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Rome is the capital of Italy and home to the Vatican. Strolling this frenetic city will take you through incredible Roman ruins, amazing eats including pasta carbonara, and impressive history around every corner. Take time to enjoy la dolce vita in the Eternal City.
Here are five things you can’t miss on your visit.
5. Trevi Fountain
The Baroque, Trevi Fountain measures 85-feet high by 65-feet across. It takes up almost an entire city block and stands at the junction of three roads. It was originally part of an early aqueduct system. The theme of the fountain is taming water and it produces 2,823,800 cubic feet of water each day. The fountain might look cool and inviting on a hot summer day, but don’t climb in. Fines of 500 Euros are issued if you enter the water.
Can’t Miss: Toss a coin into the fountain and it’s said you’ll return to Rome.
Address: Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
4. Stroll Trastevere
Here you’ll find the “real Rome.” This neighborhood, not far from Vatican City, can be compared to NYC’s Greenwich Village. Think cobblestone streets, cute cafes, artisan shops, and great restaurants. It’s home to the Basilica of Santa Maria. The area is not packed with tourists and you’ll be able to find a more authentic Roman meal with a pricetag less than many of the tourist traps throughout the city.
Can’t Miss: Head to the fresh market known as Piazza di San Cosimato. It’s been open since the year 900 and many of the shop owners are descendants of the first vendors.
Address: The neighborhood is on the opposite bank of the river Tiber and south of Vatican City
3. Climb the Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps found in the Piazza di Spagna got their name from the nearby Spanish embassy. Climb the 135 steps and then do some people watching while enjoying some gelato. The steps opened in 1725 and were made famous by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in the 1963 film, Roman Holiday.
Can’t Miss: Take a selfie in front of the steps (one of the most photographed spots in Rome).
Address: Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
2. Visit the Sistine Chapel
Technically, you’re leaving Rome (and Italy) when you visit Vatican City (the smallest country in the world). The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace, which is the official residence of the pope. The chapel was built by Pope Sixtus IV between 1473 and 1481. The ceiling’s fresco was painted by Michelangelo and depicts scenes from the Book of Genesis.
Can’t Miss: Look for The Creation of Adam. Per Wikipedia: “God’s right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God’s, a reminder that man is created in the image and likeness of God.”
Address: 00120 Vatican City
1. Tour the Colosseum
A list of the top things to see in Rome would be remiss not to include one of the most heavily visited sites in the world. The Colosseum is the largest standing amphitheater in the world. Construction began in 72 AD and it could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators. This is an iconic symbol of Rome and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Can’t Miss: Take a tour of the underground to see where the animals and gladiators were once kept.
Address: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
Come for the the ancient history and chaotic pace of daily life. Stay for the amazing eats in this famous capital city.
These are my can’t miss picks for Rome.
Bonus Hotel Pick: The St. Regis Rome is an impressive palazzo that was originally built in 1894. Staying here is a luxurious experience filled with art and meticulously restored interiors. The hotel has a spa and a well-appointed fitness center. It provides easy access to many of the city’s sites.
Address: Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, 3, 00185 Roma RM, Italy
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Everyone we talk to a puzzled as to why the Trevi Fountain is considered to be such an important attraction. Our reaction when we saw it was “Oh, look, a nice fountain. Let’s keep going to the Trevi Fountain. What??? This is the Trevi Fountain???”
Having said that, it’s not hard to see it if you’re in Rome’s historic center, and there’s no line to see it. So I certainly wouldn’t avoid it. But I also would not put it on the must-see list.
Regarding the Sistine chapel — we have not seen it on our two visits to Rome. It was a conscious decision based on the evaluation of pros and cons. Cons being the insane crowds in the Vatican museum in general and the chapel specifically. What I have heard from many people was that you were packed with the crowds and pushed through the museum and chapel without any free will or ability to stop and enjoy anything. Next time in Rome, we will go see these but only as part of a private (and very expensive) tour before the museum and the chapel are open to the public.