When it came to Rome, I had my pros and my cons. Friends of mine have raved about the ‘Eternal City’, and it hits a lot of my great bloggers’ ‘favourite places’ lists. We headed out for a trip in early December, and while I had a really lovely time and was impressed by how stunning so much of the city was, I’m not 100% sure I’d be in a rush to go back.
While I love architecture and food (and in Rome, both are rather good indeed), I did feel like the city had been quite overwhelmed by its tourism, and even staying in one of the outer districts, I struggled to feel as much ‘authenticity’ while I was there.
Having said that, we obviously made sure to check out the ‘big name’ sights – because if you go to Rome and don’t Instagram the Collosseum, did you even go to Rome? And that’s probably why I found myself overwhelmed with crowds…but they really are impressive to see.
The city holds so much history and mind-blowing architecture, it’s worth the odd queue and snaking your way around the ginormous flag-following groups to get a little piece of it all. And these essential sights to see in Rome are a good place to start…
With images of the Ancient Romans fixed firmly in our minds, the Colosseum was our first stop of the weekend. After arriving early in the morning and heading to our hotel, we made our way straight over. And it didn’t disappoint. Dating back to 70 AD, when construction of this epic wonder first began, the remaining structure is still overwhelming.
Now filled with informative displays about the building’s history, one of the most incredible moments for me was walking out to the central walkway for the first time, and staring out over the intricate brickwork below.. In terms of essential sights to see in Rome, it doesn’t get much bigger than this.
TRAVEL TIP: Book in advance to avoid queueing – we managed to time our visit well and pretty much walked straight in with our pre-booked tickets.
The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain, designed by Nicola Savi and completed in 1762, is probably one of the most photographed spots in Rome. And for good reason, because it’s bloody gorgeous. By far the prettiest and most impressive water fountain I’ve seen, and worth a visit to see it with your own eyes – and share on Instagram, obv. We managed to find a bit of wall to park our bums on beside the fountain, and tucked into some gelato while doing some quality people watching.
TRAVEL TIP: Crowds gather at the fountain, but if you sneak your way round to the left hand side you’re more likely to be able to squeeze into the front to get a view that isn’t obscured by every 6ft tall bloke in Rome.
The Roman Forum
Honestly, by the time we got to the Forum, my little feet were pretty achy and I mostly wanted to sit down and gorge myself on my body weight in pasta and gelato. However, we couldn’t leave without seeing this ancient plaza and the ruins of important government buildings that surround it. Basically the centre point of public affairs in Ancient Roman times, this sprawling site is home to some fascinating buildings and shrines in varying states of repair.
TRAVEL TIP: Time your visit to Rome to coincide with the first Sunday of the month, when entry to loads of Rome’s sights, including the Forum and Colosseum, are free. The only downside is that you might have to queue, but we popped over quite late in the day and ended up walking straight in 15 minutes before entry closed, still leaving us plenty of time to walk around.
When we stepped inside The Pantheon, I almost felt like we were stepping into a film shoot for the latest Dan Brown movie. A performance was taking place, and vocal arias bounced around the towering, curved ceilings of the building. It all felt incredibly atmospheric, as we made our way around looking at artifacts and intricate decoration.
Although perhaps not quite as famous as some of the other spots mentioned in this post, it was probably one of my favourite places we visited, and definitely worth spending half an hour in to soak up the ambiance and incredible design.
TRAVEL TIP: The square outside The Pantheon is a great place to spend some time people watching. Also, not far away, you’ll find an awesome little cocktail bar called Salotto42 – try their Tea Mule, made with tea gin, jasmine syrup, lime, angostura bitters and ginger beer, and thank me later.
The Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
Another one that’s high up on the essential sights to see in Rome list by pretty much everyone who goes there. And for good reason. By far the busiest of the attractions we visited, but it was totally worth the frustrating crowds to gaze up at the seriously impressive ceilings.
TRAVEL TIP: Again, book in advance for this one! We didn’t actually go into St. Peter’s Basilica, and instead opted to wander the square. But if you do want to check it out on the inside, you either need to be prepared to wait in a LONG line (so head there first thing), or pay to join a tour that’ll let you skip the queue.
ITALY TRAVEL TIP: Why not extend your time in this beautiful country with a day trip to Venice?
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