It’s no secret that the Italian capital is a giant open air museum, full of historic images that form part of our DNA. Images that, even without having been there, are carved into our memory.
However, nothing compares to arriving there for the first time. When you visit, the sight of its monuments, the smell of its cuisine, its famous cappuccino, the frenetic noise of the center, and the spirit of the people and the city itself will win you over forever.
In this post, we will talk about 5 things not to miss when you visit the Italian capital, especially if it’s your first time.
1. Visit the Colosseum and imagine what happened in its dungeons.
The Roman Colosseum was inaugurated in the year 80 A.D. with a bloody festival which lasted 100 days and ended the lives of thousands of gladiators. It became an important meeting place in Roman society as it was the largest amphitheater in Rome and could accommodate more than 50,000 people during its battles and executions.
If you are interested in obtaining in-depth knowledge of the Colosseum, go for a guided visit. Be sure to purchase your ticket in advance and select the option to visit the subterranean dungeons. Given its age, you’ll be surprised to find that the colosseum is well preserved despite receiving around 7 million visitors per year.
2. Explore Trastevere and try a gelato.
Trastevere is an enchanting neighborhood to explore. It is outside of the center but very well connected to public transportation. You can get there easily by taking the tram from Plaza Largo di Torre Argentina. Its picturesque streets are filled with trattorias, gelaterias, and small traditional shops selling goods typical of the bohemian neighborhood. Enter the first gelateria you see, choose your favorite flavor, and enjoy this family friendly neighborhood, characterized by its small, winding, cobblestone streets. Of course, don’t forget to visit the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome. Its exterior might not draw much attention, but the interior is sure to make your jaw drop.
3. Battle to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain.
Concealed in the middle of hotels, restaurants, and shops, dating from the mid-1700s is one of the world’s most impressive fountains. La Fontana di Trevi was designed in the Baroque style, is filled with beautiful details and has been the scene of millions of stories both real and fiction. The fountain is currently undergoing restoration which will be finished in 2015 but with or without the construction, La Fontana di Trevi is always surrounded by tourists, so be sure to bring your good sense of humor. Don’t forget to follow the tradition of throwing a coin over your shoulder to ensure your return to Rome!
4. Enjoy Italian Cuisine.
Be sure to try one of Rome’s most popular and unforgettable dishes: Spaghetti Carbonara. We recommend the following restaurants to try the best of the best.
● Hostaria Romana. Via del Boccaccio, 1, 00187 Roma (near la Fontana di Trevi).
● Otello alla Concordia. Via della Croce, 81, 00187 Roma (near Piazza di Spagna).
● Da Danilo. Via Petrarca, 13. Esquilino, Roma (in the Termini área).
Before the spaghetti, don’t forget to order the famous antipasto, a typical Italian appetizer, which may surprise you with something like fiore de zucca.
5. Admire the Sistine Chapel and be part of its history.
Michael Angelo’s frescos are already more than 500 years old and admiring them will be an experience you’ll always remember. The only problem is that you’ll have to crane your neck to see all of the details but it’s worth it!
The artistic work in the Sistine Chapel marks a significant change in the history of art but Michael Angelo would never have guessed that his works, The Final Judgment and The Creation of Adam, would attract millions of people every year.
Access to the chapel is possible through the Vatican Museums, another place that we highly recommend. For this visit, be sure to set aside at least a couple of hours.
Aside from these 5 experiences, there is so much more to see and do in Rome. Rome is an open air museum, or as they would say it: ¡Roma, un museo a cielo aperto!