Rome: the eternal city. A city that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Why? Because this is a place so steeped in history and so full of beauty that you will never tire of simply standing and staring.
Rome is best accessed via Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) Airport, which is roughly half an hour away from the city centre. While there’ll invariably be hotel transport on offer, there are plenty of other options, including regular trains and buses. Hiring a car is of course an option, but if you plan to say in the city you’ll only be using to get to and from the airport as Rome is best explored by foot.
The city centre is perfect for those who simply want to soak up the atmosphere while the hillside retreat offer tranquillity and easy access to Rome. Hotels on the outskirts offer an escape from the intense heat of the city in the summer and many have pools where you can relax after a day of walking and seeing the sights.
Rome has so many attractions and sights that it would take a full guidebook to cover them all. But if you are thinking of booking a holiday to Rome, there are three things that you definitely should not miss.
The city state, surrounded by Rome, is not only home to the Pope and the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, but a veritable treasure trove of art and architecture.
From the incredibly dressed Swiss Guard to the awesome Sistine Chapel, the Vatican City fascinates.
A guided tour is one of the best ways to see the Vatican where you’ll discover that you are walking on the original floor of the Coliseum, the steps were built for horses and that no one in Rome can be higher than the Pope himself among countless more curious facts.
Every tour will take in the stunning Sistine Chapel, home to two of the most famous pieces of artwork in the world – Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes (1508–1512) and his later work the Giudizio Universale.
Equally as breathtaking are the vast halls of St Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world. Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica was built atop the burial site of the apostle and first Pope, St Peter. The Basilicia is widely regarded as the greatest architectural achievement of the Italian Renaissance.
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum was the seat of the Roman Empire’s power and the home of its senate. In its heyday, the district was a rich tangle of temples, basilicas, arches, government buildings and lively public spaces.
One of the oldest areas on the site, the Regia, dates back to the 8th century BC, and was originally used as the royal residence. Perhaps the most prominent structure, the 23-metre triumphal Arch of Septiums Severus which was built on AD 203 in dedication to a string of victories, remains in much of its glory.
The site is a vast sprawl of fascinating ruins, the buildings left to disrepair following the fall of the Empire and plundered for its stone in the 18th and 19th centuries, it remains a visually striking insight into ancient Rome.
East of the Forum is the Coliseum. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre in honour of the dynasty of emperors that oversaw its construction, the Coliseum is an icon of Imperial Rome and the largest amphitheatre ever built, capable of holding 80,000 spectators.
It dominates the landscape of the long, straight road that leads to it from the main city and is a must-see. You can stand high in the amphitheatre and gaze down at the arena where gladiators fought for their lives. This was known as the circus in the days of ancient Rome and the slave and animal pits are still intact beneath. The Coliseum is still used as a backdrop for large scale events and concerts.
If you are thinking of going on holiday to Rome, prepare to be awe-struck. This is a city that is best seen on foot as so much can be missed, start at the River Tiber and head into a city that will never cease to impress.