Things to Do in
Due to the worldwide pandemic, please check for destination travel restrictions prior to visiting/booking
Where as some European cities are broken down into old town vs new town, Rome is all wrapped up in one. Gelato places, Ferrari dealerships, and the Colosseum all occupying the same city. With every twist in the road you never knew if you’d run across a great restaurant, a government building, a park, an office building, a university, or the Vatican. Sensational.
Pantheon. This church took just a few minutes to visit and enjoy the spectacular dome that was built sometime between 113-24 BC. It burned twice and the current building was built in 120 AD. This is the largest unsupported dome in the word at 142 feet in diameter (it was inspiration for the US Capitol dome which is 96 feet in diameter) and the distance from the floor to the top of the dome is also 142 feet. It was almost unbelievable to imagine such a structure being built so long ago.
Trevi Fountain. Stop to throw a euro into the water and admire the beauty of this recently restored fountain. Throw it over your left shoulder with your right hand if you want to follow tradition.
Spanish Steps. Another “must see” in Rome. Climb 174 steps and enjoy the view of the rooftops of Rome.
Worth the Money
Colosseum. It doesn’t get any more quintessentially Rome than this! We took a guided tour that granted us access to the Colosseum floor (this tour also included the Forum). We learned all about the sociological aspects of attending ancient event, saw the cages, archers pits, and elevators used to bring up animals, and heard tales of the gladiators. In its opening 100 days, 5,000 animals and 2,000 people were killed for sport and spectacle there.
Forum. Large area of ruins that was once a government and cultural central square. It was very interesting to learn about how the level of the ground had been built up via natural disasters over the years and to see first had how much archeological effort has taken place there.
Vatican. Home to the Pope and a large collection of art. We took a guided tour and learned so much more than we would have on our own. Favorites included the Raphael Rooms and the long corridors containing tapestries and maps. We were equally impressed by the statues.
Sistine Chapel. Beautiful art done by Michaelangelo on the ceiling and the Last Judgement covering the altar wall. We learned from the guide about Michaelangelo’s personality and some of the details in the paintings that we would have otherwise overlooked… including how he worked his scientific views into his paintings and took revenge on people in his work in the chapel.
St. Peter’s Basilica.The most important Catholic Church did not disappoint. The architecture of this grand church was matched in beauty by the art, including a sculpture by Michaelangelo, the first and last piece of art with his signature. The church is also the largest permanent church in the world.
Tips for Visiting
We took it upon ourselves to sample as much tiramisu as possible to provide recommendations. Our absolute favorite was at Gratzia and Gratziella’s, it was not traditional as it was more custard based and we were skeptical at first but it was fabulous. The best more tradititional tiramisu we had was at Osteria da Fortunata.
In case tiramisu isn't your thing, we also sampled several gelato places and Fiordiluna Gelato and Fatamorgana Gelateria were our favorites.
Trastevere is a great neighborhood and I would recommend staying there. However, it is quite a walk from the train station and we never figured out public transportation.
Book a tour or two. We had a small group (6 person) Vatican tour that started at 7:30 am and it was great. If you are going during the busy summer season I would highly recommend starting no later than 7:30am due to the crowds and heat. The Colosseum was also really hot for our tour - larger group at 24 people - but we found places to be in the shade.
Bring comfortable shoes. There is a lot to see and a lot of ground to cover. Plenty of women were in nice dresses and tennis shoes, so don’t be afraid of looking like a tourist. Wear the clothes you like and the shoes your feet deserve.
Water is everywhere so bring a refillable water bottle. There are fountains throughout the city with clean drinking water constantly flowing so you won’t have to worry about dehydration.
Bathrooms are not everywhere so bring some euros. Buy a slice of pizza or some gelato to use a bathroom. Even public bathrooms were hard to find sometimes. You will find them in attractions you pay to enter like the Colosseum and the Vatican.
Eat at a Trattoria or Osteria for a more traditional dining experience.