Rome has countless places to see – basilicas and temples, museums and art centers, gelatos and pizzerias. But there’s only so much you can do. Based on my short stay in Rome, I compiled a list of 8 places you absolutely must see #wheninRome and cannot come back without visiting.
Being one of the wonders of the world, the Colosseum is a MUST-SEE site in Rome. Even if you’re not interested in history, you need to be able to go back and say you’ve seen the Colosseum. According to my tour guide, the construction of this masterpiece began as early as the 70 AD. Thousands of years and countless rulers, presidents, and dynasties, the Colosseum has seen it all. It’s a masterpiece not only because it’s so well-preserved, but also because how smartly it was engineered and run (and that’s just something you realize when you stand there and imagine the same place a thousand years ago).
The Vatican City is mini-city within Rome, surrounded by ancient walls and ticket offices. It is a collection of tons of museums with countless paintings, sculptures, instruments, books, and everything history. Even if you don’t like history, the Vatican City is worth a trip. And if you do like history, then I really don’t know how many trips will be enough for you to grasp the plethora of history the Vatican City is throwing at you.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is approximately 450 feet (almost 80 of me) tall. It’s massive yet so intricate. With several smaller churches, tombs of old Popes, centuries old paintings, mosaics and sculptures, St. Peter’s Basilica ranks on my list of must-sees in Rome. But that could be because I abnormally obsessed with European history…
Sistine Chapel (and its stairs)
Ever heard of the famous The Creation of Adam (more popularly known as the Man & God) painting by Michelangelo? Yes, that still exists and is preserved on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Just like most places inside the Vatican City, photography is not allowed inside the Sistine Chapel. But they have plenty of space (that you need to fight for) to sit and admire the wonderful architecture and painting. I spent ten long minutes just staring at the paintings and still couldn’t get enough of them.
This is a super cute (and quite expensive) square somewhere in Rome. It’s oval and not round (I don’t know why that detail was so important for our tour guide) and has lots of cute little restaurants and bakeries and gelato parlors. It also has a great deal of historical significance because it was built in the 1st century AD. You really can’t tell it’s that old when you step in there. It’s quite happening and a great place to hangout with friends/alone.
This was closed for renovation when I was in Rome, but I still visited the Trevi Fountain for the significance it holds. The Trevi Fountain is named one of the most beautiful fountains in the world and there’s a legend that if you drop a coin in the fountain, then you come back to Rome. The fountain is expected to reopen in October 2015 but I wouldn’t trust the Romans on their deadlines.
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is a forum (duh) of the remains of ancient government buildings, offices, temples, markets etc.. It’s located in the middle of the city and so well-preserved it’s unbelievable. When you walk into the plaza, all you see is just tons of stones and broken buildings, but when you understand what each of the ruins was centuries ago, you can’t help but stand and imagine. I was standing right in front of Julius Caeser’s tomb, imagining people cremating him and then the temple built in his name. It’s just wonderful. Even if you’re not a fan of history, this definitely deserves a visit.
The Roman Forum also leads you to the Palatine Hill, which gives you an aerial view of the entire plaza. Tip: If you manage to get hold of the then vs now map of Rome, hold it up when you’re on Palatine Hill and then look at the Roman Forum. Boom! Also, quick tip; do not abandon the tour because you think you can’t climb the Palatine Hill. A woman who was part of my group saw the height of the hill and left the tour because she thought she can “never make it up there.” But honestly, it’s very very easy! You probably need just three 2-minute breaks in between and you’re done.
A note for everyone who wants to visit Rome – All of these places are extremely crowded – Rome in general is very crowded. Try to visit this city when you are in the mood to feel a culture, a way of life – do not go to Rome for a quiet vacation…
Have you been to Rome before? If yes, how many of these places did you see? And if I’ve missed anything that should have made it to the list, let me know!