As the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome. If you’re visiting Italy, you’ll want to spend some time in “The Eternal City.” Founded in legend, the epicentre of empires, one of the cornerstones of Western Civilization, Rome is a city that stokes the imagination and rouses the heart and mind. Here are our top 3 things to do when in Rome.
See the Colosseum
There’s iconic, and then there’s iconic. One of the most famous structures in the world, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The oval-shaped structure in the centre of Rome was begun in AD 72 and completed eight years later. It was designed to hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators who would gather to see gladiators do battle and witness other public spectacles such as elaborately staged wild animal hunts, executions and dramas. Millions of tourists visit the Colosseum each year, making it one of Rome’s most popular attractions, and many pay to see the inside of the Colosseum. Where the Emperor sitting in his regal box may have once given the thumbs down to an unfortunate gladiator, we give an enthusiastic thumbs up to seeing this amazing and historic structure.
Throw a coin (or three) in the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world, having been featured in numerous films, including Roman Holiday, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and the 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain. According to legend, throwing a coin into the fountain, using your right hand and tossing over your left shoulder, ensures a return to Rome in the future. The movie Three Coins in the Fountain expanded on the legend, adding two more coins. The first coin ensures a return to Rome, the second promises a new romance, and the third guarantees marriage. While deposits are encouraged, withdrawals are not; it’s against the law to take coins from the Trevi Fountain. The money (estimated to be 3,000 Euros daily) is actually used to fund a supermarket for the city’s poor. And now is a great time to see the fountain, since it’s undergone a 20-month, 2.2-million-euro restoration that was completed in November, 2015.
Take a guided tour of Vatican City
Vatican City is, of course, an independent state within Rome, but no visitor to the city should miss it. You’ll want to set aside an entire day, because there’s a lot to see, and booking a good guided tour is highly recommended to get the most of the experience and to fully understand the historical and cultural context of what you’re seeing. A guide will also be invaluable in getting around the maze of the Vatican Museums. You’ll also see the spectacular St. Peter’s Basilica, Italy’s largest and most famous basilica. Aside from being an iconic religious centre, St. Peter’s is also home to many amazing works of art, including Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Quick tip: the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica enforce a dress code – no shorts, short skirts or bare shoulders.
Bonus: Drink coffee like a Roman
Throughout Italy, but especially in the bustling capital of Rome, understanding how to order your coffee is essential. Local custom would have you consume a coffee beverage with milk (cappuccino for example) only in the morning, and then small espressos throughout the day. Coffee in Rome isn’t about lingering and reading the paper, it’s about the quick social interaction with the barista or another patron during the five minutes you’re in the café (which is referred to as a bar), so those quick hits of caffeine are best consumed standing at the bar!These activities will give you a small taste of this amazing city, but there’s so much more! Let us know what else you’re planning to see or do on your trip to Rome in the comments below!