Things to Do in Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy! One of my favorite places in the world and for good reason. The city is lively, filled with happy people, and is home to some of the most famous historical landmarks. With the beautiful streets, stunning architecture, and delicious food, you can’t go wrong! Use this guide to learn the best things to do in Rome.
There is no fountain more famous than the Trevi Fountain. Dating back to 19 B.C., it was the end point of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct that brought water to the people of Rome. It was redesigned by Nicolas Salvi and was later finished after his death in 1792 by Giuseppe Pannini. At the center of it all, sits a statue of Oceanus, the god of water.
The best times to visit are early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the huge crowds. While you’re there, don’t forget to throw in a coin and have your Lizzie McGuire moment! Throwing one means you will return to Rome one day, and even better, the coins go to charity. Over 1 million euros are thrown into it every year!
The Pantheon is one of the most well-known structures in Rome because of how well-preserved it is. Completed around 126-128 C.E. under the rule of Emperor Hadrian, it has influenced the design of numerous structures over the centuries. As you walk in, you’ll notice the design details involve many geometric shapes. The oculus at the top brings in natural light, and as the day goes on, the light circles around the sides of the Dome, acting as a sundial. The dome itself forms a perfect circle, and with that, upon entering, the building fills the visitors field of vision.
When people think of Rome, they automatically think of the Colosseum. This architectural masterpiece was completed in 80 C.E. and was used for over 500 years. It was best known for its gladiator fights, which was a source of entertainment to the Roman people.
I highly recommend you take a tour, as you’ll learn a vast amount of information from it. Finding combo tickets for the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill is very easy and can allow you to see all three sites at a cheaper price.
Once the heart of Rome, the forum was a place for many public affairs. When visiting, you can see what remains of the ancient temples, statues, and basilicas. It’s a great experience to learn about all the ways the Roman Forum was a political, religious, and social space. This forum is said to have begun as far back as 500 B.C.E. when the Roman Republic began.
This hill is the most famous of Rome’s seven hills. Legend says that Romulus and Remus were found here by the female wolf that raised them. It goes that when the boys became adults, they wanted to create the city of Rome, but could not agree on which hill the city should be on. This ended in Romulus killing Remus, founding the city on Palatine Hill, and naming Rome after himself. Today what can be seen are the remains of the Flavian Palace and Stadium of Domitian from the time when emperors lived on the hill. The Palatine Museum is also a great place to see artifacts found in the area.
This column stands next to what use to be the Basilica Ulpia which stood in the Trajan Forum. This forum celebrated Trajan’s victory over Dacians. Completed in 113 C.E., the column itself tells the story of the two Dacian Wars, depicted in figures that wind around the column. Atop this monument is a statue of Tajan himself, considered a hero of Rome.
Monument of Victor Emmanuel II
This large white marble building was built to honor the first king of unified Italy, Victor Emmanuel II. At the center of this monument stands a bronze statue of the king, which was completed by Enrico Chiaradia. The monument itself was built by Giuseppe Sacconi between 1885-1911. Not only is it meant to honor Victor Emmanuel II, but it’s also home to the tomb of the unknown soldier, where two soldiers are always guarding it. Inside you can visit the Museum of Italian Reunification and climb to the top terrace for great views of the city.
In 1508, Michelangelo began his work on what is known today as one of the most extraordinary frescoes in the world. Pope Julius II asked Michelangelo to paint the ceilings of the church, and although he was known for being a sculptor, he agreed to it. The ceiling shows the nine scenes from Genesis, with the Creation of Adam being the most famous scene.
20 years after Michelangelo finished the ceiling, he was asked to do a fresco on the altar wall, known as The Last Judgement. In the center of the painting, is an image of Christ, with saints all around him. Below that, the painting depicts the blessed on the right, which are headed to heaven, and the damned on the left, which are headed to hell. The blessed are shown to be assisted by angels as they go towards heaven, while the damned are pulled towards hell. Both The Last Judgment and the ceiling have important details in them not worth missing, so I suggest doing even more research to know what to look for.
St. Peter’s Basilica
In the 4th century, Emperor Constantine decided to build a church for Saint Peter, who was crucified and buried there. In 1506, Julius II decided to build a new basilica bringing together many artists to complete it. St. Peter’s is the universal headquarters of the Catholic Church, which is why it’s so important. Artists who worked on the basilica over the years of construction included Bramante, Michelangelo, Bernini, and Maderno. This stunning monument was completed in 1626.
While the Sistine Chapel is a major part of the Vatican Museums, it is not the only place worth seeing. With the museums being home to an array of art collections, you could spend all day exploring! Make sure to visit the Raphael Rooms in the Apostolic Palace, to see his famous frescoes, the School of Athens being one of them.
Piazza Navona is a beautiful square in the city, with three stunning fountains. Before the piazza, a stadium called Circus Domitianus stood here, which is why it has its unique oval shape. Make sure to visit the Sant’Agnese in Agone church located in the square too! With Piazza Navona having such a lively atmosphere, it’s worth visiting!
Church of San Luigi dei Francesi
If you love Caravaggio as much as me, you’ll love this church. Three of his paintings are located here: The Calling of St. Matthew, The Inspiration of St. Matthew, and The Martyrdom of St. Matthew. One reason this city is so amazing is because you can walk into churches and find masterpieces. These paintings show the life of St. Matthew and were done between 1599-1600. The first image, The calling of St. Matthew, depicts Christ entering the room and asking Matthew to follow him. It’s important to notice the light streaming into the dark room in the direction of Matthew. Located in between the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, there’s no reason to not see these stunning pieces of art.
If you’re hoping to find a good view of the city, Gianicolo Hill is the place. You’ll be able to spot some of the most famous monuments from here. Go at sunrise or sunset for the best experience. You can also go at noon to hear the shot of a canon that goes off daily.
Camp de Fiori
If you’re looking for a cute market where you can find fresh produce this is the place to go! With it being a 10-minute walk from the Pantheon, the location is very central. The market is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 am-1:30 pm.
Piazza de Spagna
Also known as the Spanish Steps, this is a popular destination for visitors. It was named this because of the proximity of the Spanish Embassy. Built between 1723-1725 by Francesco de Sanctis, these steps became famous over time after photographers and artists gravitated to them, which in turn attracted models looking for jobs. From there, more and more people began to visit. Above the steps sits the beautiful Trinità dei Monti church and below you’ll find Fontana della Barcaccia.
Villa Borghese Garden
This expansive garden came about in 1606 when Cardinal Scipione Borghese wanted his vineyard to become a garden for the city of Rome. This place is great when you’re looking for a place to relax and it’s free of charge of course! While you’re there, don’t miss the Galleria Borghese. Reservations are required and it’s best to book in advance, as tickets sell out fast. You’ll find pieces here by Caravaggio, Raphael, and Bernini just to name a few.
Wrapping it Up
Rome is a must-visit destination! There’s no doubt you’ll fall in love with this place and want to keep coming back. Use this post to plan the perfect trip to the Eternal City!