Come September I will have finished competing in the Surf Lifesaving world champs in Montpellier and be en route to Rome (hopefully with a medal around my neck). Rome has been on my bucket list for a long time. Ever since I saw the film Gladiator I have imagined what it would be like to be a fighter in the mighty Coliseum. The historical significance of this city and its monuments are reason alone to visit. Once you have found the perfect hotel you will need to find exciting ways to spend your time.
Check out my Top 5 Things to Do In Rome
Go back in time
Great Scott! Exploring Rome can feel like a trip back in time, in all the best ways. Every turn holds an ancient wonder to marvel at. One of the most impressive is the iconic Colosseum, breathtaking in its sheer size and grandeur. Proceed from here to the Roman Forum and get lost in the feeling that you truly are wandering the streets of ancient Rome. Other must-see historical stops include the Pantheon and the lush greenery of Palatine Hill. For an even more vivid trip back in time, take a little jaunt (public transport can get you there) to Ostia Antica. This archeological site comprises large amounts of a beautifully preserved town, capturing a moment in time that you could explore for hours. No DeLorean needed.
Have a little faith
It’s called Roman Catholicism for a reason. Let’s start with the obvious- The Vatican, residence of the Pope and Catholic mecca. After spending some time (possibly without choice- lines are often long) absorbing the splendor of St. Peter’s Square, prepare to be further awestruck by St. Peter’s Basilica by snapping a photo of the gaudily dressed Swiss Guard first. A wander through the Vatican Museums contains the highlight of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. In Rome proper, imagine yourself Audrey Hepburn or Gregory Peck and climb the Spanish Steps to visit Trinità dei Monti, or make a religious pilgrimage by visiting the seven pilgrim churches of the city.
Take artistic liberties
The logical starting place for art lovers is Villa Borghese, where you can find a cluster of museum experiences at your disposal. If you can only pick one, Galleria Borghese is probably the way to go, followed by a visit to the Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi. The first’s expansive collections include works by Raphael and Caravaggio, the latter boasts Caravaggio’s stunning St. Matthew cycle. The Capitoline Museums are also worth a visit, if only for the majesty of the statue of Marcus Aurelius Exedra, housed in a beautiful glass hall in the Palazzo dei Conservatori.
Explore gastronomical delights
In case you didn’t realize, Italy is the “eat” part of Eat, Pray, Love, and that’s for good reason. Sample fettuccine al burro, carbonara, thin crusted Roman pizza… Don’t forget fritti, meaning basically fried anything, from zucchini to carciofi alla giudia (fried artichokes) to suppli (fried rice balls.) Finish it off with as much gelato as you can find, because that stuff is a culinary miracle in itself. Try to eat where the locals eat – which means taking a little stroll rather than stopping at the restaurant closest to the Colosseum and finding restaurants open late, when Italians traditionally take dinner. Try asking your hotel concierge or hostel desk clerk where there favorite place is.
Wander and wonder
Balance out all that eating by hoofing it around town. If you’re in the center of town, Rome is actually very walkable, which is good, as on-foot is the best way to see the cobblestone streets and lovely piazzas of this romantic city. Stop at Campo d’Fiori and browse the colorful wares on sale there, throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, window shop high-fashion Via Veneto, and more- you never know what gems you’ll discover exploring Rome on foot.