The Caelius is called in Italian Celio, the Oppius is called Oppio. How to visit Celio and Oppio hills in an afternoon
Celio and Oppio are two of the seven hills of Rome. In the valley between the two hills, the Via Labicana leads from the Colosseum in an easterly direction. Sometimes you read about the Opium Hill. That is a wrong translation. The name is attributed to a warrior who defended Rome in the 6th century BC.
Unfortunately, the opening hours of the basilicas are a bit short. They open in the afternoon between 3 and 3:30 and close between 6 and 7pm. There is the opportunity to visit excavations at two basilicas.
Caelius Hill in the afternoon · The Celio
The Celio was already included by Romulus in the city. In addition to the numerous basilicas, there are various excavations on the Celio, some of which can be visited. The hill of the Celio is 168 ft high.
For the ascent you can take the Via Claudia from the Colosseum or, from Via di San Gregorio, the Salita di San Gregorio, which runs behind the tracks of the tram.
Particularly suggestive is the climb via the Salita di San Gregorio. You come to an ancient piece of road called Clivo di Scauro that leads to the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo.
The Basilica of St. John and Paul is a popular wedding church. The basilica dates back to the 4th century. Under the basilica there are Roman houses and the martyrs John and Paul are said to have lived there. The Basilica opens in the afternoon at 3:30, The Roman houses of the Celio below the Basilica, with access from the street Clivo di Scauro, are open in the afternoon from 3 to 6. They’re closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Roman houses occupy the entire area below the basilica. Admission costs 8 euros, reduced 6 euros for children up to 12 years. The guided tour has a cost of 110 euros per group.
To the left of the bell tower is a gate. If it’s open, you can look down there on supply halls of the Coliseum.
Villa Celimontana dates back to the 16th century. Its entrance is just above the Basilica of St. John and Paul. Another entrance is at the highest point of the hill on Via della Navicella. There stops the bus line 81.
Unfortunately, the villa is not very well maintained. Nevertheless, it’s very popular with the Romans. In the villa there is an obelisk as well as numerous statues and ancient monuments. The building is the seat of the Italian geographical society.
The Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo dates back to the 5th century and has a circular layout. It is similar to the plan of the Anastasis of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
The basilica belongs to the Jesuit College Pontificum Collegium Germanicum Hungaricum. It is Hungarian national church.
The basilica is open in the morning from 10 am to 1 pm and in the afternoon from 2:30 to 5:30, at legal summer time 3:30 to 6:30.
Oppius Hill in the afternoon · The Oppio Hill
Opposite the Basilica of St. Clement rises Oppius Hill on the other side of Via Labicana. The hill extends to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and Termini Station.
In the park of the Oppio is a square with a fountain dedicated to the reformer Martin Luther. A building of Nero’s Domus Aurea is located in the underground of the Park.
The area between Park and Via Cavour belongs to the district of Monti and is characterized by picturesque winding lanes.
As you descend from Caelius on Via di Celimontana, past the Military Hospital on the right, you come to the Basilica di San Clemente.
The basilica of St. Clement has its origins in the 4th century. Its present appearance has been preserved from the 12th century.
Under the basilica are ancient excavations that can be visited. Among other things, there is a Mithras temple from the 1st century. You can also visit the excavated rooms of a Roman house and a small catacomb.
The basilica is open weekdays from 9-12:30 and 3-6pm, on Sunday 12-6pm.
If you follow the Largo della Polveriera on the eastern edge of the park, you will pass the University of La Sapienza and then arrive to the Basilica of St. Peter in chains – Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli.
The basilica was built in the 5th century and has undergone numerous restorations and alterations over the centuries. It shows the relics of the chains of St. Peter.
In the rear right part of the basilica is the Moses of Michelangelo. This important work of the Renaissance was to serve as a tomb for Pope Julius II and was completed in 1645. Michelangelo put horns on Moses due to a misinterpretation of Hebrew texts which understood horns instead of sunbeams. Moses just came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments and found his people dancing around the golden calf.
The basilica is open 8-12:20 and 3-6pm, in the legal summer time to 7pm.
At the square in front of the Basilica you will find a staircase that leads through under a house. It’s called “salita di Borgia”. In the building with the balcony over the arch is said to have lived a lover of the Catalan Pope Alexander VI Borgia, the famous Vanozza Cattanei from Mantova, mother of the infamous children of Alexander, Cesare, Lucrezia and Giovanni. On the staircase, you will reach Via Cavour and continue to the heart of the Monti district and Cavour metro station.
Monti is a very picturesque neighborhood and is well suited for a cozy evening with a well-kept meal.