3 Must-See Sites in Rome

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Rome’s food and snapshot-ready scenery make it memorable, but it’s sites make it unforgettable. Let’s take a tour of my 3 must-see sites in Rome!

First stop on our tour: The Colosseum! 

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Able to seat 50,000 fans, the Colosseum was built in A.D. 80 to host gladiator contests and public events. 

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Like I said in my previous post, Rome has literally built itself up around the ancient ruins scattered throughout the city and the Colosseum is no different.

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One minute you’re walking down the street, cars & mopeds whizzing by, then all the sudden you see it. You’re like, “Oh. OH! That’s the Colosseum!”

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You walk in under endless, cold, stone archways, 

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pass through shadowy, ominous hallways,

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and finally enter the biggest open amphitheater you’ve ever seen. This. place. is. HUGE! 

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Originally there would have been a wooden floor stretching over the entire base (shown by the partial concrete section they’ve added.)

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The wood would be covered with sand to mop up the blood, sweat and tears of the men and animals killed for sport here. 

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Said men and animals were kept in dungeon-esque rooms below the floor, until it was showtime.

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Can you even imagine how terrifying that would be??

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Men battled each other and animals at the Colosseum. Lions, tigers, bears, elephants, crocodiles and hippos, to name a few!

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During it’s inauguration, lasting 100 days, fans lined the plaster bleachers and watched a total of 2,000 men and 9,000 animals killed. Workers would go around spraying perfume to quench the smell. 

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BRUTAL, right??

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You can kind of feel the panic in the air as you wander around almost in a daze.

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It’s hard to wrap your head around what you’re walking around in and how old it is. It was one of the most surreal, yet exciting, experiences of our trip!

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Let’s wander a little west, shall we? Stop number two: The Trevi Fountain!

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Built in 1762, the Trevi Fountain was requested by the Pope to celebrate the re-opening of Rome’s aqueducts, that still power the flow today, and is built on the backside of a palace.

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You can hear the fountain before you see it, as water pours from 24 different spots.

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Just like everything else in Rome, you literally cannot believe how BIG it is! At least 6 stories tall and 50 yards wide.

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Easily one of the most popular sites in Rome, it was packed at all hours of the day.

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We would know…we went back like 15 times…that place has a magnetic pull! It’s SO COOL! 

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The thing to do at the fountain, after you pick your jaw up, is to toss in a coin wishing for whatever it is your heart desires. Can’t tell you what mine was! ;)

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The coins are collected at some point every week or so to help feed the hungry in Rome. I heard a story about a homeless guy who used to sneak in during the middle of the night to snatch a few – reportedly getting close to $1,000 each time he went it. A constant police presence has since put the kabosh on that!

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Finally we arrive at the final must see site in Rome – the Vatican Museum & St. Peter’s Basilica!

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The Vatican museum is decorated by the likes of Raphael and Michelangelo, and is the gateway to perhaps the most famous ceiling in the world atop the Sistine Chapel.

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Tip: DON’T go on a Monday, and DO make a reservation!!!! We did and didn’t – and waited in line for almost 2 hours!

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Ben isn’t much of a touristy kind of guy – but this leg of the trip was what he was MOST looking forward to. Giddy!

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The museum is filled with picturesque peeks into courtyards,

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and views of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Something that surprised me, were the inclusion of exhibits on items like ancient Egypt!

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I used to be obsessed with Egypt (and still am, to be honest) so I was especially pleased to wander through the mummies, artifacts and ancient tombs.

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The Vatican museum has no shortage of jaw dropping statues, impossibly – impeccably – carved from the hardest of materials.  

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Oh I have to show you – most of the statues were carved, ahem, true to life, only to be censored by shy church officials later on. Come on!

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Ok, the weren’t ALL censored – like this sculpture of Apollo - once considered to be the most perfect scuplture on earth.

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Or this sculpture of Laocoon, the high preist of Troy.

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Good ol’ Hercules was though! What a gorgeous statue!

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Throughout the tour, Rick Steves guided the way. The thing about Rome is that there are no explanations or plaques interfering with the ruins or museums. You don’t really know what it is you’re looking at unless you have a guide!

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Other can’t miss attractions at the museum included the elaborate ceilings,

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and impossibly tall arched walkways.

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The hallway of tapestries including one with the resurrection of Jesus whos eyes followed you wherever you went.

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Crazy!

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The beautiful corridors,

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and Raphael’s paintings that covered the walls in some parts of the museum.

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Including the one where he painted in Michelangelo, who was just down the hall working on the Sistine Chapel!

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The biggest draw to the museum, of course, IS the Sistine Chapel. Painted over four years by Michaelangelo, it is the personal chapel to the Pope and one of the most incredible, amazing, stunning, unforgettable things I’ve ever seen.

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Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures or videos of it – so you’ll have to come to Rome to see it for yourself!!! :)

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After gawking at the ceiling, and rubbing your sore neck, you spill out onto St. Peter’s square .

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The centerpiece is St. Peter’s Basilica which is over 6 acres in size. No words needed. This place is too beautiful for words.

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And that concludes our tour of the 3 must-see sites in Rome! What’dya think?!

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If you’ve been to Rome before, what was your favorite part?

If you haven’t been, what would you be most excited to see?

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Comments

  1. I would love to see St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican museum. I would just love to go to Rome, period.

  2. Jessica 09.16.2010

    Rome is a fantastic city and I saw all three sites, but the Sistine Chapel was my favorite, its just jaw dropping! I also loved walking through the ruins and catacombs by the Colloseum.

  3. Claire 09.16.2010

    I loved all of Rome. The Vatican City was awe-inspiring, The Forum was ridicuously cool, and I really loved the Spanish steps! I went when I was in high school and still vividly remember all of it! I have loved looking at your photos, it totally brought me back!

  4. Jess 09.16.2010

    I absolutely loved Rome when we went there in December. The Trevi Fountain was more beautiful than I imagined. It’s hard to pick a favorite part but St. Peter’s and the view from the top of it at night were amazing!

  5. Jas 09.16.2010

    The Pantheon was my favorite place in Rome. It was so cool!!! It’s a dome building with a huge HOLE in the top of the building. Even when it rains, all they have to do is shut the doors and some how the rain stays out. It was so neat!

  6. Carrie 09.16.2010

    My favorite part of Rome, or just outside of Rome, was Hadrian’s Villa. So huge and amazing to see mosaic floors and sculptures still in tact after all these years. Exploring one section after another, I felt like I was in a giant playground. :)

    Caesar’s tomb at the Forum was also very cool.

  7. Nic 09.16.2010

    I haven’t been to Rome, but your tour of the Colloseum intrigues me. Thanks for the tour!

  8. Sarah Trader 09.16.2010

    I was in Rome 15 years ago when I was in high school and it was overwhelming to me. Since then I’ve lived in NYC and traveled much more so would love to go back and experience it again. The Coliseum was awesome though, I agree. We didn’t get to go in to the Vatican though b/c President Clinton was meeting with the Pope and it was closed off. Doh!

  9. I never realized how huge the Trevi Fountain is…wow! I think I’d like to see that quite a bit, as well as the Colosseum. Something about standing in the middle of a quiet structure that was once never quiet would give me chills, I think.

    I keep wanting to plan to go back to France or England, but your pictures are convincing me that a new stop is in order. And I’m still in love with that kitten you found, PS.

  10. Hope 09.16.2010

    O.O That’s all I have.

  11. VeggieGirl 09.16.2010

    I’ve been to all three of those places in Rome – score! :-D I loved the Vatican although I had to wait for about 3 hours and it was SUPER hot outside (summer of 2003).

  12. Erin 09.16.2010

    We took pictures in the Sistine Chapel because there were Nuns (blatently) taking pictures! We (my Dad and I) figured if they could…we could…as long as my mom didn’t catch us!

  13. Angharad 09.16.2010

    Love it! I loved the Trevi Fountain as well – we were told that tossing a coin in and making a wish meant that you would come back one day! Love that memory and “knowing” that one day I’ll make it back :)

  14. dmcgirl 09.16.2010

    OMGosh, I walked into a very difficult morning and work and the minute I logged in I couldn’t wait to get transported away!

    Thanks so much. The Colluseum is sooo beautiful.

    wow!

  15. jen 09.16.2010

    Oh wow! I literally feel breathless. I’ve never been, but this totally took me back to art history classes in college. I would love, love, love to go someday! I want to see it all!

  16. Lizzy 09.16.2010

    I just went to Rome in June- we went on a Mediterranean Cruise. This all brings me back. The Colosseum was definitely my favorite part! I have a lot of the same pictures… I have the one of Hercules … only my brother is pretending to smell his toe. hah. Wish I could go back!

  17. Did you see the men outside the colliseum dressed as gladiators? They offer to take a picture with you and then they jump on you and ask for payment. :-/

  18. Liz @ Blog is the New Black 09.16.2010

    You never cease to amaze me with your story telling & photos!

  19. Christy 09.16.2010

    I agree, our favorite part was also St. Peter’s. It’s indescribable! I got yelled at in the tombs by one of the guards on accident. You aren’t allowed to take pictures by Pope John Paul’s tomb and I swear I turned my camera off, but he could see the glow of the screen against my shirt. Oops!

  20. Mindy 09.16.2010

    My favorite part of Rome was the Vatican. :) Your pictures are absolutely amazing! Also loved the pictures of the coast… Italy is definitely on the list to travel back to someday!

  21. sarah 09.16.2010

    i have been to all 3 and agree that those are must sees! i think my favorite part was the colosseum and just walking around the city and enjoying it!

  22. I’d totally agree with your top three things to see. It looks like you had a fab time!

  23. AmyZig 09.16.2010

    Oh, I miss Rome. Your pictures are great! I was lucky enough to spend 4 days there in college and we did see all three of your favorites. My favorite part was climbing the steps to the top of Vatican City. Two thousand-plus steps winding around some of the oldest architecture in the world – and it’s the most amazing view of inside the Vatican grounds and Rome. What a great trip – and I’m so jealous of your trip to the Amalfi Coast!

  24. sassy molassy 09.16.2010

    Oh my gosh, you got some great photos of the colosseum! I just took my point and shoot to europe bc we were backpacking to so many cities. I didn’t want to have to worry about lugging my big one everywhere (or getting stolen).

    My fav part of Rome? That is so tough. The Vatican and Sistine Chapel were pretty amazing. We got there early on a Sunday morning and went to mass in St. Peter’s Cathedral. That was pretty amazing. I just loved how everything there was SOOO old. History on every block and crumbling buildings you just don’t see in the U.S. Had some of the best pizza and wine ever in Rome as well.

  25. oh wow! such great pics. i’ve never been to rome but now i really want to see the colosseum in person!

  26. Kristi 09.16.2010

    Hi Kristin,
    What kind of camera do you use? Your pics are awesome.

  27. Mellissa 09.16.2010

    My favorite part of Rome was the area around the Spanish Steps, such an Italian neighborhood.

  28. kate 09.16.2010

    I loved the people watching in Rome and lingering over meals. I wish I remembered to tell you about the lines. Ive been told theyre brutal in the summer!

  29. erica 09.16.2010

    those are all the places i’m longing to go to! seeing all these pics are just making me get the travel-itch. amazing photos!!!

  30. You did a great job of picking the top three sites in Rome! I loved the Vatican! My favorite was climbing the dome in St. Peter’s Basilica. You can see all of Rome from up there! Please tell me you and Ben did that on your trip.

  31. I love all of these places, I have seen them all! I really love the Trevi fountain. So, so beautiful.

    xo
    Kris

  32. Joe Hobot 09.16.2010

    The Colosseum was my fav part. But then again some awesome food and restaurant. I was in Italy probably more than 100 times in my life. Oh wait I lived 45 minutes from border :)

    To bad you didn’t visit my country on the way back “Slovenija”

  33. Exercise and Eat 09.16.2010

    LOL! The statue shots are hilarious. I’m in the airport right now and people are literally staring at me, wondering what the heck I’m reading! Thanks for the laughs:)

  34. Sara 09.16.2010

    LOL this post is so awesome! I learned about all of these sites in my art history class last year – I picked up such an appreciation for this kind of stuff! I’m SO jealous that you got to see St. Peter’s Basilica in person! So cool!! :D

  35. stacy 09.16.2010

    i think St Peter’s was my favorite, and i’m not at all a religious person! it was just SO impressive!!!!

  36. Jessie 09.16.2010

    fantastic travel guide! I miss Rome. I think my favorite spots would be the Roman Forum (so. many. ruins!), the Pantheon (it’s the engineering nerd in me, scientists still don’t know how they constructed such a perfect half sphere shape or what kind of concrete mixture they used that would last this long!) and the view from the rooftop of our bed and breakfast. Pretty much any rooftop view in any city in Italy is magical.

  37. Maddie 05.14.2012

    My favorite part of Rome that hasn’t really been mentioned is the gelato… and the Piazza Navona. The piazza Navona is a cute little square where all sort of artisans and performers come out at night, bringing the sense of beauty and romance to Roma that we all dream about. I loved it.

  38. Joan Burns 08.09.2012

    I loved to see all of your pictures. They are great.tuvm
    Anyone going to Rome…please take time to see Naples,Polermo,Sicily,Sorrento and Florence and Venice.
    Remember that some months are really busy .
    THANKS AGAIN Joan.

  39. Karla 12.03.2012

    Loved your photos of Rome. We were there in June. It was truly life changing. Thank you for the lovely unexpected reminder of our favorite places.

  40. Tariq 05.30.2013

    Those photos of the colloseum look awesome! I’m hoping to visit there in the summer :D

  41. Chris 12.24.2013

    A very informative recap of what seemed an amazing holiday. On the basis of this well narrated and photographed blog, the trip is booked for April 11th 20014. Brilliant!! Thank you!

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