This time we are doing a special feature on a relatively new place to stay in Rome, known as the Domus Australia. This new guest house in central Rome offers a calm and welcoming refuge from the busy tourist pace of the Eternal City.
In December 2008, a group of Australian dioceses, led by the Archdiocese of Sydney and supported by each of the Australian archdioceses, finalized the process of buying the student house of the Marist Fathers located at Via Cernaia 14/B, Rome, to establish a new casa per ferie (vacation house) providing accommodations and information for visitors to Rome. Prior to the commencement of the renovation works, archeologists undertook sample digs looking for historical remains on the Domus Australia site. The remains of a 1st century BC house and pavement were discovered, and these finds have been preserved so that they can be viewed by guests. Once the works had commenced, a section of the foundation of another very large 1st century building and sewers from the 2nd-3rd century were also unearthed beneath the building. Again the finds were preserved and, where possible, are on display for guests.
Substantial renovations, comprising both architectural and construction aspects, were required to create the wonderful pilgrim center now established. These works commenced in September 2009 and took almost two years to complete.
The plan was to create a real Australian flavor throughout the complex, and this has been achieved through the use of Australian materials, artworks and furnishings where appropriate. Works from a number of famous Australian artists are hung throughout the Domus.
The builders who undertook the renovations, Castelli, have been heavily involved in church projects since the time of Pope Pius XI (d. 1939), who went to school with the original Castelli builder. They have built many significant church buildings and are well recognized for the quality of their work.
The Domus was formally opened by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2011.
Domus Australia is located at Via Cernaia (at the corner of Via Castelfidardo), inside the walls of the old city of Rome and five minutes’ walk from Porta Pia. From the Domus, it is a comfortable walk to the famous shopping area of Via Veneto, the Spanish Steps, and the beautiful gardens of the Villa Borghese. The Domus is 10 minutes’ walk from Stazione Termini (Rome’s main railway station), 300 meters from Repubblica Metro and within 150 meters of many major bus routes—including those to the Vatican. It provides an ideal base from which to explore historic Rome and the Vatican.
Symbolically, the logo of the Domus represents Rome, providing a sense of place as well as signifying a meeting point between Rome and Australia, the ancient Church and the modern Church, the northern and southern hemispheres. Inspirationally, the logo captures the spiritual nature of the ancient Catholic tradition of pilgrimage, tapping into something beyond travel.
The Domus was established to create a lasting Australian legacy for the Catholic Church. The logo is illustrative of the key mission of Domus Australia:
- • To provide a religious and cultural center in Rome, allowing Australian tourists to experience a Catholic pilgrimage.
- • Open to all and especially welcoming for Australian Catholic visitors to Rome.
- • Providing accommodations and a meeting point for pilgrims as well as information about the Catholic Church in Rome.
- • Strengthening the link between the Catholic Church in Australia and Catholic Rome.
These are modern facilities in a convenient location, offering guests an experience of Rome with some Australian comforts: a big Aussie breakfast each day, large rooms with sensible-sized showers, a lovely outdoor courtyard, a rooftop bar and a visitors’ center with English-speaking staff who can help plan your activities in the Eternal City. The visitors’ center is like a 24/7 concierge desk assisting with a whole range of tourist and traveler needs. They can make arrangements for you to attend a papal audience or special papal event.
Domus Australia offers beautiful and very comfortable facilities for travelers, whether your reason for travel is pilgrimage, leisure or business.