4 minute read

Rome really is the Eternal City. Such a lovely and exciting place steeped in millennia of history and with the monuments to show for it. Rome has always been filled with a rich and storied presence. There is, within the Italian people, a great reverence for beauty in all things. It’s celebrated through art and architecture, food and fellowship. As renowned playwright Oscar Wilde once noted, Rome is the city of the soul.

There is so much for your soul, and the rest of you, to see and experience in the capital of Italy that you may doubt you can do it all in one day. Rest assured you can. Follow our suggestions and you will see the highlights and epic icons on your 24 hour Roman holiday.

The Colosseum

This 2000 year old amphitheater covers six acres and has survived everything from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Industrial Revolution and, though a little worse for wear, is still impressively and remarkably beautiful today.

Construction on this imposing example of architecture began in 72 AD for the purpose of housing entertainment for citizens and noblemen of the ancient city. Bloody gladiator contests and battles between humans and wild animals as well as executions made up the bulk of entertainment in the Colosseum's early days but now, thankfully, the structure is entertaining enough.

Expert Advice: If you want to visit inside but skip the line consider purchasing tickets in advance.

The Forum

Just next door to the Colosseum you’ll find the heart of the Roman Empire-the Forum. This is where all Roman life happened in those days. The Forum housed temples and shrines, government and judiciary buildings and podiums from which to address crowds. The Forum also served as the center of trade and commerce.

Today the area contains several buildings where the business of government, law, celebration, worship and, well, business took place. These structures are in varying degrees of ruin but still somewhat recognizable. This is remarkable considering the beginnings of the Forum date back to 7th century BC.

Piazza Venezia

Known as the central hub of Rome due to the fact that several roads intersect at the site, the Piazza Venezia is a remarkable stop on your day in Rome. The Piazza takes its name from the Palazzo Venezia, built by the Venetian Cardinal Pietro Barbo (who later became Pope Paul II) in the 13th century.

The Piazza is quite the historical sight for a few different reasons. Most notably the Altare della Patria. It was built to honor Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy. The Altar della Patria houses Italy’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A more nefarious historical reference is the use as the location of the Italian dictator Mussolini.

You really can’t miss this monument as it is quite large. Architecturally the Piazza and Altare are quite stunning.

The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi is one of the most iconic and photographed fountains in the world. Standing 80 feet high and 160 feet wide you shouldn’t miss the Trevi Fountain even with the crowds who flock there day and night. This Roman icon was built in 1762. It’s said that if you turn your back on the fountain and throw a coin, with your right hand, over your left shoulder you will return to Rome one day. If you throw three coins you will soon be married. And the coins are gathered for charity, Caritas, which feeds the poor.

The Spanish Steps

Yet another popular sight in the old historical area is the Spanish Steps.

The stairway, 135 steps in all, leads from the Piazza Spagna upwards to the Piazza Trinitá dei Monti where you’ll find the church of the same name.

Have your picture taken on the steps with a gelato or espresso in hand for a real Instagram worthy picture. One word of caution; do not sit on the Spanish Steps as they are classified as a national monument and to do so will surely bring a hefty fine!

The Pantheon

Constructed in 126 AD as a temple, and still in use today, the Pantheon is one of the most remarkable examples of Roman construction for many reasons. The unreinforced concrete dome of the Pantheon is the largest one in existence.

In addition to the feats of construction and engineering the Pantheon is the final resting place of many notable Romans, including the celebrated painter and architect of the Italian High Renaissance, Raphael.

Piazza Navona

One of the most beautiful and lively squares in Rome is the Piazza Navona. Unique buildings line the cobblestone streets including the 17th century church of Sant’ Agnese, an opulent palace, and a fountain designed by Bernini and commissioned by Pope Innocent X.

The Piazza is a wonderful place for watching as life in Rome unfolds. Unique shops offer one-of-a-kind treasures to commemorate your day in Rome. There are some notable restaurants in and around the Piazza just perfect for a memorable meal or romantic dinner.

The Vatican

Sistine Chapel

Located inside the Vatican Museums is the Sistine Chapel. The Chapel’s ceiling and Last Judgment are considered to be Michelangelo’s finest work, certainly his most emblematic. His epic creations are displayed over 5000 square feet of frescoes on the Chapel’s ceiling. The paintings depict various scenes from the bible including The Creation of Adam and The Story of Noah. The massive painting of Last Judgment is installed above the altar.

Saint Peter’s Basilica

Possibly the most celebrated and revered church in the Roman Catholic faith, Saint Peter’s Basilica was built in the 17th century and designed by the masters of the Renaissance Michelangelo, Benini and Bramante. One of the largest church buildings in all the world, Saint Peter’s Basilica is the final resting place of the Saint and first pope himself.

Mass is held here and the chief celebrant is the Pope. Many Catholics from around the globe make pilgrimages to this sacred place so be prepared for crowds.

Expert Advice: To make the most of your trip to the Vatican we suggest booking a private tour early in the morning.

There you have it! Rome may not have been built in a day but you’ve just experienced the history and glorious sights of the Eternal City. Put on comfy shoes and get ready for a long walk.

You can visit Rome before or after any small group tour in Italy.