They say “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and it certainly wasn’t. Rome is a great city filled with history and wonder, most of the ancient buildings are still there and can be easily explored. Their splendour and enormity is a marvel and one can only imagine what life was truly like back in the times of Julius Caesar and when gladiators fought in the arenas.
Rome is not a big city, there are a lot of sights within walking distance and some scattered around the outskirts of the city, so pack your walking shoes because you will do a lot of walking. There are plenty of museums and landmarks to visit depending on how much of a history buff you are, below are the top sights to go see if you’re only there for a few days ( I visited plenty more and most I stumbled on as I walked the streets).
The must see places are :
The Colosseum and the Roman Forum: if you’re going to the Colosseum then you need to actually go into the site. My tip is go on a guided tour. I had a great tour with Special Quality Rome it was an educational and entertaining tour that took you through the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
The Baths of Caracalla: You can find these public baths just a short walk from the Colosseum and you will also walk past what used to be the site of Circus Maximus. The baths date back to their completion in 216 A.D. It’s a fascinating walk through one of Rome’s well-preserved archeological sites and the audio guide is a must!
The Spanish Steps: The steps are a nice walk and the Piazza di Spagna at the base of the steps is a great location to either shop (for high-end brands) , have an ice cream or hang out by the fountains that provide cold drinking water ( yes, you heard right, you can drink the water).
Trevi Fountain (Italian: Fontana di Trevi): The fountain is a short walk from the Spanish steps and really why wouldn’t you want to walk around in the gorgeous city of Rome?! The large baroque fountain is always full of tourists but it is truly a beautiful site to see. Remember to throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder into the fountain so that you will one day return to Rome.
The Pantheon: this is also a short walk from the Spanish Steps. This former Roman temple built in the 2nd century A.D (to replace the original that burnt down in 80 A.D) is now used as a church, this structure is still preserved as it was built- minus the marble that had donned its outside façade. Inside you will see the amazing architecture that the Romans had, it is also the resting place of two Italian kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I, as well as the famous Renaissance painter Raphael and his fiancée.
The Rome Toolkit it gives you a few walking options to see the sites of the city.
The Vatican: Ok so here’s the deal , the train to Vatican City is always jam packed (no joke- its ten times worse than peak hour) so if you can handle the crowds use it, it’s not a long train ride otherwise jump into a cab or bus. You’ll need at least half a day to explore. Make sure you book tickets online for the Vatican museum because you want to go in and take a look around (and the queues to get in are long so go as early as possible), it also leads into the Sistine Chapel – a tip on the chapel is blink and you’ll miss Michelangelo’s master piece. So when you’re in there take your time.
From the Sistine Chapel you exit and can got to Saint Peters Basilica which is amazing! It’s huge and you’re going to want to take your time exploring it.
Day trip to Pompeii:
If you have time you must do a day trip to Pompeii, this is truly my happy place. The trip I went on with Green Line Tours took you through Napoli so you’ll get a glimpse of the city (if you do stop on your tour get a slice of pizza or a whole one, because hey- when in Napoli!), we stopped for lunch (included in the tour) in Pompeii. The city of Pompeii itself is well preserved and is huge, I heard our guide say that to see the site fully it can take weeks (i’d happily camp out there for a few weeks- maybe just not in the middle of summer). Walking through the streets your mind is taken back to ancient times, you can’t help but marvel at the buildings, mosaics and paintings that have been well preserved. This place is truly magical!
Italy was lovely, 10 days was enough time to see Florence, Venice and Rome. Rome is a wonderful city that leaves an impression on you. My only regret was that I spent five nights there and it was too long, you can see the major sights of the city in three days if you want to actually go into most things and look around and also have a bit of time to shop. In hindsight an extra night in Florence would have been perfect.
Whatever you decide you must include Rome on your list of cities to visit.