The Eternal city and home to one of the greatest civilizations ever. The Roman Empire once spanned across Europe. It’s seen the great emperors like Julius Ceasar, Romulus and Augustus. Roman numerals, roads, plumbing and more all came from ancient Rome. It’s a city of old, burning with the light of new. It’s on most peoples bucket list. The Vatican, Colosseum, Pantheon and more. Get ready to partake in a tour of a lifetime when you enter the ancient city of Rome.
Top 5 Things To Do
- Colosseum: An icon that everyone has on their bucket list. This is a must see in the city for easy reason. The gladiators, Roman games and more all took place within the Colosseum. This colossal building was a marvel in it’s time and a tour of this special site is a must.
- Pantheon: Completed for emperor Hadrian, this beautiful form of architecture is a wonder in itself. It’s one of the best preserved Ancient Roman buildings in the city and a stop you have to take in the city.
- Vatican City: The smallest country in the world and the home to the Pope. Vatican City is a quick one day tour that can mean so much. If you’re Catholic, it can be a pilgrimage in a way. Also home to the Sistine Chapel, which holds one of Michelangelo’ greatest works of art.
- Piazza Navona: The place to stay and watch the people in the middle of Rome. A wonderful square full of life and photo opportunities.
- Trevi Fountain: One of the most famous fountains in the entire world, it’s the largest in the city. A spectacle to see, the detail is unreal and I suggest to get there early for your candid shots as you will be amongst every tourist in the city during the day.
- Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
- Trevi Fountain
- Spanish Steps
- Piazza Navona
Our train ride from Venice was smooth and quick with it only taking a bit more than an hour to reach Termini station. Have I mentioned that I love the trains here? We got in, took a taxi and dropped our bags off at our Airbnb and went walking. I will say that the feel is quite different, it feels like Paris, it feels like a big city. We had people ask us if we wanted a “taxi” in line at the airport and street beggars were abundant. It felt like we were in Paris again. We stopped quickly at a restaurant along the way for some quick pasta. It was very generic, but the service was fantastic. I had the worlds smallest beer it feels like. The beer was only 8 ounces. For once in my life, I felt like a giant!
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore: We stopped first at at one of the top basilicas for pilgrimage, the basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. The church was Magnifico. The huge domes with murals and the site outside the church were great. It’s interesting to see how much detail is placed into every church in Europe in comparison to my little hometown UP church. There are similarities to other churches in the area, but this was a wonderful first stop.
Trevi Fountain: Our next stop was a little ways away from the church, but easily walkable. We walked through a Roman park and passed by several unique places along the way. Take the path past the Palace and you’ll see some amazing Roman statues. As we worked out way to the Trevi Fountain, we got our first look at the big city traffic around the main attractions of Rome. There are people everywhere trying to get the premier selfie or shot of every monument! The Trevi Fountain was marvelous looking but they were working on it at the time so the water wasn’t running. We decided to try again for a night view, getting there after the crowds.
Spanish Steps: Moving next to the Spanish steps, we again found ourselves surrounded by people. I started to question on if September is the best time to come to Rome. I would have loved to get some images of the steps but just so many people!!! We worked our way through the shops and we quickly found we were in the higher end shopping district. We went through the district and made our way up to the bridge and saw the judicial court. WOW! A very impressive building across the water. We also got our first glimpse over at the Vatican.
*Piazza Navona: Just a short distance away from the Spanish Steps, we came to this square. The street performers were everywhere in the center along with some great fountains to take in. While I was watching a guy do spray paint art and looking over at a middle of the road Michael Jackson, I couldn’t help but feel like I was at Fisherman’s wharf in San Francisco. It was neat to watch and I would have loved to have a balcony room to overlook the square as you could people watch for hours! Definitely a recommended place for people watching in the city!
Pantheon: Close to Piazza Navona is the Pantheon. This was such a wonderful site to see and the amazing level of achievement by the artists and architects is remarkable. You feel like you have been swept away to another time as you look up at the columns in front of you. There was a mime at the outside near the fountain that was trying to put a smile on peoples faces and as we drank our Spritz, it was nice to see how people reacted to the experience. Inside the Pantheon, as you look up, you can see out through a small hole in the dome at the top. It’s amazing how well kept this building has been.
We walked back and grabbed dinner at Seui seui restaurant close to us and had some wonderful food. It seemed very local, but excellent with the wine and food.
Colosseum: As the night closed I decided to take a walk over to the Colosseum to get some night pictures. Much less people at night, but still a decent amount around. I got some great images of the coliseum and the moon coming up over the building. It’s such a remarkable building and it’s so hard to imagine what the romans thought as they looked up at this place. I guess it would depend on who you were. If you were a gladiator, was it, “Will I live or die tomorrow morning?”. If you were an emperor, “Will this satisfy the people?” I guess it would all be based on perspective! Sadly it hasn’t been in full form since an earthquake many years ago but it’s still such a wonderful site. You can easily see why it’s a must do when you get to Rome.
- Palatine Hill
Colosseum: We took a tour of the Colosseum, Palatine hill and the Forum. We had a great guide through Tour Rome that gave us so much history and gave us incite into a lot that happened within each place. Again, I can’t say enough about the fact that you have to see the Colosseum! There is so much to this building that you will miss if you don’t have someone explain the inter workings of it. How they staged the animals, to the restoration and what happened during the medieval time period, it’s a must.
Forum: The forum can also be overwhelming as the the scale of this is unbelievable!! You really have to use your imagination as you walk through the grounds. Many of the monuments were hard to restore after looting and other environmental issues. I wish we would have done an entire day here instead of a couple of hours to truly catch the magic of the place. On a side note, there is another beautiful view of the coliseum next to the monument tribute to Venus and Rome. Take your pictures and enjoy the time that everyone thinks of when they want to come visit the city.
- Vatican Museum
- Sistine Chapel
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Castel Sant’ Angelo
Vatican Museum: We woke up today ready to head to our next country, the great thing about it, it’s the smallest country in the world. Vatican City is one of those places that just feels special. The historical component along with the key aspects that have touched so much of our culture. The easiest way for us to make it to our Vatican tour was to get a taxi from our place near the coliseum. A walk wouldn’t be too bad depending on the day, roughly an hour. We decided to go with a tour group that brought us into the Vatican museum and also St. Peter’s basilica. It was very easy to find our group right outside the museum.
We started the tour going through the various rooms of the Vatican museum and looking at the art throughout history. It’s interesting to note that almost all art within the Vatican has had nudity covered up over time. It was such a horrible thing at one point, they had people go around the museum and paint or sculpt fig leaves over any genitalia. This also includes almost all of the Sistine chapel mural that Michaelangelo so famously painted. There are a few pieces here and there but other than that, everything is covered. As you walk through the halls you also make your way through several of the rooms that Popes once occupied over the years and the art that was given to them. Some of the murals are just fantastic! The one that I loved most (after the Sistine chapel of course) was a mural painted by Raphael that placed all of the great thinkers of old times. Aristotle, Socrates, etc. were painted in a room together and it was such a neat concept.
Sistine Chapel: As you make your way to the Sistine chapel, you first see where the pope comes into the room. Obviously he does not use the same door as the locals! It’s a very neat hallway with beautiful green lighting going down it. You continue on and finally get to the chapel that is still used today for elections of the new pope. Over 100 bishops gather here and if they make a decision, they do white smoke out of a window for all to know. If they use a chemical to make it black, then they have to go back!
Michelangelo’s mural is amazing to see and it’s one of those pieces that you always wonder, will it be as great as people say it is? It is! The level of detail and going through the book of genesis to the last judgement. It’s so hard to imagine that Michaelangelo didn’t want to do this, because he had never painted like this before. As you know, he was known for sculpting. It’s truly remarkable and the talent that this man had is nothing short of amazing. It’s also surprising to see tourists within this room trying to sneak pictures of the mural. They are pretty strict and will quickly shun you for taking photos. I decided to honor the request and not be insubordinate, but there were plenty that had no issue going against the grain!
St. Peter’s Basilica: As you get through the room, you head out towards St. Peter’s basilica and this is the largest church in the world. Obviously they wanted to make a statement with St. Peter’s as it is the main church for the largest figure in Catholic faith. It’s immaculate. A select amount of popes are buried in glass here, because there were believed to be no impurities with them. This is such an unbelievable site. I got a chance to climb the dome and even though it was a wonderful view, the amount of people going up and down was just too much. I did love the fact that I was able to mail out a postcard to my mother on top of the Vatican. How many people can say that? Go through the shop area and get a gift for a loved one, I’m sure they will be ecstatic about their gift! Also, just sit on top and take it all in. There is so much influence within the Catholic world, all taking shape within this small country.
Castel Sant’ Angelo: As we left through the gates, we looked back at the royal Swiss guards. Very neat to see them as they guard the Vatican area. We crossed the street and went back into Rome. As we passed by your busses and cheerleaders trying to sell tickets for the nights Roma football match, we made our way over to the castle. Castel Sant’ Angelo has a lot of history during war times and also some great views of the city. I will say that even though they don’t do the greatest job describing some of the artifacts, I will say that the view of the city at the top might be worth the cost of admission alone.
As we headed back to our Airbnb, we got some laundry done and headed out to a couple of bars around the area. One of our favorite parts about traveling is meeting people from all over. We met a couple from Australia as we had our beverages. They were here on holiday for the first time. We learned about their lives and culture and it honestly made us ready to visit Australia! Of course as Americans, we also couldn’t get out of a conversation about our president and political system. So many people from around the world are just fascinated by what’s happening in the United States! Sometimes it feels like we are one big soap opera for the worlds stage.
As we watched a very busy square next to us, it was neat to watch interactions of the local people. We also researched the water supply in Rome. We noticed that there are fountains everywhere in the city and you see so many uses for them. We watched people pass and wash their hands, dishes, get a drink of water or even wash off flowers they were selling in the square. These fountains seem to have a large importance in the Roman society.
As we finished our Roman tour for the night, we were ready to gear up and head next to the Ancient Greek civilization. It was such a great idea to do Rome and Athens back to back, as you really get a feel for how much of an influence Greek culture had on Rome. Rome was fantastic and we felt like we spent just the right amount of time to see the city.
*Top people watching spot