Top 10 things to do in Rome!
Rome is Italy’s capital and the largest city in Italy. The historic center of the city is a treasure trove of Roman history from the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hills. Throw in the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Vatican with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and you have one of the most interesting and beautiful cities in the world.
Enthusiasts of archaeology and ancient history make the ruins of Rome a mandatory destination. The Colosseum is overwhelming when you first see it. It is one thing to see this magnificent piece of work in history books but to see it up close is surreal but well worth the wait.
When to visit Rome?
My husband and I visited Rome in late May and it was still very hot so wear comfortable shoes because there will be a lot of climbing in addition to lots of walking. Please do not wear cute sandals because you will leave Rome wishing you were an amputee if you don’t have on comfortable shoes.
There are several ways to tour Rome: you can choose the “Hop on Hop off”, Metro Pass, or Bicycle tour we chose the bicycle tour which worked out better for us because we didn’t have to deal with the crowds waiting on the bus and it was like we had our own private tour guide.
Elena was our private bicycle tour guide and she was extremely knowledgeable about all of the landmarks and she waited for us as we toured all of the amazing wonders of Rome including the Spanish Steps, Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and the Pantheon. When you stand outside of the Pantheon and look up at the Latin inscription across the pediment you are immediately taken back to the time of Marcus Agrippa and Emperor Hadrian. The inscription translates as “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, consul for the third time, built this.”
The Pantheon in Rome
One of the most remarkable things about the Pantheon in Rome is that the inside dome is as high as it is wide, about 142 feet (43.3 m). The dome is the inspiration for many domes that came later including St. Peter’s dome designed by Michelangelo and the dome in Florence designed by Brunelleschi. The dome of the Pantheon covers the entire hall making the impact more significant than domes that cover only a portion of a building.
Next on our tour was the Vatican, St. Peters Basilica, a few small ornate cathedrals, and the Neptune Fountain. A visit to the Vatican Scavi is a pretty unique treat for Catholic visitors or anyone with archaeological curiosity. Access, however, is limited and extremely tricky to come by. The only way to get in is to contact the Vatican directly through the Vatican Scavi office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to request access.
When you email you need to tell them all of the dates you will be in Rome and available to visit; how many of you there are; the names of everyone in your group; and in the case that you are travelling as part of an organization or larger party, what your relation is (e.g. if it is a parish visit or a college trip).
Tours are booked according to language so you need to specify this in your email too to ensure that you can understand your guide. Of course, we did not do that therefore, we only have pictures from the outside which was ok with me because I was starving and ready to eat!!
The best Restaurant in Rome!!
You can’t travel to Italy without indulging in some of the world’s most delicious pasta. I was in Italy for 10 days and the best pasta was in Rome. I stumbled upon this little restaurant name of Faciolaro accidentally while waiting on reservations at the restaurant across the street.
I don’t even remember the name of the restaurant we were waiting on but it was over an hour wait and I was starving after a long day sightseeing so we decided to try Faciolaro and it was the best decision I ever made because from the time we walked up to be seated through the entire meal I felt nothing but warmth and kindness from the old gentleman whom I think was the owner.
My husband called him our granddad because he took care of us like we were his grandchildren and the pasta was so good, it melted in my mouth like butter, the clams were so tender and juicy I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Simply delicious!! We ate entirely too much pasta but as the old saying goes “when in Rome, do as the Roman’s do.”
All my husband wanted in Rome was a burger! He kept saying I don’t want any fancy mustard. I just want plain ole yellow mustard on a burger with American cheese. Who travels halfway across the world to eat a burger?
Magnum Ice Cream Shop
The hubby and I discovered this place en route to see Trevi Fountains. It is connected to a salad, smoothie, and pizza/pasta restaurant called Gourme.
There are options of either vanilla or chocolate ice cream bar. Chocolate choices for the ice cream include dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. Topping options are meringue, ginger, goji berry, cherry, gold, hazelnut, and pistachios, just to name a few. Cost is 4,50 Euros.
The ice cream bar is dipped in the chocolate of your choice. Then three toppings you choose are shaken together and poured on one side of the bar. The bar is flipped and the remaining toppings are placed on top. Then the second choice of chocolate (dark, white and milk chocolate) is drizzled on the bar.
Service is snooty and “plastic” – the staff was just going through the motions almost very robotic and not very friendly. We stood there waiting for assistance and they were extremely “busy” doing nothing – moving a tray from one area to another, talking to one another for an extended period of time, wiping down the counter, etc. It’s great for a photo op but not a “must do” in my opinion.
Things not to Miss in Rome:
- Tossing Coins into the Trevi fountain only!!
- Walk through Ancient Rome
- Enjoy a cup of coffee
- Italian pizza followed by gelato
- Explore Vatican City
- grab a bite to eat or enjoy a bottle of wine outside
When to go to Rome:
Most people travel to Rome in the summer, but keep in mind it gets really hot in the afternoons, therefore, the best time to travel is either spring or fall. March -May or September -November are best for sightseeing with mild temperatures.
Tourist Alert things NOT to do when in Rome:
- Hold on to your stuff!! Do not keep money or electronics easily accessible in your backpacks or pockets because Roman pickpockets love this and will spot you right away. Be smart and keep your documents and money in separate bags and check on them once a day. Do not put valuables in an external pocket. Do not leave anything laying around even for a few minutes. I-phones and iPads are now the most stolen items when traveling because people are preoccupied with sightseeing and they don’t realize someone has stolen their items until it is too late.
- Fountains are not for washing your feet! Rome is extremely hot in the summer, and you will be tired of walking and your feet will need a break but you cannot dip your feet in any of the fountains because Romans find this very disrespectful.
- Always beware of pickpockets, especially when traveling on buses, metros and public transport, but also when in line for gelato or pizza because pickpockets’ are always waiting and watching.
- Please do not enter a church or museum in spaghetti straps or skimpy attire. Save that for a date with your significant other. It is a good idea to keep a big scarf in your backpack so you can quickly wrap it around your shoulders when entering a church or museum.
- Do not accept flowers!!! I have never been offered so many flowers and selfie sticks in my life but firmly say No and keep walking. You will meet people who will try to scam you by offering you a rose as free gift or because you are so beautiful but when you accept they will ask for money and then harass you for money and or corner you if you refuse so a firm NO and keep walking and make sure you watch your surroundings.
Rome wasn’t built in a day–but a day was all I needed to explore Rome. Although Rome is a stunning city and the historical landmarks are simply amazing I found Rome to be like NYC on steroids. It was too busy, too many people, too hot, just too everything.
It will only to take you a day to enjoy the food, open-air markets, and astonishing historic sites. Make sure you toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain, contemplate the Colosseum and the Pantheon, and sample gelato before you leave.
Is Rome on your Bucket List?