Rome offers many world-famous attractions that must be noticed, yet tourists must refrain from engaging in habits that might annoy locals. Select the best things to see in Rome.
Take, for example, pictures of costumed gladiators outside of the Colosseum; though custom requires paying a small fee for this privilege, all that money should benefit those living nearby instead.
1. Visit St. Peter’s Basilica
No matter your beliefs, St Peter’s Basilica is truly breathtaking. A massive structure that stands over an entire square, it takes some time to appreciate this church’s size fully. Inside lies many treasures, including Michelangelo’s Pieta and Bernini’s marble statue of the Apostle.
People familiar with Rome may make quick trips here, while for those newcomers, it should be seen as an attraction that should be noticed. One of the best times to visit is during its off-season period from April to October when temperatures are mild and fewer tourists visit.
Donato Bramante and Michelangelo created giant pillars for this church, decorated with pieces of the spear that pierced Jesus during his Crucifixion, Veronica’s veil bearing Jesus’ face imprint, and depictions of St. Peter’s boat filled with terrified followers terrified at seeing Jesus walking on water – each bearing ornaments designed by these artists as well as Bernini Maderno Raphael masterpieces sculptural works as decorations on them.
Walking around the basilica’s exterior and taking pictures from different angles will give you a better sense of its enormous scale. Look at its gold leaf ceiling, which shimmers under sunlight. There may be a line to enter; if that’s too long a wait, consider booking a tour that can save some of that valuable vacation time!
The church is home to a small treasure gallery (ticketed), which displays vestments and priestly objects. If time allows, consider exploring underground to witness the Scavi – ancient Roman tombs under St Peter’s Basilica that contain many treasures!
2. Visit the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are one of Rome’s premier attractions for a good reason: their vast collection of art spans ancient to Renaissance and Baroque periods and is revered as Saint Peter is said to have rested there. Because of this, the museum draws crowds year-round.
Relieve yourself from long lines at museums by purchasing your tickets online, guaranteeing the perfect seat to admire Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Or opt for a guided tour from an expert!
Apart from its museums, the Vatican boasts several other notable sites for great visits. One such spot is the Capuchin Crypt (Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini) – an intriguing underground site used by Capuchins to store their treasures in past times.
Pinacoteca, home to Italy’s finest collection of sculptures, should also be noticed. One such highlight is an incredible lifelike statue of Apollo dating back to the 1st century BCE that was once considered one of the world’s most stunning ancient sculptures.
Be sure to visit the Tapestries Hall (Galleria degli Arazzi) and Maps Gallery (Galleria del la Carte Geografiche), known for its intricate ceiling adorned with some of the most detailed maps ever painted. Additionally, take advantage of the opportunity to climb St. Peter’s Dome for breathtaking views of Vatican City – though this unique feature requires a separate ticket and should be part of any visit.
3. Visit Santa Maria della Vittoria
Santa Maria della Vittoria should not be missed when visiting Rome; located at the corner of Piazza San Bernardo and Via XX Settembre 17 and is dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. Constructed in 17th-century baroque style, its facade boasts marble, travertine embellishments, and a keyhole. Also in Piazza San Bernardo is the Fountain of Moses, completed in 1589 – its design comprised of travertine, sandstone, and stucco elements as it honors Pope Sixtus V’s birthplace as his surname was Felice, thus becoming its namesake!
Dan Brown fans may recognize Santa Maria della Vittoria from its prominent role in his book Angels and Demons. Even without reading it, this church deserves a visit as its stunning facade draws admirers, as does one of Rome’s most striking chapels, the Cappella Paolina.
Rome is complete with seeing its iconic monument, the Colosseum. Once home to an immense amphitheater where Romans would gather in mass to watch gladiators battle wild animals for glory (or death!). A tour of this historic structure should provide an unforgettable adrenaline rush!
The Galleria Borghese is widely considered to be the finest museum in Rome and should be on your itinerary. Housed within Villa Borghese and established by Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s expert and ruthless collector of Renaissance and early Baroque artwork, its founder. Gian Lorenzo Bernini created an Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, depicting an image from her memoirs where an angel pierces her heart with a divine love arrow.
4. Visit the Capitoline Museums
The Capitoline Museums are among the world’s oldest public museums and are home to an abundance of Roman art dating from ancient statues to 16th-century paintings. History buffs could easily spend days here exploring every hall in depth; alternatively, visitors could swiftly navigate and focus solely on what interests them most.
The collection’s centerpiece is undoubtedly The Dying Gaul, a 1st-century copy of a Greek original from ancient Greece depicting one of Rome’s enemies caught between defeat and emotional upheaval. But there are many more gems to discover, too; Venus Capitolina from the Hellenistic period can still draw audiences’ gazes over 2000 years later!
Not only will museums feature statues and art, but they also house an exciting subterranean tunnel network containing funeral steles, inscriptions, and marble pieces from Roman Forum – don’t miss it when visiting! Don’t forget about Tabularium – 1st-century rooms once used for city archives!
To gain a more in-depth insight into Rome’s rich history, Through Eternity offers expert-guided tours. Their Capitoline Museums tour allows visitors to go behind the scenes of this vast and vital museum while seeing some of its most memorable sculptures with an experienced guide by your side.
These tours are best suited to older kids (tweens and teens) who can appreciate the stories behind these masterpieces, while toddlers may become disenchanted with long corridors filled with pieces they cannot touch. Another fun alternative would be booking a tour through Trova Trails which offers fun scavenger hunts for children at various locations around Rome, including Capitoline Museums.
5. Visit Trastevere
Trastevere’s cobbled streets provide the ideal venue for long strolls and exploration, boasting many hidden churches, museums, and boutique shops, as well as great bars and restaurants – especially when packed with locals and tourists alike in the evening hours. It is recommended that visitors experience this lively neighborhood first thing in the morning!
Santa Cecilia is an exquisite jewel in Trastevere and should not be overlooked as one of its premier locations. Devoted to the 3rd-century martyr Saint Cecilia, its beautiful garden serves as an entrance to this church where you can admire its altar and frescos or even book tickets in advance to visit its incredible crypt containing Cavallini’s Last Judgment fresco!
Villa Farnesina, known for its stunning frescoes by Raffaello, should also be visited. Watching the water pour onto its imperceptibly concave floor can be incredibly captivating when it rains!
Rome is home to its oldest and largest market, which can often become crowded and busy. If you want to buy something here, be patient – take your time browsing before finding somewhere comfortable to sit with a drink or bite before making your purchase decision.
If you’re visiting Rome during mid-July, be sure to experience the Festa de’ Noantri (Feast of the Nativity). This large celebration takes place for two weeks in Trastevere and involves the veneration of an image of Mary at a small church – people from across Rome come here specifically for this event!
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