Rome, the “eternal city,” is a mesmerizing destination for travelers, since there is so much history, and so many must-sees. A comprehensive visit can easily occupy a week or more, and a more leisurely visit is highly recommended. Most people come to Rome several times before they are satisfied that they have seen all that they “need” to see. Below is my list of necessary sights in and around Rome.
1. Visit Vatican City — Even though this country has its own coinage and stamps, it lies entirely within a section of Rome. As the international headquarters for the Roman Catholic religion, it has an interest for any Christian. Besides the religious imperative, the Vatican Museum is one of the world’s greatest, and St Peter’s Basilica is one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces.
2. Wander Around and Inside the Colosseum — One of the most recognized sights in the world, and listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, this incredible arena recalls Rome’s glory days, when gladiators entertained the multitudes.
3. Walk in Caesar’s Footsteps at the Roman Forum — The center of life in Ancient Rome can still be imagined as one wanders along the marble streets and admires the remains of this great civilization.
4. See the Pantheon — This beautiful temple to all religions is one of the best preserved buildings from Roman times. The interior is still used for religious ceremonies.
5. Relax in the Piazza Navona — This oblong square is one of the city’s major gathering places. It is busy both day and night. The space is occupied by three lovely fountains, including Bernini’s famous Four Rivers.
6. Shop With the Locals at Campo de Fiori — Rome’s old flower market now offers a farmer’s market every morning. It’s fun to browse the stalls even if you don’t plan to buy anything.
7. Throw Coins in the Trevi Fountain — Made famous in the Hollywood movie, Three Coins in the Fountain, and the song of the same name, throwing a coin over your shoulder into the immense fountain has become a must for all visitors to Rome.
8. Sit and People-watch at the Spanish Steps — Another favorite gathering place, the Spanish Steps is the longest and widest stairway in Europe. At its base is the Fountain of the Old Boat, and at the summit is the Triniti del Monti Church.
9. Remember a Pivotal Battle of World War II at Montecassino — The abbey here was used as a headquarters by the Germans, because of its location south of Rome and its excellent strategic importance. Demolished by the Allies en route to Rome, it has been lovingly rebuilt.
10. Wander the Streets of Trastevere — This area was Rome’s red light district, but now is home to quiet neighborhoods and narrow streets, perfect for strolling.
11. Recall The DaVinci Code at Hadrian’s Tomb — The Castel sant’ Angelo, also known as Hadrian’s Tomb, was one of the famous settings used in Dan Brown’s novel and the subsequent movie of the same name. It sits dramatically on the Tiber River, not far from the Vatican.
12. Check Out Michelangelo’s Moses at San Pietro in Vincoli Church — Near the Colosseum, this church contains one of Michelangelo’s most famous sculptures.
13. Be Awed at the Domus Aureus — Nero’s Golden House has been excavated and restored. It is also in the vicinity of the Colosseum.
14. Climb the Steps to the Campidoglio — Another of Michelangelo’s contributions to this city is the beautiful square, between the Victor Emmanuel Monument and the Roman Forum.
15. Sample Rome’s “Wedding Cake” — The Victor Emmanuel Monument, dedicated to the man who united the city-states of Italy into one nation, is affectionately and often mockingly called the “wedding cake” because of its white color and its appearance.
16. Spend a Morning or Afternoon at the Villa Borghese — This estate is now a city park and museum. It contains many important works.
17. Take an Eerie Tour of the Catacombs — Ancient Christians lived in and were buried in these tunnels below the city, because they feared for their lives on the streets of Rome. Tourists can now visit these tombs.
18. Shop Upscale at the Via Condotti — This street is Rome’s Rodeo Drive, loaded with high-priced items produced by the most exclusive companies in the world.