“Do as the Romans do.”
– St. Ambrose
And what Romans and all Italians do so well is embrace life to the fullest. You can get a taste of “la dolce vita”, or the sweet life in Rome by giving yourself enough time to experience the many gifts the Eternal City has to offer. If you’re heading over to Italy, Rome most likely won’t be your only stop. Any trip overseas is a big undertaking and you want to see as much as you can. That said, you need to think about just how much you want to take in, in addition to some built-in down time to savor that sweet life.
Too many travelers rush through Rome, check off the big-ticket items and then move on to their next Italy destination, without stopping to smell as well as drink that cappuccino. That’s a shame because one of my favorite things to do in Italy is actually a big part of that sweet life. It’s doing nothing, or the sweetness of doing nothing, “il dolce far niente.” You’ll understand, if you take my advice, and allow yourself to, for example, stroll through the quaint streets of the old section of Trastevere, stop for that coffee or vino, and then do your favorite Gregory Peck or Audrey Hepburn imitation by sipping Prosecco near the Pantheon, and eating gelato on the Spanish steps. I’ve actually done all of the above more times than I can count. On one trip, I actually lived out my own version of “Roman Holiday”. More on that in another blog. In the meantime, if you want to make your own Roman holiday that much more enjoyable, build in some down time.
So here are my top sights and activities for visitors to Rome. Of course, there are countless other things to see and do in Roma, but this list could easily keep you busy for a week or even longer. Consider the time of year you’re visiting. If you are going in one of the high seasons-late spring through the end of October, you’ll want to give yourself more time dealing with the crowds at the museums, especially the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel. Remember, even if you’re not coming at this from a faith based or pilgrimage perspective, you still want to include the religious sights mentioned as they are some of the most beautiful structures ever built and house some of the most impressive art collections anywhere.
T’s Italy will help you whether you go on your own or sign up for a tour. I have put together a list of my favorite hotels, ristorantes, shops, and neighborhood hangouts and not just in Rome, but spanning the entire country. Enjoy!
T’s Top Sites in Rome:
- Sistine Chapel/Vatican Museums
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- St. John Lateran
- St. Mary Major
- The Pantheon-Santa Maria ad Martyres Church
- St. Paul Outside the Walls
- Santa Maria in Trastevere
- Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
- Great Synagogue of Rome
- Ancient Rome
- The Roman Forum
- Circus Maximus
- Arch of Constantine
- Borghese Gallery
- Barberini Palace
- Ostia Antica (outskirts of Rome)
- Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s)
- Piazza Navona (Bernini fountains)
- Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps)
- Piazza Di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)
- Piazza del Popolo (near Borghese Gardens and Gallery)
Famous Streets of Rome
- Via della Conciliazone (way of reconciliation leading to St. Peter’s)
- Via Appia or Appian Way (ancient road leading out of Rome)
- Via Condotti (famous fashion strip)
- Via Vittorio Veneto/ Via Veneto (home of the U.S. Embassy and one of the most elegant streets in Rome.)
- Via del Corso (famous shopping strip connecting to the beautiful Piazza del Popolo or the people’s plaza)
- Cola di Rienzo (famous shopping avenue starting near the Vatican)
T’s Favorite Neighborhood or Section in Rome
Trastevere or “along the Tiber”- lively neighborhood filled with coffee shops, wine bars, trattorias, shops, and my favorite place for the sweet life and practicing the art of doing nothing.