“I’ve seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark, Rome is the light.”
– Maximus // ‘The Gladiator’
Rome is a city that makes ruins seem poignant and poetic. History comes alive as you turn every corner, of course, with some ‘dolce vita’ pizzazz.
I visited Rome a while ago, but the experience remains firmly etched in my mind. I remember my wonder and amazement at every nook. (and conversation full of WOWs,Oh Mys & OMGs ) We walked from dawn to dusk, wanting to see everything. (Travel tip #1 – bring your comfy sneakers)
Its natural to be overwhelmed when you embark on your Roman Holiday, there’s just so much to take in. To simplify, here are my picks of the landmarks not to miss in a city that has seen, known and conquered!
So, When in Rome
- Visit the Colosseum and take the audio tour. This magnificent amphitheater holds stories of gladiatorial contests and dramatic spectacles and is probably one of the most famous arenas in the world. Located in the centre of the city the Colosseum is the best and most iconic place to start the Roman sojourn. Circle around the triumphal Arch of Constantine as you are in the area. A ROMA Pass will help access to monuments and getting around all the more easier.
- Turn your back on Oceanus and drop a coin into the Trevi Fountain. Then walk down to lounge around the Spanish Steps. Yes, these are tourist clichés. But if you have ever romanticised the vintage vistas of movies like “Roman Holiday” and “The Man from Uncle”, this scene lives up to all the hype. Wander down to the beautiful Piazza di Spagna. Window shoppers/shoppers can stroll down Via Condotti for a peek into the who’s who of Italian style and luxury.
- Visit the Pantheon in the evening to see the stars through its dome. This was my favourite architectural marvels in Rome. Simple yet majestic presiding over the Piazza della Rotonda.
- Stop by the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore one of the largest churches in Rome and is as opulent and magnificent as they come. The ceiling here – ornate, intricate and just a class apart!
- Walk around Piazza Venezia and stop by the Altare della Patria or the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II is a monument built in honour of Victor Emmanuel the first monarch of unified Italy. Walk onwards to Capitoline Hill and then to the Piazza del Campidoglio for a glimpse into the Michelangelo’s artistic and & architectural genius.
- Save a day for a visit to Vatican City. Have a renaissance moment at Piazza San Pietro and St. Peter’s Basilica and marvelling over its grandiose dome. Brave the lines and walk through the Vatican Museums to finally behold the Sistine Chapel. Take the time to admire and wow over the intricate details of Michelangelo’s frescoes including The Last Judgment and The Creation of Adam. The Sistine Chapel & St. Peters are breathtaking, brilliant and perhaps the two most inspiring places I’ve ever seen. We stood in a line for 3.5 hours, in January, in the drippy rain and it was well worth it. Being there is an experience like no other, so don’t miss it!
- Don’t miss out on the lovely ‘piazzas’. Walking around Rome is one of the most pleasurable things ever and at the end of every picturesque road you will be welcomed by a resplendent town square or Piazza. Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere are gorgeous but my favourites are the Piazza della Repubblica and the vibrant Piazza Navona. Piazza del Popolo and Piazza del Campidoglio are to be kept in mind too.
- You may find yourself walking endlessly in Rome (score! for step counts). So remember to take a pause, pop into a local trattoria, eat Spaghetti Pomodoro & fresh Caprese Salad perhaps sip on some wine and soak in the energy of the good Italian life.
The magic of Rome is unparalleled. This is a city that compels you to come back for more. Here’s hoping my coin in the Trevi waters works its charm…