A city that is over 2,700 years old, Rome is a bucket-list destination for many travelers, and with good reason. Also known as the “Eternal City,” Rome is one of the most famous cities in the world, and is a mecca globally for art, architecture, and ancient history.
If you are planning a trip to Rome, here are the best things to do, see, and eat.
What to do
Toss a coin into Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain in Rome is arguably the most popular fountain in the world. It measures over 30 meters and was built nearly 260 years ago. The fountain attracts millions of tourists per year for its incredible beauty and magical qualities, as some may believe. If visiting Trevi Fountain, make sure to throw a coin into the fountain for good luck.
However, for it to work, you need to throw the coin with your back facing the fountain and use your right hand to toss the coin over your left shoulder. Legend says that this symbolizes that you will return to Rome one day. Believe it or not, this ritual is so popular that nearly $1.7 million dollars are collected annually from the fountain from all the tossed coins! The money is donated to Catholic charities to help the homeless and poor.
See Michelangelo’s art in the Sistine Chapel
To see the work of one of the most influential artists in human history, don’t leave Rome without visiting the Sistine Chapel. It is one of the most frequented attractions in Vatican City and Rome. From the outside, the Sistine Chapel is by itself a masterpiece of architecture, but inside, it is most recognized by its original pieces by 16th-century Italian artist Michelangelo.
Inside, you will find the famous fresco paintings of Michelangelo, which adorn the chapel. The most famous section near the center panel is “The Creation of Adam,” depicting God touching fingers with Adam – an art piece recognized internationally. Your neck will probably get tired at the end of your visit to the chapel, as the frescos are all painted on the domed ceiling. Whether you are an art buff or not, seeing the original works of Michelangelo dating back to 1512 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Explore the Roman Forum
To learn more about the ancient Roman civilization, make a stop at the Roman Forum to stroll through the ancient ruins. It is best to visit the Roman Forum on an organized tour with a local tour guide, as the area is packed with historical artifacts and backgrounds that will help you better appreciate the ruins. Some notable monuments to see here include the Arch of Titus, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, and the Temple of Saturn.
In the Roman Forum, you can walk in the same footsteps that were walked by prominent ancient Roman leaders such as Julius Caesar, Nero, Cicero, and Mark Antony. This area was considered the downtown hub of Rome, where prominent figures and common people alike would gather for public hearings, performances, and markets.
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What to see
The Roman Colosseum
Another globally-recognized monument, the Roman Colosseum is considered the integral symbol of Rome. The Colosseum receives nearly six million visitors per year and was inaugurated as one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
The Colosseum is thousands of years old, built during the height of the Roman Empire in 70 A.D. It was built to house up to 80,000 spectators, which makes it very comparable to the sports stadiums of today! It was used as an amphitheater for public events, most commonly gladiatorial games. These were public spectator events where armed combatants dueled to the death – they were phased out in the fifth century.
The Pantheon is the best-preserved ancient monument in Rome today. It was built to be a temple for worship of the Roman gods. Today, it serves as a museum for ancient artifacts and Roman history. The good thing about the Pantheon is that it is one of the attractions in Rome which offers free admission. If you want to have an audio or guided tour, prices range between $10-20.
After visiting inside, make sure to walk around Piazza della Rotonda, the square surrounding the Pantheon. Here, you can find Fontana del Pantheon and Obelisco Macuteo.
After a long day of sightseeing and walking, head over to Piazza Navona to take five in a gorgeous plaza. It was once an ancient stadium that was transformed into a public square. Here, you can sit down and enjoy a cold gelato, or explore some of the many attractions surrounding the square, such as the many fountains and churches.
What to eat
Pasta al carbonara: an Italian spaghetti dish that originates in Rome consisting of eggs, hard cheese, cured pork, and black pepper. It can also be prepared with other types of pasta, like fettuccine or linguine.
Gelato: literally translating to “ice cream” in Italian, gelato is different from the typical American-style ice cream. It has a lower fat and air content than ice cream. You can find gelaterias (gelato shops) all over Italy.
Roman pizza: rectangular circular slices of pizza that are sold individually and are characterized by a thin and crunchy crust.
For a city of history, art, and immense culture, make sure to put Rome on your bucket list of destinations. The city receives millions of tourists annually with good reason, as it has one of the Seven Wonders of the World, world-class gastronomy, and immaculate art and architecture. To best enjoy all of the historical and cultural attractions, consider booking guided tours to learn the significance of the sites.