Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Located next to the Roman Forum Santa Francesca Romana is dedicated to Saint Frances of Rome, considered the patron saint of drivers. The church’s elaborate interiors and sacred art are sure to be of interest for history buffs.
The church of Santa Francesca Romana is the only surviving example of a christian site in the Roman Forum. The church’s official name is Santa Maria Nova, though most locals prefer its less official title. The current building dates in part to the 10th century AD, and occupies part of the site of the great second-century temple of Venus Felix founded by the emperor Hadrian. The dominant travertine marble facade was added in the 16th century.
Inside, visitors can see the huge painting known as Vergine col Bambino (virgin with child). Dating back to the 6th century AD, it’s one of the oldest pieces of Christian art in existence anywhere in the world. The church also contains the preserved remains of Saint Frances, a nun who founded the religious order Olivetan Oblates of Mary in the 15th century, and for whom the church is named.
Things to know before you go
- Entry to the church is free.
- Make sure you take in the church’s elaborately decorated ceilings.
- On St Frances’ feast day – March 9th – Roman residents try to park as close to the church as possible to have their cars blessed for the coming year.
How to get there
Santa Maria Francesca is located within the Roman Forum complex, although it can be visited separately. It’s accessible on foot from the Forum and the Colosseum. Hop-on-hop-off tour buses stop at the edge of the Forum. The closest metro stop is Colosseo on Line B.
When to get there
The church is open daily year-round. As with many attractions in Rome, visitors numbers increase during summer vacation and other holiday periods. The church is lovely and cool and makes a nice break from the weather on Rome’s hottest days.
Visit the National Museum of Rome at Palazzo Altemps
One of four sites that make up the National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Altemps is right in the heart of Rome behind Piazza Navona, but is often not as busy as other attractions in the city. The palazzo itself has grand interiors and a pleasant courtyard, and the museum collection holds a wealth of Greek and Roman sculptures as well as some Egyptian art and artifacts.
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- Roman Forum (Foro Romano)
- Arch of Titus (Arco di Tito)
- Santi Cosma e Damiano Church (Chiesa dei Santi Cosma e Damiano)
- House of the Vestal Virgins (Casa delle Vestali)
- Temple of Caesar (Tempio di Cesare)
- Trajan's Column (Colonna di Traiano)
- Ancient Rome
- House of Livia (Casa di Livia)
- Palatine Museum (Museo del Palatino)
- Palatine Hill (Palatino)
- Church of St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli)
- Domus Augustana
- House of Augustus (Casa di Augusto)
- Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino)