Being one of the oldest cities in Europe and one of the most visited in the old continent, Rome is often called the Eternal City, a place that never dies and whose heritage keeps reminding us of other gone-by eras. At the time of Ancient Rome, its inhabitants believed that it would continue to exist no matter what happened to the world or how many empires arose and collapsed. And even though the Roman Empire was fallen and gone, they were partly right!
Rome remains an amazing city to this day and is still one of the most attractive destinations within Europe because of its architectural richness dating back to other times, but also its finger-licking food and long-lasting traditions. Even though it has so many historical attractions and places to visit, the truth is that many places in Rome seem to take us back in time, traveling through millennia while we are wandering through the cobbled streets of the city. There are some experiences, in particular, that make us understand why it is and always will be the Eternal City.
So, grab your notebook and a pen and be ready: we are going to put the dream machine into work while we tell you about some of the unmissable experiences you must have when you are in Rome, Italy!
Go back in time at the Colosseum
This is a must-go that has to be on everyone’s bucket-list when visiting Rome, and that is precisely why this giant Roman structure welcomes around 6 million visitors every year!
The Colosseum’s history spans a long period of 2000 years. It dates back to the glory days of the Roman Empire when it became under Emperor Titu the largest amphitheater built during the Empire’s existence, boasting some impressive measurements:188 meters in length, 156 meters in width, and 57 meters in height! It is even hard to conceive how all of this stone was carried to the site and lifted to form a perfect geometrical shape, back in those days.
The Colosseum was created with the purpose of becoming the main show venue of the Roman Empire as the Romans lived by their motto of “Bread and Circus”. The building served its part for 500 years in a row, during which it was home to the Roman circuses, exhibitions of exotic animals, executions of prisoners, recreations of battles and to gladiator fights. For centuries after that, the Colosseum suffered many misfortunes such as earthquakes and even bombardments during World War 2. However, none of those were able to put out the glow of this historic treasure, and after many conservation interventions, the Colosseum is nowadays considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Let yourself wander through its old stones, galleries and viewpoints, and let the voices of millions of people and the colors of hundreds of moments in history leave their mark in your heart before you go. The Colosseum is a site to remember!
Marvel at the Pantheon’s Dome
Yet another precious gem of the Roman Empire, also dating from two millennia ago. The Pantheon was created as a Temple for the Roman Gods during the rule of Emperor Augustus and rebuild 100 years later by Hadrian. Even though the classical Roman building is quite impressive even from the outside, with its cylindrical shape and its portico sided by Corinthian columns built in granite, it is the inside of it that can really leave us in awe!
The shaped dome and geometrically carved ceiling of the Pantheon has a world record for being the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. This masterpiece of masonry distinguishes itself from all others by being the sole example that stands on its own without any need for reinforcement. Plus, the height from the ground to the oculus (skylight) and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43 metres (142 ft). Mind blowing, right? However, to read about it is hardly enough - you need to actually see it live! The effect of the light going through its skylight and illuminating parts of the room, while others remain in the shades, is as perfect as a work of nature itself. Worthy of an Emperor, right?
Visit Campo de Fiori Market
Once a flowery meadow in medieval times, this square whose name means precisely “Flower Field” has been, since the 19th century, a meeting place for Romans and for visitors, but also the site of a quaint farmers market held from Monday to Saturday. In the center of the square, you will find a statue of the famous Italian poet and philosopher, Giordano Bruno, who was sentenced and trialed to death by the Inquisition in this very same spot. However, recent memories of the site are much happier.
This is one of the most authentic neighborhoods in Rome, where you will get to walk and shop around shoulder to shoulder with the locals. Come the night and the already lively square becomes bustling with both Italians and tourists in cheerful mood, glass in hand, ready for partying. Come without an agenda or a very strict schedule, you might want to extend the good times!
Explore the gardens of Villa Borghese
If you are a lover of nature and art combined and can see yourself wandering through beautiful, manicured gardens as part of your tour of Rome, then you will absolutely love the gardens of Villa Borghese! This incredibly peaceful green patch in the center of Rome is considered one of the largest urban parks in Europe, with a total of 80 hectares (or 148 acres). Once privately owned as part of an estate belonging to the family with the same name, the Villa Borghese Art Gallery and Gardens were repossessed by the State and opened to the general public in 1903.
In its gardens you can see buildings, sculptures, monuments, and fountains by famous artists from different periods. And the best part is that while you explore all the art, you can also keep yourself in shape since you can rent roller blades, bicycles, and other means of transportation at the main entrances of the park. We would say that this is essential after so much delicious pasta and pizza tasting in town!
Delve in the Vatican’s artistic heritage
Did you know that the Vatican is an independent State located within Rome? In fact, the Vatican State, created in 1929, is considered the capital of the Catholic Church and is the smallest sovereign State in the world, with a total surface of just 44 hectares (which is to say about 108 acres).
Nevertheless, even in this reduced area you will find a State that works very autonomously, having its own railway lines, heliport, post office, radio station, military barracks, palaces and government offices, higher education, cultural and art institutions, and some embassies. You can visit it without needing a stamp on your passport, as it's located just around the corner from Rome's city center.
The richness of the Vatican’s art and artistic heritage is something that is worthy of a detour while you are in Rome. To the point that Vatican City was even classified in 1984 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, given its grandeur and cultural importance.
Before you go, make sure you also visit St. Peter's Basilica, whose many architects include Michelangelo and Bernini, a true masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. Also, visit the Sistine Chapel which is famous for its eye-catching frescos, including works by Domenico Ghirlandaio and Botticelli, as well as the ceiling and Judgment Day by Michelangelo. And finally, the interiors of the Vatican, which include decoration by great masters such as Raphael and Fra Angelico. The Vatican Museum collections and its Apostolic Library include a wealth of unique historical, scientific and cultural works of fundamental importance for mankind. Make sure you save time to fully enjoy the atmosphere of this place, a truly artistic treasure at the heart of Rome.
Go for an afternoon drink at the Trastevere
This colorful, bohemian and unbelievably beautiful quarter of Rome, whose name derives from the Latin “Trans Tiberim”, meaning “beyond the Tiber”, is located precisely across the river Tiber, the river that goes across Rome. The lively area gravitates mostly around Piazza di Maria and borders with the Vatican. And what a contrast this is! Walk through the ancient cobbled streets; go for a panoramic view of the Gianicolo, the highest point in the neighborhood; and visit some of the most beautiful churches of Rome, like Santa Cecilia from the 13th century, Santa Maria from the 3rd century, or even the Church of San Francesco a Ripa, where less tourists go and where you will be surprised by a fantastic painting by Bernini (The Ecstasy of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni) and even the cell where Saint Francis of Assisi lived!
After so much wandering, a glass of Italian wine with a nibble of food may be in order! There are plenty of small cafes, taverns and small restaurants to choose from, and many of them have terraces outside so that you may enjoy the perks of the Roman weather! If you feel like dinner should be next, then this is your place: some of the best restaurants of Rome are within the Trastevere. Either way, remember that the pace here is different - sit back, relax and enjoy your drink. Life will wait!
Admire the view at Terrazza del Gianicolo
And since you are in the neighborhood, then you absolutely must go up to the viewpoint of Gianicolo! The views over Rome are superb from here, and you must carry your camera with you as this is an excellent photo spot. From a distance you can see all the different attractions of Rome and identify them in the skyline. Even better if you can come either at sunrise or at sunset, as the views get even more dramatic! If it is early in the morning, even though it is usually a calmer part of the city, the chances are that it will be even less crowded. Take a stroll around to check the statues of different personalities of Italian History, including the tomb of the famous patriot fighter Garibaldi and of his wife, Anita. If you are lucky to be there around noon you will be able to see the firing of the cannons announcing the hour. The Gianicolo is definitely a great location for a well-deserved pause on your Roman adventure.
Toss a coin at Fontana di Trevi
One of the most famous symbols of the Italian capital is the Trevi Fountain. It is a tourist attraction beloved by visitors, because besides its beauty, it has a rich and interesting history.
From the idea of a Pope in the 15th century, a system of canals and an aqueduct ending in a fountain were built, taking more than 300 years and multiple architects, including Bernini, Salvi and Pannini, to completely finish the works. The fountain was built exactly on the spot where the aqueduct ended, where there is an intersection of three streets. Because it was shaped like a three-leaf-clover, thanks to this intersection, the fountain was named the Fontana di Trevi, an expression that refers to "trívio", that is, an intersection of three streets.
So why do people toss coins in the Fontana di Trevi in Rome after all? In 1954, the movie "Three Coins in the Fountain" was released in the cinema, in which three young Americans travel to Italy and decide to throw coins into the Trevi Fountain while secretly making wishes. Soon after, these wishes come true, which has ignited the popular belief that this is a magical fountain, capable of performing unimaginable miracles!
Over time, the myth has become even more elaborate, and some say that by tossing one coin you will return to Rome one day, with two coins you will find the love of your life, and with three coins you will marry your great love. It is also recommended to always toss the coins backwards and with the right hand. Since 2007, the amount in coins has been donated to charities in the area.
For many, the Trevi Fountain in Rome is the most famous in the world, for besides its richness and historical importance, the monument also impresses with its grandiosity. Surely, you will want to try your (right) hand at tossing a coin and wishing upon a star, or maybe a three-leaf-clover!
Rome is Forever
Rome is home! Or you will feel it is. The city is the cradle of European civilization, art, architecture and culture, and yet it feels so incredibly cozy and familiar. A delightful capital with so much to offer, that it becomes special in a very unique way for each one of us. Going to Rome is essential to understand the history and the people who made it. While in Rome, you will enjoy days of absolute astonishment and of exciting discoveries, of good wines and of mouthwatering cuisine, where the locals greet you with an honest smile and arms wide open. And you know what they say, right? When in Rome...