Portico of Octavia (Portico di Ottavia)
Once lined with 300 Corinthian columns, adorned with lavish works of art, and home to the Temples of Juno Regina and Jupiter Stato, a library, and meeting halls, the Portico of Octavia (Porticus Octaviae) was used as a fish market in the Middle Ages and today marks the center of the Jewish Ghetto. One of Rome’s most unique neighborhoods, the Ghetto is the geographic and cultural heart of the city’s Jewish community and home to a vibrant food and wine scene.
Walking tours of this area touch on its Jewish landmarks like the Synagogue and Jewish Museum, as well as the ancient sites of the Portico of Octavia, Teatro di Marcello, and the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) marble mask at the Basilica of St. Mary in Cosmedin, made famous in the Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck film Roman Holiday. Another excellent way to discover the history and culture of this unique corner of Rome is with a private or small-group food tour highlighting the neighborhood’s cuisine.
Things to know before you go
- The Jewish Ghetto is a charming warren of cobblestone lanes that can be hard on the feet. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
- Bring your camera to capture shots of the Ghetto, one of the most picturesque historic neighborhoods in Rome.
- Roman history buffs will especially enjoy visiting the ruins of the Portico of Octavia, but its location in the center of the Ghetto makes touring fun for foodies, as well.
How to get there
The Portico of Octavia marks the center of the Jewish Ghetto in Rione Sant’Angelo, directly across the Tiber River from the Trastevere neighborhood. There are no metro stops inside the Ghetto, but a number of city bus lines connect the area with the train station and other parts of the city.
When to get there
Jewish Ghetto tours are most interesting during the day when neighborhood food shops and restaurants are open; many close for the Sabbath from Friday at sunset to Saturday at sunset.
The Teatro di Marcello
Just east of the Jewish Ghetto through the Portico of Octavia, the Teatro di Marcello looks like a smaller version of the Colosseum, though it was constructed nearly a century earlier. Built by Emperor Augustus in 11 BC and named after his recently deceased nephew Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the theater is Rome’s oldest building in fired brick and was one of the largest entertainment venues in the ancient city.
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- Great Synagogue of Rome (Tempio Maggiore di Roma)
- Theater of Marcellus (Teatro di Marcello)
- St. Nicholas Basilica in Carcere (Basilica San Nicola)
- Tiber Island (Isola Tiberina)
- Jewish Museum of Rome (Museo Ebraico di Roma)
- Rome Jewish Ghetto (Ghetto Ebraico di Roma)
- Turtle Fountain (Fontana delle Tartarughe)
- Catacombs of Rome (Catacombe di Roma)
- Capitoline Hill and Museums (Campidoglio e Musei Capitolini)
- Piazza del Campidoglio
- Vittoriano Museum Complex (Complesso del Museo Vittoriano)
- Church of the Gesù (Chiesa del Gesù)
- Forum Boarium (Foro Boario)
- Largo di Torre Argentina
- Piazza della Bocca della Verità