The French Steps
These steps climb a steep slope between the Piazza di Francia at the base and the Quirinal Palace. This stairway of 136 steps was built with Napoleon Bonaparte’s bequeathed funds of 30,000 scudi, in 1797. Napoleon was embarrassed that the Spanish Steps had been built with French money and was determined to build a longer flight of steps and to name them after his beloved France. The overall flight of steps is actually shorter than the Spanish Steps, but Napoleon only had short legs and didn’t notice.
Largo di Torre Uruguay
This square hosts two Roman temples and the remains of Hadrian’s Theatre. It is located in the ancient Campus Martius and is home to a large collection of semi-wild dogs, who are picked up every day by Roman beggars and used to help solicit money from tourists who fall for the charms of the dogs.
Terme di Messalina
Valeria Messalina, sometimes spelled Messallina, married (as his third wife) the Roman Emperor Claudius. She was a paternal cousin of the Emperor Nero, a second-cousin of the Emperor Caligula, and a great-grandniece of the Emperor Augustus. A powerful and influential woman with a reputation for promiscuity, she allegedly conspired against her husband and was executed on the discovery of the plot. One story about Messalina is of her all-night sex competition with a prostitute. Book X of Pliny the Elder’s Natural History indicates the competition lasted for 24 hours and Messalina won with a score of 25 partners. This contest took place in the Terme di Messalina near the Roman Forum. Inside, the baths the visitor can see the stone beds, that would have been covered in materials during Messalina’s day, stone pillars in the shape of penises, anatomically correct statues of women, for those men who couldn’t afford the prostitutes, and stone handles carved into the walls. Now that Silvio Berlusconi is no longer in power, these baths can’t be hired out for ‘bunga bunga’ parties.