Simply put, Rome is one of those places that everyone needs to see at least once in his or her lifetime. Straddling the River Tiber about midway down the boot of Italy, the “Eternal City” was once the administrative center of the mighty Roman Empire. Today, it’s the fourth most populated city in the European Union and one of the most visited destinations as well. With its awe-inspiring ruins, opulent churches, iconic monuments and stunning fountains, Rome’s beauty has withstood the test of time. Below are five of the definite “must see” attractions of Rome, Italy:
Arguably the most recognizable structure in all of Italy, the Colosseum is an immense amphitheater located at the heart of Rome. Its construction started in 72 CE under Emperor Vespasian and was completed only eight years later, under Titus. Capable of seating over 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum is most famous for hosting the bloody gladiatorial contests, but was also used for public spectacles and theatrical dramas of classical mythology. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, a tour of the Colosseum is a must. Here’s a tip: buy your admission ticket across the street at Palatine Hill—the line is much shorter than at the entrance for the Colosseum.
Located just west of the Colosseum is the Roman Forum (Forum Romanum), which was once the center of daily life in ancient Rome. Now, it’s a vast complex of ruins, temples, churches, columns and triumphal arches. The main sights at the Forum are linked by its main road, the Sacra Via, and include the Arch of Titus, Temple of Saturn, Temple of Vesta, and the church of San Luca e Martina. For amazing bird’s eye views, be sure to climb to the top of the adjacent Capitoline Hill.
Almost two thousand years after it was built, Rome’s Pantheon remains in pristine condition. It was completed under Emperor Hadrian in around 126 CE as a temple dedicated to all of the gods of ancient Rome. To this day, the Pantheon has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus in the ceiling is 142 feet (43.3 meters), which is equal to the diameter of the temple’s lavish marble interior. It’s truly amazing how well preserved the Pantheon is, but the best part is that admission is free.
A very popular gathering place for tourists and locals alike, the Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Trintà dei Monti) link the Piazza di Spagna and the Trinità dei Monti church with one hundred thirty-eight steps up a steep hillside. Completed in 1725, it’s said that the Scalinata is the widest staircase in all of Europe. From the top, visitors are afforded spectacular views of Rome as well as the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in nearby Vatican City in the distance.
Before departing Rome, all tourists must pay a visit to the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi). Completed in 1762, the Trevi fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and perhaps its most elegant. The central figures of the fountain are Neptune (the ancient Roman god of the sea), flanked by two Tritons. Tradition holds that if you toss a coin into the fountain, then you’ll be ensured a return to Rome someday. An estimated 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain by visitors daily. I’ve been to Rome three times and have taken part in this custom each time, so it must be true!
When in Rome, as they say, you’ll want your accommodations to be close to the many beautiful sights of the city. Check out Oh-Rome.com for centrally located hotels or self-catering apartments where you’re certain to experience la dolce vita on your unforgettable Roman holiday.
Have you been to Rome? What were your impressions? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments section below!
Michael Figueiredo is a freelance travel writer based in Los Angeles, California. When he’s not gallivanting around the world, he’s enjoying the laid-back lifestyle and perfect weather of Southern California. So far he’s visited forty countries and territories on five continents. His goal is to see at least one new country every year! . Read more from this author