© Ross Brinkerhoff / Fodors Travel
Perched up the incline of the Clivus di Scauro—a magical time-machine of a street where the dial seems to be stuck somewhere in the 13th century—Santi Giovanni e Paolo is an image that would tempt most landscape painters. Landmarked by one of Rome's finest Romanesque bell towers, it looms over a poetic piazza. Underneath, however, are other treasures, whose excavations can be seen in the new Case Romane del Celio museum. A basilica erected on the spot was, like San Clemente, destroyed in 1084 by attacking Normans. Its half-buried columns, near the current church entrance, are visible through misty glass. The current church has its origins at the start of the 12th century, but the interior dates mostly from the 17th century and later. The lovely, incongruous chandeliers are a hand-me-down from New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel, a gift arranged by the late Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, whose titular church this was. Spellman also initiated the excavations here in 1949.
Piazza Santi Giovanni e Paolo 13, Rome, Latium, 00184, Italy