Roam if you want to. All around the world. But when you’re actually in Rome, do as the Romans do and make sure to visit these must-see spots.
Just like in the iconic 50s movie, Three Coins in a Fountain, this was our first stop. And it should definitely be one of yours: as the saying goes, if you throw three coins into the fountain, you’ll return to the Eternal City.
Get here as early as you can because the secret’s out that this is the place to be (I know, spoiler alert!). The Trevi Fountain is built from Travertine stone, same as the Coliseum — but nearly seventeen centuries later. One of the newer major landmarks in the Rome market, the fountain was only built in the 1700s. A total newbie by the standards of Rome. Of course, the fountain had much older origins (dating back to 19 BC), but the fountain we visit today was built over the older fountain’s ruins.
Please, please, please note: There have been recent sanctions due to tourists behaving like jackasses. Do not be the arse who jumps into the fountain and pigs out on the pedestals. The Romans don’t exactly like seeing their cultural landmarks turned into a trash dump and are adding servicemen to patrol the area and potentially put limits on the amount of tourists allowed in. Anyone caught behaving like a moron will end up with a hefty fine and some seriously bad karma.
Here’s your chance to shout out “I am Spartacus” or live out your Russell Crowe Gladiator fantasies (and according to a favorite Sex and the City episode, we’ve all had them). So go ahead, ask the world through that YouTube video you could so uniquely post “Are you not entertained?”
The answer, of course, is that you will be. Because the Coliseum is at once both absolutely awe-inspiring and also representative of some of the worst and most violent offenses we’ve committed against each other. But despite both its glorified and tragic history, the Coliseum is one of the true architectural wonders of the world.
Nearly two centuries old, the Coliseum is one of Rome’s most enduring symbols. And to be here, among so much history is absolutely breathtaking. It was built on the backs of slaves within only four years, and created to entertain the people with violent gladiator contests — where warriors fought not only to their own death, but even against wild animals that were let loose in the arena. The Coliseum has been the model of sporting arenas ever since, (luckily much less violent!) And has continued to be a source of fascination for all the generations that have followed.
Tour the Coliseum with any number of tours to skip the lines (and there will be lines). You can scarcely go to Rome, much less Italy, without coming here!
Indeed, as my boyfriend liked to point out, the Forum is the namesake of the famed Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas–which, as all you Hangover fans will know is, as it turns out, not the REAL home of Julius Caesar.
That bit of pop culture trivia aside, real culture trivia fans will no doubt rush to the Roman Forum (sadly, not much shopping here today). Dating back to at least the 8th century B.C., you can do as the Romans do (or at least did) and visit the ruins of the once sprawling, thriving epicenter of Roman life. Located mere steps away from the Coliseum and other government buildings, the Forum was once the venue for gladiator matches, along with numerous shrines, temples and arches–some of which can be admired today. It is also the burial site for Julius Caesar. (So if you ever run into Zac Galfianakis, you can tell him you’ve visited Caesar’s eternal home! Kidding, please don’t do that!)
The Forum is an absolute must visit and is conveniently part of many tours of the Coliseum so you can easily see BOTH with a guide!
Ahh, Rome. By All Means Rome. If you love the Gregory Peck/Audrey Hepburn movie, you KNOW you’re going to go to the Spanish Steps when you head to Rome. Located steps away from Rome’s top shopping district (it had a total SoHo vibe, which I LOVE), the ever-so-chic Spanish Steps are much more than just a Fashion Darling.
Rome is one of the most incredible cities in the world, not the least of which is the not-so-small fact that there is another country within its borders! Yes, while visiting Rome, you can also visit the Vatican, a nation unto itself. Among other things, the Sistine Chapel is known for being the home of the Pope and featuring one of the most recognized artworks in the Western World: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling and in particular, The Creation of Adam.
You sort of can’t go to Rome without seeing the Sistine Chapel and keep any kind of street creed upon your return.
After walking all the way up the Spanish Steps (which you’re absolutely planning to do, right?!?), you may as well walk a few steps further and be rewarded with the gorgeous views of the Borghese Gardens — also known as the Villa Borghese. A formal landscape garden built in the English tradition (hm, apparently some roads lead to England instead of Rome!?) were created in the 1600s and are among the most beautiful in all of Rome.
Often imitated, never duplicated. The legendary Pantheon has been the inspiration behind such iconic architecture as the US Capitol, and numerous other government and college buildings throughout the world (notably the Jefferson Library at the University of Virginia.)
Not far from the Coliseum, the Pantheon is the best preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, no doubt because it has been in use continually: first as a temple, then a church (which is accessible during certain hours of the day). Built in 126 AD, it still remains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
Located in the hubbub of modern Roman life, with trendy restaurants and patisseries surrounding it (including my fave, Don Nino), the Pantheon is an absolute MUST and you’ll probably find yourself wandering past a few times!
No visit to Rome, or anywhere in Italy, is complete without ridiculous amounts of Gelato. Trust me, there is something absolutely magical when you pair walking around the gorgeous sights of Rome with a gelato cone in your hand. Whether you’re at the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon or the Spanish Steps, their beauty only shines that much brighter with gelato-colored glasses! Yum!
What goes perfectly with gelato? Answer: everything — but the ‘pastabilities’ in Italy are absolutely endless. Somehow, pasta is simply better here. It even seems, dare I say it, healthy. Perhaps because you’re on vacation and walking everywhere, but each pasta dish I… er… devoured tasted absolutely amazing. And never felt too overloaded like it does sometimes back home. So go ahead, enjoy and savor every delicious bite!
Yes, it’s true. Cannoli’s are a Sicilian treat. And I’m sure there are purists out there (perhaps rightfully so) that will argue that the island is the ONLY place to enjoy a true cannoli. But I would argue that Rome is a good second choice. Particularly, if you are enjoying one from Don Nino (my favorite!). Everything’s fresh and unbelievably delicious. And when you can top with pistachios? Molto delizioso! Plus, how can you beat a truly Roman view?!Share the XOXO's with your BESTIES and FRENEMIES