Rome's Janiculum Hill: Italian army continues tradition of daily canon fire

July 4, 2012. The Janiculum Hill in Rome offers one of the best panoramas of the city. Here, one can get a bird's eye view of the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and the clusters of cupolas that mark different medieval churches.

The hill is also the site of one of the most famous battles in Roman history, taking place not during the years of the Roman Empire, but rather much more recently in the year 1849.

Allesandro Cremona
Curator of Art History

“The Janiculum was heavily shelled by the French army, who of course came here to reinstall the pope that was thrown out by the Roman Republic. So this place was practically destroyed, many people died, and there were many heroic acts.”

The French troops may have won that battle but the creation of an Independent Italy could not be stopped. In 1861 Italy became unified which led to the end of the papal states.

Today the hill has been converted into a park with a large statue at its center of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the leader of the Italian forces. 

Now, one of the the hill's main attractions is the canon that fires a blank shell everyday at noon. A crowd of tourists will usually gather and watch as the guard gives a count down until he fires.


Allesandro Cremona
Curator of Art History

“It was Instituted by Pope Pious IX in 1847 in a papal era. He wanted to organize, to tune in a single moment, the sounds from all the bells of Rome, which traditionally would ring at noon.”

First Corporal Agresti
Italian Army

“Every day we have the opportunity to teach and explain the function and the purpose of this canon and why its fired every day, exactly at mid-day.”

Many of those who died in the battle are remembered on this pathway that overlooks the city. A series of statues remembers the names of those who fought in the battle at the Janiculum.

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