Rome stands as one of the finest and oldest cities in the world. The history of Rome spans over 2500 years and it has been a center of power, politics, culture, and development since its inception. The creation of the city is steeped in legend and mythology and there are various different accounts of how this majestic place was built.
It may be a cliché, but there’s no better advice for visitors to the Eternal City than the old adage, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This is where la dolce vita originated, after all. And if you’re heading to Italy, you need to experience “la dolce vita” by visiting Rome. No doubt your time is sadly limited, so we’re here to help. Here are the 10 best things to do in Rome.
1. Trevi Fountain
Constructed in 1762 by Nicola Salvi, the fountain pays tribute to the Roman God Oceanus who can be seen riding his chariot pulled by Tritons and taming several Hippocamps. The detail of the sculptures is simply wonderful and the whole facade and fountain are a true work of art.
It is a tradition to throw coins into the water over your shoulder for good luck.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica
Admission to St. Peter’s Basilica is free. A landmark of Catholicism, this place of worship is located in Vatican City. Although closed on Wednesdays for regular papal appearances, it’s otherwise open daily. Climb the 871 steps to the top of the dome and enjoy the spectacular view of the local landscape. Inside the Basilica, the architecture and decoration are simply divine and it is regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
You will be amazed at the sheer amount of decoration and detail, and how the light falls in stunning rays at certain points during the day.
This present-day church and the former pagan temple was built in 120 A.D. It is world-famous for its amazingly perfect proportions. Visit the resting places of all those buried here including King Umberto I, King Victor Emmanuel III, and the legendary Raphae. Admission is free.
Also known as Colosseo, this wonder of engineering was completed and opened in 80. A.D. Located on marshland, its circumference is 573 yards and could once host nearly 50,000 people. Once a human-and animal-rights atrocity, it was the site of gladiatorial fights at least as gory as the “Saw” movie franchise.
5. Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Veteran visitors highly recommend taking a tour of the Vatican Museums as this provides you with access to several sections of the palaces there. Here you can see the famous Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s famous artwork. You will also visit the spiral staircase, the Raphael Rooms, and more.
6. Roman Forum
“Foro Romano” is close to the more popular Colosseum. It is also free to visit. Although a lot of it is in ruins, the complex is said by some to actually be more interesting. It includes some of the most important structures of legendary Ancient Rome from government house to shrines and monuments.
7. Church of San Luigi Dei Francesi
Located in Piazza Navona, this church is also free to visit. Additionally, this place of worship is home to some impressive works of art including a trio of works by the popular baroque artist Caravaggio: his most famous “Calling of St. Matthew”, “Matthew and the Angel,” and “Matthew’s Martyrdom.”
8. Santa Maria Della Vittoria
Featured in the motion picture “Angels and Demons”, here you can spot numerous Robert Langdon wannabes as well as several baroque artworks including the famous Ecstasy of St. Teresa statue in Gianlorenzo Bernini’s Cornaro Chapel. Some veteran visitors describe this comparatively small church as both “incredible” and “stunning.” Admission is free.
If you really want to experience “the real Rome,” then Trastevere is the place to do it. Found just south of famous Vatican City, this popular, ivy-twined neighborhood is often compared to the Left Bank of Paris. It’s highlighted by cobblestone streets, the well-known Santa Maria, local shops, microbreweries, and comparatively inexpensive restaurants.
10. Basilica di San Clemente
The famous Basilica di San Clemente is especially interesting to fans of archaeology. It is a church from the 1100s, over a fourth-century place of worship, over a pagan temple, an actual shrine for the ancient god Mithras, from the second century. Admission to this architectural nesting doll is free.