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What J. W. Goethe saw during his stay in Rome

A directory of links to the monuments of Rome quoted in J. W. Goethe's Italienische Reise.

The first column is usually the day Goethe visited the monument: in some cases it is the heading of a short script included in the book.
The second column has the link to the page where the monument is shown.
The third column is used at times for notes and at times for quotations (from the translation by W. H. Auden and E. Mayer - Collins 1962).

First Stay (November 1786 - February 1787)

Date Location Notes or quotations
November 1, 1786 Porta del Popolo Goethe arrived in Rome through it.
November 3, 1786 Palazzo del Quirinale "The square in front of the palazzo, though irregular in shape, is both grand and graceful. There I sat eyes on the two Colossi. To grasp them is beyond the power of the eye or the mind."
November 7, 1786 Palazzo del Belvedere Visit to Raphael's Loggia. Goethe went several times to the Sixtine Chapel during both his stays.
November 8, 1786 Palazzo Rondanini Goethe lived in a building opposite this palace.
November 9, 1786 Piazza della Rotonda (Pantheon)
Basilica di S. Pietro
"The Pantheon, so great within and without, has overwhelmed me with admiration. St Peter's has made me realize that Art, like Nature, can abolish all standards of measurement."
November 10, 1786 Piramide di Caio Cestio
Rovine del Palatino
"..the ruins of the imperial palaces stand like rocks. It is impossible to convey a proper idea of such things."
November 11, 1786 Ninfa Egeria e Circo di Caracalla
Tomba di Cecilia Metella
Via Appia Antica
Piazza del Colosseo
"..the tomb of Metella made me realize for the first time what solid masonry means. ..we came to the Colosseum at twilight. Once one has seen it, everything else seems small. It is so huge that the mind cannot retain its image; one remembers it as smaller than it is, so that every time one returns to it, one is astounded by its size.
November 17, 1786 S. Andrea della Valle
Palazzo Farnese
November 18, 1786 Farnesina
S. Pietro in Montorio
Domus Aurea
November 22, 1786 Piazza S. Pietro
Basilica di S. Pietro
S. Cecilia
Ascent of St Peter's Dome.
November 28, 1786 Villa Doria Pamphilj Goethe went there after a second visit to Raphael's Loggia.
November 29, 1786 Villa Mellini
Villa Madama
December 25, 1786 Basilica di S. Pietro Goethe attended mass in St Peter's
January 6, 1787 Palazzo di Propaganda Fide -
January 17, 1787 Palazzo Giustiniani -
January 18, 1787 S. Antonio Abate "The church stands on a square which is so large that, normally, it looks empty, but today it is full of life. Horses and mules, their manes and tails gorgeously braided with ribbons, are led up to a small chapel, detached from the church proper, and a priest, armed with an enormous brush, sprinkles them with holy water from tubs and buckets in front of him. He does this generously, vigorously and even facetiously so as to excite them... Donkeys and horned cattle also get their modest share of blessing."
January 19, 1787 Palazzi di Campidoglio -
January 20, 1787 Spedale di S. Spirito in Sassia -
January 25, 1787 SS. Trinità de' Monti -
February 16, 1787 S. Onofrio -
February 19, 1787 Villa Medici Goethe left Rome on February 22, 1787. He spent in Naples and Sicily the next four months.

Second Stay (June 1787 - April 1788)

June 27, 1787
Palazzo Corsini -
June 29, 1787
Castel S. Angelo -
July 5, 1787
Fontana dell'Acqua Acetosa -
July 9, 1787
S. Maria di Aracoeli -
July 15, 1787
Farnesina -
July 16, 1787
Mausoleo d'Augusto -
July 22, 1787
Palazzo Barberini -
July 23, 1787
Colonna Trajana "In the evening I climbed the column of Trajan. Seen from that height and at sunset, the Colosseum, with the Capitol close by, the Palatine behind and the city all around, it was a superb sight."
July 24, 1787
Villa Patrizi
Colonna Antonina
July 25, 1787
Palazzo Piombino -
July 29, 1787
Palazzo Rondanini -
August 1, 1787
SS. Trinità de' Monti -
August 18, 1787
Fontana dell'Acqua Acetosa
Campidoglio (from the Forum)
Villa Aldobrandini
August 28, 1787
Accademia di Francia -
September 3, 1787
Obelisco di Augusta -
September 1787 (summary)
Giardini del Palatino
Piazza di Montecitorio
November 1787 (summary)
Porto di Ripetta Goethe spent several weeks in Frascati and Castel Gandolfo
December 1787 (summary)
S. Paolo alle Tre Fontane
Circo di Caracalla
Terme di Caracalla (Antoniniane)
Acqua Paola and S. Pietro in Montorio
S. Maria della Pace
Basilica di S. Pietro
Villa Borghese
(Acqua Paola)"The lovers of architecture among us extolled the happy thought which had provided this water with a free, triumphal entry open to all. The columns, arches, cornices and pediments reminded us of those sumptuous arches through which, in times past, returning conquerors used to enter in triumph. In this case, it is the most peaceful of benefactors that enters with a like power and is received with immediate gratitude and admiration for its long and strenuous march."
History of S. Filippo Neri
S. Onofrio
S. Girolamo della Carità
S. Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova)
Piazza Navona
Terme di Caracalla (Antoniniane)
Accademia dell'Arcadia
Bosco Parrasio "... in 1690 a number of far-sighted and determined men banded together to discuss the possibilities of a reform (of poetry). In order not to draw attention to their meetings and provoke a counter-reaction, they used to assemble out of doors in those secluded gardens, of which so many can be found within the walls of Rome itself. There, close to Nature and breathing the fresh air, they could divine the primordial spirit of poetry. (..) Perhaps one of them exclaimed in rapture: "Here is our Arcadia", thus giving an apt name to a society of this idyllic character."
Description of the Roman Carnival
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza di Venezia
Palazzo di Venezia
Palazzo Ruspoli
S. Carlo al Corso
Piazza Colonna
Obelisco della Trinità de' Monti
Accademia di Francia
Via del Babuino, Piazza di Spagna e Teatro d'Alibert
Teatro Argentina
Teatro Capranica
Teatro Valle
Teatro Tordinona
Teatro Pace
"The Roman Carnival is not really a festival given for the people but one the people give themselves... unlike the religious festivals in Rome, the Carnival does not dazzle the eye: there are no fireworks, no illuminations, no brilliant processions. All that happens is that, at a given signal, everyone has leave to be as mad and foolish as he likes, and almost everything, except fisticuffs and stabbing, is permissible.
The difference between the social orders seems to be abolished for the time being; everyone accosts everyone else, all good-naturedly accept whatever happens to them, and the insolence and licence of the feast is balanced only by the universal good humour.
During this time, even to this day, the Roman rejoices because, though it postponed the festival of the Saturnalia with its liberties for a few weeks, the birth of Christ did not succeed in abolishing it."
February 1788 (summary)
Piazza di Venezia
Palazzo di Campidoglio
Arco di Settimio Severo
Campo Vaccino e Arco di Tito
Tempio di Minerva
Tempio della Pace
March 1, 1788
Galleria Borghese -
March 7, 1788
S. Carlo al Corso
Accademia di S. Luca
Basilica di S. Pietro
March 14, 1788
Casina di Raffaello (Villa Borghese)
Villa Albani
March 1788 (summary)
Basilica di S. Pietro
S. Maria Maggiore
S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura
S. Sebastiano
S. Giovanni in Laterano
S. Croce in Gerusalemme
S. Paolo fuori le Mura
Porta S. Paolo
Villa Mattei
The list of the seven basilicas is
part of a description of the Holy Week's rites.
April 11, 1788
Accademia di Francia -
April 1788 (summary)
Cloaca Massima
Catacombe di S. Sebastiano
Accademia di S. Luca
Porto di Ripetta
April 1788 (farewell to Rome)
Arco di Settimio Severo
"My farewell to Rome was heralded in a particularly solemn manner: for three consecutive nights a full moon stood in a cloudless sky, diffusing its magic over the immense city, and more than ever before, I felt myself transported into another simpler and greater world.
At the end of each day, spent in distractions mingled with sadness, I took a walk with a few friends, and on one evening I went out quite alone. After having wandered along the Corso - perhaps for the last time - I walked up to the Capitol, which rose like an enchanted palace in the desert. The statue of Marcus Aurelius reminded me of the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, for it seemed to be intimating to the wanderer that he was venturing upon something unusual. Nevertheless I walked down by the stairs at the back. There I was suddenly confronted by the dark triumphal arch of Septimius Severus, which cast a still darker shadow. In the solitude of the Via Sacra the well-known objects seemed alien and ghost-like. But when I approached the grand ruins of the Colosseum and looked through the gate into the interior, I must frankly confess that a shudder ran through me, and I quickly returned home."

You may wish to follow the steps of another German writer: then walk in the Roman countryside with Ferdinand Gregorovius.
You may also read excerpts from Pictures from Italy by Charles Dickens or from Italian Hours by Henry James or from The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain or from Roman Holidays and Others by William Dean Howells. Finally you may like to know What Dante and Lord Byron Saw.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

O wie fühl ich in Rom mich so froh! gedenk ich der Zeiten,
Da mich ein graulicher Tag hinten im Norden umfing,
Trübe der Himmel und schwer auf meine Scheitel sich senkte,
Farb- und gestaltlos die Welt um den Ermatteten lag,
Und ich über mein Ich, des unbefriedigten Geistes
Düstre Wege zu spähn, still in Betrachtung versank.
Nun umleuchtet der Glanz des helleren Äthers die Stirne;
Phöbus rufet, der Gott, Formen und Farben hervor.
Sternhell glänzet die Nacht, sie klingt von weichen Gesängen,
Und mir leuchtet der Mond heller als nordischer Tag.
Welche Seligkeit ward mir Sterblichem! Träum ich? Empfänget
Dein ambrosisches Haus, Jupiter Vater, den Gast?
Ach! hier lieg ich und strecke nach deinen Knieen die Hände
Flehend aus. O vernimm, Jupiter Xenius, mich!
Wie ich hereingekommen, ich kanns nicht sagen: es faßte
Hebe den Wandrer und zog mich in die Hallen heran.
Hast du ihr einen Heroen herauf zu führen geboten?
Irrte die Schöne ? Vergib! Laß mir des Irrtums Gewinn!
Deine Tochter Fortuna, sie auch! Die herrlichsten Gaben
Teilt als ein Mädchen sie aus, wie es die Laune gebeut.
Bist du der wirtliche Gott ? O dann so verstoße den Gastfreund
Nicht von deinem Olymp wieder zur Erde hinab!
»Dichter! wohin versteigest du dich ?« - Vergib mir; der hohe
Kapitolinische Berg ist dir ein zweiter Olymp.
Dulde mich, Jupiter, hier, und Hermes führe mich später,
Cestius' Mal vorbei, leise zum Orkus hinab.

from Roman Elegies

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