A guide to visiting Rome Italy Part 1

A guide to visiting Rome Italy Part 1


Rome – the Eternal City – has always been my favourite city in Europe.

One of my favourite quotes describes it beautifully ”Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city.” (Anatole Broyard)

So what is it about Rome that makes it so special? There are lots of amazing and beautiful cities in Europe but Roma is magical!

If you don’t believe me….these are a few of the reasons why I love Rome….and you will too! A guide to visiting Rome….

  • The sites and sights….so many….

The Coliseum

The Coliseum was built between AD 72 and 80 (started under Emperor Vespasian and completed under Emperor Titus)which when you see it is quite unbelievable! Only 8 years to build such an imposing structure. Between AD 81 and 96 more work was completed under Emperor Domitian.

It could hold between 50 – 80 thousand people and it was the main source of entertainment for the Roman people. There are 80 arches/entrances and the numbers of some are still visible today. Tickets were issued on clay tablets and when people entered they had three possible floors to be seated on. Entrance and exit to the three tiers was via the vomitarium. A roof was constructed over the coliseum to shade the spectators from the harsh summer sun.

As I am sure we all learnt in history lessons the Colisum was the arena used for gladiatorial contests, battle re-enactments, seabattles and executions. Wild animals were brought from all over the Empire for use in the arena – rhino, hippos, elephant, giraffe, crocodiles, lions, leopards, bears and ostriches were killed in the arena. Trapdoors were used to move animals and people up onto the arena floor.

We had booked a tour with Viator which enabled us to see areas of the arena that are normally restricted. It was really worth it as we saw the underground chambers, the arena floor and were also taken up onto the top tier of the Coliseum. If you get the chance I would book this experience – there were a lot of envious glances when we were admitted to restricted areas.

The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill

I have to say that for me this is the most magical place I have ever visited in the world – there is something about the Forum and Palatine Hill that for me touches the past and you can almost feel the presence of those who lived thousands of years ago.

Entrance beside the Coliseum - a guide to visiting rome

Entrance to the Palatine Hill and The Forum

We had a tour of the Forum and Palatine Hill as part of our Coliseum package. I would suggest that you do a tour or it is quite difficult to make sense of all the ruins before you.

There is also no shade so make sure you have a hat, applied a lot of sun cream and take water with you. It was 38 degrees the day we visited!

The Vatican City

(Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel)

A country in the middle of Rome the Vatican City is well worth a visit. Again we took an organised tour with Viator which included entrance to the Vatican Museums and a tour of St Peter’s Basilica (the Basilica is free but the ticket was worth it to skip the queues…more about that later!!)

We had a good wander through the museum and into St Peters- they are not air conditioned though so prepare to sweat if its summer! The Sistine chapel is a must too – just remember no photographs are allowed due to copyright!!!!!!!!!!!

The Pantheon

I find the Pantheon absolutely gob smacking…it is the only building in Rome that exists in its entirety since Roman times…even the doors are the original!!!!



The Pantheon is the best preserved Ancient Roman building and you do have to wonder how it has managed to survive nearly 2000 years intact. It was completed by the Emperor Hadrian (the guy with the thing for walls…) in about 126AD. It is an absolutely magnificent structure….we were lucky to find it fairly quiet one morning…the next time we visited it was packed.

You will look up at the dome and marvel at Roman architecture and building…how could they have built something so perfect so long ago?

Trevi Fountain

Trevi fountain

The Trevi Fountain was designed by Salvi and completed in 1762 eleven years after his death. They are the largest baroque fountains in the city and  recognisable worldwide. Visit the fountains at night when they are lit up as they are even more spectacular. It will be packed though and beware the rose sellers who will thrust a rose into the hand of the unwary then follow demanding payment.

Spanish steps

Spanish steps 2

We kept planning to walk over to the Spanish steps and we only made it on  our last night. There are barriers closing off the steps at the moment so you can’t actually sit on them. They were built between 1723 and 1725 and connect the Piazza di Spagna and the plaza Triniti dei Monti. The area near the bottom of the Spanish steps are also home to the most exclusive (read expensive) shops in Rome. We had a great stroll down the street admiring designer handbags and shoes in beautifully decorated shop windows.

Piazza Venezia

This beautiful piazza is a square you will most definitely come across when in Rome as it is where many important roads connect. It is also chaotic with traffic! The piazza is dominated by Il Vittoriano a memorial dedicated to the first King of Italy (Victor Emmanuel II). Apparently lots of historic buildings were demolished when it was built in the early 20th century.

We walked to the top where there are some great views before walking to the Coliseum and the Forum which are just off the Piazza.

And yet so much more….

There are obviously loads more historical sites to visit in Rome…these are what we managed in 3 days. We didn’t get the chance to visit Emperor Nero’s villa (the Domus Aurea). That is top of my list for next time. For me Rome is so magical I could spend months happily in the city. But as well as the amazing historical buildings and sites there are other things I love about Rome. You can read about it in More things to love about Rome.


Rome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As is most of Italy it seems – read more about Italian Unesco World Heritage Sites.

 Pin for later -A guide to visiting Rome

Sights to see in the Eternal City

See the sights of Rome


Have you visited Rome? Do you agree with my belief that it is the most beautiful city in Europe? If not which city would you give that title to?


  1. September 18, 2016 / 4:26 pm

    Rome is probably my favourite city in Europe as well. I’ve been hankering to go back since the moment I left! Hopefully one day soon.

    • September 18, 2016 / 4:46 pm

      Yes it has the effect I think! It was 10 years since my last visit and it was just fantastic – bloomin hot in August – but still fabulous!

    • November 29, 2016 / 5:58 pm

      Yes I think it has a magic about it – there is something so beautiful about it. The only other city that has made me react like that is Split.

  2. November 29, 2016 / 10:51 am

    Oh this reminds me of when I went to exactly the same places. Rome astounds me, it had SuCh intelligent people didn’t it? All in one place! The forum was one of my favourite bits too and the whole vestal virgin thing was fascinating!
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…Our family friendly Abu Dhabi holidayMy Profile

    • November 29, 2016 / 5:57 pm

      I just love Rome – I could visit again and again.

  3. November 29, 2016 / 9:13 pm

    There’s so much to do and see in Rome! It’s an amazing city and you certainly covered a lot in three days. Incredible how much history is there before you. Good idea on getting a guide. I’m looking forward to revisiting the city with my children and experiencing it all over again. Thanks for linking #citytripping
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum) recently posted…City Tripping #55My Profile

    • December 1, 2016 / 3:49 pm

      Thanks Elizabeth – we had an amazing time and it was so lovely showing my niece this beautiful city. She loved it and totally fell in love with it. Having the guide was excellent as we both love history and we learnt so much!

  4. November 30, 2016 / 8:47 pm

    It’s just so stunning isn’t it? I have yet to visit another city where I have been at a loss for words so many times. That’s either because I am so in awe at what I am looking at, or have my mouth stuffed with something delectable! 😀 #citytripping

    • December 1, 2016 / 3:43 pm

      Hahaha that is so true!!! The gelato is my favourite in Rome! And you turn a corner and there is another amazing sight! I just love it!

    • December 6, 2016 / 6:21 pm

      Thanks Rob and Ann for your comment – I think it was my first too (Split is my close second city!)

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