There are so many amazing things to see in ancient Rome that one visit isn’t usually enough. So, what makes this iconic city so special?! Fascinating history, endless beauty, stunning architecture, and exquisite food.
Rome can be overwhelming. It’s huge, expensive, and busy but after a week of exploration, we guarantee you’ll fall in love with it. There are some must-sees in Rome to add to your itinerary, don’t miss them out!
BEST THINGS TO SEE IN ANCIENT ROME
The Colosseum is world-famous and should be at the top of every traveller’s bucket list.
It is the biggest amphitheatre in the world and during the days of the Roman Empire, it represented their massive power and control.
The once marbled walls are crumbling but you can still see the magnificence that once was. Explore the grounds and imagine yourself as a gladiator in the arena facing pain and death or a member of the ruling class watching the gruesome show in luxury from the upper levels.
Security is rigorous and queues are epic at the Colosseum. Try and avoid the worst of it by booking tickets online and arriving in the early morning or late afternoon.
The Pantheon is a 2000-year-old Roman Temple that has been regenerated for modern use as a church.
Stand on the plaza and gaze up at the imposing granite columns, the pastel colours of the smooth marble, and the giant doors hewn from solid bronze.
Step into the cool of the interior at midday and you will discover just how lovely a building can be. When the sunlight streams through the round hole in the roof, the light in the room is breath-taking.
Even in the rain, the Pantheon is a wonderful place. Rain pounds the marbled floor and the noise is deafening. Amazingly, it never floods as hidden drains capture the water.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St Peter’s Basilica is part of The Vatican City, a completely different country to Rome. It is one of the biggest churches to have ever existed. It was constructed by the most skilled and creative Renaissance craftsmen and is gorgeous.
Inside you will find the tombs of previous Popes, elegant sculptures and superbly detailed carvings.
Most visitors to St Peter’s Basilica will summon up the energy to take on the 871 steps that lead to the summit of the dome. They are rewarded by a panoramic view of Vatican City.
Plan your visit for a Wednesday and you might be lucky and witness a papal audience across St Peter’s Square. I was thrilled to be passing on a Sunday and heard him recite the Angelus prayer. It was incredibly moving.
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I adored the Trevi Fountain! It is so decadent and detailed, a Baroque masterpiece. Snakes drink from the sparkling water, winged horses glide into the air and tritons display their power.
The Fountain was built 250 years ago, and it is incredible how glossy and white the marble still is.
I held with tradition and threw a coin into the water to join the hundreds already glittering there. During peak season two thousand Euros a week are donated to a local food bank.
It was busy, the Trevi Fountain always is! But I went early so managed to get close enough for a good look as I devoured my first gelato of the day.
The ruins of The Roman Forum are what is left of the heart and soul of the Roman Empire. It is here that brothels shared space with temples, gossip was shared, lovers met for the first time and political debate raged.
Tickets to the Colosseum include entry to the Forum so exploring this awe-inspiring place didn’t cost a penny! It’s possible to see a lot of The Roman Forum for free from the road named ‘Via Dei Fori Imperiali’ but I think it’s important to get close to the history in order to soak up the unique atmosphere.
Don’t forget to see The Temple of Caesar, a monument to the Emperor betrayed and stabbed by his political rivals in 44BC.
The Sistine Chapel is situated in Vatican City and is where the whole world seems to descend every day. They are all there to see Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ a vast richly coloured painting that graces the chapel roof.
Don’t spend the whole time looking up though! There is much to see throughout the chapel. Every available inch of space has been made divine through sculpture, carvings, and the shimmer of gold gilding.
It is always ridiculously busy, and the queues will make your heart sink. If the thought of sweating it out under the Roman sun for hours is horrifying (me too!) then book your tickets online to claim an allocated visit time.
The Vatican Museums are full of some of the most glorious art and artefacts you will ever see. This is a collection curated by Popes both past and present.
The museum’s ‘mission’ is to celebrate the joy of creation and how God works tirelessly to bring beauty to all parts of our lives. There is so much to see in rooms that are simply as wonderful as the objects they house. My favourite part of the museum was The Gallery of Maps’.
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