POINTS OF INTEREST
The geographic heart of the city, this is the spot from which all distances from Rome are calculated and the main center of city traffic. Piazza Venezia stands at what was the beginning of Via Flaminia, the ancient Roman road leading northeast across Italy to Fano on the Adriatic Sea. The Via Flaminia was, and remains, a vital artery. Its initial tract, from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo, is now known as Via del Corso, after the horse races (corse) that were run here during the wild Roman carnival celebrations of the 17th and 18th centuries. It also happens to be one of Rome's busiest shopping streets. The massive female bust near the church of San Marco in the corner of the piazza, a fragment of a statue of Isis, is known to the Romans as Madama Lucrezia. This was one of the "talking statues" on which anonymous poets hung verses pungent with political satire, a practice that has not entirely disappeared.