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Top 10 Things to Do in Rome, Italy

Updated on May 6, 2016
bdegiulio profile image

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

If you are visiting Italy, Rome is a must!

Visitors from all over the world come to Rome, the eternal city. For many it's a once in a lifetime visit, for others it's a pilgrimage to the center of Catholicism. Whatever your reason for coming to Rome, it's sure to be an amazing experience.

To be honest, Rome has hundreds of things to see and do. But the reality for most of us is that a visit to Rome is most likely part of a vacation, and as such will have a beginning and an all to short end. There are numerous amazing sites across Rome that are deserving of a visit, for now we'll look at ten of my favorites geared for the first time visitor.

The Colosseum
The Colosseum | Source

Colosseum

No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to what is possibly its most famous attraction, the Roman Colosseum . The largest amphitheater ever built in the Roman Empire; it is considered a marvel of Roman architecture and engineering. Built to hold a capacity of 50,000 spectators the Colosseum was used for gladiator contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, battle re-enactments and dramas based on classical mythology.

Damaged over the centuries by fire, earthquakes and looters, the structure today remains in a partially ruined state which only adds to its appeal. Visitors can tour the Roman Colosseum on their own or take advantage of a tour guide service offered through the Colosseum. Another option is to utilize a private tour guide and have them take you through some of Rome’s other sites as well as the Colosseum. The area under the Colosseum where the animals were held and where Gladiators prepped for their contests is now open to visitors and is worth a visit.

The Colosseum
The Colosseum | Source

Me thinks I will not die quite happy without having seen something of that Rome.

— Sir Walter Scott

Roman Forum

Located adjacent to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum. This site contains some of the most ancient and important structures of ancient Rome. For centuries the Forum was a marketplace and the center of public life for ancient Romans.

Today visitors can stroll through the Forum area and marvel at the structures that have withstood time and the elements. Entry into the Forum will take you under the Arch of Titus which today stands guard to the Roman Forum, just as it did when it was constructed in 82 A.D. Having a good map or utilizing a tour guide will be of great assistance as you walk through the Forum; otherwise it is virtually impossible to know the history and significance of every structure.

The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum | Source
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum | Source
St Peter's Basilica
St Peter's Basilica | Source

Tip

To avoid the long lines that usually form for the Vatican Museum consider purchasing your tickets ahead of time or utilizing a private tour guide or tour company, which will allow you to skip the long line.

Vatican City

Many visitors to Rome come primarily to see Vatican City and to hopefully catch a glimpse of the Pope. This self-contained State has so much to see that it is a destination in and of itself. Without a doubt the Vatican Museum has one of the world's finest collections of artwork. Plan on at least a few hours to stroll through the museum, possibly more if you are a true art lover. Upon exiting the museum you will come to the Sistine Chapel, another one of the great treasures of Vatican City and not to be missed.

Also not to be missed is a visit to the amazing St. Peters Basilica. The first time you enter this amazing church you will be awestruck at it's enormity. It really is amazing. Don't miss Michelangelo's Pieta and the massive Bernini Baldacchino that rises above the ancient tomb of St. Peter.

For an in-depth look at things to do and see in Vatican City please refer to my Hub, Top 10 Things to Do in Vatican City. Visiting Vatican City is certainly one of the highlights of a visit to Rome and should not be missed. If you have the time, plan on allocating at least a day or two, if not longer, to see St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museum and everything else that this self contained State has to offer.

St Peter's Square
St Peter's Square | Source
The Pantheon
The Pantheon | Source

Pantheon

One of the oldest and best preserved buildings in all of Rome, the Pantheon stands today almost two thousand years after it was first built. The dome of the Pantheon remains the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus (large opening at the peak of the dome) and the diameter of the interior circle are identical at 142 feet.

The interior of the Pantheon holds numerous paintings, sculptures, altars and apses. The tomb of the great artist Raphael and several Italian Kings are also located within the Pantheon. Today the Pantheon is still an active church and is a very popular place for weddings.

Pantheon
Pantheon | Source

Spanish Steps

This famous stairway containing 138 steps connects the Piazza di Spagna, or Spanish square at the bottom, with a French church, the Trinità dei Monti with it's twin domes at top of the hill. The steps and piazza are famous as a meeting place for locals and visitors alike to come and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Photographers are drawn here for the picturesque church, the beautiful Fontana della Barcaccia at the bottom, and of course the famous steps themselves. Grab a gelato, stake a claim to a few feet of the steps and soak in all that Rome has to offer.

The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps | Source

Trevi Fountain

One of the most famous fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in all of Rome. This popular tourist destination was completed in 1762, and attracts visitors from all over the world who come to throw coins into the fountain. The tradition holds that throwing a coin into the fountain ensures ones return to Rome, and the fountain collects about 3,000 euro daily. The money is used to fund a supermarket for Rome’s needy and underprivileged, certainly a worthy cause.

The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain | Source
Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona | Source

Piazza Navona

One of the largest and certainly it’s most famous square, Piazza Navona contains a unique collection of artists, street vendors and local shops. The three main fountains of the square are well known and have appeared in numerous films including “Angels and Demons”, which was the prequel to the “The Da Vinci Code”.

In the center of the square stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers, created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1651. This is a great place to grab a gelato or a panini, shop, or just relax for a few moments.

Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona | Source

Castel Sant'Angelo

This somewhat overlooked attraction is certainly worthy of a visit while in Rome. The imposing structure, which was at one time the tallest building in Rome will certainly grab your attention as the towering cylindrical castle dominates the Rome skyline.

Originally commissioned in 135 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family, Castel Sant'Angelo is today a museum that contains a unique collection of sculptures, armaments and paintings. The history of Castel Sant’Angelo also involves the Vatican, which used the structure as both a fortress and castle. The circular walkway to the top reveals one of the most spectacular views of Rome, St. Peter's Square and the Basilica.

Castel Sant'Angelo
Castel Sant'Angelo | Source
Rome roof tops from the top of Castel Sant'Angelo
Rome roof tops from the top of Castel Sant'Angelo | Source
St Peter's Basilica from Castel Sant'Angelo
St Peter's Basilica from Castel Sant'Angelo | Source

Capitoline Hill

The Capitoline Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome. It is located between the Forum and the Campus Martius and is considered Rome's most sacred hill. Today, Capitoline Hill is home to the Capitoline Museum with a world-class collection of Roman artifacts.

Also located on the hill is the Michelangelo designed, perfectly proportioned square, Piazza del Campidoglio. In the center of the square, perfectly positioned by Michelangelo is a copy of the bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. You can see the original in the museum; a copy was placed on the original pedestal in 1997.

Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Hill | Source

Walking Rome at Night

There is nothing like taking a stroll through ancient Rome after the sun goes down. There is just something about the way that they illuminate the ruins in and around the Colosseum, the Forum, and for that matter the entire city. Pictures do very little justice to the beauty of Rome at night. It is the perfect setting for an after dinner walk and will reveal a unique perspective on the Eternal City. Check out some of the pictures included here and I think you will see what I mean.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at ten of Rome's most treasured sites. Rome is certainly one of the most fascinating cities not just in Italy but throughout the world, and is certainly a must see on any visit to Italy. Enjoy your visit to eternal Rome.

Ciao for now.

Rome at Night

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Castel Sant'AngeloSt. Peter's Basilica from across the Tiber RiverColosseumMoon over the Victor Emmanuel MonumentSunset
Castel Sant'Angelo
Castel Sant'Angelo | Source
St. Peter's Basilica from across the Tiber River
St. Peter's Basilica from across the Tiber River | Source
Colosseum
Colosseum | Source
Moon over the Victor Emmanuel Monument
Moon over the Victor Emmanuel Monument | Source
Sunset
Sunset | Source
show route and directions
A markerVatican City -
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B markerColosseum -
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C markerRoman Forum -
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D markerPantheon -
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E markerTrevi Fountain -
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F markerSpanish Steps -
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G markerPiazza Navona -
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H markerCastel Sant'Angelo -
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I markerCapitoline Hill -
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© 2012 Bill De Giulio

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    • profile image

      Jen 6 months ago

      I am going to Rome in April, so glad to hear its a good month to go. I am keen to see the Collesseum and the Vatican

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Karen. Welcome to HubPages. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. Rome is amazing, no doubt about it. The history, architecture, culture, food, museums, etc., it just goes on and on.

      I have always wanted to visit Switzerland so hopefully we can get there in the near future. Would love to hear about your experiences there. I'll have to checkout your hubs. Thank you.

    • CharronsChatter profile image

      Karen Robiscoe 4 years ago from California

      the architecture is so awesome. Anything that old--still standing. It must be surreal to actually be there. When I lived in Switzerland as a teen-ager, I just went nuts for all the great architecture...

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Susan. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Rome really is a wonderful city. Have a great day.

    • Vacation Trip profile image

      Susan 4 years ago from India

      This hub is good. Voted UP this well written article. Great work, thanks for a good read.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Ingenira. Rome is magical at night, just amazing. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 4 years ago

      Awesome list. I think what I really enjoyed doing was walking on the street in Rome at night.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi gypsumgirl. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy Rome, you'll love it. There is so much to see and do in Rome. Have a great trip and let me know how it goes. have a great day.

    • gypsumgirl profile image

      gypsumgirl 4 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      Thank you for the information. I will be in Rome in July and will definitely return to your hub just before then. Great information!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi freecampingaussie. Luck you heading into Rome. Wish I were there! Enjoy this beautiful city and glad the hub helped. Ciao.

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 4 years ago from Southern Spain

      Hi ! I have been to Rome before however I am really looking forward to going into Rome on the train tomorrow to explore ! This is helpful so voting you up .

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi cathie. Glad you enjoyed Rome. It's a great city. Ciao :)

    • cathie bridges profile image

      Hamza Arshad 4 years ago from Pakistan

      wow....so much detailed hub....keep up the good work

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Matt. You are right on both accounts. Same with my wife. And crossing the street is taking your life in your hands. But these are all part of what makes Rome so interesting and wonderful to visit. Glad you enjoyed the hub. BTW, welcome to Hubpages.

    • Iammattdoran profile image

      Matt Doran 4 years ago from Manchester, UK

      Rome is awesome. I went about 6 or 7 years ago. One of the things that stuck out in my memory is that the male waiters would move heaven and earth to please my girlfriend but they treated me like dirt! Crossing the road is also a nightmare. Excellent hub, bdegiulio

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Monis Mas. Rome is eternal so someday works. Put Rome and Italy in general on your list, you won't regret it. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      Very informative hub! Maybe one day...

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Margarita. Thanks for the visit and the nice comments. Rome is amazing. If you get the chance someday make a visit, you won't regret it. Have a great day.

    • MargaritaEden profile image

      MargaritaEden 4 years ago from Oregon

      Oh what a beautiful hub about amazing city! Your pictures are just wonderful, you are a great photographer and writer!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Alun. Thank you for stopping by to read up on Rome. Very much appreciate the nice comments. We found Rome to be one of the most interesting cities that we have been to. Many thanks for the vote.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK

      Useful compilation of ten of the top attractions to see on a visit to Rome, with your own very nice photographs to accompany it. I'm sure many people visiting Rome for the first time could plan a visit based on this article. Surely one of the best city guides on HubPages? Voted up accordingly. Alun.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Crystal. Rome is just wonderful. In fact, all of Italy is wonderful. I can tell you that it is very addicting. We were already planning our second trip while on the flight home from our first trip. Hope you get there soon.

      Thanks for reading and the vote.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Peggy. Thanks so much for stopping by. Rome is wonderful, I think you will love it. And we have had such good success with the guides that we have used on occasion. They really do add to the experience.

      Here's hoping you get there soon. Thanks for the vote and share.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

      Aching to go to Rome and just about everywhere else in Italy. Great job with this hub. Voted up and awesome.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      What a marvelous hub about a city that I would love to see someday in person. I think that your tip about taking private tours is valid. Whenever we go to a new location we often take tours. One learns so much more than just trying to do things on one's own. The perks of skipping the long lines is also a plus by being on a tour. Nice to know that the coins tossed into the Trevi Fountain go to help the poor. Thanks for your top 10 tips and also your wonderful photos. Many up votes and sharing.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Tricia. Glad you enjoyed the Hub. You will love Italy and Rome is just a wonderful city full of history, architecture and food. Hope you get there soon.

    • Tricia1000 profile image

      Tricia1000 4 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you I enjoyed your article very much especially since Italy is next on my list of travels. Beautiful pictures.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi JS Parker. You can always return! There is so much to see and do in Rome, what a great city. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

    • JSParker profile image

      JSParker 4 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      This is an excellent hub and the photos are wonderful. Sent me right down memory lane, although from the looks of it you spent more than our mere two days in Rome. We saw it on a very hectic tour that also took us up to Venice and down to Naples. We started in Rome and needless to say, I fell in love. Viva l'Italia!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi rajan. Thanks for the nice comments and for taking the time to read. Rome after sunset is magical with all of the ruins and monuments lit up. We hope to return someday soon. Thank you for the vote.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      This is an awesome article with some fine photographs of these ancient monuments. The lighting effect after sunset has a magical effect on them.

      Voted up & awesome, Bill.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Matt. There is so much to see in Rome, one of the great cities of the world. We've made two trips and we feel like there is still so much that we haven't experienced or seen. Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great day.

    • mattdigiulio profile image

      mattdigiulio 5 years ago

      Bill, this was a fantastic read. I've been to Rome once, when the Colosseum was closed for renovation. Went to the Spanish Steps, and some museums, and of course a restaurant or two. This is a great primer for me, reminding me of all that's left to see in the city. I'm sure I could spend an entire month in Rome and not discover it all.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi there freecampingaussie. Visiting Rome on a rainy day is better than not visiting Rome. Hope you enjoyed you visit. I'm sure you'll get back there soon. Thanks for reading, have a great day.

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 5 years ago from Southern Spain

      I enjoyed your hub as we visited Rome but just on a day trip on a rainy day ,visited the Colosseum when there was a wedding on ! We hope to visit again next year !

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Availia. Thank you for reading and commenting. I second your sentiments on Rome, it really is amazing. There is just so much to see and experience there. We've been twice and I still feel like we've just scratched the surface of Rome. I have heard of the Beehive but have not stayed there. We'll have to check it out for our next trip. You are right in that Rome does not have to be expensive. On our last trip we stayed in a beautiful Convent for 60 euro per night. Unheard of in Rome. It was great; spacious, clean, quiet... The basement cafe at the Beehive sounds great also. We are always looking for those out of the way spots that only the locals know about. Thanks again. Ciao.

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 5 years ago from California

      Rome really is the most amazing city on the planet. great pictures! I loved walking by the lit up colosseum every nigtht. So beautiful and too incredible for words or pictures to describe. Have you ever satyed at The Beehive? It's only a couple of blocks away from the colosseum, so clean you could eat off the floor, owned by a very friendly American, and comes with the coolest cafe in the basement. Everything is organic and it is pay as you want. No set pricing. There are only 4 tables and the cook will make you anything she has ingridients for. Made my trip to Rome very pleasant. Cute garden outside too. You should check it out next time. Rome doesn't have to be expensive. Great Work!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you Suzie HQ. Very much appreciate the nice comments. I think Rome is one of the great cities of the world. There is so much to do and see and so much history, just an amazing place.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Another great hub, and super photos that capture the beauty and historical sights so well!! I love Rome also and as you say there is much to see and a place everyone should see at least once.Well done bdegiulio!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank You. It's a one of a kind city. We've been twice also and would go back in a heartbeat. Thanks for the nice comments.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Beautiful photos. I've been to Rome twice, and hope to go back again some day. It's definitely an addicting city!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Thelma. Rome is a great place. Hopefully you'll get back there some day soon.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

      Great article and photos! I have been to Rome many years ago and it was so interesting seeing those historical places. The best for me was the Sisteen Chapel. Seeing the Fresko of Michael Angelo was the best that I have ever seen in the entire Rome holiday. I wish to be back there. Thanks for SHARING.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Franck69. Appreciate the comments. How great to be a tour leader in Italy? I'm envious.

    • Franck69 profile image

      Franck Greco 5 years ago from Trapani, Italy

      Great hub! Rome really has hundreds of things to see and do as you wrote. I am an italian tour leader and really appreciate that you speak about the main sights of Italy the way you do, in an meaningful way and inviting more visitors to go and discover the beauty of my country! Thank you so much

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Lenzy. Appreciate the comments. It is a beautiful city.

    • Lenzy profile image

      Lenzy 5 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      I probably saw more in your hub of Rome than when I was there. Great Job! Your hubs are very informative and the photos are great. Thank you. Lenzy

    • Reves-diary profile image

      Reve 5 years ago from Dhaka

      Lovely photos and a useful hub. :). Voted up

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