Updated: Feb 27
Known as the eternal city,Rome is one of the most romantic and historic places in the world with over 2500 years of history known for its culinary authentic Italian delights, ancients ruins and democracy, and remarkable painters and architecture. From the impressive Roman Colosseum to the Altar of the Fatherland in Capitoline Hill, there are so many places to discover the heart and history of Rome, the capital of Italy. A walkable city by nature, you can explore the whole city in a couple of days, however if you want to understand Rome and Roman life, be sure to dedicate at least a week. Although in 2020 during the holidays we may not get the opportunity to travel to Rome because of the pandemic, I want to highlight my top delights while in Rome so everyone can plan to go to Rome one day and experience the excitement,romance and workmanship of this age-old city.
Top Things to Do in Rome
Built in 70-80 AD with an anticipated maximum audience of 80,000 spectators, the Roman Colosseum is one of the most famous attractions in Rome because of the grandeur of its size. This amphitheatre had the original intention of hosting gladiator combats and other sources of entertainment for the roman public, before it became ravaged by natural disasters of previous centuries and finally obtained renovation in the 1990s. Today, it is still symbol of the face of Rome and its grandeur and majestic history. Conveniently located next to the metro station, it is a short walk to enter the Colosseum; lines can be long during certain seasons including the summer, so be prepared.
2. The Vatican and Sistine Chapel
The Vatican is a country within a country and is known to be one of the holiest places for worship in the world, home to the Pope and the spiritual and governing centre of the Roman Catholic Church. Sistine Chapel is also located here in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of Vatican City, where the famous Michelangelo painted many of his famous paintings. The Sistine Chapel ceiling is regarded to be one of the top works of High Renaissance art displayed in the Vatican museums. Vatican City also houses many pieces of iconic art and roman sculptures from famous artists such as Raphael's Transfiguration which depicts the dual nature of Jesus Christ, so be sure to check out this impressive country within a country. Don't miss the modern art bronze sphere structure by Arnaldo Pomodora of the Pinecone Courtyard, one of the most photographed locations in the Vatican.
The Pantheon was build in 118 AD by the Emperor Hadrian and still stands today in the heart of Rome and is known as one of the best- preserved monuments in ancient Rome. Originally designed to appease the Roman Gods and more specifically the God Apollodorus of Damascus,today the Pantheon stands as a testament to an architectural marvel of Rome. The dome shaped architecture also influenced western architecture and design for over 2000, years, with many buildings in the United States also borrowing this neoclassical design, for example the Union Station exterior in Washington DC.
4. Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain is one of the more impressive fountains in Rome, and was built in 1762 by Nicola Salvi to honour the Roman God Oceanus. It is also one of the oldest water sources in Rome and uses the same material built from the Roman Colosseum. Legend has it that if you throw coins in the fountain, you dreams will come true and this notion is depicted in many movies over time, including movies such as When In Rome and other romantic comedies. This is also a nice gathering place for light shows, and was home to Italy’s bid for the Olympics back in 2015 when I visited, where the entire fountain was light up in different colours, along with a spectacular accompaniment of music during the night.
5. Naples and Pompei
Rome is also a great starting point to head to other small towns with ancient ruins such as Pompei and Naples, originally known to be the birthplace of pizza. Tourists can immediately sense the economic difference and living standards between northern and southern Italy, because as soon as you drive out of Rome and head towards Naples and Pompeii, you can see the lack of investment in the buildings and architecture. Northern Italy has always been known to be more industrialized and entrepreneurial, while southern Italy was more corrupted by bureaucratic ties and organized underground crime that prevented it’s industrialization. Nevertheless, Naples and Pompeii do show their cultural significance, exposing Italy’s history and roman ruins through it’s natural beauty.
1. Hidden Restaurants
There are many restaurants that are located on small streets and corners that give the authentic taste of Italy further away from the tourist areas. One of my favourite restaurants was actually right across from the Pantheon in an open air seating area, where you can see people walk by and dine at the same time. There are also many hidden gelato places that you can find in the street corners, so make sure that you explore fully.
There is an outlet mall around one and a half hours away from Italy which contains many designer brands at a discount, and also many streets in Rome are known for designer brands including designated areas such as Monti. Shopping malls in the heart of Rome, for example Galleria Alberto Sordi, Monti, and the Spanish steps all offer their distinct Italian pride in their craftsmanship and apparel.
3. Altar of the Fatherland
This monument was dedicated to King Victor Emmanuel, known for been the first king to unify Italy and is located in the region of Capitoline Hill, one of the 7 hills in which Rome was founded and is known as the epicentre of the Roman empire. The altar is also at the epicentre of the Roman empire and housed many important events throughout history. Don’t be scared when you might see soldiers patrolling Capitoline Hill and the Altar of the Fatherland because it is a place of political and economic significance.
Having the courage and the tenacity to rebuild after various wars and fallen civilizations,Rome is one of the most romantic,vivacious and culturally interesting cities to explore because it contains years of history, art history, architecture and food that inspires even the least daring to come and experience roman life for at least a day. Especially during the holiday season, it really lights up with decorations and a lively atmosphere.Rome is not a fast-paced city and it is great to enjoy a decadent meal and relax from starting to finish, and will always be remembered in the history books for it’s contributions to society that live on.