of his office in the Palazzo di Venezia.
Must see: The Capitoline Museums, Palazzo Venezia, The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument (Vittoriano), San Marco, Santa Maria in Aracoeli.