Although ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ the good news is, it’s easy to see a lot in a short space of time if you find the right areas. Being a city which is full of history, home to the pope, a film location hot spot and full of vespa’s and smart cars, there is something for everyone.
Walking is the best way to see Italy’s capital as there is something on every corner, from churches lined with marble, to preserved ruins, to endless options of pizza, pasta and gelato!
1. Roman Forum & Palatine Hill – The Roman Forum was the heart of life in Ancient Rome, it was the place to be back in the day! Now a sprawl of ruins, it was once the hub of the city which featured impressive temples, chariot races, processions, criminal trials, elections and not forgetting gladiator matches. Palatine Hill overlooks the forum and is the most famous of Rome’s seven hills, and was where the rich and famous ancient Roman’s once lived. Walk up the hill for a panoramic view of the city and you’ll be able to see the Colosseum directly to your right.
2. The Colosseum – A must visit when in Rome! If somehow you manage to miss it, you are in the wrong place. The Colosseum is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city, and is the largest amphitheater in the world. Walk around the perimeter of the stone structure and make sure to take a look inside. You’ll have to battle the sea of tourists first if you want to wander around, or join a guided tour to give you some context / history in the arena. Once inside you’ll be able to imagine the events from over 2000 years ago! Look down from the second level and see if you can spot the remaining seats.
3. Vittoriano Mounment – Positioned right in the middle of Rome’s historic centre, the Vittoriano monument is easy to visit. You can’t miss it as it is bright white marble, gated and huge! Known as the wedding cake / false teeth of Rome it also holds the tomb of the unknown soldier inside. There is a glass lift you can pay to go up to reach the view point at the top, or you can walk two thirds of the way up to just below the columns and see the city from there. You are able to safely look out over Venice square (where four main roads meet) avoiding the chaos of the traffic below.
4. Foro Traiano / Foro di Augusto / Foro di Nerva
Within a stones throw from the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Vittoriano monument you can find a number of different ruins lining the street. If you like ruins you will love this area both during the day and when it’s lit up at night. Take a guide book with you to know what you are looking at.
5. Trevi Fountain – The most beautiful fountain in the smallest square! The Trevi fountain is rammed with tourists especially in the evening’s. Thousands of coins are thrown in each day by those who visit so make sure you have your bucket list moment and go down and make a wish. All the money collected (2000-3000 euros per day) is given to charity and it’s a crime to take money from it!
6. The Pantheon – One of the best preserved Roman buildings in the world. The Pantheon was created as a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome and is now a catholic church and busy tourist attraction. The dome ceiling has a hole hole in the center known as the oculus, which lets in light, fresh air, the occasional bird and also rain.
7. Piazza Navona – With three huge fountains and a large open space lined with bars and restaurants, Piazza Navona is a lively area to visit and is seen as one of the most beautiful squares in Rome. Artists and entertainers gather in the square, as well as vendors selling souvenirs, both day and night. Just watch out for additional table charges for sitting in the square.
8. Spanish Steps – The perfect place for people watching! Take a seat on the steps built back in the 1700’s and watch the world go by. At the bottom of the steps is Piazza di Spagna, a popular place for locals and tourists to meet. In spring look our for the flowers which will line the walls either side and the orange tree perfectly placed around half way up.
9. The Vatican City – Ever wanted to visit the smallest country in the world? Now’s your chance! Explore the head quarters of the Roman Catholic church and home of the pope. You would need a minimum of half a day to scratch the surface as it is full of history and art!
St. Peter’s Square, otherwise known as Piazza San Pietro is the gateway to the Vatican city. It is one of the most renowned squares in the world and is a really popular place to visit so expect long (and I mean long) lines for entrance tickets to go inside. While in the square look out for the spot on the ground to stand on to see the columns line up perfectly. Tourist attractions include the Vatican museums, which although beautiful would take years to see even if you only spent a minute looking at each piece of art, and Michelangelo’s painting’s in the Sistine chapel, prepare to be impressed. St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the most extravagant and churches in the world is definitely worth taking a look inside, especially to see the dome.
If you visit the Vatican on a Wednesday you can secure free tickets online for an audience with the Pope and add that to your itinerary.
10. Trastevere neighborhood – A colourful neighborhood across the river, popular with students and locals alike. Wandering through the area will soon lead you to being surrounded by ivy-covered buildings, glittery mosaic’s, narrow cobbled streets and some of the best / cheapest food in the city.