An epic, monumental metropolis, Rome, La Città Eterna, is a concentrated expression of Italian spirit. With its crumbling pagan ruins, lively hip bars and grand cathedrals, La Città Eterna certainly knows how to impress and deserves a visit of several days, weeks, or even months. It is located on the Tiber River, which runs north south through the city, and has a population of 2. 8 million inhabitants. Augustus once boasted he transformed Rome from a city of brick to a city of marble. Because the Tiber River is too small for cruise ships to sail on, passengers are dropped at the Civitavechhia port and taken to the city by bus. While Rome is not easily accessed from the sea, it’s well worth the detour.
There is a lot to love about Rome. You can choose between seeing Rome’s famous ruins on one side of the Tiber River or St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum on the other side, or both if you have two days or more in Rome. If you have three days or more, you can visit another museum, or explore the city’s surrounding area. To make the most of your stay in Rome, I recommend renting a hotel room in the center of the city, like the Concordia, which is just a block away from the Spanish Steps. The location is great, the rooms are clean, and you can take a breakfast on the rooftop while enjoying the view of Vatican City.
When you are ready, take a taxi or subway and head to the Colosseum, Rome’s iconic monument and one Italy’s top tourist attractions. Started in AD 72 and completed in AD 80, the Colosseum was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Inside, was a sand-covered arena encircled by tiered seating and built over underground chambers where animals were caged. You can almost picture the terrible fights that pitted gladiators against wild animals or each other.
Across the street from Colosseum is the Roman Forum, a social, political and commercial center of the Roman Republic. From the Forum, go to the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin over your shoulder. Designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732 and completed in 1762, the Trevi Fountain is fed with water form the Acqua Vergine aqueduct and depicts Neptune’s chariot being led by Tritons, with sea horses representing the moods of the sea. Buy a gelato at a shop and watch people passing by.
Next to the Trevi Fountain, is a church where Popes were buried. Apparently, it was to this church that Popes willed their hearts and intestines, and there is even a legend that claims the church was built on the site of a spring that appeared at the time when St. Paul was beheaded. According to the legend, it was one of the three sites where his head have bounced off after being severed.
When you leave the Trevi Fountain, take the back street and head to the Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps. Designed by an Italian architect, funded by the French, but named after the Spanish embassy to the Holy See, the Spanish Steps were built to link the piazza with the wealthy people living above it and have attracted foreigners since the 18th century.
If you’re interested in fashion, you might want to take a look at the famous fashion houses on the Via condotti street. There’s something special about seeing the famous name brands in their original home.
By the evening, you may start to feel hungry. Look for outdoor restaurants near the Pantheon in the Piazza della Rotonda. Built in its current form by Emperor Hadrian in AD 120, the Pantheon is the best-preserved ancient monument in Rome. It was originally a temple dedicated to Roman deities, but was transformed into a church by Pope Boniface in AD 690. The Pantheon is topped by the one of the largest domes ever built. Considered the Romans’ greatest architectural achievement, the dome has been surpassed in size since the 15th, but is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built. Take a look inside and see the tombs of Raphael and kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto 1.
picture by Giampaolo Macorig
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