That part of the city which extends to the W. from the Quirinal and Capitol as far as the river was uninhabited in the most ancient times (Campus Martius), but was gradually covered with buildings as Rome extended her sway, and as far back as the Republic, but more particularly in the reign of Augustus, it became the site of many palatial edifices. This new town of ancient Rome was almost the only inhabited district during the middle ages and following centuries and it is still the most densely peopled quarter. The present government has undertaken the task of improving this quarter by the construction of new and broad streets; but apart from these it still retains the characteristics of the mediæal and Renaissance city in its network of narrow streets and lanes, enlivened by the busy traffic of the lower classes, and containing innumerable interesting churches and palaces. The, Corso, the principal thoroughfare, is characterized by its imposing baroque façades of the 17th and 18th centuries.
The *Corso, officially called Corso Umberto Primo, is the central street of the three running to the S. from the Piazza del Popolo (p. 178). It corresponds with the ancient Via Lata, beginning at the Capitol and continued outside the ancient city as the Via Flaminia (comp. p. 429). Its length from the Piazza del Popolo to the Piazza Venezia is 1650 yds., or nearly a mile.
The N. part of the street is little frequented. No. 518, to the right, between the first two cross-streets, is the Pal. Rondanini (Pl. I, 17), now Sanseverino, the court of which contains ail unfinished Pietà by Michael Angelo, on which he worked up to a few days before his death. No. 18, on the left side, was inhabited by Goethe, in 1786; inscription (placed there in 1872): 'In questa casa immaginò e scrisse cose immortali Volfango Goethe.'
On the right, farther on, is the church of San Giacomo in Augusta or degli Incurabili, with a façade by C. Maderna. It belongs to the adjoining surgical hospital, which extends to the Via di Ripetta; one of the landings inside bears a fine relief of the Madonna by Maestro Andrea ( 15th cent.; apply to the porter). Nearly opposite, on the left, is the small Augustine church of Gesùe Maria; with a façade by Girol. Rainaldi.
In the Via de' Pontefici, the third turning on the right, is the entrance (No. 57; closed at present) to the Mausoleum of Augustus (Pl. I, 17, 18), erected by that emperor in 28 B.C. as a burial-place for himself and his family, and in which most of his successors down to Nerva were interied. On a square travertine basement, now wholly beneath the level of the