R O M E
THE ETERNAL CITY
- Did You Know -
In Italian, Rome is known as Roma, which is amor (love) backward. The perfect name for a city filled with more love, history, and fabulous food than any other, here are five facts that you may or may not have known about the ‘Eternal City’:
1. The Colosseum
It was built in 72 A.D. and is Rome’s most popular tourist attraction. It hosted the brutal and gory man vs. beast games familiar from movies like ‘The Gladiator’ and caused the death of thousands upon thousands of animals and people. By some estimates, species like the North African elephant even went extinct as a result of being used in these gladiator fights and in regional armies. The Colosseum also has over 80 entrances and can accommodate about 50,000 spectators.
2. Remus and Romulus
Remus and Romulus were twin brothers that are believed to have founded Ancient Rome. As babies, they were abandoned by their parents in a basket on the Tiber River. A she-wolf found and nursed them until a shepherd found them. Once they reached adulthood, they decided to create a city in the place where the she-wolf had found them. The brothers got into a dispute which ended when Romulus killed Remus. This left Romulus as the sole founder of the city which became Rome.
3. Vatican City
Some people are surprised to learn that the Vatican is not actually a part of Rome…or even Italy! It is its’ own sovereign state which is located in Rome’s city limits and is also the world’s smallest country. There are only 800 residents and even fewer citizens. Citizenship is not guaranteed by birth and it can end when a citizen no longer resides there. Vatican Museums contain one of the largest and most breathtaking art collections in the world.
The Capuchin Crypt in Rome consists of five chapels, a 60-meter long corridor and is nicely decorated with the bones of 4,000 deceased monks. And you know that cappuccino drink loved by millions worldwide? Well, its name comes from this order of monks, known by their custom of wearing a hood or cappuccino in Italian. Also, to properly drink a cappuccino in Italy, never drink or order one after 10 am since it is considered a breakfast drink only.
5. Shopping malls
Rome has originated the concept of shopping malls, believe it or not! The first-ever shopping mall was built by Roman Emperor Trajan and it consisted of several levels and more than 150 outlets that sold everything ranging from food and spices to clothes. As you can see, Italy’s culture of fashion, shopping and textiles come from centuries of perfecting this very concept and has very deep-seated roots indeed!
ROME : THE ETERNAL CITY
Rome is a unique and stunning destination with many different sights and attractions to keep any type of traveler enticed for days.
Rome is so much more than just the capital of Italy, the home of Vatican City and the Pope. A mecca for historic sites and museums, famed Italian food, great works of art, and higher-end shopping. Those who love art and history can lose themselves in the countless museums, galleries, and other areas of the city filled with famous sculptures and paintings. Foodies will enjoy Rome for comfort foods such as pasta and pizza as well as having the opportunity to immerse their taste buds in a blend of flavors that are prevalent in all Italian cuisine. Visitors can venture into a different café or restaurant each day and taste their way through the distinctive regions with restaurants featuring unique regional specialties. In Rome, gelato is an acceptable treat at any meal, romance blooms on ancient streets, and the famous sights can be overwhelming but breathtaking.
History is important to this age-old city, with the Pantheon, Colosseum and Roman Forum standing tall throughout the city, while a modern cosmopolitan feel creates an atmosphere that leads Rome to be one of the most popular European destinations for travelers of any age. Those looking to seek out great art, visit the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums for Michelangelo’s famous work, and the Galleria Doria Pamphilj for works by Raphael and Bernini. These famous artists left their marks on Rome, and there’s definitely enough to keep any artist or art historian busy during a trip to Rome. The Trevi fountain is not only beautiful but depicts gods and goddesses of ancient times; discover Neptune, Trivia, and Hygieia among others.
Zip through the city streets on a Vespa, enjoy an Italian cappuccino and cannoli or enjoy sitting on the Spanish steps luxuriating in the hot Italian sun. Those dreaming of a romantic vacation, a trip to dive into the past, or a destination full of delicious fare, Rome is the place to go. As the old saying goes: When in Rome, do as the Romans do!
While In Rome, Do As the Romans Do!
Italian cuisine has influenced food culture around the world and is viewed as a form of art by many. Wine, cheese, and pasta are an important part of Italian meals. Pasta comes in a wide range of shapes, widths, and lengths, including penne, spaghetti, linguine, fusilli, and lasagna.
For Italians, food isn't just nourishment, it represents life itself. Family gatherings are often centered around food and the extended networks of families. Each region of Italy has its own spin on "Italian food" and most of the foods that Americans view as Italian, such as spaghetti and pizza, come from central Italy. In the North of Italy, fish, potatoes, rice, sausages, pork and different types of cheeses are the most prevalent ingredients used in traditional meals. Pasta dishes are popular, as are many kinds of stuffed pasta, polenta, and risotto. While in the South, tomatoes are the dominant ingredient and are either served fresh or cooked into the sauce. Southern cuisine also includes capers, peppers, olives and olive oil, garlic, artichokes, eggplant, and ricotta cheese.
Wine is also a big part of Italian culture, and the country is home to some of the world's most famous vineyards. The oldest traces of Italian wine were recently discovered in a cave near Sicily's southwest coast.
Italian cuisine; as mentioned above, is very regional, and though you might see dishes like ragù ala bolognese (the typical meat sauce that hails from Bologna) on restaurant menus, stick to Roman dishes. Traditionally dubbed la Cucina Povera, Roman specialties tend to be simple, with a few ingredients prepared using tried-and-true methods.
Typical appetizers include fried artichokes, fried salt cod filets, and plenty of cheese and salumi. The most classic Roman kinds of pasta are bucatini all’amatriciana, a spicy tomato sauce with peperoncino, guanciale (pig’s cheek), and pecorino romano; spaghetti ala carbonara, a creamy sauce made with raw egg yolk, black pepper, guanciale, and pecorino romano, a winning combination of pecorino romano and black pepper.
The Jewish Ghetto is located in a small area between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Venezia. This area feels distinct from other neighborhoods because of its concentration of Jewish restaurants, shops, and bakeries. Ristorante Piperno is one of the oldest and best places to get carciofi alla giudia (Jewish artichokes), which are fried whole and absolutely delicious. Also, try the fiori di zucca (fried stuffed zucchini flowers).
Vatican City is the world’s smallest fully independent nation-state. It's medieval and Renaissance walls form its boundaries except on the southeast at St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro). Of the six entrances only the piazza, the Arco delle Campane (Arch of the Bells) in the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica, and the entrance to the Vatican Museums and Galleries in the north wall are open to the public.
The Pope resides within the city wall at the Vatican palace. The Holy See is the name given to the government of the Roman Catholic Church, which is led by the Pope as the bishop of Rome and the authority of the Holy See extends over Catholics throughout the world. Since February 11, 1929, this authority has resided in Vatican City, which was specifically established as an independent state becoming the center of the Catholic faith worldwide.
In this city of outstanding churches, none can hold a candle to St Peter's, Italy’s largest, richest and most spectacular basilica. Built atop a 4th-century church, it was consecrated in 1626 after 120 years' construction. Its lavish interior contains many spectacular works of art, including three of Italy's most celebrated masterpieces: Michelangelo’s Pietà, his soaring dome, and Bernini’s 29m-high baldachin over the papal altar.
Tomb of St Peter
Excavations beneath the basilica have uncovered part of the original church and what archaeologists believe is the Tomb of St Peter. In 1942 the bones of an elderly, strongly built man was found in a box hidden behind a wall covered by pilgrims' graffiti. And while the Vatican has never definitively claimed that the bones belong to St Peter, in 1968 Pope Paul VI said that they had been identified in a way that the Vatican considered 'convincing'.
To avoid queues book a guided tour and note that strict dress codes are enforced (no shorts, miniskirts or bare shoulders). The excavations of St. Peter can only be visited by guided tour.
The history of the Roman Empire can be divided into three distinct periods: The Period of Kings (625-510 BC), Republican Rome (510-31 BC), and Imperial Rome (31 BC – AD 476).
Founding (c. 625 BC)
Rome was founded around 625 BC in the areas of ancient Italy known as Etruria and Latium. It is thought that the city-state of Rome was initially formed by Latium villagers joining together with settlers from the surrounding hills in response to an Etruscan invasion. It is unclear whether they came together in defense or as a result of being brought under Etruscan rule. Archaeological evidence indicates that a great deal of change and unification took place around 600 BC which likely led to the establishment of Rome as a true city.
Period of Kings (625-510 BC)
The first period in Roman history is known as the Period of Kings, and it lasted from Rome’s founding until 510 BC. During this brief time Rome, led by no fewer than six kings, advanced both militaristically and economically with increases in physical boundaries, military might, and production and trade of goods including oil lamps. Politically, this period saw the early formation of the Roman constitution. The end of the Period of Kings came with the decline of Etruscan power, thus ushering in Rome’s Republican Period.
Republican Rome (510-31 BC)
Rome entered its Republican Period in 510 BC. No longer ruled by kings, the Romans established a new form of government whereby the upper classes ruled, namely the senators and the equestrians, or knights. However, a dictator could be nominated in times of crisis. In 451 BC, the Romans established the “Twelve Tables,” a standardized code of laws meant for public, private, and political matters.
Rome continued to expand through the Republican Period and gained control over the entire Italian peninsula by 338 BC. It was the Punic Wars from 264-146 BC, along with some conflicts with Greece, that allowed Rome to take control of Carthage and Corinth and thus become the dominant maritime power in the Mediterranean.
Soon after, Rome’s political atmosphere pushed the Republic into a period of chaos and civil war. This led to the election of a dictator, L. Cornelius Sulla, who served from 82-80 BC. Following Sulla’s resignation in 79 BC, the Republic returned to a state of unrest. While Rome continued to be governed as a Republic for another 50 years, the shift to Imperialism began to materialize in 60 BC when Julius Caesar rose to power.
By 51 BC, Julius Caesar had conquered Celtic Gaul and, for the first time, Rome’s borders had spread beyond the Mediterranean region. Although the Senate was still Rome’s governing body, its power was weakening. Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC and replaced by his heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian) who ruled alongside Mark Antony. In 31 BC Rome overtook Egypt which resulted in the death of Mark Antony and left Octavian as the unchallenged ruler of Rome. Octavian assumed the title of Augustus and thus became the first emperor of Rome.
Imperial Rome (31 BC – AD 476)
Rome’s Imperial Period was its last, beginning with the rise of Rome’s first emperor in 31 BC and lasting until the fall of Rome in AD 476. During this period, Rome saw several decades of peace, prosperity, and expansion. By AD 117, the Roman Empire had reached its maximum extant, spanning three continents including Asia Minor, northern Africa, and most of Europe.
In AD 286 the Roman Empire was split into eastern and western empires, each ruled by its own emperor. The western empire suffered several Gothic invasions and, in AD 455, was sacked by Vandals. Rome continued to decline after that until AD 476 when the western Roman Empire came to an end. The eastern Roman Empire, more commonly known as the Byzantine Empire, survived until the 15th century AD. It fell when Turks took control of its capital city, Constantinople (modern day Istanbul in Turkey) in AD 1453.
According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC by twin sons Romulus and Remus who were raised by a she-wolf. During its twelve-century history, the Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to an oligarchic republic to a immense empire.
Things not to do in rome
Tutte le strade portano a Roma — All roads lead to Rome.
This is an ancient Italian saying, and if it is true, then you’ll be visiting Rome sooner or later!
Roman people are quite used to tourists, who are looked upon as if they are almost a different typology of human beings altogether. Well, isn’t it true that we all change a bit when on vacation in a different country, after all?
Romans are generally welcoming, but it is wise to pay attention to some things that they find it hard to accept. The basic idea is “Don’t do what the Romans don’t.” This is because some tourist habits are somewhat funny, while others are just plain offensive.
1. Do not throw coins into every fountain you see. Coins go into the Fontana di Trevi only.
Living in Rome, it’s so easy to spot coins in almost all the fountains. This always makes people smile, because every Roman knows that the only one in which you should actually throw a coin and make a wish is the Trevi Fountain, and the Trevi Fountain only!
2. Don’t get a lot of single-fare public transport tickets. Get a 3-day, 7-day, 30-day pass instead.
Public transport tickets cost around 1€ (but the prices are most probably going to go up starting from June) and allow you one single metro trip or a 75 minutes trip by bus. If you’re going to use public transport a lot, you’d better get a pass that allows you to use buses, metro and trams as much as you want.
BTI ticket costs 11€ and lasts 3 days; CIS pass costs 16€ and lasts 7 days; a monthly pass costs 30€ and is valid for the calendar month. You must validate the pass on the first use using one of the small yellow machines at the entrance of the metro stations or in the buses, and keep it with you at all times, in order to be able to show it to the ticket inspector if needed.
3. Cling to your stuff. Do not keep your money in the most accessible pocket of your backpack.
If this is your habit, Roman pickpockets will just love you. This is a basic rule! Be travel-savvy and keep your documents and money in separate purses and check on them every now and then. Do not put valuables in an external pocket. Do not leave anything unattended even for a few minutes. I-phones and MP3 players are now the most targeted and stolen items, so take good care of them.
4. Fountains are not for washing your feet, and no, you can’t dip them in “just for a minute.”
Rome is so hot in the summer, and your feet will be tired of walking on the hot sanpietrini, the typical Roman cobblestones. So it is just normal to desire to dip your feet in fresh water, but even if you really want to, resist the urge to sit on the border of a fountain and dip your tired feet, as it is forbidden and locals find it disrespectful. You can use one of those small public drinking fountains called nasoni (big noses) instead. It’s very easy to find one and nobody will blame you.
5. Avoid tourist menus as much as you can and get some proper food.
This looks like an easy one, even if there are many tourist-trap menus in the center of Rome, so many that it isn’t really easy to avoid them, especially when you don’t know where to go. If you prefer a quick snack, it’s also nice to get a look in a supermarket or in an open air market, where you can get fresh ingredients for a panino and some fruit, just like a local.
Also, it is a good idea to try avoiding what you can get at home; you’re in Italy after all! Be curious!
6. Don’t divert your attention!
Always beware of pickpockets, especially when travelling on buses, metros and public transport, but also when in line for something and when shopping in crowded places.
Some bus lines are especially famous for the high number of robberies that happen there every day. For example, the 64 line is one of them. Thieves do not always look seedy—they actually look pretty normal and friendly—but they’re expert scammers. You may get bumped or approached by someone when walking on the street or pushed when in line or while you’re window-shopping. An old trick that usually works is to cling to your bag. For example, get your backpack or bag on your belly and hug it with nonchalance. Even Romans do it, so it’s definitely all right.
7. Avoid entering a church, a place of culture or a museum in a very summery (as in, skimpy) dress.
It is a good idea to keep a big scarf or spare clothes in your backpack, so you can quickly wrap them around your shoulders or legs when visiting some buildings. There is a dress code for many of them, and sometimes the janitors just don’t let you in if you are not covered enough.
So check your tops, short pants and skirts; if they show too much skin, there are chances that somebody will stop you from entering. This applies to both men and women.
8. Do not leave your trash on the streets, in somebody’s bike basket or on the steps of a building.
If you can’t find a bin near you, then keep that rubbish in a plastic bag or in your pockets until you find one.
Rome is such a beautiful city, but just too often visitors don’t care enough about keeping it clean. Many places are littered with rubbish such as food leftovers, cans, wrapping paper, and broken umbrellas. Romans always wonder bitterly if tourists do it in their home cities as well…!
9. You don’t have to pay for everything you’re going to visit. There are so many free places!
While it is true that some museums and palaces are worth the ticket, it is a pity to limit your visit to those places. Gather some useful info before going to Rome! For example, the Pantheon is free, and the Vatican Museums are free on the last Sunday of every month.
Besides, it is nice to visit some not-so-touristy places...You will have a taste of “real” Rome. What about wandering through the small streets, or taking a walk in the most beautiful quarters of Rome, like Trastevere, Testaccio or Coppedé?
Moreover, Basilicas are usually free to visit and contain so many works of art. The big city parks (usually called “Villa-something,” like Villa Pamphili, Villa Borghese, Villa Ada or Villa Torlonia) are free too. You might also like to visit the Appia Antica Park, both walking and biking.
10. Do not accept flowers, toys or anything else from strangers. Refuse firmly and keep walking.
You will definitely meet people who will try to scam you, putting stuff like roses, small toys, bracelets or even little holy pictures in your hands, offering it to you as if it were a gift, or for “good luck in Italy” or because they “need help,” or because “you’re beautiful.” They will then ask for money and give you trouble if you refuse or give them just a few coins. This is when it can help to learn to speak Italian before you travel so you can provide a quick response.
So a firm No grazie (no, thanks) is in this case the best answer. If they approach you while you’re walking, just keep going and pay attention to your belongings in the meantime. Sometimes one person will approach you, while a partner takes away your stuff while you’re distracted. Never let your guard down!
MONEY MATTERS IN ROME
Should I use my credit card to get cash?
ATMS are everywhere in Italy – just as they are in the United States – only they’re called Bancomats. Don’t let the Italian name fool you, by the way. At the beginning of your transaction, you’ll be able to select English as your language of choice and they operate just like American ATMs do.
If you decide to use an ATM to get cash, it’s a good idea to use your debit card. Credit cards will often charge you a cash advance fee when you withdraw money. You’ll also immediately start accruing interest on your transaction until you pay back the amount withdrawn.
Don’t forget that you might still pay an ATM fee when you use your debit card, but you’ll avoid paying interest. Choose a low-fee card like the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account. It reimburses you for any fees you may incur at ATMs, doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and won’t stick you with cash advance interest because it’s not a credit card.
What other credit card fees should I look out for?
Foreign transaction fees
When you use your card abroad, you can incur a foreign transaction fee that’s usually 3% of each transaction (though can be more, depending on your card).
Most credit cards have foreign transaction fees. However, all good travel cards come with no foreign transaction fees. For a few excellent cards, look into the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card and BankAmericard Travel Rewards.
Currency conversion fees
A merchant may offer to convert your bill into US dollars instead of charging you in euros. This is called dynamic currency conversion, and it’s expensive because you’ll pay a currency conversion fee for it. If a merchant offers it, take a hard pass.
Cash is king
It’s an excellent idea to carry euros with you during your trip. Big tourist locations and hotels will often accept credit cards, and sometimes even US dollars. But, if you plan on exploring the beautiful farmer’s market in Venice, you should keep in mind that they probably won’t accept plastic, so plan on carrying some cash with you. Plus, while some places may accept US currency, they’re likely to give you poor exchange rates.
How much is a US dollar worth in euros?
Magstripe and chip credit cards
Your credit card provider has probably sent you a new credit card with a chip inside to replace your magstripe card. The chip card has a chip inside of it and you insert it into a credit card reader, while a magstripe can only be swiped.
In the US, most stores use chip-and-signature cards, meaning that you insert your chip card and sign for it. However, in Europe chip-and-pin cards (where you insert your chip card then enter your PIN) are more common.
Using a chip-and-signature card in Italy usually won’t be a problem. The attendant will often just ask for a signature. However, if you are in a place where there aren’t attendants – like a train station late at night – then you may be facing a bit of a conundrum.
You can avoid this problem either by simply carrying cash or by calling your card provider and asking for your credit card PIN. Make sure that you leave a few weeks to receive your PIN by mail.
If you’re still worried about using your chip-and-signature card, you can cover your bases by picking up an actual chip-and-PIN card. Two such cards often recommended by travelers are the State Department Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum and the Andrews Federal Credit Union Visa.
How to prepare before traveling to Italy
Before arriving in Italy, make sure you can use your credit card there easily.
Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
Most credit cards will charge a 3% foreign transaction fee if you try to use it internationally. However, cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express (don’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Highly consider getting a Visa or Mastercard.
Visa and Mastercard are pretty universally accepted in Italy. AMEX and Discover are not always accepted.
Give your card provider a heads–up.
Your card company hates fraud because it loses them money. If they see a foreign transaction on your card, they may put a hold on your account for suspicious activity. To avoid declined charges, let your provider know you’ll be traveling to Italy.
Know who to call if you’re having problems with your card.
Your card might be stolen while you’re traveling, or you could lose it. In both cases, you’ll need the right number to call for a replacement card. Ask your provider for an Italian phone number you can dial in a pinch.
Know where you’ll get cash once you arrive.
So you don’t waste time, plan out beforehand where you’ll get cash. See if your bank has international partnerships that allow you to use some Bancomats for free.
You’re almost ready to leave for Italy! Before you take off, know your answers to these questions.
Which credit cards will I take? Consider bringing at least two, preferably chip cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Have I called my card provider? Keep your card provider in the loop, and know what number you’ll call if you run into trouble abroad.
Do I understand the possible fees? Knowledge is power — and it can save you a lot of money on your travels.
What’s my plan to get cash? Have a debit card ready, and know which ATMs you’ll get cash from.
How can I keep my card safe? Keep your credit card with you at all times, cover your PIN with your hand when at an ATM and cancel your ATM transaction if anything seems off.
Once you’ve made these arrangements, you’re all set to use your credit card on your next trip to Italy. Safe travels!
Most See Attractions
The Colosseum is the main symbol of Rome. It is an imposing construction that, with almost 2,000 years of history, will bring you back in time to discover the way of life in the Roman Empire.
The construction of the Colosseum began in the year 72 under the empire of Vespasian and was finished in the year 80 during the rule of the emperor Titus. After completion, the Colosseum became the greatest Roman amphitheatre, measuring 188 meters in length, 156 meters in width and 57 meters in height.
The Colosseum in Ancient Times
During the Roman Empire and under the motto of "Bread and Circuses" the Roman Colosseum (known then as Flavian Amphitheatre) allowed more than 50,000 people to enjoy its finest spectacles. The exhibitions of exotic animals, ex ecutions of prisoners, recreations of battles and gladiator fights kept the Roman people entertained for years.
The Colosseum remained active for over 500 years. The last recorded games in history were celebrated in the 6th century.
Since the 6th century the Colosseum has suffered lootings, earthquakes and even bombingsduring World War Two. Demonstrating a great survival instinct, the Colosseum was used for decades as a storehouse, church, cemetery and even a castle for nobility.
The Colosseum in the present day
At present the Colosseum is, along with the Vatican City, Rome's greatest tourist attraction. Each year 6 million tourists visit it. On 7 July 2007 the Colosseum became one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
- The original name "Flavian Amphitheatre" was changed to the Colosseum due to the great statue of Nero that was located at the entrance of the Domus Aurea, "The Colossus of Nero". The Domus Aurea was a great palace built under the orders of Nero after the Fire of Rome.
- The emperor Titus inaugurated the Colosseum with 100 days of games, which took the life of more than 2,000 gladiators.
- The Colosseum had a canvas ceiling to protect people from the sun. The machinery and cages were located beneath the arena.
- There are some theories that the Colosseum was filled with water for naval battle recreations, although for the moment there have not been conclusive investigations.
- Every Good Friday the Pope leads the Way of the Cross procession in the Colosseum. This place has always been closely connected with the church and on this day the early Christians that died in the arena are remembered.
In order to avoid endless lines that can cost you several hours, it is advisable either to arrive early in the morning or to buy an entrance ticket in the Palatine Hill, since there are usually fewer people there and the cost of entrance is combined.
Another way to avoid lines is to buy the Roma Pass, a discount card that offers free entrance to the Colosseum without having to wait in line.
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum was where religious and public life in ancient Rome took place. The Forum is, along with the Colosseum, the greatest sign of the splendour of the Roman Empire that can be seen today.
After the fall of the Empire, the Roman Forum was forgotten and little by little it was buried under the earth. Although in the 16th century the existence and location of the Forum was already known, it was not until the 20th century that excavations were carried out.
Interestingly, the place where the Forum was built was originally a marshy area. In the 6th century B.C. the area was drained by means of the Cloaca Maxima, one of the first sewer systems in the world.
Points of interest
Besides the great number of temples that are in the forum (Saturn, Venus, Romulus, Vesta, etc.), it is worth paying special attention to the following points of interest:
- Via Sacra: This was the main street in ancient Rome which linked the Piazza del Campidoglio with the Colosseum.
- Arch of Titus: This is a triumphal arch that commemorates Rome's victory over Jerusalem. It was built after the death of the emperor Titus.
- Arch of Septimius Severus: An arch erected in the year 203 A.D. to commemorate the third anniversary of Septimius Severus as the emperor.
- Temple of Antoninus and Faustina: Built in the second century, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina sets itself apart as the best preserved temple in the Roman Forum.
- Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine: Though now mostly destroyed, its size suggests that this was one of the most important buildings of the Roman Forum.
- The Curia: In this building the Senate met to make administrative decisions and about the Roman government.
- Column of Phocas: Erected in the year 608 A.D. in honour of the emperor of Byzantium, this column, which is over 13 meters high, is one of the few that have remained standing since being built.
Visiting Rome without walking around the Forum is like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. As you travel along the Via Sacra, close your eyes and imagine it as it was more than 20 centuries ago, when Julius Caesar walked there.
The Roman Forum is one of the most beautiful and interesting places in the city, so it is easy to spend several hours strolling among its temples without getting bored.
Trevi Fountain is the most beautiful fountain in Rome. Measuring some 20 meters in width by 26 meters in height, Trevi Fountain is also the largest fountain in the city.
The origins of the fountain go back to the year 19 B.C., in which period the fountain formed the end of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct. The first fountain was built during the Renaissance, under the direction of Pope Nicholas V.
The final appearance of the Trevi Fountain dates from 1762, when after many years of works at the hand of Nicola Salvi, it was finalized by Giuseppe Pannini.
Interestingly enough, the name of Trevi derives from Tre Vie (three ways), since the fountain was the meeting point of three streets.
The myth of the Trevi Fountain
Why are there always people in the fountain throwing coins into the water and taking photos of themselves?
The myth, originating in 1954 with the movie "Three Coins in the Fountain," goes like this:
- If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome.
- If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian.
- If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met.
In order to achieve the desired effect, you should throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.
An interesting statistic is that approximately a million euros worth of coins are taken from the fountain each year. Since 2007 this money has been used to support good causes.
The most beautiful fountain in the world
For us Trevi Fountain is the most beautiful fountain in the world. Whether under daylight or warmly lit up at night, the fountain is never lonely.
One thing that can dampen the mood is that the area is full of people trying to sell roses in a pushy way, but simply ignoring them is enough to be able to continue enjoying such a special place.
Fountains of Piazza Navona
The most beautiful parts of Piazza Navona are its three fountains, designed during the papacy of Gregory XIII:
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
Erected in the centre of Piazza Navona, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) was designed by Bernini in 1651. The four statues represent the most important rivers of the continents where Christianity had spread; the Nile, Danube, the Ganges and Rio de la Plata. In the middle there is an obelisk measuring 52 ft (16 m), which had originally been part of the Circus of Maxentius, found in the Appian Way Regional Park.
Fontana del Moro
Sculpted by Giacomo della Porta and later perfected by Bernini, who added the figure of the Moor, the fountain was initially called the “Seashell Fountain.” This fountain is located on the southern side of the square.
Fontana del Nettuno
The Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) was also created by Giacomo della Porta in 1574, but remained unfinished for approximately three-hundred years, until 1878, when it was decorated by Antonio Della Bitta and Gregorio Zappalà.
Until mid-nineteenth century, every summer the drains of the three fountains were blocked and the centre of the square was flooded to make the “Lake of Piazza Navona”. It was greatly enjoyed by the locals.
A charming area
The square is surrounded by restaurants and terraces giving Piazza Navona a lively and delightful atmosphere during the day. Here, visitors can enjoy performances by street artists like magicians and dancers.
The most imposing buildings which look onto the square are the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agoneand the Palazzo Pamphilj.
The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is one of the greatest treasures of the Vatican City, of Rome and of the world in general. It is known as much for its decoration, as for being the temple in which popes are chosen and crowned.
The construction of the building was carried out between 1473 and 1481 during the mandate of Pope Sixtus IV, to whom it owes its current name. The architect responsible for the construction was Giovanni of Dolci and it is the only work that he is remembered for.
What grabs the attention in the Sistine Chapel is not its architecture, but the frescoes that completely cover the walls and the ceiling. Some of the most important artists who worked in the chapel are Botticelli, Perugino, Luca and Michelangelo.
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
All of the frescoes of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are the work of Michelangelo, who spent four years painting the vault between 1508 and 1512.
If there is one thing that stands out from among the images on the ceiling, it is the nine stories from Genesis that occupy the central area: The scenes from the Drunkenness of Noah to the Separation of Light from Darkness are represented.
The Creation of Adam
Without any doubt, The Creation of Adam is the best-known image from the Sistine Chapel. It is located in the central part of the vault and represents the story from Genesis in which God gives life to Adam.
The Final Judgment
Located over the high altar and with some magnificent dimensions (13.7 by 12.2 metres), Michelangelo’s other masterpiece, The Final Judgment, is found. It is a fresco that represents the Apocalypse of St. John.
Decorating the apse occupied five years of Michelangelo’s life, between 1536 and 1541. It was an assignment of the Pope Paul III to cover the murals that existed to that point.
The Piazza di Spagna
The Piazza di Spagna (English: Square of Spain) is one of Rome’s most renowned squares. The name comes from the Palazzo di Spagna, the seat of the Spanish Embassy for the Vatican located on this square since the seventeenth century.
The Piazza di Spagna is found in one of the most popular neighborhoods of Rome, near the high streetsVia dei Condotti, Via Frattina and Via del Babuino, which houses several impressive seventeenth and eighteenth century villas.
If you walk down Via del Babuino, you’ll arrive at Piazza del Popolo. In the centre of the square is the Flaminio Obelisk, one of the tallest obelisks in Rome, which was housed in the Circus Maximus.
To get some of the best views of Rome, climb the steps from Piazza del Popolo to the top of Pincian Hill.
The Spanish Steps (Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti in Italian) were built at the beginning of the eighteenth century connecting Piazza di Spagna and the Church of Trinità dei Monti. It is one of the most famous parts of Rome.
Every July, the square and the 135 steps are decorated to receive the Donne Sotto le Stelle fashion show.
The staircase is a favourite spot among tourists to sit, relax and enjoy the views of Piazza di Spagna.
Fontana della Barcaccia
The Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the ugly boat) was designed by Pietro Bernini, father of the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who later helped with the creation. It was finished in 1627 and placed by Pope Urban III in the centre of Piazza di Spagna.
The Fontana della Barcaccia is shaped as a boat and has the emblems of the Barberini family (the Noble family of Pope Urban III), bees and a sun engraved.
excursions & tours
Colosseum Underground Tour
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
On this Colosseum underground tour, you can experience this historic Rome icon to the fullest with access to areas that are typically closed to the public—the underground chambers and the arena floor. After skipping the main entrance line, explore the Colosseum with an informative guide, who shares stories about life in Ancient Rome. You’ll have the rare chance to walk through the tunnels, stand where gladiators stood and enjoy a panoramic view. Then visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill to complete your tour of Rome’s top ancient sites.
Ancient Rome-Skip The Line
Duration: 3 hours
Skip the entrance line at the Colosseum so you won’t waste any time getting inside to marvel at this Roman icon. On this walking tour of Ancient Rome, you’ll explore the amphitheatre’s first and second levels with a guide, who entertains you with tales of gruesome gladiator battles. Then visit the Roman Forum to see its ancient ruins like the Temple of Julius Caesar. This tour is limited to 25 people. If you want to enhance your experience, upgrade to a tour of the Colosseum’s restricted underground chambers, arena and upper tier.
Pompeii & Mt Vesuvius
Duration: 13 hours
Take a day out of your Rome vacation to get acquainted with Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii. This day trip to Pompeii includes a steady-paced hike up Mt. Vesuvius (summer only) or a visit to Naples when Vesuvius is closed in winter, plus a pizza in Naples and a tour of the UNESCO-listed digs at Pompeii. Hear the history from a local guide and admire artifacts that date back to the infamous Mt. Vesuvius eruption of AD 79.
Crypts & Roman Catacombs
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
Go underground to see Rome’s ancient catacombs and crypts on a 3.5-hour walking tour. Visit the Domitilla Catacomb and Basilica of San Clemente with skip-the-line access, plus visit the Capuchin Crypt, where you’ll see a Caravaggio painting and marvel at a chapel made entirely out of human bones. Learn about past burial customs and secret Christian worship spots during this fascinating exploration into the history of Rome.
Duration: 2 days
Take a Rome hop-on-hop-off tour by open-top bus, and spend time city sightseeing as you travel past attractions such as the Colosseum and Vatican City. Relax aboard the double-decker Rome tour bus, listen to the audio commentary and hop on and off at any of the stops. Select a sightseeing ticket that’s valid for 24 or 48 hours, or pick an upgrade option to include entry to the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Roman Forum and more.
Tuscany In One Day
Duration: 12 hours
Take a Tuscany tour from Rome and see the best of the captivating Val d’Orcia region, near Siena. With a local guide at your side, you’ll discover countryside where historic hilltowns perch on sun-drenched hills and Tuscan farms dot the landscape. Visit the wine towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino, and enjoy free time to explore Pienza, a UNESCO World Heritage town. Wine tasting and lunch at a farm is included.