Rome: Italy’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Rome is the capital of Italy and one of Europe’s oldest and most beautiful cities. This city, which has a population of almost 2.8 million people, is famous for its over 3,000-year-old history and culture. If you travel to Italy, you simply must visit Rome and breathe in the atmosphere of antiquity.
In this article, we’ll first show you the most important facts about Rome. Then, we’ll share our list of the top ten sights you must see during your visit! Let’s go!
Rome in a Nutshell
Rome, one of Europe’s historical centers, is located in the middle of the country, not far from the Tiber River and the Tyrrhenian Sea. The city’s history is incredibly interesting and quite important, especially for the locals. According to the legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC. Because it was an independent city-state at the time, the towns of Turin and Florence served as the capitals until 1946. Another great aspect of Rome is the Vatican, a sovereign state within the city limits.
In 1980, UNESCO designated the Old Town of Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Vatican City as World Heritage Sites.
Rome’s temperate climate offers rather mild temperatures and lots of sun. Nevertheless, temperatures can drop below 10 °C in December and January. Snowfall in Rome is not unheard of, but still rather rare. The warmest months are in midsummer – July and August have temperatures above 30 °C and are therefore perfect for swimming. In the winter months, the average temperature drops to a cool 9 °C, but most days are still sunny. The months of March through May are among the wettest in Rome. During this time, the average temperature rises to 15 °C, so the weather is relatively mild and Mediterranean.
The typical dishes in Rome belong to the category known as Cucina Romana. This includes mainly meat and fish dishes, with vegetables or salad as a side dish. In addition, there are creams or pastries for dessert. As you may know, Italians are very proud of their pizza and pasta! In Rome, the pasta dish Cacio e Pepe is extremely popular. It consists of spaghetti with pepper and a splash of pasta water. But pasta alla carbonara is also very common in Rome. For dessert, try Maritozzo, a sweet pastry with whipped cream that pairs perfectly with a cappuccino.
The most popular means of public transportation in Rome is the subway. However, there are also buses and streetcars. The practical thing is that all tickets are valid for all means of transport, so there’s less confusion! There are three metro lines – A, B, and C. With the first two, you can easily reach the typical sights. It’s worth noting that Rome’s metro system is only 38 kilometers long and underdeveloped compared to other European cities. In addition to public transport, you can also use the city’s official white cabs – but we’d advise against using those as they are more expansive than the other public transportation options.
In the Italian capital, there are interesting events and celebrations almost every month of the year. The Settimana die Musei – which takes place in March – is especially exciting for backpackers because you can get into museums for free. In June and July, Piazza San Cosimato hosts “Il Cinema in Piazza”, a free open-air cinema. The so-called Estate Romana, a summer festival, takes place from June to September. In the evenings, there are countless open-air concerts and other events.
Here’s a little fun fact for you: Rome has more fountains than any other city on the planet!
With all that said, let’s move on to the city’s most beautiful sights.
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Rome
You’ve probably heard a lot about how beautiful Italy’s capital is – and rightly so. That’s why we’re going to show you the top 10 sights in Rome!
Colosseum of Rome
What better place to begin than the Colosseum? It’s one of the most famous ancient buildings in the world! After all, it is the largest amphitheater ever built in ancient Rome (between 72 and 80 A.D.). The games in the Colosseum were often brutal and served as cruel entertainment for the members of the imperial family. Sometimes, they allowed the other inhabitants of Rome to watch as well.
Today, the ruins are not only a landmark of the capital, but they are also a symbol of Italy.
Every day, there are tours of the Colosseum, allowing you to see this marvel from the inside. The duration of the trips, as well as the time spent waiting at the entrance, vary greatly. If you want a more detailed tour, you can book an audio guide.
As we have already mentioned, Rome has the most fountains of any city on the planet. Of course, this includes the famous Trevi Fountain, which dates back to 1762. Today, with a basin measuring 50 meters in length, it is the largest fountain in Rome. In the middle of the fountain stands an impressive sculpture of the sea god Neptune with his chariot. One of the seahorses symbolizes invincibility, the other obedience, and together, they represent the whims of the sea. A special superstition makes the Trevi Fountain a lucrative source of income: people regularly throw coins into the fountain because this supposedly makes a wish come true. This way, about half a million euros are donated to good causes every year.
By the way, the coin throwing ritual works as follows: Standing with your back to the fountain, throw the coin into the fountain basin with your left hand over your right shoulder, or with your right hand over your left shoulder. Don’t turn around, and don’t forget to make your wish!
The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps in Rome are not only a famous Italian monument, but also one of the world’s most well-known free staircases. The 136-step staircase is currently one of the city’s most popular gathering spots.
In Italy, it’s referred to as “Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti.” The English name derives from the Piazza di Spagna, the square located directly in front of the stairs. You’ll find a magnificent fountain in the shape of a half-sunken ship there, the Fontana della Barcaccia – a truly fantastic sight!
Catacomb of Priscilla Beneath Rome
There are about 60 catacombs in Rome, but only a few of them are open to the public. One of them is the Catacomb of Priscilla, a grave site in a quarry from Roman times. From the end of the 2nd to the 4th century, Christians used the quarry for burials. The fine decorations on some of the walls and ceilings that depict biblical scenes are particularly interesting.
The modern entrance to the catacombs is on Via Salaria. You’ll have to go through the cloister of the Benedictines of Priscilla monastery to access it.
The catacombs are surrounded by stones and located deep underground, leading to low temperatures. Therefore, we strongly recommend you wear warmer clothes, even on hot summer days.
Vatican City and Saint Peter’s Basilica
The Papal Basilica of St. Peter (or simply just St. Peter’s Basilica) attracts numerous visitors from all over the world. This memorial church is located in the Vatican City State! In addition, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world. That’ s certainly worth a trip!
However, at the entrance there are strict controls, as if you were boarding a flight. You mustn’t carry large bags, and you have to wear appropriate clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
Trastevere: a District in Rome
Trastevere, a trendy yet historic neighborhood in Rome, is located on the other bank of the Tiber. Its overall look is characterized by old residential buildings and typical narrow streets. The flea market in Porta Portese is particularly popular with both locals and travelers. Trastevere is one of the city’s most active areas, especially at night. There is often a lot going on in the restaurants and bars, so you can really enjoy the Italian flair.
Piazza del Popolo
The so-called Piazza del Popolo, also known as the People’s Square, is one of Rome’s most famous squares. In ancient times, this was the place where people entered Rome from the north.
Today, the square is easily accessible by subway. Above all, it is a great starting point for exploring the nearby sights. The most striking buildings in the square are the two almost identical Baroque-style churches right next to each other. Next to them is the city gate, Porta del Popolo. There’s a lot going on here, as you can see!
Ostia Antica is a large archeological site located near the Ostia district, about 25 kilometers southwest of the capital. The name derives from “os”, the Latin word for “mouth”. Located at the mouth of the Tiber, it was originally the port city of ancient Rome. Due to silting, however, there are now three kilometers between it and the sea.
The site of Ostia Antica is known for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes, and impressive mosaics. Despite the fact that the district isn’t directly in Rome, it’s still worth a visit!
Terme di Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla were the city’s second-largest public baths in ancient Rome. They are estimated to have been built between 212 and 217 AD – that is, during the reigns of the emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla. The facilities were in operation until the 530s but were then left to deteriorate. Today, the thermal baths are a popular tourist destination.
Throughout their operation as baths, they served as inspiration for many other notable buildings – both ancient and modern. Works of art have also been recovered from the ruins, including famous sculptures such as the Farnese Bull and the Farnese Hercules.
Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II
The Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II is a national monument in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, who was the first king of the unified Italy in 1861. The monument is located between Piazza Venezia and Capitoline Hill. It is currently managed by the Polo Museale del Lazio and is owned by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities.
Don’t you agree that Rome is worth the hype? After all, the historic city really does have a lot to offer! The beautiful sights are infused with culture and ancient history, which makes them even more interesting, like St. Peter’s Basilica, the Spanish Steps, or the Trevi Fountain, to name a few. Not to mention the Colosseum, which is probably the city’s and the country’s most important landmark.
But it’s not just the sights that draw so many travelers to Rome – the Italian cuisine, unique events, and the perfect climate play a major role as well.
Well, how does all this sound to you? You definitely need to pay Rome a visit. What are you waiting for?