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5 best breath-taking viewing points in Rome

Simon Calder’s Travel

The trouble with Rome is that it has so many treasures. Its heady mix of must-see classical ruins, flamboyant fountains, Renaissance palaces and masterpiece-filled museums can make a trip to the Eternal City as exhausting as it is exhilarating – and that’s before you’ve even set an aching foot in a designer store or strolled along a cobbled street in search of a(nother) delicious scoop of gelato.

So, it’s a good thing that there’s another ‘must’ in Rome, and that’s to experience il dolce fa niente – the sweet doing of nothing. And there’s no better way idle away the time than by enjoying a glorious view, perched high above the chaos of the capital’s traffic.

There are plenty of vantage points – well, the ancient centre was founded on seven hills and has since spread over several more – but these are five of the best.

Of course, if you prefer a view that’s literally breath-taking, you can always climb all 551 steps to the dome of St Peter’s. Cameras at the ready…

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Aventine Hill

Aventine is the most southerly of Rome’s seven hills

(Getty Images)

Rising above the Circus Maximus, the ancient city’s venue for chariot races, the Aventine is the most southerly of Rome’s seven hills. Originally a plebian area, it later became home to the aristocracy who built pagan temples and lavish palaces, and is still a desirable, delightfully tranquil, residential district.

It’s worth the climb just to visit the church of Santa Sabina, which was built in the 5th century. Zoom in on the carved cedarwood panels on its main door, which depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments, then step into the scented shade of the neighbouring Giardino degli Aranci, the Garden of Oranges, and enjoy the panorama of the Roman skyline.

But don’t go yet; walk the short distance to the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, designed by Piranesi for the chivalric order of the Knights of Malta, then peep through the keyhole of the Priory door; you’ll see the distant dome of St Peter’s, perfectly framed by foliage.

Belvedere del Gianicolo

Janiculum Hill is the place to watch the sunset over Trastevere

(Getty Images)

The Gianicolo (or Janiculum Hill) is the place that locals come to watch the sunset. Although it wasn’t one of the original seven hills, as it sits on the other side of the Tiber outside the boundaries…

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