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Rome Journal: The Janiculum Hill

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Janus Films was the company that originally produced the Ingmar Bergman movies you watched in the 60's (now Bergman films are distributed by Criterion). There was a famous Janus film logo that created a frisson whenever you saw it since you knew that it was going to introduce say the famous trilogy Winter Lights, Through a Glass Darkly and The Silence. Janus, the two faced God, after which the company was named is also the provenance of Rome's Janiculum Hill or Gianicolo (as it's called in Italian) on which can be found several other kinds of cultural institutions including the Spanish Academy in Rome and the American Academy in Rome, which occupies the auspicious McKim, Mead, neo Renaissance building near the top. Toward the very summit, cars zigzag wildly around an arch which contains the Museo della Repubblica Romana e della memoria garibaldina. There are many other cultural wonders on the Janiculum including San Pietro in Montorio which contains the Templetto, the tomb designed by the Italian Renaissance architect Donato Bramante, at the purported location of the martyrdom of St. Peter. The Janiculum is not one of the seven hills of Rome (though it's the second highest, it lies outside the borders of the city proper) but from the gardens of the Villa Aurelia which is now also part of the American Academy you can see all of Rome. In 1849 the Janiculum was the site from which Garibaldi successfully fought of the invading French army. One of the streets leading to the top is the Via Garibaldi. The Janiculum descends right into Trastevere, the artistic and bohemian neighborhood full of winding streets that contain its own set of wonders including Saint Cecilia in Trastevere, with Stefano Maderno's famous and highly realistic sculpture of the writhing martyr replete with axe marks on her neck.

photograph of a view from the Gianicolo by Hallie Cohen

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}