When in Rome…here are some tips on what to see on your next visit to Rome, the capital of Italy.
Rome was not built in a day, nor can you visit all of its many historic attractions in one. The beginnings of this great and powerful city came over 2,700 years ago near the River Tiber. This capital of Italy is abundant with political, religious and artistic history, the likes that no other city has seen. Names we’ve only seen in movies like Commodus, Marcus Aurelius, Titus, Nero, Augustus, Claudius and Caesar roll off the tongues of Roman historians. With all of this rich history, it is easy for a visitor to Rome to find a site to visit or something to do. What is difficult, however, is choosing which sites in all of Rome to conquer first.
The majestic Colosseum would be extremely difficult to miss with its enormous size and commanding presence. Built in AD 72, this amphitheater was the site of gladiator competitions, animal fights and even sea battle dramatizations. The Colosseum easily sat 55,000 people and may have received its name from a large gilt-bronze statue (Colossus of Nero) that stood at its entrance. When visiting the Colosseum now, recent excavations have exposed the maze of underground rooms where soldiers, gladiators and animals were kept before battles. Marble and stone from the Colosseum were used during the Renaissance to build other sites like St. Peter’s.
When exploring the Vatican and its brilliant interiors, the Sistine Chapel will literally sneak up on you. Located in the main chapel of the Vatican Palace, the Sistine Chapel boasts paintings from famed artists like Botticelli and Michelangelo who created the wall fresco, the “Last Judgment.” Of course, the main attraction is the ceiling, also frescoed by Michelangelo which documents the Creation of the World and the Fall of Man.
Why not take a break, grab a gelato (Italian ice cream) and sit on the Spanish steps in the Piazza di Spagna. Originally designed in the 17th century, these gorgeous steps were meant to create a connection between the Piazza itself and a church called Trinita dei Monti. Nowadays, locals and tourists gather here to take photos, rest and people-watch.
Home of the Pope and the Catholic faith, this spectacular church was built beginning in 1506 on the orders of Pope Julius II. Over a century later, St. Peter’s, as we know it today, emerged. Inside St. Peter’s stands a gilded bronze monument named Baldacchino by artist Bernini and is said to be the crypt of St. Peter himself. The papal altar used today has been in use since the late 16th century. Outside St. Peter’s is the Piazza San Pietro where crowds gather on religious days to hear the Pope speak.
In ancient Rome, the Forum was the heart of all things political and commercial. Today, it is quite difficult to imagine the lavish buildings and monuments of ancient Rome as all you can see now are ruined and decaying temples, a mere shell of what used to exist. Your best bet is to invest in a guided tour through the Forum or buy a guidebook which pictorially demonstrates how the Forum looked in ancient times in comparison to today. With help, you will be able to see the ruins of the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Julius Caesar, the Arch of Titus, the Column of Phocas and the House of the Vestal Virgins.