Rome is an ancient city, center of the Roman Empire, one of the most successful civilizations in history. This there are numerous tourist attractions which beckon the traveler. Here is my choice for Rome’s top ten. Look for the photo album to follow.
1. Colosseum – Certainly, this is one of the most recognizable structures in the world. It was recently chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is certainly a World Heritage Site. This classic arena was the scene of gladiatorial bouts and other types of entertainment beginning in 79 AD.
2. Roman Forum – Adjacent to the Colosseum, this large area of ruins was the city center and gathering place for Romans during the time of Julius Caesar. I, for one, was somewhat overwhelmed by the fact that I was walking on the same marble paving stones that Caesar and Augustus walked so many years ago. Excavations continue and great pains are taken to be sure that this site is available to tourists for many years to come.
3. Pantheon – This temple to all religions is the best preserved ancient structure in the city. Visitors marvel at its beautiful, multi-colored marble walls and floor. The oculus above bathes the interior with natural light. Some of the altars around the edge of the edifice are stunning.
4. Trevi Fountain – Another of the many travel icons in the city, this glorious fountain maintains its aura of beauty and romance despite the hordes of people who constantly surround and admire it. Everyone must throw the obligatory coin into the fountain to guarantee a return to this great city.
5. St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. Although not technically part of Rome (the Vatican is a separate country), this huge (the largest Roman Catholic church in the world), architectural wonder (the dome was designed by none other than Michelangelo) is usually visited as part of any trip to Rome and, thus, must be included in this list. The interior is positively breath-taking.
6. Vatican Museum & Sistene Chapel – For the same reason as #5 above, this world-class museum is typically combined with anyone’s visit to Rome. The ceiling of the Sistene Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, is one of the most treasured pieces of artwork in the history of civilization. The artist’s Last Judgment and the Rafael rooms are other must-sees within the museum.
7. Piazza Navona – My favorite square in all of Rome, this oval space was once used for chariot races. Now, three beautiful fountains highlight this popular gathering place. The most impressive of the fountains is Bernini’s Three Rivers.
8. Spanish Steps – This famous gathering place is bedecked with flowers for much of the year. At the top of the stairs is the Trinita dei Monti church. At the bottom, in the Piazza di Spagna, is the "boat" sculpture (La Fontana della Barcaccia), done by Bernini’s father.
9. Victor Emmanuel Monument – The "wedding cake," as it is called, was built to commemorate the first king of a unified Italy. It was completed in 1935 and also includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and other service memorials.
10. Piazza del Campidoglio & the Capitoline Museum – The piazza was designed by Michelangelo and sits on Capitoline hill, the highest of the "seven hills of Rome." Occupying the piazza is the Capitoline Museum which contains both Art and archaeological remains housed in three palaces found on the piazza.
Other sights considered:
Campo de Fiori
Piazza del Popolo