In the middle of Italy sits a city like no other in the world. Rome. Also referred to as the City of Fountains, Rome has been calling tourists to its streets for millenniums. With so much to see and do in the city of Rome and the surrounding areas, it is likely that you will return time and time again to experience new things. I have now visited Rome twice and the list I have compiled would leave you exhausted and fulfilled after a weeks visit.
Top 11 Things to Do in Rome
On everyone’s list of things to see is the Colosseum and rightfully so. The architecture that comprises one of the world’s most visited sites is absolutely incredible. If you are taking along small children (even if you’re not) it would behoove you to study up a little bit. There is so much information and the tour guides speak very quickly and move even faster. There are kid-friendly tours available through Get Your Guide and Viator.
Running over, under, and around the city of Rome are stunning examples of the human imagination, ingenuity, and spirit. If you are even remotely interested in the city’s history and the development of the city planning as we know it then you must take an aqueduct tour. These tours are available on foot, by bus, and by bicycle.
A short day trip South of Rome lies one of the archaeology world’s greatest treasures; Herculaneum. A wonderfully preserved archaeological site that is significantly less publicized and therefore less crowded than Pompeii. You could manage to see Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same day if you plan accordingly in the right season, but if you have to choose, Herculaneum is a much better experience all around.
Specifically the Capuchin Catacombs. If the crowd you travel with is interested in a more macabre experience, the catacombs are a must! Experience underground churches where a beloved community of Friars were turned into skeletal works of art. There is even a children’s tour of the catacombs done in daylight hours to lessen the eerie factor.
Saint Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City
An entire day should be spent touring Saint Peter’s Basilica (better known as the Vatican), and the surrounding buildings and streets that comprise Vatican City (the smallest country in the world). Book these tour tickets online in advance as the lines to purchase tickets are miserably long. Even if you are of little or no faith Saint Peter’s Basilica is mind-blowing in beauty, sculpture, history, and culture. Definitely a must- see.
While in Vatican City, those tourists who are renaissance art lovers should experience the Sistine Chapel. I will warn you that the chapel and Michael Angelo’s Creation painting are small, but the tour itself is wonderful and full of information that helps set the ambiance and connect the pieces. This is a bit of a “stir crazy” situation for small children though so do not enjoy sugary gelato beforehand.
Bioparco of Roma
In between heavy adult sightseeing days, I highly recommend taking your children to the Bioparco of Roma. The Zoo! A wonderful little zoo that sits in the middle of the Borghese Family Estate and Gardens. The zoo is full of endangered animals and even ones I had never heard of before. You can run the same grounds and trails that the Borghese family did so many years ago. The park is full of original fountains and aqueducts that you can refresh yourself and refill water bottles in. When you tire of the animals you can take a beautiful stroll or a tour of the Borghese Villa.
The Trevi Fountain
One of the most heavily visited sites in the city. An absolute must do event after dark as its beauty is magnified tenfold when lit up at night. You DO NOT need a tour guide for the Trevi fountain. It is a free open space. What I recommend you do is watch a documentary about the fountain on YouTube prior to going. I learned so much more from a 40-minute video than from guidebooks. For those of you who are superstitious, you can help navigate your fate by throwing coins into the fountain.
1 coin=to someday return to Rome.
2 coins= to find Love and Marriage.
3 coins=a smooth divorce.
Watch out for flying coins as visitors throw over 3,000 Euros into the fountain daily!
Another fun afternoon for those children and young adults traveling with you! A fabulous experience where you learn the ways of the Colosseum Gladiators through dress-up and weapons training. 10. Castel Sant’Angelo: Also known as Emperor Hadrian’s Mausoleum. This beautiful fortress and the surrounding bridges comprise one of my favorite spots in the city. Full of history, mystery, and art. You cannot go wrong spending an afternoon along the water, learning about Emperor Hadrian’s plans for his resting place. 11. The Pantheon: A wonderful FREE thing to do! The Pantheon does not require a lot of time spent touring and viewing, but it is an architectural wonder and worth adding to your list. You can enjoy it in the same evening as the Trevi Fountain as they are located about a half mile from one another.
As much as I hope you are able to see all of the things on this list; I know good and well that you will find yourself lost in wonder on cobblestone streets. Or window shopping at every turn and people watching for the umpteenth hour in a corner chair. There is no shame in enjoying the bustle of Roman life instead of heavy sightseeing. As a matter of fact, if you choose to not sightsee at all this trip all you have to do is throw a coin in the Trevi fountain and you are guaranteed a return to this beautiful mysterious city.
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Photo Credits: Pixabay and Lydia Bradbury