Our top sights, highlights, and exclusive tips
With its basilicas, fountains, and winding alleys opening to leisurely piazzas—Rome is all about the architecture. Punctuate your stroll through the “Eternal City” with frequent pizza, gelato, and espresso stops—ruins look better on a full stomach. Of course, you’ll want to cross the River Tiber to visit the Vatican City: Religion aside, no trip to Rome is complete without seeing the Sistine Chapel ceiling.If you prefer to avoid the crowd, head to a cozy terrace in Celio or Monti for an afternoon aperitivo—Aperol Spritz anyone?
The Pantheon inspired the Jefferson memorial and continues to be the best-preserved Roman monument, not to mention the largest unsupported dome in the world to date. Enter to admire statues of Roman gods and biblical figures which harken back to the temple’s history as both a Catholic and Pagan house of worship. The show stopper is the architecture itself, a 27-foot oculus that opens to the heavens, bathing the interior in natural light.
You may be surprised by the austere exterior of the pope’s official residence, but like most good things, it’s the inside that counts. Immerse yourself in the Michelangelo’s nine-part part ceiling masterpiece depicting key moments from the book of genesis. Though five million people visit this site yearly, when you look up, your experience is utterly singular. It’s hard to believe the artist initially rejected the commission.
With a capacity of 87,000 people, the Colosseum remains the largest amphitheater to date. Ancient Romans frequented the six-acre stadium since 80 AD to watch bloodsport, theater, and mock navy battles—yes, they filled the arena with water. Tour the backstage, technically the “understage,” where animals and props were kept, and above ground, notice the chiseled numbers directing patrons to their seats.
This baroque behemoth was built on the fountainhead of the ancient Virgo Aqueduct and features Oceanus, the god of freshwater. Legend has it if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you’ll return to Rome. Stand with your back to the 86-feet tall masterpiece and toss the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. Don't worry: With a target that's 161-feet wide, you can't miss.
Saint Peter’s Basilica started as a small shrine and is now the largest church in Christendom with a capacity of 60,000. The architect, Michelangelo, died two years before the basilica’s consecration in 1626, but Saint Peter’s endures as one of his greatest works. Enter the Renaissance masterpiece to see the lavish marble interior and works by Raphael and Bernini before ascending the 450-feet dome for sweeping views of the city.
It’s hard to believe now, but the Roman Forum lay forgotten for centuries. In medieval times, this archeological goldmine became a common quarry and home for cattle. Thankfully, Neopolanic excavations restored the site. Walk the Via Sacra to see the Temple of Saturn and Arch of Titus among other relics. Head west to the terraces of Campidoglio to overlook the whole valley, including the Colosseum.
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