Italy is one of those designations that is dear to most of us, we love the food and know much about the incredible culture. There are lots of things to see in Rome and below are some places which are all very central and not to be missed. You could spend a year of your life exploring Rome and barely scratch the surface but the ones I’ve listed below are some of the top attractions and worthwhile.
I’ve been to Rome several times but recently had the pleasure of visiting with my friends from Monograms and let me tell you, I saw a lot more than the previous times. Having a guided tour the day after you arrive in a city is something special. It’s nice to cross off most of the iconic things to see in Rome or anywhere else right away then spend the rest of your stay however you see fit.
Below are iconic things to see in Rome
A steep staircase linking the Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Trinita dei Monti. Containing 135 steps, connects the Trinita dei Monti church with the Holy See beneath. Within the church, you’ll find a number of frescoes crafted by Italian artists like Perino del Vaga, Taddeo Zuccari, and Cesare Arbasia. At the base of the steps, the beauty of the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Ugly Boat) grants amazing photo opportunities – just be sure to show up early in the morning, else you’ll have no shortage of fellow travelers in the frame.
First featured in the 1953 film Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, it has appeared in numerous features since then, a fact which has only added to its popularity among visitors. In the past, people used to hang out on the steps and enjoy a drink in the evenings but the rules have recently changed. You can no longer eat or drink on the Spanish Steps so try and keep that in mind when you do visit. That said, the Spanish Steps are without a doubt one of the things to see in Rome.
Regarded as one of the world’s most recognizable waterworks, the Trevi Fountain is a sight you can’t afford to miss on a trip to Rome. Sculpted from Travertine limestone by Nicola Salvi and Pietro Bracci, this work of art done in the Basque style stands an imposing 86 feet tall, and stretches 161 feet from end to end.
Replacing a fountain Pope Urban VIII found too boring was how Trevi Fountain got its start; it consists of a variety of sculptures, jagged rock formations and a triple-tiered waterfall which falls into a plunge pool of powder blue water. The Trevi Fountain first gained fame after being featured in the 1954 film, Three Coins in the Fountain. As the title suggests, the protagonists throw coins in the Trevi Fountain in reverence to a local legend.
This touched off what has become a habit for tourists, as over 3,000 Euros worth of coins were thrown in the fountain’s pool every day. 1.5 million Euro was recovered from the Trevi Fountain in 2016 – the proceeds were used to fund a subsidized supermarket that helps feed Rome’s most vulnerable citizens.
The most central of the seven hills in Rome, Palatine Hill offers some of the best views of the ancient parts of town. Sitting 131 feet above the surrounding landscape, it is a great place to photograph sights like the Roman Forum and Circus Maximus. That said, Palatine Hill itself is also home to a number of important archeological sights. Among them are the Palace of Domitian which was home to the Emperor of Rome until the fall of the empire. Another is the House of Augustus, which was where its most famous ruler was born. First theorized by Emperor Augustus upon the discovery of extensive ancient ruins dating to the 10th century BCE, archeologists generally agree this hill was where Rome was founded.
Despite being completed almost 2,000 years ago in 80 AD, the Roman Colosseum still holds the record as the largest amphitheater ever built. Holding as many 80,000 spectators when full, it was home to many spectacles during its heyday. These spectacles ranged from gladiator fights to classical dramas.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, it served many purposes, as housing for citizens to being the headquarters of a religious sect. At one point, it was also a stone quarry, but despite this and damage caused by several earthquakes over the years, this monument to Roman engineering remains remarkably intact despite its advanced age.
Surrounded by the city of Rome on all sides, the Vatican is a city state that was created by the signing of the Lateran Treaty. Negotiated between Italy and the Holy See in 1929, it created a sovereign territory smallest in the world in both population (~1,000) and land area (110 acres). The Vatican is home to the Pope. The Pope is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is a place of worship within the Apostolic Palace best known for having one of the best ceiling frescoes in the world, painted by Michelangelo.
With regards to St. Peter’s Basilica, it is believed that Peter the Apostle died in Rome. According to historical accounts, he was buried where the high altar of the church now stands. The Pope himself presides over a number of masses throughout the year here, drawing tens of thousands of attendees, especially at Easter and at Christmas, so plan ahead if you wish to hear His Holiness speak.
These are some of the many iconic things to see in Rome, Italy but as mentioned above there are endless things to see when visiting Rome. The more you visit Rome, the more you see and the more you want to return. If you’re considering a visit to Rome, I urge you to go! Rome is one of those spots which is not to be missed if you’re a fan of cuisine, culture, architecture and of course history. The more you visit Rome, the more you’ll feel like you’ve barely scratched the surface and the more you’ll be intrigued. The above photo is from Boscolo Exedra’s fantastic roof at sunset.
Big thanks to my friends at Monograms and iambassador for arranging this experience. I toured with Monograms for 12 days and had an incredible time on the #MonogramsInsider campaign. That said, all opinions are my own as they always have been and most certainly always will be.