The capital city of Italy is more than 2000 years old. Between the houses and ruins, along the passages and corsos’, history is everywhere! Each of the famous places to visit in Rome is coming from different ages, having a different story to tell.
The beauty in Rome is really just this! Two thousand years of continuous human history in one spectacular city! And when we say just, that means a never-ending list of things to see from every century…
Just think about the beautiful buildings and remains of the Roman Empire. The colorful and energetic Italian lifestyle. Also, as the catholic church, and the many beautiful cathedrals around the city.
If catholicism, then remember the Papal State, the Vatican City!
And last but not least, the beautiful architecture, art, and amazing weather…
All this together created a venue that’s offering you the chance to walk through many significant stages of human history while enjoying the sun, the colors, vibes, and great food and drinks!
About that never-ending list… After 10 visits to Rome, my personal list of things to see is still just continuously growing… So all I have to say for now: Alla prossima volta Roma!
1. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is one of the most popular squares in Rome. It’s located in the historic center of the city, near the main road called Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II.
Public transport: Look for the bus stop called Argentina. The square will be about 5 minutes walk from there.
The closest landmarks are as follows: East is the Pantheon. To the West, following Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, or Via del Governo Vecchio, you can get to the Vatican City and Castel Sant’ Angelo. Heading South you’ll find the Campo di Fiori, just a few hundred meters away.
About Piazza Navona
It was built in the 17th century, on the site of the ancient Stadium of Domitian. Piazza Navona has dominantly a Roman Baroque style.
During the day it’s hosting a large art and painting market, with many street artists on site. Arriving at the square, you’ll see 3 stunning fountains from the 17th century. There’s one in the middle and two similar ones on the two sides of the square.
The middle one is Fontana dei Quatro Fiumi, designed by G. L. Bernini. For those obsessed with the mysteries written by Dan Brown, this fountain has a significant role in the Angels and Demons. On the two sides of the piazza, the Fontana dei Moro and Fontana del Nettuno are standing.
The Baroque church Sant’ Agnese in Agone is located on the west side, facing the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and overlooking the square.
Piazza Navona is a hotspot of the city. Therefore, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, with large outdoor spaces and adorable table decorations at some. Just to give you a heads up, these places get super crowded during lunch and dinner time! They are also more expensive, due to the location. If you’re looking for more traditional, and less touristy places, check my 4 favorite restaurants around Piazza Navona!
To find out more about this neighborhood, and all the things to do, make sure to check my article about the Navona neighborhood!
2. Trevi Foutain
Location: Piazza di Trevi. Close to Piazza Venezia, Pantheon and the Spanish Steps.
Fontana di Trevi, (Treve Fountain) is Rome’s biggest baroque fountain. I’m not saying anything new, by pointing out that it’s also the most famous fountain on the planet!
The breathtaking monument is 26m tall and 20m broad. Fontana di Trevi was designed and built by Nicola Salvi, in the 17th century. The fountain is still one of the most exquisite monuments in Rome, attracting millions of people every year!
Now about that tradition…
We all know, that throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain is something that everyone’s doing. And then they wish. But how many of us know how it actually works?
The tradition of throwing coins in the fountain is originating from a movie called Three Coins in the Fountain, in 1954. This is how it works:
- One coin: you will return to Rome.
- Two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian.
- Three coins: you will marry the person that you met.
To make it work, you should throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder!
Here’s another tip!
Now, as the Trevi Fountain is very popular and very-very busy during the day, I suggest trying to go either early in the morning, or late evening. I don’t think you’ll have the luck to find actually nobody there, but it’s worth trying! Usually, there were quite a few people even at 8 o’clock in the morning.
3. St Peter’s Basilica and the St Peter Square
Arriving at the Vatican City along the straight road of Via della Conciliazione, you’ll first see the Piazza San Pietro, and the most breathtaking Christian church, the Basilica San Pietro (St Peter’s).
Piazza San Pietro
The piazza is embraced on the two sides by exactly 284 colonnades. On top of these \140 statues are standing, all made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and his students. These sculptures are representing popes, martyrs, evangelists, and other religious figures.
Piazza San Pietro is one of the largest squares in the world. You can see a 25-meter tall Egyptian obelisk in the middle, and two very similar fountains on the two sides of the piazza. One was designed by Lorenzo Bernini, the other one by Carlo Moderno.
Basilica San Pietro is known as the largest church in the world. It is also the renaissance’s most famous architectural work.
Basilica San Pietro
The today standing cathedral was finished in the 17th century.
St Peter’s Basilica was principally designed by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo Buonarotti, and the above mentioned Carlo Moderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is known as the largest church in the world, and one of the most fascinating pieces of Renaissance Architecture.
The interior of the cathedral is just… it will just leave you speechless. I’m still trying to put together what I feel in there, but soon an article with details and pictures will be published!
Visiting the cathedral requires two essential things! First, remember, that it’s a cathedral, so dress accordingly! You won’t be allowed anywhere near it if you’re in shorts, a summer dress, or sleeveless tops. As the second, you’ll need to pass the security check on the right-hand side of the square, facing the cathedral.
The entrance just to the cathedral is free. However, on Sundays during the morning mass, it’s closed for visitors.
In the afternoon you can visit on Sundays too, just the apse and most parts of the middle aisle is closed for visitors. If you’d like to attempt a mass in the apse, however, you can do that!
4. Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums owns one of the large collections of sculptures and other pieces of art amassed over the centuries by the Roman Catholic Church and the Papacy. Its collection contains some of the most important masterpieces of the Renaissance, Roman sculptures, and different collections from Egypt to Greece.
When you’re visiting the Vatican Museums, you’ll get to explore some of the gardens in the Vatican City, the breathtaking Sistine Chapel, and the Borgia Apartments as well!
I always suggest to everyone, to buy the tickets online! There are skip-the-line tickets available on sight, but those always cost much more. And you don’t want to get stuck in a queue for 2-3 hours, do you?
The immense building of the Colosseum is more than 2000 years old now. Also being now one of the World’s new Seven Wonders. It was a Roman amphitheater hosting gladiator shows as well as other events. The gladiator shows were either hosted by the state, or by rich Roman families. The purpose of these was to demonstrate their power and amuse the citizens of the Great Empire.
The actual largest amphitheater of the empire was standing in Capua, which is about 1 hour away from Rome. The Arena di Capua was burned down, during the war led by Spartacus, one of the most famous Roman gladiators.
„Rome will exist until the Coliseum does, when the Coliseum falls, so will Rome, so will the world.”
This makes the Colosseum just the second largest amphitheater in the Republic actually. However, this still doesn’t make it any less important!
Location: Piazza del Colosseo, on the South-East side of the historic center. Approaching public transport, look for the red metro line’s the Colosseo stop. If you’re walking (which I highly recommend), try coming from Piazza Venezia, so you can walk along the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the street that takes you back to the Roman times.
6. Roman Forum
When you visit the Roman Forum, you’ll have the chance to walk in the footsteps of Roman emperors, between the ruins of several ancient government buildings.
The tickets purchased to the forum, allow you to visit Palatine Hill as well. This is one of Rome’s 7 hills. It’s really worth hiking up there for an exquisite panoramic view!
Entrance and fees
You’ll find different pass combinations when you visit. The basics will cost €16.00, and this is including the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. The other option will cost €22.00 and that gives you the option to visit the underground of the Colosseum, and that is valid for two days. Both can be bought online, which I really recommend doing, to skip the lines!
The Pantheon is on Piazza della Rotonda, in heart of Rome. It’s close to the Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona.
Every time I see it, a weird feeling is catching me, and I can’t ever skip going inside, even if just for a few minutes. With its enormous size, it’s always reminding every visitor of the power and majesty of the Roman Empire.
The grandiose temple was built in the 2nd century, and it’s Rome’s best-preserved ancient building. The open oculus on the roof of the building makes it even more unique, this being, by the way, the main light source of the building.
The entrance for visitors is free, and it’s open during the day, with limited opening hours on Sunday. As the Pantheon is a church, you’ll need to pay attention to dress accordingly. At least have something to use as a cover-up.
8. Altare della Patria
Altare Della Patria is the dominating monument on Piazza Venezia. The landmark was built in honor of Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of unified Italy. As for its architecture, the Altare was built in the Neoclassic style on the side of the Capitolium Hill in 1911.
The colossal monument is covered in white marble, and it is comprised of Corinthian columns and endless stairs to the top. Also, you can visit the Museum of Risorgimento, inside the building.
Wondering if you could reach the top of the monument?
You can, via elevator or stairs (196). The rooftop of the Altare is allowing a 360-degree view around Rome. The elevator will cost you €7.00.
For me, this monument is always the first I see when I arrive in Rome. When I see this building, I straight away start smiling, as this is the moment I get to understand the one thing that makes me the happiest when it comes to traveling. That I’m finally in Rome!
9. Spanish Steps
Location: Piazza di Spagna, on the Northern side of the historic center. The Spanish steps are about a 10-minute walk from the Trevi Fountain, and close to one of the most popular squares in Rome, the Piazza del Popolo.
Piazza di Spagna is one of the most popular squares in Rome, featuring many great restaurants, luxury boutiques, and showrooms. There are many art galleries to find on the nearby streets, such as Via Margutta.
The Spanish steps were built in the Roman Baroque style in the 18th century, following the order of a French diplomat. The purpose was to link the Piazza di Spagna and Trinita dei Monti, which is at the top of the steps.
On the piazza, right at the foot of the steps, you’ll see the Baroque-style fountain called Fontana della Barcaccia. This was built in the 17th century, by Pietro Bernini, supposably with the help of his son, the previously mentioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
10. Castel Sant’Angelo
The castle was built by the emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century. It was meant to serve as the mausoleum for him and his family. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, it became a fortress of Rome for military use.
Later, Castel Sant’ Angelo went under the control of the Vatican, and it’s been connected to the papal state shortly after. This served as an escape passage in case of danger. The castle was used also as a prison.
The castle was considered the tallest building in Rome for a very long time. Nowadays it’s functioning as a museum.
Best to approach via the street called Via del Governo Vecchio, followed by Via Banco del Santo Spirito. These will bring you right in front of the Castle and the bridge leading to it, which is also called Sant’ Angelo.
Castel Sant’Angelo Museums
The museum inside has 5 floors, where you can discover first the cells of some historic figures. In the papal residences, you can see some beautifully preserved Renaissance frescoes and weapon collections too.
It’s really worth visiting and going up to the rooftop, for a really breathtaking view above the city! The tickets cost €15,00!
Now, about the Sant’ Angelo bridge
There are 10 angel statues on the two sides of the building, holding the instruments of passion. This was one of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s last big projects. Unfortunately, he only could finish two angels of his angels. These two are now kept in the church Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte.
More about Rome
If there’s one thing I can’t stop talking about, that’s the Eternal City.
Well, you might now benefit from that if you’re craving some more information about Europe’s most beautiful city (in my opinion!). Find out which are the most beautiful squares, loveliest parks, and great restaurants.
I also wrote an article about the most beautiful – less busy – streets in Rome, and about 6 viewpoints for great panoramic views in the Eternal City.
If you were hesitating about visiting the Italian capital city, I really hope that what you’ve seen convinced you! If one saying will be forever true, that’s the following: All roads lead to Rome!