Ah Roma, the spectacular Eternal City. With a rich history spanning over 2,800 years, ancient Rome has transformed amidst the birth of Catholicism, from a powerful empire into the famous capital of Italy we know and love today.
Two days in Rome is just enough time to wander and take in la dolce vita for the first time. Stroll through cobblestone lanes, tasting gelato at every corner and soaking in the impressive sights at each turn. From grand churches and crumbling ruins to ornate statues and graceful fountains, Rome is sure to leave you awestruck and aching for more. Take a peek at my mini guide of favorite spots to hit if you are only granted a quick 48 hour stop in Rome.
Let the games begin! The grand Roman Colosseum or Colloseo, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, was designed for gladiator battles and gruesome public performances. You can almost sense the anticipation the fighters felt as they appeared armed and ready in front of 50,000 anxious spectators. The 76 arched entrances allowed easy access to the crowd, who were seated according to rank in social standing. From 80 CE when the Colosseum was completed, cruel public executions were performed where the condemned were eaten by beasts or burned to death. Wild animals were imported from Africa for vicious hunts known as venatio. With the changing times, in humanity the games of the Colosseum were finally abolished by Emperor Honorius in 404 CE.The Colosseum has mostly survived intact over the years despite earthquakes, raids and robberies. It still draws millions of visitors each year.Just beyond the Coliseum lies the Arch of Constantine or Arco di Costantino, erected in 315 AD to commemorate Emperor Constantine’s victory over tyrant Maxentius at the battle of Milvian Bridge. The arch is a remembrance of the most victorious of Roman emperors.Be warned, there will be hoards of tourists and pesky sellers prodding you to buy trinkets at the base of the Colosseum. Stay patient and bring your selfie stick!
Rome boasts an astounding 280 fountains throughout the city. Perhaps the most extravagant, and largest of all is the iconic, baroque-style 18th-century Fontana di Trevi or Trevi Fountain. Built at the very end of a 14 mile long ancient aqueduct called Aqua Virgo which has been supplying the water to the thermal baths of Rome from the ancient times. The fountain was completely restorated in 2015 to a pearly white hue.Oceanus is the star of the show, riding on a giant clam shell and representing water in all its forms. While Poseidon’s, Triton is more inconspicuous to the right, blowing on a conch shell. Be sure to visit Trevi at night to see her lit up and glowing proud!When visiting Trevi, you must stand with your back to the fountain and toss three coins into the water with your right hand over your left shoulder. Legend has it that the first coin makes it destined you will return to Rome, the second will bring a new romance, and the third will ensure marriage. When exactly, is up to the Gods. The coins are collected each day and used to help the poor of Rome-almost €3,000 per day!
The Roman Forum or Fora Romano is a sprawling excavated area of Roman temples, squares & government buildings. Ancient rulers oversaw the giant Empire from here, while citizens came to socialize. The 16th-century Santa Maria di Loreto sits next to it’s larger sister Santissimo Nome di Maria, the two domed churches at the north end of the Imperial Fora in Piazza della Madonna.
One of the seven hills of Rome, this is the mythical place where the Eternal City was born. Roman Emperors built their large palaces overlooking the Colosseum and Forum Romanum on one side and the Circus Maximus on the other.
Welcome to the smallest country in the world, home to the Catholic pope! With a population of just 800 and a size of 110 acres, the tiny walled enclave of Vatican city sits on the western side of the Tiber River. Stroll through the Vatican museums to see nine miles of art, the Sistine Chapel and watch mass at the ornate St. Peter’s Basillica. Climb 312 steps to the top of the Duomo (Dome) of St. Peter’s for a fantastic view over Rome. Schedule a tour or guide yourself.
When entering the holy sites of Vatican City, be sure to cover shoulders, upper arms, midriff and legs beneath the knees.
Set within the Piazza Della Rotando, the Pantheon is also known as the church of Santa Maria Rotonda. Its ornate architecture has inspired the style of many city halls, museums and universities worldwide. In the center of the piazza is a fountain, the Fontana del Pantheon, surmounted by an Egyptian obelisk, built in 1575
Altare della Patria
The Altar of the Fatherland or Altare della Patria is the largest national monument in Italy. It was inaugurated by King Vittorio Emanuele III during the 50th anniversary of the unification of Italy, Risorgimento, in 1911. This wedding-cake-esque structure is built in a neoclassical style with techniques very advanced for its time. The building celebrates the unity of the country and the freedom of its people.
The Forum of Trajan
This world’s oldest shopping mall complex was fondly dubbed “a construction unique under the heavens.” It has remained partially preserved with its shops, marble floors and multiple stories.
Overindulge in Italian delicacies
When in Rome…do as the Romans do and eat! With over 150 flavours of Gelato to choose from at Della Palma Gelato di Roma you will never get bored. Grab an espresso and Cornetto at Caffe Sant’Eustachio for breakfast or an afternoon pick me up. Enjoy a dinner of pasta at a local favorite of Pastasciutta or La Fraschetta di Castel Sant’Angelo. Wash it down with an Frascati red wine, an ice cold Peroni or Aperol Spritz cocktail.
Purchase a combined ticket to Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum for €12. Instead of lining up at the Colosseum to buy your ticket, go to the Palatine Hill ticket office, just around the corner for a much shorter line. Or to see even more sites, purchase a Roma Archeologia Card for €27,50, for 7 days use.
The prime seasons to travel to Rome are April-June and September-October for mild days and cool nights. Avoid August as many shops and restaurants will be closed, there will be crowds of tourists, and it will be very hot. Visit in December to experience the festive Christmas markets.
Carry a water bottle and fill it up with fresh, drinkable water at one of many Nasoni fountains around the city.
Embrace early mornings and late evenings to avoid the hot and crowds. Take a siesta in between to reenergize!
Have you had a chance to explore Rome in all its grandeur? I want to hear about your experience!