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"Sites and Museums in Italy?" Topic

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550 hits since 8 Mar 2017
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rhesse08 Mar 2017 12:57 p.m. PST

Hello, friends.

I will be heading off soon for a first-time trip to Italy, with Venice, Florence, Rome, and Napoli/Pompeii on the itinerary. Are there any must-see sites or museums, in particular relating to military and/or ancient history, that the guidebooks might overlook? Barring that, any shops I should pop into?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts,


Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2017 1:41 p.m. PST

If you like medieval stuff, the Castel Nuovo in Naples has some really interesting carvings at the gate surround and on the old gates (which are kept inside upstairs).
I haven't been to Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome for many years but I enjoyed the military stuff in there which my guidebook hadn't mentioned. Otherwise, Rome is really so crammed with must see stuff that there is little time for anything else.
Are you driving? South of Florence and near the autostrada (if you head on the one past Siena instead of the slightly more direct route to Rome) you can visit Monteriggioni. I didn't have time, but it looks like a great example of a still inhabited (and tiny) walled town.
Lake Trasimene isn't far from the Florence to Rome route. The shape of the lake has changed since Hannibal's day, and the actual site of the battle is really anyone's guess, but it is still a pleasant enough place to stop for a while and think about the history. I have some of the local dirt somewhere which will end up on the bases of some of my Carthaginians :)

DrSkull Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2017 1:45 p.m. PST

If you are in Venice, make sure you go into the Doge's palace, there is a nice collection of medieval/renaissance armor and weapons, plus it's just plain cool.

Pertti Inactive Member08 Mar 2017 2:27 p.m. PST

In Florence, check out the Museo Stibbert:

Doug MSC Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Mar 2017 3:13 p.m. PST

If your going to be in Naples, take a taxi boat over to the Island of Capri. Take a little taxi up to the top to the little town of Capri. It's a lovely place to wander thru on the cobblestone streets. It used to be the summer home of the Caesars.

Lucius08 Mar 2017 4:42 p.m. PST

I was at the Castel Sant'Angelo last summer. It probably has the most military feel of anything in Rome.

Forte di Belvedere overlooking Florence is well worth the 15-minute hike uphill. Great views of the city and river from there, as well. I'd go there after your obligatory tour through the Uffizi – just cross the bridge, and head up. You can't miss it.

Marshal Saxe08 Mar 2017 5:27 p.m. PST

Surely you should visit the Italian Naval Museum in Venice, in or near the former Arsenal where the galleys were built.

Benvartok08 Mar 2017 9:12 p.m. PST

Go to the forum everyday you are in Rome, early to avoid crowds. Also eat at cafés 1 to 2 streets back from the forum. Tra janes column is across the road anyway….

Mars Ultor Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2017 10:10 p.m. PST

Rome: I love this city. Never can get enough. The fire of 65 wiped out much of Republican Rome, so mostly what you'll get is early to late Empire.

The Capitoline Museum on the aforesaid hill overlooking the Forum – DO NOT MISS THIS. Access the Capitoline hill by the Forum steps (the old Scala Gemens by which you can visit the ancient prison which held Vercingetorix et al.) or another stairs by the Temple of Venus built by Julius Caesar. You can TOUCH the remains of the foundation of the Temple of Jupiter (begun 509ish BC by the kings of Rome). You can also take the stairs that go underneath into the Tabularium (records office, though its role is disputed)that overlooke the Forum from the Temples of Vespasian/Concord – VERY WONDERFUL VIEW of the Forum.

Benvartok was dead on when he said visit the Forum everyday or at least take an entire day for the Forum, Palatine, and Colosseum. Take your time and soak it in. Take a map that marks all the ancient stuff so that you know what you're looking at.

The Museo Massimo that is housed inthe shell of Diocletian's Baths, if you go east down past Hadrian's Market (very cool to wander through). It has all kinds of cool artwork from Roman time, many famous statues, and the BEST coin collection of Roman coins going back to the beginning when they traded bronze discs for currency (before proper coinage was introduced c. 212 BC). (To get there from the Forum, go past Trajan's column, up the stairs past Hadrian's Market, and continue past the remains of the Servian Wall til several several blocks until you come to the Baths of Diocletian. You can't miss them at the roundabout. They're big.If you Google Earth this, you'll see what I mean.)

In other news, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Via Appia – the remains of Roman tombs and catacombs of the early Christians (early Popes' burials, Christian martyrs, buried and preserved Roman tombs at San Sebastiano). Very neat. You can rent bikes and take the Appia all th e way to Alba Longa (Albano) – very fun. My daughter found an unlocked tomb and we entered – it was extraordinary and you could see the places for cinerary urns.

Time may not permit, but I'd also be remiss if I failed to mention that you can visit the remains of a Roman city by taking the west train line to Ostia Antica, the old port city of Rome. You can wander through the Necropolis tombs, the Roman theater, stand on a temple of Ceres, wander through Roman apartment complexes and taverns, and just about anywhere you like without many restrictions AT ALL. It's like a Pompeii but only 20-30 minutes away from Rome. Ostia Antica is also very worth your time (and the cafeteria there is none too bad when you get hungry).

I hope this helps. I'd throw my kids under the bus to be able to go a 4th time.

One more note: the store Arkaeos (turn left after the stairs past Trajan's Column/ Hadrian's market and go to end of street) sells authentic Roman armor, weapons, replicas, etc. If you have the time.

Benvartok08 Mar 2017 11:15 p.m. PST

Had to give the kids dinner hence my short post before but basically listen to Mars Ultor! Ostia is awesome and they also sell roman armour and helmets in the cafe!

Been there twice, second time honeymoon, and I will go there twice more if if can!

Do the highlights as well, the colosseum and the Vatican for the art. They do guided tours of the palantine which is worth it usually from the forum near Titus arch ( don't step through, Hilter was the last other than some tourist I saw in 2002).

Circus is other side of forum from centre of city and worth a look. Pantheon is an amazing building and still has much of the marble in place, rest of Rome was used to build St. Peter's. I could go on and on but others will also have tips.

Ostroc09 Mar 2017 10:55 a.m. PST

Ostia is a hidden Jewel when you go to Rome

Well worth a visit



Tricorne197109 Mar 2017 1:21 p.m. PST

If you have a car, go to the Lake Trasimene battle site. There are several stops with tour boards and maps so you can follow the battle. Almost like a ACW site!

Frank the Arkie09 Mar 2017 6:54 p.m. PST

Mrs. Arkie and I love Rome – goodness, all of Italy – we're embarking on our fourth visit this summer. Great ideas here for the visit.

Couldn't agree more about Ostia Antica. Try to read about it before you go, so it makes more sense on the ground. But you really need to see it – like Pompeii, it gives you a real feel for a Roman town.

If you are into Garibaldi and the Risorgimento, there's a really cool museum at the top of Il Vittoriano, Museo Centrale de Risorgimento, in Rome. You'll probably have to ask for directions – I do, every time I go. Lots of artwork, bits of uniforms, weapons. They do sell some books on topic, but most are in Italian. Il Vittoriano is just north of the Forum, and fronts Piazza Venezia.

If you find yourself in the neighborhood, there's also an interesting museum dedicated to Napoleon and his relationship to Italy, in Rome. I'm not sure its worth going out of your way for, but we happened to be walking by, and even Mrs. Arkie enjoyed it.

While in the Naples/Pompeii area, consider a couple of other sites – Herculaneum and Villa di Poppea at Oplontis. Incredibly well preserved, and not near the tourists as at Pompeii.

In Rome, there are worthwhile book finds at the gift shops in the Colosseum, Trajan's Market, the national museum near Termini train station, and the Capitoline Museum. If you are passing through Termini train station, there's a bookstore there with English language books on the second floor. The book selection at the Pompeii gift shop was amazing.

Happy travels!

Footslogger10 Mar 2017 6:53 a.m. PST

Agreed on Ostia, and quite easy to get to on the ground-level regional train running from the Pyramide Metro station. It's still within the boundary of the cheap 1.5E Metro tickets. I found good online advice on how to get there.

Military things in Rome?

Trajan's column at the NW end of the Imperial Fora is public-access.

Arch of Septimius Severus at west end of the main Forum, and visible for free from next to the Mamertine prison if you haven't time to go into the forum (AND YOU SHOULD).

Arch of Titus at east end of Forum has a frieze depicting
Roman troops carrying loot from the sack of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD70.

All three of these celebrate Roman military successes in great detail.

Column of Marcus Aurelius is a bit further away, but still walking distance, north up the Corso.

Peithetairos Inactive Member16 Mar 2017 11:01 p.m. PST

I second the battlefield of Lake Trasimene. Hard to reach with public transport, but with your own car no problem. I went there some years ago and it was very enjoyable. I also wrote a short guide, so you know what to expect:


If you go there I recommend to stay in the "Etruscan Garden". Excellent bed and breakfast. The prices are very moderate as well.


Another thing to look out for is the Gallery of Maps, when you are in the Vatican Museums. Normally you are herded through, but take a few minutes and look for depictions of famous battles. Among them are Cannae, Lake Trasimene and other ancient and medieval battles. Again, I wrote a short guide about Punic War battles depicted in the gallery:


Finally, if you are in Florence and have a car, there is a miniature museum in a township very close to Florence. I did not have the time to go there, but here is the website. Apparently it is housed in a small castle/fort.

Museo Comunale del Figurino Storico di Calenzano

Museum of Toy Soldier and Historic Figures

Via del Castello, 7, 50041 Calenzano FI, Italy


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