Tucked away in a piazza just off one of Rome’s busiest thoroughfares in the Centro Storico, the Baroque church of Sant’Andrea delle Valle was designed by Giacomo della Porta and eventually completed by a succession of other Baroque masters—including Carlo Maderno and Borromini—in 1663. It is famous for providing the setting for the opening of Puccini’s opera Tosca.
The frescoed dome was the handiwork of Carlo Maderno and at 528.5 ft (16.1 m) it is the second largest in Rome after St Peter’s. Underneath this mighty cupola, the church is liberally scattered with the extravagant marble chapels and tombs of wealthy 16th-century Italian aristocrats, including the Strozzis, the Barberinis and several popes. Great names like Michelangelo and Bernini had a hand in designing these sarcophagi, and together with the gilt ornamentation and nave frescoes from the greatest artists of the day adorning the walls, plus the marble patterning of the floors, they come together in creating a highly decorative church interior awash with color.
Sant’Andrea delle Valle is within an easy stroll of the lovely ancient squares of Campo de’ Fiori—a lively morning market is held here—and Piazza Navona, famous for its Baroque fountains by Bernini.
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, Centro Storico, Rome. Open daily 7:30am–12:30pm, 4:30pm–7:30pm. Admission free. Take Metro Line B to Colosseo and then a 10-minute walk.