The European country of Italy is home to incredible cities like Florence, Venice and Milan. While these cities have their own unique story, the capital of Rome is truly the heart of the country. Tourists exploring this cosmopolitan city will find themselves captivated by the remarkable history and breathtaking artwork. With so much to uncover, the most effective way to explore is to plan your trip around the sites you would like to see. The itinerary below will guide you through some of the city’s most famous landmarks, all of which are accessible via public transportation.
Before venturing out of your hotel, be sure to fuel yourself with some nutritional breakfast including the traditional cappuccino and corentto, the Italian version of a croissant. The first destination of the day is a tour of the Colosseum. This massive amphitheater, the largest ever built, is constructed entirely to of concrete and stone, dating back to 70 AD. Estimated to hold approximately 80,000 people, the Colosseum was once used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles like mock sea battles, executions, and dramas. By the medieval era, the building was no longer used for entertainment purposes rather for purposes like housing and workshops. Because the interior of the Colosseum is in ruins, the building can no longer be used for shows. As one of the major tourist attractions in the area, visitors can explore the museum dedicated to the Greek god Eros on the upper level or navigate through the subterranean passage ways once used to transport animals and gladiators to the arena.
Photo courtesy | Darren Flinders
2. Roman Forum
Two hours later, it’s time to board Bus #51 that stops by every four minutes. The short seven-minute bus ride will take you to the center of the city, where the Forum houses the ruins of ancient government buildings. Once submerged in marshland, the rectangular plaza evolved into the site where people would gather to attend public meetings, discuss politics, conduct commerce, and comment on the games. The sprawl of ruins includes the architectural fragments of the former royal residence, the Regia, and the Temple of Vesta. As the Forum once was the social, political, and commercial hub of the city, it now attracts 4.5 million tourists each year. With a number of crumbling sites to see in the Forum, it’s best to allot about an hour to explore the area.
Photo courtesy | Benson Kua
3. Piazza Navona
To settle your grumbling stomach, board Bus #87 at Fori Imperali for a 13 minute ride to the Senato bus station, where you will have to walk for two minutes before reaching the next destination. The endless number of high quality restaurants at Piazza Navona serve up delicious Italian delicacies that will not only satisfy your hunger but will give you a chance to relax you tired legs and be mesmerized by the picturesque. Piazza Navona is known for the Baroque-styled sculptural and architectural masterpieces of artists like Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Girolamo Rainaldi. At the center of this plaza is Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, an ornate fountain that personifies four major rivers of the four contents that papal authority spread to: the Nile of Africa, the Danube of Europe, the Ganges of Asia, and the Río de la Platas of the Americas. Piazza Navona is also home to Palazzo Pamphilj, initially built for Pope Innocent X and now the headquarters of the Brazilian Embassy.
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4. St. Peter’s Basilica
Sit back for a 20 minute bus ride to the fourth stop of the day on Bus #81 that passes through Piazza Navona every nine minutes. Nestled in the heart of the Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica features elements of Renaissance and Baroque styled architecture with its dome being a prominent feature in the city’s skyline. Marble statues lining the rooftop overlook the church. The interior is decorated with impressive sculptures like Michelangelo’s Pietá and Bernini’s Baldacchino. The church, viewed as one of the holiest sites in the religion of Christianity, houses the tomb of Jesus’ Apostle Peter. While St. Peter’s Basilica is a pilgrimage site for Christians, it is also a popular destination that attracts tourists with its fascinating history. While there are a lot of architectural marvels to admire at St. Peter’s, you might find that two hours is sufficient depending on your interest in art. Once ready to depart, seek out Bus #49 that comes every nine minutes that will transport you in 20 minutes to the final destination of the day.
Photo courtesy | Diana Robinson
5. Sistine Chapel
Also located in the Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel is the Apostolic Palace that acts as the official residence of the pope. Famed for its stunning frescoes that adorn the walls of the church, the chapel is frequented by tourists longing to admire the incredibly detailed ceiling. Showcasing the designs of Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling is the epitome of the High Renaissance period. As a collection of various painted elements, the most identifiable section of the ceiling is Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement that depicts the final and eternal judgment of God and features prominent figures in the Christian religion like Catherine of Alexandria, Peter, Paul, and John the Baptist. The ceiling also displays nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, the most popular being the Creation of Adam. While no pictures are allowed inside the chapel, tourists can still crane their necks to marvel at Michelangelo’s masterpieces thought to be on the same scale as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Photo courtesy | Diana Robinson