The moment I arrived, was an indescribable exhilarating high. I take a deep breath and say “Yes, I’m here, and with my beautiful daughter!”
Getting around the city is easy. There’s walking, the metro, or one of Rome’s hop-on-hop-off narrated bus tours. To truly experience the magic of Rome, these are the experiences that shouldn’t be missed.
Tour the Colosseum
No matter how many times you view photos of Rome’s iconic and magnificent Colosseum, seeing it in person is amazing due to its sheer enormity. Gladiators once fought in this massive stadium, built in 70 A.D. The amphitheater is incredibly impressive from the exterior, but walking through its interior is a must. Although ravaged by time and human destruction, what remains powerfully echoes the glory and grandeur of Rome. We were astonished by its intricate underground infrastructures that supported the staged spectacles above. One word of advice is to arrive early in the morning or book a tour for front-of-the-line privileges.
Walk the Roman Forum
There’s something humbling yet magical about walking in the footsteps of Rome’s emperors like Caesar Augustus. The Roman Forum flourished as the center of Roman life in the days of the Republic and early Empire. Though much of the ruins are mere shells of the original temples, arches, and basilicas, what remains is both moving and archaeologically fascinating. Climbing nearby Palatine Hill provided spectacular panoramic views of the Roman and Imperial Forums, Capitoline Hill and the Colosseum.
Visit the Vatican Museum
The glories of the ancient and medieval world are on display in the lavish papal palace known as the Vatican Museum. It can be overwhelming to decide what to see due to its enormity. Having a guidebook is a tremendous help. Arriving early is imperative to beat the crowds. Filled with a treasure trove of statues, mummies, tapestries and Renaissance art, every room provides another awe-inspiring experience. No matter how many times we’ve visited, our favorite showstopper remains Michelangelo’s painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The astonishing achievement took four years to complete as the artist laid flat on scaffolding while creating this magnificent work of art.
See St. Peter’s Basilica
From the Sistine Chapel, there’s a time-saving shortcut leading to another world-renowned site, St. Peter’s Basilica. Considered the holiest shrine of the Catholic Church, the basilica is built on the site of St. Peter’s tomb. The Pope delivers Mass within its glorious walls and Bernini’s massive bronze canopy towers over the altar. The basilica also contains Michelangelo’s famous Pietà. The marble statue, completed when he was only 24 years old, depicts a grieving Mary cradling her crucified son Jesus.
Be aware, the Vatican adheres to a dress code.
Toss a Coin in the Trevi Fountain
Rome is the city of fountains—and there are thousands. But, its most treasured and famous is the Trevi Fountain. Legend proclaims that if you throw a coin in the fountain, right hand over left shoulder, it ensures your return to Rome. True or not, there’s a lot of coin tossing happening at this exquisitely sculpted, ever-flowing Baroque masterpiece.
Explore the Jewish Quarter
One of the most underappreciated places to see and explore in Rome is the Jewish Quarter. From the 16th through the 19th centuries, Rome’s Jewish population was forced to live in the cramped ghetto along the Tiber River. While the medieval Jewish ghetto no longer exists, the quarter is still home to Rome’s Jewish community. The Great Synagogue of Rome sits impressively in the heart of the former seven-acre ghetto.
The most fascinating sights to behold in the quarter are the colonnaded ruins of the Portico of Octavia and nearby ancient Teatro di Marcello.
Experience the Pantheon at Night
Rome after dark transforms into a magical wonderland. Many of its iconic sights are illuminated, but there’s something special about viewing the Pantheon, Rome’s most preserved monument at night.
The Pantheon was a Roman temple dedicated to the gods. Original structures burned, but the current temple dates back to 120 A.D. It was a wonderful surprise the first time we came upon it accidentally at night. The interior is a must-see during the day. However, it’s unexpected majestic presence when turning the corner after dark is always an unforgettable experience.
Wining and Dining in Rome
The Italians are masters of the art of fine food. Truth be told, we haven’t had anything but great cuisine and good wine in Rome. Ambiance makes a huge difference. Most dining establishments have outdoor seating—a huge criterion for us each time we visit. It’s hard to beat dining overlooking flowing fountains and surrounded by ancient history. For visitors that truly want to tap into the region’s specialties, there are a few must-tries. Spaghetti alla carbonara (consisting of an egg and bacon sauce), carciofi alla guiuda (Jewish-style artichokes), and gnocchi alla romana (Italian dumplings) are well-known mouth-watering Roman dishes. No meal is complete without wine—even the basic house wine (vino della casa) is usually a good choice. Roman desserts are delectable. When tummies are too full for tiramisu or another sweet treat, there’s always gelato—which can be found everywhere throughout the city.
Italian painter and architect Giotto di Bondone said, “Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning.” Perhaps it’s why each time you visit you yearn for the moment of return.
Contact All Inclusive Vacation and Tour Specialist Chris Rakes for more information on Italy and to plan your trip to Rome today!