VISITING ROME'S ICONIC LANDMARKS
Oh, Rome. Come va? An iconic city hosting the Pope's kingdom, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and the list goes on. Roma, as the Italians call it, is a city that everyone should see once in their life. You learn about it in school, idolize it from movies, but you need to experience the history, the architecture, the food, and the unmistakable Italian demeanor that floods this city. Here's a glimpse at our 48 hours.
What images do you see when you think of Rome? Obviously the Colosseum. Definitely the Trevi Fountain. And of course, St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
This amazing structure took 219 years to build, 31 popes, and 10 architects to complete the project, with construction finishing in 1626.
To give a proper comparison in size, you could easily fit the 305 foot Statue of Liberty inside St. Peter's colossal 450 foot dome. And speaking of its height, one must-do while in Rome is climb the 551 steps to the top.
Here I am, half way up, pausing for a "cute" photo after having just wiped the sweat from my face. You will weave in and out of ancient stairways, shimmy between the two inner walls of the iconic dome, and burn off all the pasta you just ate, but it is so worth it.
You will be rewarded for your efforts with unbeatable views across all of the Vatican City and Rome. And additionally, the roof top hosts a little-known cafe with obviously the best views in town.
Standing at the base of the towering statues that guard St. Peter's facade, Christ and his twelve apostles, forces you, again, to realize its grandiosity.
Upon your decent, you will be guided to enter inside St. Peter's Basilica, which is its own spectacle to marvel at. So, skip the enormous line to enter inside alone, and, rather, find the more discrete ticketing office to the right of the basilica to make your way to the top, finishing with the opportunity to see the interior as well.
We then grabbed some lunch from Bonci's pizzeria and headed to Piazza Navona to wander the area and people watch.
For over 300 years, Piazza Navona was home to one of Rome's main markets, but is now known more for its grand centerpiece fountains, colorful street artists, and bustling cafes.
Checking off another iconic experience when in Rome is seeing the Vatican Museums, and particularly, the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City (techneically, the smallest country in the world). At the time I was there in 2013, no pictures were allowed inside the chapel. So here is a glimpse of the entrance.
The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who is responsible for restoring it in the late 1400s. Still to this day, it hosts active papal duties such as the papal conclave, the process for which a new pop is selected. Perhaps it is most famous for its ceiling frescoes, including The Last Judgment by Michelangelo.
The Trevi Fountain is always a bustling place for tourists, often beckoning large crowds and very little room to squeeze your way to the front, though. To avoid all of this, show up in early morning when the rest of Rome is still waking up. You will be rewarded with a peaceful, quiet, and most likely private viewing of the fountain all to yourself!
This incredible landmark was constructed in the 1700s and stands at a towering 85 feet tall! It's also made of the same travertine stone used to construct the Colosseum.
Looking past the 2012 cellphone quality pictures of me tossing my coin into the fountain, legend says that one coin thrown in will ensure a return to Rome (which it did!), and two coins will boast that you find love. Though these two pictures are from a different trip, I couldn't not put them in as this was my first experience ever at the Trevi Fountain :D
It is actually illegal to take coins from the fountain, however. They are collected each night and given to a charity in Rome, Caritas, which uses the money (sometimes 3,000 euros a day!) as part of a supermarket program with rechargeable cards for those in Rome who can't afford groceries. Pretty cool!
Just a 5 minute walk away will bring you to the Pantheon, from the Greek word pantheion meaning "temple of all the gods." The Pantheon was commissioned sometime around 14 AD, so it is incredible that it has lasted all this time despite ancient Roman raids.
In fact, it is among the best preserved ancient Roman buildings. Step inside to admire the massive dome with a central opening to the sky, the oculus. Nearly 2,000 years after it was originally constructed, the Pantheon still holds the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.
The Colosseum, perhaps the most iconic and impressive structure in Rome. Wander in and out of the arches and columns, climb the ascending levels for impressive view points, and just touch the stone that housed gladiator battles, re-enactments, executions, and other public spectacles dating back to AD 80. Be sure to book tickets in advance as lines can be dreadfully long.
Have a bit more time to spare? Check out the Roman Forum or Villa Borghese gardens. Ciao!