It’s so hard to choose Rome’s highlights, as there is something special around every corner! A city bursting with history, culture and character. And let’s not forget Italian food, ice cream and wine!
So where to start? Hopefully the below list of my favourite sights will help.
Top places to visit during a city break in Rome:
St Peter’s Basilica and Square
St Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world and seat of the Catholic Church, is a must-see. Whether you are religious or not, the feeling of wonder you experience as soon as you step through its huge doors cannot be exaggerated.
Large crowds of pilgrims, visitors and tourists gather on St Peter’s Square on Wednesdays for the Papal audience. It is free to attend, but you do need to get a ticket so either consider pre-booking or get there very early (it usually starts at 10am).
The Vatican Museums
The Vatican museum complex is the largest museum complex in the world, with over 1,000 museums and galleries housing an incredible collection of masterpieces collated by the Catholic church over hundreds’ of years. One of the most famous is the Sistine Chapel.
One of my favourite parts of the tour was the Gallery of Maps, a series of 40 intricate maps of Italy’s regions and papal properties frescoed on the walls.
It really, really pays to pre-book a tour of the museums, ideally combined with St Peter’s Basilica. Otherwise it’s likely you find yourself queuing for many hours.
The Pantheon and around
The wonderful Pantheon is estimated to have been built 113 to 125 AD and has the world’s largest unsupported concrete dome. Sunlight floods the building through a circular opening at the top of the dome. It is free to enter and marvel at this incredible architectural achievement.
Bernini’s Elephant and Obelisk (Obelisco della Minerva) is hidden just behind the Pantheon, on the Piazza della Minerva. In the midst of all the other Bernini masterpieces dotted around Rome, this charming little one missed out on some of the attention, but it’s one of my favourites.
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II
The Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II on the Piazza Venezia is hard to be missed. This huge monument was built in honour of the first king of unified Italy. The base of the monument houses a museum about the unification of Italy. Visitors can also climb to the top to enjoy views over Rome.
The Forum Romanum
The Forum Romanum – the heart of the ancient Roman city state. The forum is surrounded by various temples and important Government buildings, all ruins of course, but impressive nonetheless.
Piazza Barbarini and Fontana del Tritone
The Fontana del Tritone, created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The fountain is the centre piece of the Piazza Barbarini in front of the Palazzo with the same name, after the family the fountain was originally created for.
Trajan’s Column on Palazzo Cipolla commemorates Emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian wars. I could spend hours looking at the intricate depictions and admiring the marvellous craftsmanship. It’s nearly 2,000 years old!
It’s no surprise the Colosseum has become Rome’s most famous symbol, its architectural beauty and size combined with its incredible historic significance as the centre of the Roman Empire is mesmerising. Nonetheless, the real magic happens on the inside. Once Rome’s most important venue for sporting or gladiator events, what went on behind the scenes of the Colosseum and its underground catacombs is truly fascinating.
If you’re on a city break and short of time, pre-book your entry time, and if you fancy it a tour, as it saves you wasting valuable time queuing.
Legend has it that Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus, who were rescued and nursed by a she-wolf. This lovely statue dedicated to this urban legend is called Lupa Capitolina and situated in the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the ancient Capitoline Hill.