Hurry jump on your Vespa and let's start my dream tour of Rome. Nowhere else can such a unique combination of history, religion, art, and culture be found. We'll see ancient ruins, religious landmarks, famed museums, and remarkable public squares – not to mention eat some wonderful food. So hold onto your scarves and fanny packs and let's get this show on the road!
The Pantheon - is one of Italy’s most beautiful and stunning buildings and has stood for nearly 2,000 years. Admission is free and is open during daylight hours. Built around 120 A.D., the Pantheon is the best preserved of all ancient Roman buildings. Originally dedicated to the major Roman gods by the emperor Hadrian, this building was consecrated (and thus saved) as a church in the 600s.
The Collosseum - one of the world’s most famous structures and the gem of Italy. Tickets are €8.00; hours are 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. during winter). The Colosseum is located near the ancient center of Rome, and although not as well preserved as the Pantheon, is still a marvel to behold. Commissioned by the emperor Vespasian in the 70s A.D., the Colosseum was originally used as a sports complex where gladiators fought. When Constantine took over Rome and began to Christianize the empire in the 600s, he outlawed all forms of gladiator games and blood sport. Following this time, the Colosseum was abandoned and stripped of many of its treasure.
Over two thousand years of Roman and Christian history are represented and found in the history of St. Peter’s. History tells us that St. Peter (one of the original twelve disciples and founder of the Church) was crucified around 65 A.D. in Nero’s Circus. It is said that he was buried nearby in a small cemetery on Vatican Hill. This spot is thought to lie directly below the current dome of St. Peter’s and is marked by a magnificent baldacchino. The Vatican is the home of the papal seat and the center of the Catholic Church. Artistic masterpieces and architectural design by such greats as Michelangelo, Bramante, Bernini, and Maderno grace its halls.
The Roman Forum and Palantine Hill
Unlike the Pantheon and the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Imperial Forums, and Palantine Hill are ruins. They no longer exist in the original magnificence. Still the ruins leave behind important clues about what once was and with a little imagination, you can picture yourself walking amongst Rome’s ancient rulers and elite. The Roman Forum is the most famous of the Roman ruins and is a must see sight in Rome. The Palantine Hill also includes many famous ruins but is not as fully excavated or as popular – it is a great quiet place of a picnic and wander at will amidst the ruins.
In San Clemente, you can truly see the different layers of Roman history. First you enter into a medieval church built in the 1100s and decorated with frescoes that date from the 15th -18th centuries. The current church is beautiful – but what is even more wonderful is what lies beneath it – three older structures, each taking you further back in time! Find the staircase in the back right corner of the sacristy and descend into the ruins of a fourth century Christian church. Even more remarkable, descend further to find the ruins of two ancient Roman structures – one an ancient house with three rooms dedicated to the worship of the Persian god Mithras, the other an ancient warehouse.
The Piazza Navona sits upon the ruins of the ancient Circus Domitianus. The present day piazza is ovular in shape and owes its shape to the ancient race track that once occupied the space. The Piazza is marked by three beautiful fountains, the most famous being the center fountain by the great Bernini. The center of the fountain is marked by a tall Egyptian obelisk and surrounding it are four figures representing the great rivers of the world. Another famous landmark in the piazza is the church of Saint Agnese. The facade of St. Agnese was designed by Borromini. Legend says that Bernini designed one of his figures in the fountain (the one covering its face) as a reflection of his thoughts on Borromini’s design – the two were great artistic rivals.
Trevi Fountain is a large sculptural fountain in the Baroque style. The fountain is famous for the legend that if you throw a coin into the fountain you are sure to return to the Eternal City. The fountain has been used as a backdrop in movies such as Roman Holiday and Three Coins in the Fountain.
Italy and its museums are home to some of the most renowned statues in the world. The Capitoline Museums are open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (closed Mondays); tickets cost €6.20. The museum contains many ancient sculptures from Rome, Greece and Egyptian, such as the fragments of a giant colossal statute displayed in the museum’s courtyard. It also contains a picture gallery.
Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel
The Vatican Museums are vast and contain many treasures collected over thousands of years. The Vatican Museums are located in the papal palace and the most famous room inside the museum is the Sistine Chapel. As many know, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel contains Michelangelo’s most famous fresco painting.
After all of our sightseeing I hope you won't be too tired for some grape stomping and wine tasting. Dash over to Muse Swings and The Birdbath Chronicles and you won't miss a thing. See you later!