I can see why the Emperors chose to live here creating a so extended mansion which at end took the name of the hill itself, Palatium. I can imagine them walking here, when the landscapes were designed with lawns, magnificent fountains and gorgeous statues. Nevertheless the route is still today a bothanical joy.
There are two options for the visit: starting from the Forum (approximately near the Basilica Iulia) and rotating counterclockwise or starting from the Palatine entrance in via di San Gregorio and strolling clock wise up to the Forum.
I would definitely recommend the second option in order to enjoy the shade of the centenarian pine trees after the visit of the Colosseum.
As you enter the big renaissance gate, once access to the Farnesian Gardens at the top of the Hill, you will find the arches of the Claudian Aqueduct. We can see parts of its archades crossing the walking path as if they were a tired dinosaur. This massive conduit of water used to be 43 miles long. It was started by Caligula and completed by Claudius and extended by Emperor Nero to supply his Domus Transitoria with running water, a luxurious palace on top of the Palatine hill.
With a small divertion under the Severan Arcades, added to the reign of Maxentius to support his private baths in the above Palace, you will find the so called Stadium which at the beginning was identified as a race track and now it is thought it was more likely a garden. On this site the archeologists found the highest number of statues, now kept in the Archeological Museum of the Palatine Hill. This area is still well preserved with its shoe shape brick structure, still surrounded by a covered arched ground gallery and once surmounted by an upper gallery. This must have been an area where emperors came to relax, a garden full of flowers, plants and statues.
In the stuccoed vaulted corner room, the Room of the Capitols, you will be able to appreciate the artfulness of marble decorations in the columns and friezes.
Going back to our path, you will find the ancient part of the Severan Arcades, where one can notice the connection between the older Severan part and the newer addiction made by Emperor Maxentiurs. The Arches are 60 feet tall and they used to be the foundations of the Emperor's Palace where servants use to be accomodated. This is why in this lower part of the hill there is the Paedagogium the school for those working in the Palace.
There are still some visible decorations on site although the most faous graffiti have been moved to the palatine museum. This graffiti is essential for the late history of the Empire and expresses the contempt of the Pagans against the Christians in the Severan period (III century AD) representing a donkey on the cross and a Greek sentence 'Alexamenos worships his God'.
The areas in front of the Paedagogium and in the south corner of the Palatine hill were once occupied by a block of insulae (condos), another compound of accommodations for the huge amount of workers and servants operating in the upper Palace. That can be seen at current street level outside the archeological area below St. Anastasia Church.
This part of the route is particularly rich in plants, among which, the acanthus is the absolute star. This plant can be found pretty much everywhere in the Mediterranean area and on this archeological site in particular and it inspired a greek artist Callimacus to invent the Corinthian style capitols when he saw this plant grown through a basket left by a girl on a tomb.
Here there are also the Scalae Caci, ancient stairs that were once the only access to the steep and inaccessible Palatine hill from the Tiber side. To get to the top a gentle ramp was added later, the Clivo Victoria.
You can enjoy a pic nic on the benches along the ruote. I wouldn't buy the meal inside the archeological area but I would bring it in my backpack.
If you need beverage, there are many vending machines around the Palatine hill.
Please contact me for tours and further information: http://www.mylovelyrome.com/
Credits to Marta Farias