All roads lead to Rome. Ok, this is a classic opener for an article that explores beauty and exuberance of the eternal city, but if you’re no stranger to travelling, then you know that one way or another, wherever you go, you will end up in Rome at some point. Whether or not visiting Rome is on your list of priorities, it’s definitely something you should do in your lifetime, since it’s was the capital of the world at some point, and it’s got sights to prove it.
Modern Rome is a concoction of influences, where urban buzzing collides with eternal silence of ancient sites and what you get as a result is nothing short from enticing. Whatever your interests and passions are, wherever you come from, you will find something for yourself in this city – whether it’s fashion, food or ever flirty Italians. To that end, we’re presenting you top 10 things you should definitely visit when in Rome.
If you want to spend days strolling through beautiful, often hidden squares with unique charm, then Rome is your city. Seeing that we’re trying to cover top 10 places to see in the Italian capital, Piazza Navona has to be mentioned. This is one of the more touristy spots, true, but when you get to it, you’ll understand its appeal. This is one of the most prominent and well-known squares in Rome, and it has rich history, since this is where Domitian’s stadium stood couple of millennia ago.
Once the sight of sporting events, Piazza Navona is now lined with little cozy cafes and restaurants (which are always packed) that offer some rest to any tired traveler, as long as they don’t mind some touristy noise. What makes this piazza more special than others are its beautiful fountains, most eye-catching of them being the Fountain of the Four Rivers, which is not only large in scale but also mesmerizing in its craftsmanship.
Villa Dei Quintili
If you want to see how high consuls and influential individuals used to live in ancient Rome, then visiting Villa of the Quintili will be a treat for you. It’s not located in the heart of Rome, but rather on one of the countless roads leading toward it. This villa was once the epicenter of political plans and intrigue, thanks to the fact that it belonged to Quintili brothers, who were in high regard to Marcus Aurelius as his esteemed advisors.
However, times changed and so did the emperor which lead to Quintili falling from grace and being executed in their own home by the order of Emperor Commodus. Today, thousands of years later, when you get to this villa, you will see incredibly well-preserved Roman baths, not to mention that entire buildings are still standing proud, resisting the chipping of time. If you want to wander through a more peaceful landscape and feel the energy of times gone by, Villa Dei Quintili will be your cup of tea.
We’re not talking about Capuchin monkeys here, in case you were wondering, but about the order of Capuchin friars. This religious order has been around since the sixteenth century and they have dedicated their lives and deaths to their views of the world, and we mean that literally. Right beneath the church of Santa Maria Della Concezione Dei Cappuccini are six little chapels adorned by the bones of 3,700 friars that have served the order and died for it.
Though a bit bizarre and morbid even, Capuchin crypt shows how bones of the deceased can be transformed into art simply by arranging them the right way and if you have your doubts, check out the Crypt of the Skulls. In its core, this crypt is a vivid though macabre reminder that life is fleeting and should be cherished as such. Bear in mind that taking photos is strictly forbidden on this site.
Church of San Luigi Dei Francesi
If there’s two things Italy has no shortage of, it is its painters and churches they turned into artistic gems by their brush stroke. There are plenty of sights all over the country that have to be seen to experience the energy that artists of old put into their paintings and Rome is an excellent place to start. Church of San Luigi Dei Francesi is the home of Caravaggio’s baroque artistry, where you can find “The Calling of St. Matthew”, one of the painter’s most recognized works. If you’re a fan of Caravaggio, then this is a place you shouldn’t miss, and an additional plus is that there’s no admission fee. Bear in mind though, that church closes every day from 12.30 to 3 PM, so that you can plan your visits around it.
We’ll talk about some of the super touristy spots in Rome in a minute, but we also want to dedicate our attention to more authentic and less crowded parts of the Italian capital as well. Trastevere area is much more low-key than the city center and you can be sure you’ll get a better taste of real life in Rome when you get to this neighborhood. The jewel of Trastevere is the Church of Santa Maria, which is considered one of the oldest churches in the entire city of Rome. It is majestic and breathtaking and most definitely worth a visit, along with the whole Trastevere Neighborhood.
Campo de’ Fiori
You’ve probably heard of Campo de’ Fiori, especially if you’re coming to Rome to explore its nightlife among other things. Here’s a spot that’s got two completely different faces to offer to its visitors – one is the vivid and luscious market during the day, and the other is the bar hopping paradise during the night. Marketplace offers everything and anything to potential buyers, all you have to do is find it in the never-ending rows of vendors. There are countless restaurants and every possible variation of them, for ice cream parlors to simple cafes, there’s something for everyone. As the night falls seeps into the city, head out to Campo de’ Fiori to experience how Italians rock their nightlife and don’t expect to leave until you see daylight again.
City-state of Vatican needs no introduction, seeing that it’s the heart of the Roman Catholicism and not visiting it when in Rome would be quite close to a crime. We’re not saying this from a religious point of view, but from the cultural aspect because there’s so much to see in Vatican that you should dedicate a few days just exploring this city within Rome. Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica are but the tip of the iceberg of museum treasure that Vatican holds and you’ll be astonished with all the beauty and knowledge you’ll find there. Whether you’re climbing 323 steps to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica dome to see the whole of Rome in front of you or you’re quietly admiring Raphael Rooms, visiting Vatican is an experience that shouldn’t be skipped.
When you want to bask in the splendor of Italian artistry, it’s Galleria Borghese you should go to. Though it’s a bit tricky to get to the tickets (you have to reserve them in advance and they cost 11 euros), two hours you get to spend in this villa-museum will be well worth the effort. The sight in itself looks like a chateau with its stunning architecture and gardens that surround it, but what makes this museum truly worth the visit are the masterpieces displayed inside. Sculptures and paintings of great names such as Bernini, Rafael, Titian and Caravaggio will capture your attention and two hours will just fly by as you explore Galleria Borghese.
Whoever goes to Rome takes a picture at the Colosseum, it’s tradition. This ex gladiator arena is located in the very beating heart of Rome and there’s no chance you can miss it, seeing that it rules the panorama, plus the queues in front of it are anything but negligible. Thanks to its highly unusual architectural design and bloody history, it’s hardly possible that anyone who comes to Rome won’t come to take a closer look at it. We wholeheartedly suggest reserving tickets online to skip the lines and if at all possible, get a tour guide to find some deeper meaning in this sight, as it will be well worth it.
Among so many sights in the eternal city, Roman Forum deservedly gets the first place. If you’re interested in modern Rome and all the amazing things it has to offer, then you’ve got the whole city at your disposal, but Roman Forum depicts the city’s old glory and boy, it has a lot to show. First of all, there’s no admission fee, which in itself is a blessing, but that’s just a minor perk comparing to the monumental remains of old buildings, shrines and houses you get to see as you walk around.
Ruins might not sound too fun, but you will change your tune the moment you step foot to the Roman Forum, seeing that its energy and completely unique beauty is enough to hypnotize you for several hours. Remains of Temple of Saturn, Arch of Titus, Basilica of Maxentius and Trajan’s Forum are but a few of awe-striking monuments of glorious times gone by. If you have even the slightest interest in the vast history of Rome, Roman Forum is THE place to visit.
Just like with any other capital, exploring Rome will take as much time as you have and you’ll still feel like you haven’t had enough. These ten things are a good place to start your tour, but you definitely shouldn’t finish it there, but get off the beaten track and explore on your own.