For over two thousand years, Rome has been an ever-evolving metropolis offering art, history, religion, culture, shopping, and nightlife. So when you find yourself in Rome for the first time, what should you see?
1. The Colosseum
When I think about Rome, the arches of the Colosseum come to mind. The Colosseum was the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, and the site of sparring gladiators, executions, battle re-enactments, theatrical shows and pagaentry for the tens of thousands of Romans who flocked to it.
2. The Roman Forum
Forums were the social centre of Roman life. Situated right next to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum was a public space where Romans could shop at the marketplace, worship their gods, and run their businesses, as well as a place for military marches and Senate sittings.
3. The Pantheon
Originally built as a temple for all Roman gods, the Pantheon is now a church. When you’re visiting, don’t forget to look up and watch as sunlight filters in from the opening in the top of the dome.
4. The Trevi Fountain
One thing you’ll have to decide as you approach the Trevi fountain is the number of coins you want to throw in. Throw one coin in to return to Rome, two to find romance, and three to get married. The coins that end up in the water as part of this tourist tradition are collected and put towards charities.
5. The Spanish Steps
Built to link the Spanish Embassy to the Trinità dei Monti church, these steps don’t look like anything special. So why are the Spanish Steps on so many people’s lists of things to see when in Rome? Could it be because of their appearances in movies such as Roman Holiday and The Talented Mr Ripley? Or could they just be a good place to sit and people-watch? You decide!
6. The Castel Sant’Angelo
The purpose of the Castel Sant’Angelo has changed over the years. Originally constructed as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, it has evolved to become a fortress for the popes (and even has a passage that connects it to the Vatican), and is now the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo.
7. The Vatican
I was surprised to find that the Vatican was more than the home of the Pope, St Peter’s Basilica, Michelangelo’s celebrated ceiling painting of the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Square. The city state also contains art galleries and beautiful courtyards, as well as one of the longest escalators I’ve ever set foot on.
8. The Altare della Patria
The Altare della Patria is one of those buildings that makes you stop and stare at it. It’s actually a national monument to Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of unified Italy, and visitors can access the top of it for views over Rome.
9. The Piazza Navona
Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers), with the Obelisk of Domitian rising above it is the focal point of this piazza. People-watch at one of the restaurants bordering the piazza and admire the fountains, churches, galleries and palaces that are clustered around the square.
Where is your favourite place in Rome?