Five Favorite Things in Rome

I am in between travels right now, so I thought I would start a new feature looking back on past trips and sharing my favorite things about some of the cities or regions I have visited over the years.

First up is Rome – one of my favorite large cities and probably one of the few places I could visit over and over again and never get bored!
 

1.  Palatine Hill

 
Rome Coliseum

Overlooking the Roman Forum on one side and Circus Maximus on the other, Palatine Hill was the center of ancient Rome, home to aristocrats and emperors like.  Legend has it that Palatine Hill also was where the twins Romulus and Remus lived in a cave as infants before Romulus eventually killed his brother and founded the city that is now Rome.  Entrance to the Hill is included in the admission ticket to the Coliseum so there is no reason not to check it out.  I personally enjoyed it because I love ancient Roman ruins, it provides some great photo opportunities, and it is just so incredibly old – there is evidence humans lived on the Hill as early as the 9th century BC!
 

2.  Villa Borghese

 

Villa Borghese

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, the Villa Borghese is the place to go.  Entrance to the Borghese Gallery is limited so it does not have the crowded, rushed feel of the Vatican Museums.  On display are paintings and sculptures by the likes of Caravaggio, Raphael, Bernini and Botticelli.  The décor of the mansion alone is worth the price of admission, with vibrant ceiling frescoes that feel almost three-dimensional.  The gallery itself is in the middle of a mini-Central Park, with green lawns, neatly trimmed trees, a pond with a floating temple and an amphitheater that was once used for horse races.
 

3. Basilica de San Clemente

 

Basilica de San Clemente

A lot of other churches in Rome get far more attention than the Basilica de San Clemente but few can beat its history.  The church that you visit today was built in the 12th century.  Pretty old, right?  Well, it was constructed on top of a 4th century church (really, really old!), which was built on top of a 2nd century Mithraic temple and a 1st century Roman building (mind-boggling old!!). As I mentioned above, I have a thing for Roman ruins, so as soon I heard about the Basilica, I knew I had to check it out for myself.  The ruins of the older buildings have been excavated, so you can actually descend several levels to see the remains of the 1st and 2nd century buildings.  And at the very bottom, you can hear the groundwater running below you!
 

4. Climbing the dome of St. Peter’s

 

St. Peter's Basilica

 As long as you aren’t claustrophobic and don’t mind a bit of workout, climbing the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica shouldn’t be missed.  Even before you get to the top, walking along the catwalk inside the dome provides a unique perspective of the Basilica (I happened to get an overhead view of the Pope during his weekly audience).  Once you’ve scaled the 320 steps to the top of the dome, you can venture outside for magnificent, sweeping views of the entire city.
 

5. Walking

 

Pantheon

Rome is a big city. It covers nearly 500 square miles and has nearly 3 million inhabitants.  Despite its size, I love walking in Rome. On my last trip, I stayed near the main train station, not too far from the Coliseum.  One morning I took the train to the Vatican Museums and then, after spending the morning at the museums, St. Peter’s and the Castel Sant Angelo, I worked my way all the way back to my hotel by foot.  Along the way, I wandered through the side streets and small squares, stopped by some cute-looking shops, indulged in chocolate gelato, dined on greasy pizza and stumbled upon the Pantheon, which seemed to just appear out of the blue.  By the time I arrived back at the hotel, I was completely exhausted, yet extremely satisfied.
 

Have you been to Rome?  What are some of your favorite sites or things to do?

 

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13 thoughts on “Five Favorite Things in Rome”

  1. Rome is by far my favorite city. It is where I fell in love with Italy and travel at 14 years old. Your post makes me want to go back, especially to see that Basilica. I haven’t heard of it before. I was in Rome last summer and explored the Trastevere neighborhood. I definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the city.

  2. Love your list. I’m probably going to Rome for a few days this summer and your list gives me inspiration on what to do 🙂 I really want to climb Saint Peter. And Palatine Hill sounds gorgeous as well. Thanks!!

  3. Rome is where I long to be. I, like Suzy, love Trastevere. Mostly I love the feel of the city and walking along the streets and noticing the artwork on the sides of the buildings. I also love being able to slowly appreciate the art in churches. Too fun. Thanks for your favorite places.

  4. Trastevere is my favorite neighborhood in Rome, but I also love just sitting on the Spanish steps for people watching. Your post makes me really looking forward to going back to Rome- which is going to happen in about 6 weeks 🙂

  5. Rome is the first major European city I ever visited, and I loved it; every bit of it. My friends and I got separated from a tour group one morning, and ended up navigating the city on our own. It was the best mistake we could have made.

    Along with seeing some of the ruins lit up at night, my favorite thing I did in Rome was climbing to the top of the dome of St. Peter’s. Absolutely unforgettable.

    I can’t wait to go back to Rome someday!

  6. I went to Rome in November and we stayed in Trastevere. So nice and so much fun. We rode around the city on bikes and saw so much in a short period of time.

    I’m planning my summer vacation now and I was going to skip Italy (since I’ve already been). But based on your list, I should add it as a quick stop to see Palatine Hill and to climb the dome of St. Peter’s. Good tips.

  7. Nice post! My favourite site in Rome is Castel Sant Angelo. Also, there are many beautiful little churches. I love walking after sunset in Rome, the city is so beautifully illuminated.

  8. LOVE Rome! One of my favorite cities visited in Europe thus far – I’ve been there three times! I’ve yet to see the Trastevere neighborhood though, so there’s a reason to go a fourth time. Standing in the Forum, where Caesar stood, is mind-blowing. I, too, love just walking until I’m ready to drop. Someday I’ll go back!

  9. oooo I am so excited I’ll be in Rome in December! I have only two days to explore but this is my first ‘history/site seeing driven’ trip…typically I hit the beach so I will use your suggestions!

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