One of the most exciting stops during my time in Italy had to be in Roma. Such an iconic city, brimming with life and culture, preceded by more than two and a half thousand years worth of historical significance. Arriving with some prior knowledge about the city and some of its famous pieces definitely made me appreciate the sites even more. That being said, no art history textbook could have prepared me for the marvel that is Rome.
Where To Stay
I highly recommend staying somewhere relatively close to a train station. It’s the best way to get around the city, allowing you to see more sites for less. It also makes finding your way back home at night a breeze.
Travel Tip: If you are traveling with a large group, look into renting an apartment during your stay versus a hotel. It can turn out to be cheaper and more private.
How To Get Around
Like I mentioned before, the subway is a must. You can buy individual train tickets on digital kiosks at the station or you can opt for a Roma Pass. A Roma Pass is the capital’s travel card specially designed to benefit tourists. With the pass, sold as either a 2 or 3-day card, you get unlimited access to the city’s public transportation, as well as free and discounted entries to many of the museums and attractions. And some locations, like the Colosseum for example, have their own entry lanes exclusively for Roma Pass holders. You can buy a Roma Pass online or at Tourism Information Points (PITs) scattered around the city.
What To See
The Colosseum and Roman Forum
Built in the first century and located in the heart of Rome, the Colosseum truly is one of the most impressive feats of human history. It is the site of ancient Roman entertainment, the most notorious event being brutal gladiator battles. Its sheer size is staggering, standing just as big as any modern day sports stadium. And although some of it has been reinforced over the years, much of the original structure remains intact.
Something To Consider: You can walk around and view the arena by yourself (you get in free with a Roma Pass), but unless you’re an expert, there’s a lot of history you will miss out on. Before you enter the Colosseum, you will undoubtedly be asked if you would like a tour. For an extra fee, around 20 euros, tour guides lead small groups around the arena, reciting historical background and lesser-known facts. Tours are available in many languages and also include a tour of the Roman Forum, located directly beside the Colosseum.
Vatican City, built over the tomb of Saint Peter, is the holiest site of the Catholic Church. Although it is located within Italy, Vatican City operates independently, making it the smallest country in the world. It is home to St. Peter’s Basilica and 11 Vatican museums including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. This was my absolute favorite site. Talk about indescribable. Masterfully crafted, as if by angels. You could spend an entire day examining the Sistine Chapel and still not see every detail. Additionally, the inside of St. Peter’s is true work of art, adorned with fine marble and gold that glistens in passing sunlight. It is also the home of Michelangelo’s Pietà. As a whole, Vatican City makes for a beautiful and spiritual experience.
Something To Consider: Like the Colosseum, tours are also available for the Vatican. For about 35 euros, you can skip the lines into the Vatican Museums and receive a guided tour through the museums and basilica. These tours are advertised in St. Peter’s Square.
Travel Tip: Wear a shirt with sleeves or bring some type of cover-up for your shoulders. This is a holy place and modesty is upheld.
The Trevi Fountain and Pantheon
The most important thing to remember in Rome is that free art is everywhere! The streets of Rome are lined with historical sites, squares, and statues, all free to view. Famous sites like the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon are within walking distance of each other, and there are signs posted along the way to aid tourists. Take some time to just explore these locations. The Pantheon is a primary example of ancient Roman architecture, and is one of the best preserved.
Travel Tip: The Trevi Fountain is arguably the most famous fountain in the world. If you have the opportunity, visit this site both during the day and at night. After dark, the area is awash with nightlife and the fountain transforms with mood lighting. It makes for a different experience altogether.