Our next stop is Rome, the famous Eternal City.
If you have never been here, we have prepared the 9 best things for you to see in Rome.
It does not matter if you love history or not – this city has so much to offer. You might even find yourself back here several times, to explore and “taste” the Italian capital from every perspective.
Keep your eyes open, listen carefully, and, please, put down your selfie stick for a while – this fine damsel of a city deserves it…
1. The Colosseum
The Colosseum is the most famous archaeological site in Rome and has become an everlasting symbol of the city. Once, of course, an amphitheater, it has seen spectacular gladiator fights with lions, elephants and bears Reportedly, some 9,000 animals were killed when the Colosseum opened and it is estimated that between 300,000 to 400,000 people (and appropriately 1,000,000 animals) lost their lives within its walls. Bloody times!
The Colosseum is 188 meters by 156 meters, and – as you might expect – is the largest Roman amphitheater in the world. Originally, the interior stage could support flooding so that the naval battles of the Greek age could be relived!
Friendlynomad.com suggests you get your entrance tickets early and online, particularly during the busier months. Tickets are about 12 euros each. Watch the touts and the hassle outside the Colosseum.
2. The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum was the center of the social and civic life of ancient Rome, and the point where the most important buildings were concentrated. Now it is a spectacular ruin, and one of greatest things to see in Rome.
The Palatine, just nearby, is the oldest of the seven hills of Rome. When the Roman Forum ran out of space, the Roman administrators naturally began to extend the city to the Palatine.
A single ticket allows you to visit the Roman Forum and the Palatine.
You’re best coming as as early as the Forum opens, as later in the day crowds do detract from the ambiance of the ancient ruins.
3. Piazza Venezia
Piazza Venezia is one of the most important crossroads of Rome. Here begins the Corso (via del Corso), which tracks eventually to the Popolo Square (Piazza del Popolo) – the key trading artery of the city.
Despite the busy traffic, Piazza Venezia area is great, thanks largely to the impressive Vittoriano monument – a huge altar with a colonnade, erected in honor of King Victor Emmanuel II. While modern Romans wryly call it “the typewriter”, flocks of tourists hardly suggest that admiration for the Vittoriano is running short.
In Piazza Venezia is the focal point for Republic Day celebrations, on June 2nd of each year.
At this point shopaholics will want to head to Via Corso to check out stores near the “Golden Triangle”, which brings together the most prestigious brands.
4. The Pantheon
The Pantheon has to rank high on any unmissability (not a word) index! This is an iconic, ancient building that has known many uses and many ages. It was built in the second century BC as a pagan temple and became a Christian basilica in the seventh century AD.
Admission is free, but be ready for the crowds and take a moment to admire the perfect geometry and one of the largest domes in the world, truly an architectural marvel. You have to check out the opening in the roof, which apparently does not let in the rain because of a blessed miracle (the candle heat meant that rainfall, normally, would not enter through the opening)! In addition, there are various famous people buried right there in the Pantheon, in fairly fancy tombs which you can examine more closely if you have the time.
This nomad enjoyed listening to the history of the Pantheon and surprising facts of its structure on her phone with a free app, available here.
I visited the Pantheon twice, once during the day and once on a rainy evening. While it was great to explore inside, it was equally amazing to relax with a glass of wine and watch young couples dance and take shelter under the facade as the Italian rain came down with fury. Truly a special place, with so much human intensity about it!
5. Trevi Fountain
While not as dramatic, the Trevi Fountain is up there with the Colosseum for the title of the most famous attraction of Rome. This fountain casually occupies the whole area of smallish Poly Palace.
Of course, this is one of the best examples of Roman Baroque, where the romantic scene of the film “La Dolce Vita” by Federico Fellini unfolds. By the way, do not try to repeat the night swimming from the film. At night, apparently, the fountain is turned off, and the water flow ceases to the delight of ageing locals. The pool becomes empty, to be filled again in the morning.
6. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is one of the largest, most beautiful and memorable squares in Rome. The oval imitates the shape of the ancient stadium of Domitian, which was situated here in the first century BC.
Today, you’ll find two fountains on each side of the Piazza. These are the work of Lorenzo Bernini. Have a look at St. Agnes Church, which was built according to the designs of Francesco Borromini, a rival to Bernini.
In the days before Christmas, Piazza Navona turns into noisy fair, where souvenirs, cotton candies and delicious cakes will entice you. All year round, however, you’ll find the Piazza alive with wonderful food and wine until late into the evening. Certainly something to see, but cost conscious nomads may want to eat a few streets away.
7. St. Peter’s Cathedral
Technically, you are no longer in Rome (and even in Italy) as the Vatican is an independent state. However you will see no signs of a border, except perhaps a thin crowd demarcation that separates the two countries.
Here, in Piazza San Pietro you will find the basilica having the same name – one of the largest and most impressive religious structures in the world. Admission is free, but do not forget that it is a functioning church, so shorts, mini-skirts and bare shoulders are inadvisable.
Inside St. Peter’s Basilica there are numerous works of art, and among them “Pieta” by Michelangelo.
The view from the Basilica’s dome (pictured) is a must. You are allowed to climb to the top for an extra fee.
Image credit: TrepTowerAlex
8. The Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna)
The famous Spanish Steps are crowned by a wonderful church. Romans are fond of sitting here while daydreaming, making this a meeting place of sorts for romantics.
This isn’t new. These steps have attracted artists, painters and poets; and along with them “many beautiful women, hoping perhaps to be taken as models“. Inevitably, rich Romans and generations of travelers have followed. The pattern repeats today. Worth seeing!
9. Hungry? See yourself to a classic Italian dish…
As we are coming to the last point of our Roman journey, you must be filled with historical beauty and ready for something to eat? Our suggestion? Duck away from the crowds and seek out this authentic local restaurant, lost in the seclusion of a quiet courtyard street (Via Tribuna di Campitelli 18 – 00186 Roma).
Enjoy! (the handmade pasta is good)
What are your friendly tips? Don’t be shy. Let us know by leaving a comment below.