Things to do in Rome
Rome. It’s a fantastic city with plenty of history and attractions, and more than enough to keep you busy for a week. But, if you’re on a short time frame, and need to fit as much in as possible, here are my recommendations for the must-see sights for a day out.
I’d recommend starting with the Colosseum because if you get there early you might beat the crowds. Gates open at 8.30, and since you will have bought your ticket online, you’ll get straight in. You can explore on your own, but to get the most out of your visit, a guided tour would be best, helping you to understand the bloody history of this gory venue. Get your tickets online here.
A city within a city! Entirely separate from Rome, this city-state is the smallest in the world. Despite that, it still manages to cram in a great deal, from St. Peter’s Basilica and Square, to the wonder that is Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, to the Vatican museum itself. Many hours can be spent here, although my favourite activity is climbing the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. From the top, you will get 360 degree panoramic views of the whole city.
Again, booking in advance is the wise option, as the queues for tickets can be insanely long. Official tickets are available here. Also bear in mind that appropriate clothing must be worn to visit most churches and religious sites in Rome.
Now, onto some free stuff. The Pantheon is a two thousand year old ancient Roman temple, featuring the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. Yep, the Romans invented concrete 2,000 years ago, and no-one has built a larger dome in this style since then.
Even more impressive is the fact that the centre of the dome is open to the sky, which means it’s both naturally lit and well ventilated. Inside, the Pantheon still operates as a church, and is therefore decorated as you’d expect.
The Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps
Two more highlights of Rome that no visitor should skip – the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. The Trevi Fountain is an 18th century baroque masterpiece featuring a statue of Neptune and is particularly pretty at night. It’s said that if you throw a coin in, you will return to Rome, hopefully with more time on your hands to explore a little more.The Spanish Steps are another baroque highlight of Rome, found right in the centre of the city, overlooking the Piazza di Spagna. These are a fantastic place to watch and be watched, with ample sitting space on the many steps, as well as a fountain at the bottom. Don’t forget to bring a water bottle with you, as all the fountains in Rome gush drinking water from their faucets.
You can’t experience Rome, or Italy for that matter, without having at least one helping of Gelato: Italian ice cream. Whilst there are no shortage of places to try it out, be aware that up to 80% of the gelato in Rome isn’t the genuine article.
I was informed by an expert that the best stuff doesn’t hold its shape well, so if the gelato is in a huge mound, then it has too much air in it and should be avoided. One other tell-tale sign is the colour – gelato should only contain natural ingredients, so steer clear of anything that looks radioactive for best results!