Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

This is the second in a series of blogs called Exploring Rome Florence Venice select here for the first blog.  My wife and I never pass up an opportunity to visit Italy!  So at dinner one night with friends they told us they were visiting Italy for the first time, Rome, Florence and Venice and wanted us to go with them.  How could we say no?  We have been to Italy four times and it would be fun acting as tour guide for first time visitors.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, (St. Mary Major)

We met our friends for breakfast, WOW, what a display of fruits, bread, pastries, cornetto’s meats, cheeses, cereals, coffee, espresso (my favorite), cappuccino and teas. The food area cover three walls in the dining room, I was in heaven with the variety before me.

After breakfast we walk to the Piazza della Republica, where we bought a ticket for the hop on hop off bus, we rode  it around the entire loop ~ 1.5 hrs. We highly recommend this as a way to see many important sites with a very knowledgeable guide.  Returning back to our starting point we started to walk to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, (St. Mary Major).  Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is an ancient Roman Catholic Church considered the oldest and largest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is located on the Esquiline Hill, the highest in Rome. One of the four major Basilicas under the jurisdiction of the Pope, policed by Vatican City guards and not by the city police. On August 5, 358 AD, a miraculous snow fell on top of the Esquiline Hill. During this snowfall Pope Liberius had a dream, the Virgin Mary appeared and told him to build a church in her honor where the snow fell, the outline of the church is of the fallen snow. Today on August 5, people come to visit and celebrate and view a light show celebration held in honor of the miraculous snowfall the church to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The church is beautiful, displaying artworks, mosaics, gold leaf, side chapels, pieces of Jesus’ crib brought from Bethlehem, the tomb of the famous Bernini, and his hidden spiral staircase. The bell tower is 75 meters high with 5 bells, one “La Sperduta” rings every evening at nine o’clock to call the faithful to prayer; witnessed by us every evening.  The church holds mass to this day and admission is free.

Piazza de Spagna, (the famous Spanish Steps)

We walked to Piazza de Spagna, (the famous Spanish Steps), a popular area with 137 steps. We rested on the steps had photos taken, enjoyed La Fontana della Baracaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat). This area is a beautiful area shaped in a triangle with shops and many restaurants to enjoy. Nearby, is the Villa Borghese, a beautiful park and the Borghese Museum displaying famous works of Titan, Caravaggio, Bernini, and Rubens. Above the steps is Trinita dei Monti, and across the square if the famous Via Condotti, home to exclusive designer Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Gucci, Cartier, and Bulgari. Via Condotti is a great place to window shop or perhaps make a purchase.

After this busy morning we were hungry and needed a break, we had lunch at Sugo d’ Oro (meaning golden sauce) on via di Propaganda, delicious great homemade food and great wine; at the other entrance of the restaurant a woman was standing near an open window demonstrating how to make pasta, how fun was this?!

For More Amazing Travel Destinations

At Cooking Wine and Travel we like to hear about your experiences. Have you traveled to Italy? If so what is your favorite place to visit. Please leave your comments below.  Hope you enjoy our blog series Exploring Rome Florence Venice!