The churches, parks and monuments of this walk are all within easy
walking distance of the Hotel. Each site can be visited
individually or all together in a circuit route. The circuit route is
about 2 km long.
Turn left out of the Hotel gate then take the first on the right (Via Celimontana). After crossing two streets you will find the basilica of St. Clemente on your right.
This basilica, less than a block away from Hotel Lancelot, is one of
the most fascinating sites in Rome: you can time travel through
three layers of history, one on top of the other, to experience Rome's
long and continuously changing story. The upper level of the current
church dates back to the 12th century, the level below to the 4th
century and the foundations to antiquity. The excavations under this
church provide a dramatic introduction to Rome's living history (Entrance to the excavations is on the right side of the church).
The Schola Cantorum (walled marble choir enclosure), survived a fire during the Norman sacking of Rome in 1084, and was moved upstairs to the new church where it still stands. However the most striking feature is the 12th century mosaic in the apse. On your left as you enter is a wonderful fresco depicting St. Joseph and a baby Jesus by Masolino - this is one of the earliest Renaissance works in Rome and was revolutionary for its time in introducing perspective and a more human representation of Christ.
Turn left when leaving the side exit of St. Clemente, cross the street and turn right into Via dei Querceti and then left into Via SS. Quattro. At the corner is a small shrine.
At the foot of the slope leading to SS. Quattro Coronati there is
possibly one of the most ancient sacred images in the streets of Rome.
The shrine is located along the pope's procession route to S. Giovanni
in Laterano. The Madonna is most likely a 15th century painting, though
documents from the 10th century already refer to the existence of this
Continue up the hill on Via SS. Quattro Coronati. At the top of the hill is the church of Santi Quattro Coronati.
The 'Parlatoio' - a tiny chapel with 12th century frescos - is well worth a visit. The chapel is on the right of the inner courtyard. You will need to ask for the key for which a small donation should be offered.
Continue in the same direction along Via SS. Quattro, past the Irish College until you come to a large square, Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano. On entering the Piazza on your immediate right is the Ospedale di San Giovanni.
Ospedali di San Giovanni in Laterano
The hospital was founded by Innocentius III in 1204 and was extensively rebuilt by Pope Sixtus V. Pope Sixtus also wanted to build a direct route from S. Giovanni to S. Peters and had ordered the demolition of the Colosseum. Fortunately he was dissuaded from this. San Giovanni - Addolorata is still one of the main hospitals of Rome. The old ward is now used as the public reception area. Note the medieval entrance to the hospital in the street leading to the Colosseum.
On the opposite side of the piazza is the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano.
The Lateran Palace was donated to the Bishop of Rome by the Emperor Constantine. Around 313 it was converted and extended and became Rome's official cathedral, seat of the popes and bishops of Rome. It is the oldest among the four major basilicas of Rome. Little remains of the original basilica and additions continued to be made throughout the centuries. The interior was last transformed in 1646 by Francesco Borromini. He also created the 12 niches in which the huge statues of the apostles were placed in 1718. The facade was designed by Alessandro Galilei in 1735.
Exit the piazza the same way you entered it. Bear left into Via S. Stefano Rotondo. There are many interesting features of the original hospital to view en route. Along the way you will see the remains of the roman aqueduct 'Acqua Claudia' which carried water to the Palatine. Just before coming to the next piazza, on the left is the entrance to the church of Santo Stefano Rotondo.
This church was built over the site of a Roman Mithraeum. Built in the late 5th century it is unique in its central plan. The marvellous circular hall contains 22 Ionic columns, and the walls were frescoed in the late 16th and early 17th century with scenes of ghastly martyrdoms.
Turn left out of the church and continue in the same direction as before until you come to Largo della Sanità Militare and turn left up the hill towards the church of S. Maria in Dominica. There are many interesting things to see in this area.
The church is one of the oldest deaneries in Rome, rebuilt by Pope Pasquale I in 817.
The ship or Navicella fountain is a copy of a Roman marble found in the area. The theme of the little ship appears again in the beautiful late Renaissance wooden ceiling of the church.
On the way to the church you can also see the aqueduct of Acqua Claudia, the entrance to Villa Mattei, S. Tommaso in Formis and the Arch of Delobella.
These medieval buildings were part of the hospital annexed to the church of S. Tommaso in Formis. This church belonged to the Trinitarian order which was devoted to freeing Christian slaves. The mosaic medallion dating form the 18th century shows Christ between a white and a black slave.
Next to the S Maria in Domenica is the entrance to the Park of Villa Celimontana.
Villa Celimontana was built in 1582 by Ciriaco Mattei and is also known as Villa Mattei. Today the villa houses the Home of Geography-Società Geografica and a public park. The villa's gardens offer many delightful walks and vistas.
The next site of San Giovanni e Paolo can be reached either through the park's northern exit or by returning to Largo della Sanità Militare and proceeding through the arch in the aqueduct.
The square has hardly changed since medieval times.
The portico dates from the 12th century and is embellished by columns of Roman origin. The chapel with the dome is a 14th century addition. Excavations beneath this church have revealed Roman houses of the first and second centuries used as places of Christian worship.
The bell tower is typical of many medieval churches in Rome. The tower was built on the foundations of a Roman temple dedicated to the emperor Claudius. The tower is decorated with ceramic dishes from Spain (at the time under the Moors) and is decorated with inscriptions dedicated to Allah.
On the side of the church going down the hill is the entrance to the Roman Houses.
Beneath the church, excavations have revealed a complex of rooms, shop fronts and streets dating back to imperial times. There are about 20 rooms, some of which are decorated with frescos from the third to the twelfth centuries. The excavations were started in 1887 by Padre Germano and opened to the public as a museum in 2002.
Continue down the hill through the arched buttresses. The name of the street - Via Clivo Scauro - dates back to Roman times. At the bottom of the hill you will find the church of S. Gregorio Magno on your left.
The church originated as a simple oratory attached to the the villa suburbana of Pope Gregory I. It was converted into a monastery in 575.
Between 1629 and 1633 Cardinal Scipione Borghese commissioned the church to be rebuilt according to designs by Giovannni Battista Soria, who conceived the steps and a new theatrical (false) façade which leads to an atrium and then to the church.
From the broad stairway you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Palatine.
From San Gregorio you can make your way towards the Colosseum by following the tram lines to the right or by descending the stairs to Via di S. Gregorio and turning right. If you like you can turn left to Circo Massimo (where chariot races were held) and go a further couple of hundred meters.
This world famous monument is at the end of the street from the Hotel Lancelot.
There is an entrance fee to visit the Colosseum. The ticket includes the Palatine and the Roman Forum. The Lancelot is at a short stroll from the Colosseum and you can generally avoid queues if you go there before 9.00 am. Otherwise we suggest you purchase the tickets from the entrance to the Palatine, which is also close by and avoids the long queues. You may also buy tickets online.
The Colosseum replaced the lake in Nero's gardens and was completed
by the Emperor Titus Flavius in AD 80. Next to this oval amphitheatre
stood a colossal statue of the Emperor Nero, from which its name. The
Colosseum, which seated 60,000 spectators for gladiatorial games, hunts
with live animals, and mock sea battles, quickly became the symbol of
the city and with time the metaphor for Rome’s claim on eternity.
You can reach the forum entrance from Via Sacra, a small lane near the Arch of Constantine.
The Roman Forum and the Palatine hill are next to the Colosseum and
you may enter these sites with the same ticket as for the Colosseum.
After leaving the Forum make your way back towards the Colosseum and keep it on your right while heading towards via Labicana. Turn left up the stairs on to Via del Fagutale which passes by Piazza S. Pietro in Vincoli.
This church houses the mighty Moses by Michelangelo. Conserved in
the reliquary on the main altar are the chains said to have been used
to shackle Saint Peter in Jerusalem.
Go down Via Eudossiana and enter the park overlooking the Colosseum. Follow the signs for the entrance to the Domus Aurea excavations.
Nero's impressive golden palace was finally opened to the public in 1999, after 18 years of restoration works. Visits to the excavations are limited to small groups and must be booked in advance. The Lancelot staff can assist you with reservations. We advise you take a guided tour or hire headphones.
Return to the Hotel through the park walking away from the Colosseum. Leave through the large staircase which descends to Via Labicana and cross over to Via Celimontana. Continue for two blocks and turn left on to Via Capo d'Africa.