Rainbow over the rooftops of Rome, as seen from Janiculum hill, Terrazza del Gianicolo.
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©Elena Odareeva/Shutterstock


Trastevere & Gianicolo

Lonely Planet's Ultimate Guide

Explore insider tips, fascinating history and surprising secrets to make the most of your experience.

The verdant hill of Gianicolo (or Janiculum) is dotted with monuments to Garibaldi and his makeshift army, who fought pope-backing French troops in one of the fiercest battles in the struggle for Italian unification on this spot in 1849.

The Italian hero is commemorated with a massive monument in Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi, while his Brazilian-born wife, Anita, has her own monument about 200m (656ft) away in Piazzale Anita Garibaldi; she died from malaria, together with their unborn child, shortly after the siege. Over 200 busts of Italian patriots who have contributed to Italy’s unification are scattered around the hill.

On the Gianicolo Hill you will find the Acqua Paola Fountain, one of the most impressive water monuments found in the city, dating back to 1612 and locally nicknamed il fontanone (the big fountain) for obvious reasons. The marble masterpiece may look familiar – it appears in the opening scene of Paolo Sorrentino's 2013 Academy-Award-winning film La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty). Materials from both the Roman Forum and the ancient St Peter's Basilica were used to build the fountain.

Rainbow over the rooftops of Rome, as seen from Janiculum hill, Terrazza del Gianicolo
The best unobstructed views of Rome are found further north beyond the snack stands © Elena Odareeva / Shutterstock

Orto Botanico

The hill is also home to Rome’s Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden), one of Italy’s largest where over 3000 species of plants – including secular Himalayan trees and a bamboo forest – coexist in the grounds once belonging to Villa Corsini. The Botanical Garden originated in the 17th century and is managed by Sapienza University. Entrance to the Botanical Garden costs €5.

Faro del Gianicolo

Something you wouldn’t expect to see in the heart of Rome is a lighthouse, though the Faro del Gianicolo (Gianicolo’s Lighthouse) is not meant to show the way to incoming ships. Italian expatriates in Argentina gifted the city with this marble monument in 1911, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Italy’s unification.

Tips and other practical information

Rome's highest hill is a superb viewpoint with sweeping panoramas over Rome’s rooftops, and has several summer-only bars that are blessed with thrilling views. There are also weekend children’s puppet shows on the hill (a long-standing tradition) and a small collection of carnival rides.

Pro tip: trees obstruct the stunning views from many vantage points, so go just north of the snacks stands near the Garibaldi Monument to see Rome before you in all its glory.

Take bus 115 from the Viale di Trastevere to Gianicolo, then walk back down, stopping at the Tempietto di Bramante & Chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Trastevere & Gianicolo attractions

1. Garibaldi Monument

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Giuseppe Garibaldi defended Rome against French troops sent to restore papal rule in 1849, and this towering commemorative statue was raised to the hero…

2. Monumento ad Anita Garibaldi

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This dramatic monument commemorates Garibaldi's Brazilian-born wife, Anita, who died from malaria, together with their unborn child, shortly after the…

4. Orto Botanico

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Formerly the private grounds of Palazzo Corsini, Rome’s 12-hectare botanical gardens are a little-known, slightly neglected gem and a great place to…

5. Fontana dell’Acqua Paola

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Featured in the opening scene of Paolo Sorrentino's Oscar-winning La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty; 2013), this monumental white fountain with its…

6. Galleria Corsini


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7. Villa Farnesina

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8. Porta Settimiana

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