Anyone who has willingly picked up a history book will have read about Rome, with countless others affected by its impact on European and indeed the world stage. A city with an ancient past, and a continuing cultural relevancy due to its legacy, may appear as an obvious place to visit. It’s most famous landmarks can be clearly laid out by any tourist-focussed booklet, and said landmarks won’t be difficult to access due to Italy’s tourist-eager economy.
With a history ranging from the mythical foundation story of Romulus and Remus, to the rise of Christianity symbolised by St Peter’s square and the 20thcentury capitulation to fascist dictatorship, Rome has an immense story to tell the keen visitor, one just needs to be willing to step outside the comfort zone of their hotel. This article will cover some of the most obvious and essential parts of any visit to Rome, sure, however the aim is to offer the reader far more. While what I present will never be a truly exhaustive list due to the capital of the Italian Republic’s sheer amount of heritage, it should be enough to give more than adequate choice.
The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is worth visiting, but as with some other places in this guide it is best visited on one’s own accord getting relevant tickets etcetera online. Not far off from the amphitheatre is the Roman Forum, a plaza surrounded by ruins of the ancient governmental buildings of the city’s distant past, one can tell how central this part of the city used to be to Roman life just by visiting in person.
Saint Peters is another essential visit, for both the religiously inclined and not, with the square itself having plenty to view and the basilica itself emanating an ominous aura. St Peters is truly a spectacle to behold, with the Vatican museums in the geographically close Vatican City being yet another obvious trip to make, in order to start to gain an appreciation for the Christian (although specifically Catholic) tradition as a whole.
Yet another set of famous destinations would include the squares of Piazza di Spagna, at the bottom of the Spanish Steps and overshadowed by the equally beautiful titular church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti, and Piazza Navona, and ancient square sporting an Egyptian obelisk and a fountain to name a few of its attributes.
Trevi fountain should be at top of the list while you are visiting, the iconic coin throw (using the right hand) makes for a memorable experience, photo opportunity, and a chance to wish a return trip to Rome, serving also the side purpose of funding charity.
Further obvious places that deserve immediate viewing are the Pantheon, a former Roman temple of impressive structure whose oculus needs to be viewed from within in order to gain full appreciation. The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and the Basilica of Saint Mary Major should also be seen by those whom found the Vatican interesting, the former houses the ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) and the latter is the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome.
Slightly more niche destinations, yet ones that are still of great patrimonial significance, are the minor basilica of Saint Peter in Chains, which houses Michelangelo’s famous statue of Moses amongst other notable relics and art, the EUR district infamous for being the conceptual brainchild of Mussolini and therefore offers a glimpse into Rome’s fascistic past.
Piazza Trilussa is another beautiful square in Rome which often offers itself as the perfect place to take an ice-cream break on the steps leading up to the fountain after a long day’s exploration.
A more obscure fact about Rome is the fact it has its very own ancient pyramid, the Pyramid of Cestius, available to visit every second and fourth Saturday of the month providing one books in advance.
In terms of food you cannot go wrong in a city like Rome, however if you are truly stuck for recommendations, a popular chain of restaurants throughout the city is Insalata Ricca, the literal translation of the name being “Rich Salads”, a fantastic pizzeria which I’d personally vouch for is La Montecarlo, and if you are looking for something a little more high end, Ristorante 44 is a classy restaurant who’s owner studied in England and therefore speaks great English.
Rome is more than its historical sights and magnificent cuisine, there are often great events taking place such as open-air cinemas, markets etc. It is highly advised to take a look at what’s going on at time of visit, and on a less positive and practical note, it is advised to make sure that while on public transport one’s belongings are kept safely stored. Rome gets many foreign tourists so it’s fertile ground for pickpocketing, please don’t let your holiday be spoiled by simple negligence!