Going to Rome for vacation is on everyone’s bucket list of must-see cities to visit…not just cities in Italy, but worldwide. The Eternal City is a fascinating mixture of ancient and modern that coexist happily. There are not many places on Earth where you can walk in the footsteps of ancient figures whose policies and personality still influence us today.
The great thing about a Rome vacation is that there is loads to do – no matter your age, your interests, or the size of your group. You can hit the major tourist destinations like the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and Vatican City. Or you can experience some more of the less-explored spots that only the locals know about.
For first time visitors, your itinerary might begin at the Colosseum where you would trace the footsteps of gladiators as they fought for the enjoyment of the elite and peasant classes alike. From there, you will see the Forum only a few steps away, which are the remains of old government buildings. The Forum was the center of public life back in ancient times where trials were held, speeches were orated, and it was the epicenter commercial life. It is unarguably the most acclaimed gathering place in the world. A short hike up to Palatine Hill (one of the seven hills of the city) will take you to the remains of the Flavian Palace with its well-preserved architecture and friezes. It is a sight to behold. Palatine Hill offers great opportunities for photos as it overlooks the Forum on one side, and the Circus Maximus on the other. A short hike down the other side takes you to the Circus. The remains of the stadium is where chariot racing was held. Chariot races are no longer held here, but it is still used for concerts and celebrations. Every Rome vacation should include a day for seeing these sites.
Whether you are a first timer or a seasoned traveler, you have to take a couple of days to explore Vatican City. There are a staggering number of museums to see, the Vatican gardens, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. This is the place to see some of the most famous artworks in the world. Of course, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is probably one that most people want to see in person at least once in their lifetime. Your Rome vacation would sadly be lacking if you missed it! Michelangelo’s frescoed ceiling has been restored to its former glory, so the colors are vibrant and the painting feels as if it was done just yesterday.
For a more leisurely day, take a walk to the Spanish Steps for a fun-filled day of people watching. At the bottom, you can look at the Fontana della Barcaccia, or Fountain of the Aged Boat, where poet John Keats would listen to its soothing sounds from his deathbed. Once you are done people watching, you can walk up the steps to Keats’ apartment building which now houses a museum dedicated to Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The museum contains a wealth of memorabilia, writings, paintings, and other collections from Byron, the Brownings, Oscar Wilde, Keats, and Shelley.
Of course, no Rome vacation would be complete without a trip to Trevi Fountain. Back in November 2015, the fountain reopened after extensive restoration. They also installed over 100 LED lights to help with nighttime lighting of the fountain. When you are there, remember to throw the coins with your right hand over your left shoulder to ensure good luck and a speedy return to Italy.
Wondering what to eat on your Rome vacation? This is Italy! So everything will be delicious! There are numerous restaurants, but if you really want to go native, shop at the local street markets. Pick up fresh bread, cheeses, and meats to create finger foods that are easily portable. You’ll be doing a lot of walking and there are tons of gardens and parks to sit and enjoy a relaxing snack. If you are there during late spring through early fall, gelato is a definite must. Hold that, gelato is good anytime of the year! Cafes are also great places to sit and soak up the atmosphere.