Ah, Rome – the eternal city! While it is certainly one of the busiest and loudest cities in the world,  thousands of years on Rome continues to maintain its eternal charm and wonder. For those interested in classical architecture and history, there are countless things to fill your time. For everyone else there is the fashion, the food, the people and the mediterranean sunshine!

The first time visitor to Rome will obviously, and understandably, want to see all the standard tourist sites – like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Vatican and so on. But even once you’ve done all those, Rome still has far more to retain your interest. Either way, a little planning before you arrive will benefit you greatly.

For example, to get around to many of the places you must see you really have two choices – pre-arranged and pre-booked tours, or do it all yourself. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Going for the guided tours will usually mean you will avoid (or skip past) the long waiting queues. On the other hand, a self-guided tour means you will have more time once you’re there, and you will spend much less – especially if you take advantage of the fantastic RomaPass, which gets you free travel on public transport plus discounted entry to many attractions.

Let’s make one thing clear – the food in Rome is brilliant in just about every restaurant. The staff pretty much all speak excellent english (and will even help you with your Italian!), the wine is to die for, and almost every plate is a winner. Be sure to leave plenty of room for dessert, because if there is one thing Italian restaurants are universally good at, it’s dessert.

Looking for love at the Trevi Fountain

Looking for love at the Trevi Fountain

Standard places everyone visits

  • The Colosseum and the Forum. It’s quite amazing first of all that so much still stands after two thousand odd years. It takes only the smallest amount of imagination to fill in the blanks and picture what they must have looked liked. All these venues have admission fees, but you get discounts on the RomaPass. There are also countless “jump the queue” tour operators, which can be very informative.
  • Spanish Steps. Certainly a very large staircase (apparently the widest in Europe, and with 138 steps), and obviously a popular meeting place for Romans and visitors alike. The Piazza di Spagna at the bottom of the steps has an attractive fountain, and at the top of the steps is the French church Trinità dei Monti, which is well worth a visit. During certain times of the year the steps will often be lined with beautiful potted flowers. While Teddy had no trouble, visitors are often warned of the prevalence of pickpockets around the steps.
  • Trevi Fountain. It really is so unusual to walk down these narrow back streets, unsuspectingly turn a very nondescript corner, and then suddenly discover this huge, stunning monument. A famous spot for lovers (even Teddy managed to snuggle up to someone here), it is easy to spend ages just sitting and looking at the fountain. Throw a coin or two over your shoulder and make a wish. Again, beware of pickpockets. Nearby, around a couple of corners and beneath an existing large building, is another archeological dig of ancient roman villas that is also well worth exploring.

    Inside the Pantheon

    Inside the Pantheon

  • The Pantheon. Wow. No, I mean really, WOW! First built by Marcus Agrippa around 29BC on the site of former buildings, then completely rebuilt by emperor Hadrian in about 126AD, the building was originally a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome. Today it is easily one of the most remarkable structures you will ever experience. While the building has undergone a number of significant changes in its long history (much has been lost and/or changed), including dedication as a catholic church (it’s even the burial place of two Kings of Italy), this is definitely a must see for anyone interested in the history of Rome or just brilliant architecture of any period.
  • The Vatican. Regardless of your religious leanings, The Vatican is a remarkable location. Apart from the massive St Peter’s Basilica and the enormous square, it is another example of architecture as art. Much of the building material and decoration here was plundered from other, more ancient monuments (including the Colosseum and the Pantheon), so in seeing the Vatican you’re actually seeing quite a bit of ancient, pre-christian Rome, too. Naturally, see the Sistine Chapel if you can (the crowds are always huge, and you will be pushed through mercilessly). The religious nature of the site does not deter pickpockets, so be aware.

Be very security conscious around all of these attractions. Pickpockets abound, especially at the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.

Other places off the beaten track you must see

  • Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa). This must be one of the largest, single examples of Roman ruins in existence. If you’re in Rome because of the history, and you enjoyed the Forum, then this monument to the wealth and power of one emperor is an absolute must see.  This one is out of Rome, near Tivoli, and can be accessed by car or public transport.
  • Villa Borghese and Borghese Gardens. Just a short walk from the top of the Spanish Steps, the Villa Borghese and surrounding gardens is a pleasant and relaxing way to kill a couple of hours. The villa is enormous, and the gardens are extensive – and clearly a popular weekend for many families in Rome.

It wasn’t built in a day, and it will certainly take you a lot more than a day to see and do everything that is worth seeing and doing in Rome.

(Teddy has more pictures of Rome on the desktop backgrounds page, and the iPhone background page.)

Across the rooftops

Across the rooftops


4 Responses to Rome

  1. Brother says:

    Great! thanks!

  2. […] gardens are clearly a popular weekend outing for many families in Rome today. From its elevated position there are excellent views across most of Rome from the front […]

  3. […] yourself into a pre-arranged tour from Rome that picks you up and returns you home. Some of these will also include a […]

  4. Ester says:


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