Gianicolo square: the most beautiful of Rome and the traditional cannon shot at midday

If you are spending some days in Rome, caput mundi, you can’t miss to visit Gianicolo square.

The hill, 88 metres high, behind Trastevere district, rises on the right bank of the Tiber and it stretches to Saint Peter’s Basilica.

It is not one of the seven Roman hills and this is the reason why it is not considered the eightieth one.

It is the most beautiful Capitoline terrace and the view is one of the most suggestive in the world: your sight will get lost among roofs, monuments, domes and ancient ruins.



Its name comes from Giano God, protector of entrances, exits, doors and passages, according to the Roman religion.

It was represented with two faces compared observing all the directions and holding a key and a stick in the hand.

It is said, he lived on the hill, symbolizing the door of Rome, to control every passage.

A medieval legend tells under the Gianicolo there was an old bronze door able to get open by itself, every time a province revolted to Romans.

As the latter discovered it, they quickly went to the Pantheon and observed the various conquered areas: the one turning the back was the rebel one and so they sent their troops there.

The hill became a fascinating cult place; in 1600 Pope Urban VII ordered the built of the Gianicolo Walls.

The Gianicolo was background of many wars, in 1849: the French army attacked the city, Garibaldi and his soldiers tried to resist the more they could, but at the end they got won. That’s when sir Goffredo Mameli died, the author of the national hymn “Fratelli d’Italia” of the Italian Republic.

Emilio Gallori wanted to honour the captain and he made a statue representing Garibaldi on a horse.

On its basis, you can see the inscription “o Roma o morte” (“Rome or death”); around the pedestal, there are four bronze statues describing the war scenes and allegorical figures.

In this places there is also the sculpture erected by Mario Rutelli, dedicated to Anita Garibaldi (the captain wife): it is a real tomb hosting the ashes of the woman from 1932, year in which they got moved from Nice.



In 1847, Pope Pio IX started the traditional cannon shot to tell the official time, collecting the sounds of the bells of all the 7 churches in the capital.

The cannon used to shot from Castel Sant’Angelo until August 1903, when it was moved to Monte Mario; from the 24th January 1904, it is situated in the Gianicolo, under Garibaldi’ statue.

The tradition was temporary interrupted during the Second World Was, restarting on the 21st April 1959.

So some soldiers, everyday, at 12 o’clock fire a shot.



Gianicolo’s Fontanone or Acqua Paola’s Fontanone was made on Pope Paolo V Borghese request, between 1610 and 1614, by the architects Giovanni Fontana, Flaminio Ponzo and the cooperation of the sculptor Ippolito Buzio.

The water flowing comes from Bracciano lake and passes through an old Roman aqueduct.

The colonnade comes from Constantine Emperor age and it was part of Saint Peter’s Basilica.



Walking through the promenade of Gianicolo you get in front of the lighthouse by the architect Manfredo Manfredi, from 1911.

The structure is a gift Italy received by the migrants to Argentina, for the 50th anniversary of the unification.

It rises where there many battles to defend the Roman Republic took place, it’s 20 metres high and it’s made of the white stone from Botticino.

Its lantern used to light the Roman nights by a three-colour beam; nowadays, you can see it just on special occasions.

Here you are a curiosity: the balcony of the lighthouse is oriented to Regina Coeli prison and in the past the prisoners’ families used this place to talk to their relatives.



Then name of the church comes from a tradition telling Saint Peters was crucified in the area and the term “Montorio” refers to the yellow sand of Gianicolo hill, where the church is situated.

It was built in the Middle Ages and hosted Celestine, Benedictine and Franciscan monks.

This church, symbolizing Saint Peter’s martyrdom, was demolished by the monks, lately rebuilt by the architect Baccio Pontelli on the Spanish royalty and consecrated in June 1500.

Inside, you can admire the works by famous artists, such as Daniele da Volterra, Giorgio Vasari and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

In the church, there are the remains of Beatrice Cenci (1577-1599), famous for her sad story: condemned to death for killing her father, she was executed in Castel Sant’Angelo.

In the cloister near the church, there is one of the most important symbols of the Renaissance Italian architecture: the Tempietto di Bramante.

It was commissioned by the Spanish sovereigns Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castiglia to confirm the vote to conceive an heir.



Saint Pancrazio’s door, whose name comes from the proximity to the sepulcher of the Christian martyr Pancrazio, issituated on the hill and it is famous as the Aurelian Door or Gianicolense Door, too.

It became famous because theatre of Garibaldi and French troops battles.

This place invites lots of tourists because of the Garibaldi Museum, where there are many rests of the Roman Republic age.

Have you seen how many great places you can visit at Gianicolo? You haven’t been there yet? And so…what are you waiting for?

Please, do your best to be there at midday to hear the traditional cannon shot, you can easily hear it even from the Esquiline hill on the silent days.

Do you want to stay in Rome?

For this location we recommend The Inn At The Roman Forum, a luxury residence in the center of Rome with a modern design.

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