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Vacation travel. Gondola rides. Mark's Square Piazza San Marco. Most Popular Blog Posts. In the car park, you can see the remains of an ancient Roman house unearthed during the restoration.

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Just across from the Piazza Navona, this Renaissance palace acquired its unlikely name when it was bought by an Austrian-born cardinal in the 16th century. Taken over by the state in and not opened as a museum until , it remains one of the capital's best-kept secrets. Inside is an entrancing collection of classical sculptures.

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But for sheer technical virtuosity the most astonishing exhibit is a 3rd-century sarcophagus, carved from a single block of stone, showing the Romans fighting the Ostrogoths. From the same Renaissance collection as the others, it is known as the Grande Ludovisi.

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Open Tue-Sun 9am The studio and set complex, on the road that leads from central Rome to Ciampino airport, was bombed by the Allies in the second world war before rising to global fame in the s when it was used to make the first in a string of budget-busting classical epics that included Ben-Hur and Cleopatra. The hectare site is still claimed to be continental Europe's largest film and TV production facility. But its heyday has long gone.

Among the few internationally distributed movies to be shot there in recent years was Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. Guided tours are available for groups of at least 20 people. Tours must be booked in advance by calling Mon-Fri 9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm. Along with the Maxxi and Macro, the Auditorium is the tangible embodiment of Rome's recent cultural renaissance. The architect Renzo Piano called his building a "factory of culture". The three concert halls, which stage not only concerts but also ballet and theatre productions, each hold between and 2, people.

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The imposing foyer, which links them, is an exhibition space. In addition, there is the Cavea, an open-air theatre reminiscent of a classical amphitheatre; an art gallery, and an archaeological museum that displays artefacts found during the construction including an oil press from the 6th century BC.

The Basilica of Our Lady is among Rome's oldest places of worship, and the one that perhaps gives the most vivid impression of a grand medieval church. It dates from around AD and is thought to been the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary. In the nave are two rows of columns — 22 in all — that were taken from ancient Roman sites.

The basilica was rebuilt in the 12th century by Pope Innocent II and, at the end of the 13th century, Pietro Cavallini embellished the apse with six mosaic panels of scenes from the life of Mary. Together with a gilded octagonal ceiling painting by the Baroque master Domenichino , they give the basilica a memorable glow. Looking for traces of the "dark ages", perhaps the last place you would start is the EUR district, built as a showcase for Fascist architecture. Yet it is there, in a less visited museum, that you can gaze on evidence that the period that followed the fall of the western empire was not as dark as is often thought: finely decorated weapons; extraordinarily intricate tapestries; glamorous earrings and necklaces.

Other exhibits include an ancient metal dog chain.

But the most stunning dates from late antiquity: an entire hall, taken from an aristocratic villa in Ostia, adorned with designs created using a technique known as opus sectile in which coloured marble is cut and inlaid. The most spectacular show tigers and lions catching prey. Open Tue-Sun 9am-2pm.

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The church of illusions. It was built between and and dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola. The first giant trick is Andrea Pozzo 's trompe l'oeil ceiling fresco which uses foreshortening to create an astoundingly realistic vision of the founder of the Society of Jesus soaring towards paradise to be welcomed by Christ no, the Jesuits never were modest.