My love for Rome started 5 years ago, during my honeymoon. It was a journey full of first times: my first flight with a plane, first steps on the ancient ground, first encounter with deep history and roots of our religion. Since then I came back to Rome three more times. On one side, it was like coming home, but on the other side, each return to Rome was full of new experience.
I collected my experience here to provide you useful information, what is necessary to visit on your first trip to Rome, and what will amaze you on each following return.
What first image appears in your head when you think of Rome….. Coliseum, of course!
This is one of the oldest and well preserved antique monument. Usually this is the first place every tourist visit, and, boy, it’s crowded. Coliseum is a huge roman building, which stands strong till our days. It is also called the Flavian Amphitheatre. Built in 72 AD by emperor Vespasian, it is located in the central area of ancient Rome, near the old Roman forum. Since then the Coliseum was actively used for four centuries, after that it was neglected. Only in 1990 the restoration works of the the Coliseum began.
I don’t have strong opinion about going inside the Coliseum, there are always long lines and there’s almost nothing to see inside. It’s not worth the second visit. You just walk around… on the grounds where gladiators used to fight.
he Colosseum had seating for more than 50,000 spectators, who may have been arranged according to social ranking.
Awnings were unfurled from the top story in order to protect the audience from the hot Roman sun.
Even if you have a short visit in Rome, it’s not enough to see this building once. You have to come back here when it’s already dark and the area is lit. Also it’s good to come here in the early morning, when the streets are quite empty and the crowds hadn’t filled the grounds yet.
When you are near the Coliseum, you can’t miss the massive Arch of Constantine. This is the largest Roman triumphal arch, built for the victories of roman emperor Constantine in the 4th century. The high monument built in 315 AD to mark the victories of Constantine.
Palatine Hill and Roman forum
Just a few steps from the Coliseum there’s another place that you have to dedicate a half day to. Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. The area is massive, full of ups and downs, and ruins of imperial palaces of Ancient Rome’s noble people. The area is green, on one side down you can see Roman forum, and on the other side down – Circus Massimus.
Speaking of the places in Rome, where you can witness the most beautiful panoramic views, Palatine Hill is one of those places. You can walk on massive retaining walls there, overlooking the whole city.
From Palatine Hill you can walk down to The Roman forum. It is the main square surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings. This place was the center of life in Rome for centuries. One of the most famous monuments in the forum are the remains of the Temple of Saturn.
From the Roman Forum you should go up to another hill – Campidoglio. You’ll find the greatest views of the forum, especially at night, when you go behind the Musei Capitolini to the forum’s side.
National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II
There are several places in the area, that is a must-see for the first time visit. First of all National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the enormous white building, quite a new building, built in ancient roman style. It was built to honor Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy.
Visiting of this monument is completely free, just be respectful as here lies the tomb of the unknown soldier with an eternal flame. There is a lift to the top of the monument for more stunning views. And on the top, you’ll find a cozy café where you can enjoy coffee with a view of the eternal city.
A really nice and slightly different church is attached to the back of the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II – Santa Maria in Aracoeli, which was built in the 12th century. A really old church that has a medieval scent.
Vatican museums and St. Peter’s Basilica
The Vatican City with St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museums will get you occupied for a whole day. Start by visiting the museums from early morning, maybe take a guide, pre-book your tickets for some time saving. The lines are longest ever… It’s possible to spend few hours just standing in the line. So for a few euros extra, book your tickets in advance.
You’ll find a huge number of works of art and Christian history, collected by previous popes. It’s one of the largest museums in the world, built in 16th century. The most famous works of art are the Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze di Raffaello decorated by Raphael.
St. Peter’s Basilica is a must not only the first time you visit Rome, but visit it each time. This gigantic church, with the famous St. Peters square has it’s unique charm, especially during Catholic holidays. I’ve been there during Easter festivities once, and it was an amazing experience of being there with thousands of other people.
Rome has to offer hundreds of things to do after a whole day spent in the museums. The city is like a museum in the open air. It has to offer a number of free things to see and visit while walking in the narrow streets.
Start with the Pantheon. One of the oldest, perfectly preserved buildings of ancient Rome. Once a Roman temple, Pantheon now is a church. The famous painter Raphael is buried in the building along with the greatest king of Italy Vittorio Emmanuele II. If you are lucky to be there on a rainy day, you’ll witness raindrops dropping down through the hole in the dome.
One more must see just on the streets of Rome is the Trevi fountain. It‘s one of the most famous fountains in the world. The fountain is probably the most crowded place in Rome as it‘s located in quite a narrow street. You have to throw a coin through your left shoulder when visiting the fountain. This is for luck and of course for coming back to Rome.
Rome has a great number of beautiful squares. I‘d recommend a few of them for the first time. Piazza di Spagna is one of the musts in Rome. You‘ll find the famous Spanish steps in this square, climb them up to the beautiful church of Trinita dei Monti. In the center of the square, there is a very romantic fountain „Fountain of the longboat”, it’s the sculpture of the sinking ship.
Another square, which is thought to be one of the most beautiful squares in the world – Piazza Navona. The famous Bernini’s Fountain of the four rivers is in the center of the square. There are two more mountains in this piazza and a beautiful church Saint Agnesse in Agone. All the square is surrounded by restaurants and terraces, which makes it lively during the days and nights.
These are the places you can’t miss when visiting Rome, or if you come back to the eternal city more than one time, I believe these places will still be on your route. Somehow, whenever I just arrive to Rome, firs place I go to is Coliseum… Every time.
At the beginning I planned to fill all the places in Rome in one blog post. Now I see that it would be hard to put everything even in one whole book. So you’ll find the additional places to see in Rome in my next blog post.
Keep on travelling!