Here’s an overview of the most important sights in Rome. Let’s pretend that you’re just leaving the hotel for the first time since arriving in Rome. What do you want to see most? Luckily, many of the most important historic sites are within walking distance of one another. This area is so filled with pedestrians that few drivers are willing to navigate the winding streets. This is fortunate because local drivers are notorious for ignoring pedestrians in Rome, something worth taking note of.
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The Vatican and Castle Sant’Angelo are located outside of the Historic City Center and across the river, so you might choose to take a taxi or a bus. If you buy the Roma Pass you have three days of free public transportation, which will help you to get from your hotel to the main sights. Rome’s Metro system is very easy to use. The B line goes to the Coliseum; the A line goes to Piazza del Popolo, which is near the Spanish Steps and Villa Borghese park.
The Coliseum and The Forum
Located right next to each other, these are two of Rome’s most popular sites. Once home to gruesome gladiator fights, the Coliseum takes visitors back to the first century AD. Wander the stadium alone or by guided tour. The Forum, located on the main street of Ancient Rome, is where you will find some of the most important buildings as well as the exact location where Caesar was slayed by Brutus.
Vatican City, an independent state, is home to the Pope, as well as St. Peter’s Basilica and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Lines to the Sistine Chapel are very long so it’s best to purchase tickets in advance or else arrive one hour before opening (9am). If you do happen to be one of the first people inside the Vatican Museum, you can get an added rush by walking quickly through the museum of religious artifacts that compose the first half of the museum and going straight to the Sistine Chapel for a near-private viewing. St. Peter’s Basilica is free to enter and filled with jaw-dropping artwork and artifacts, including Michelangelo’s sculpture – Pieta. Visitors must go through a security checkpoint and observe the Vatican’s modesty dress code.
Free to the public, the Pantheon features the largest unreinforced concrete dome known to man. If it’s raining, the rain falls through the circular hole at the top of the dome and directly into the building. Truly awesome due to its sheer size, the Pantheon is a great place to visit at night, when locals and visitors alike wander among its columns.
This square has been a center of commerce for centuries. During the day it features a beautiful flower and vegetable market. Fine salami, wine, olive oil, and even seafood can also be found here (along with free samples). In the evening the square is filled with nightlife and is a good place to stroll with either a pre or post-dinner drink.
This square is especially magical at night when its fountains are well lit, making the many statues seem almost alive. Another popular nighttime hangout, you’re more likely to find street musicians and romantic couples than university students. While some of the restaurants on the piazza serve quality food, restaurants less geared toward tourists can be found on Via di Tor Millina, which leaves from the piazza’s west side.
The Trevi Fountain
One of the most famous fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain is breathtaking. But it may require about as much patience as you can muster, as the surrounding area tends to be packed during the day, though much quieter at night. The fountain water comes directly from a spring 12 miles away.
The Spanish Steps
The largest and widest set of stairs in Europe, the Spanish Steps are always bustling with people. Some of Rome’s finest 4-star hotels can be located at the top of the stairs, and correspondingly fashionable boutiques and restaurants can be found at the bottom. The southern corner of Villa Borghese park is also located at the top, and a short stroll will take you past stone busts of Italy’s most famous historical people. Continue on to find a wonderful vista, with Piazza del Popolo located directly below.
A domineering sight, the Castle Sant’Angelo is the landmark most reminiscent of medieval Rome. A self-guided tour allows you to explore every nook and cranny of the castle, including some pretty creepy dungeon-esque halls in the castle’s very center. The view of Rome from the highest terrace is one of the best.
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com