Rome needs no introduction. Not only is it the capital of Italy, it is also the seat of the Papacy and its history spans over two and a half thousand years. There is so much history to see here, that you could could rent an apartment and spend weeks or even months exploring the world’s largest open-air museum. Whether you take private flights to Rome or travel through a usual flight, going to Rome will always be worth the visit.
These are just some of the top things to do in Rome:
1. Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world and legend has it that if you turn your back to the fountain and throw a coin over your shoulder into the water, you’ll be sure to return to Rome. Hoards of tourists can be found congregated around the fountain, and around 3,000 coins are thrown into it every day. The central figure in this elaborate fountain is Neptune, god of the sea.
2. Taste lots of Gelado
On a stifling hot day in Rome, there’s nothing better than a tub of cooling gelado. You’ll find ice-cream parlours down almost every street, but Il Gelado di San Crispino is the most famous of them all. The gelado here is arguably the best in Italy, and is made with only the finest quality ingredients, with flavours varied according to what’s in season.
3. Take a tour of the Vatican
To avoid the queues you can pre-book your tickets or a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Gaze up at Michelangelo’s intricate and elaborate ceiling paintings, then take a look around St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world. Inside the basilica you can take the elevator or climb the stairs to the top of the dome, where you’ll be presented with breathtaking views of Rome and Saint Peter’s Square.
4. Explore the Colosseum
The Colosseum was the largest ever Roman amphitheatre, capable of seating 50,000 spectators who came to watch gladiatorial shows. A visit to this iconic piece of architecture provides a fascinating insight into a very important but gruesome aspect of Roman life. You can walk around the partially ruined interior imagining yourself in a scene from The Gladiator movie, and explore the subterranean passageways used to transport wild animals and gladiators into the arena.
5. Meet at The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps is a stairway of 138 steps designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi, connecting the Piazza di Spagna with a French Church called Trinita dei Monti. It is the most popular meeting place in Rome, making it very crowded. If you’re visiting Rome in spring, this is the perfect time to see the Spanish Steps, as the ramps are covered in a colourful array of flowers.
6. Visit The Pantheon
Rebuilt by Hadrian in around 126AD, The Pantheon is Rome’s best preserved building. It was originally built as a temple to the Gods of Ancient Rome, and is now used as a Roman Catholic Church. Whilst many of Rome’s buildings are crumbling, The Pantheon still looks much as it did 2,000 years ago, and is home to the tombs of Italy’s last two kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I, as well as the artist Raphael.
7. Eat some yummy Roman food
I’ve eaten meals in various Italian cities, but I will never ever forget the pasta I ate in Rome. I was fortunate enough to visit celebrity restaurant Antica Pesa in the heart of Trastevere, where I had the best spaghetti alla carbonara of my life. Ever since, I’ve never been able to get it out of my head. Traditional Roman food is very simple and not elaborate, which means the flavours of the individual ingredients really shine through.
8. Walk through the Roman Forum
If you want to imagine what life looked like during the height of the Roman Empire, walk through the Roman Forum- a plaza surrounded by the ruins of ancient Roman buildings. It looks like a disorderly collection of ruins from different eras, but if you use your imagination, you can bring the buildings back to life. The Forum was the heart of ancient Rome and a centre for public life- a location for speeches, processions, elections and criminal trials.
9. Have a drink in the Trastevere District
Take a walk through the charming Trastevere district, located the other side of the Tiber River, and enjoy a spot of lunch in one of the cafes and restaurants around the piazza. At night this area is popular hub for both travellers and locals, with plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs to choose from.
10. Relax in Villa Borghese Park
If the hustle and bustle of the crowds gets too much, you can escape the hectic pace of the city by heading to Rome’s largest public park, filled with fountains, statues and temples. You can relax by the artificial lake, seek shade beneath the trees, or browse the various museums located within the park.
photo by Giampaolo Macorig on flickr