What to see and do in Rome

Best places to visit in Rome

The “Roman Forum” was the centre of political, trading and judicial life in ancient Rome.
As Rome’s population increased, the Forum became too small and Emperor Julius Caesar created a new forum in 46 BC, setting a precedent which was followed by emperors from Augustus to Trajan.
The “Via Sacra” (Sacred Road) is the main street of ancient Rome with runs through the Forum and was used for religious and triumphal processions leading to Capitol Hill. The eastern end of the Roman Forum is dominated by the massive barrel-vaulted ruins of the Basilica of Constantine and by the House of the Vestal Virgins. Please don’t miss seeing the Trajan’s Market, the ancient Roman equivalent of a modern shopping centre.

Colosseum. Rome’s greatest amphitheatre was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian around the year 72. Built in the shape of an ellipse, the Colosseum offered 80 arched entrances that allowed easy access to 55.000 spectators seated around a vast central arena. The emperors held shows here which often began with animals performing circus tricks, later followed by gladiators who fought each other to the death.

Palazzo Venezia. Built during the Renaissance for Venetian cardinal Pietro Barbom, Papazzo Venezia was a Papal residence and the ancient Venetian Embassy before Venice fell under the power of France and Austria. The Italian government owns the Palace since 1916 Mussolini used it as his head-quarters during the Fascist era when he addressed crowds from its centre balcony. The building holds collections of early Renaissance paintings and often hosts leading temporary exhibitions.

Victor Emmanuel Monument, also known as “Il Vittoriano” was inaugurated in 1911 in honour of Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, the first King of unified Italy, who is depicted with a gilt bronze equestrian statue. The building is made with austere white Brescian marble and offers spectacular views of Rome. It is often used for many Italian patriotic celebrations and hosts the Risorgimento Museum (Museum of Italian Reunification).

Quirinale Palace. Pope Gregory XIII built the Quirinale Palace in the late 1500s as a summer residence choosing this site on the highest of Rome’s seven hills. It was the summer home to dozens of popes before becoming the first residence of the Italian King in 1870 and then the seat of the Italian President in 1947. Many great architects took part in the construction of  this palace, the most famous of which was Bernini. The Changing of the Guard takes place every day in front of the palace and the “Scuderie Papali” (Papal stables) host exhibitions just across the square.

Trajan’s Markets. Emperor Trajan and his architect, Apollodorus of Damascus, built this visionary new complex of 150 shops and offices in the early 2nd century AD. It was a real shopping centre where you could buy everything from cloth garments to fine jewlery. These shops were built with arched entrances, with jambs and lintels creating rectangular portals and windows. Trajan’s Markets are only a portion of a large number of other important monuments, like Trajan’s Column and Torre delle Milizie.

Torre delle Milizie. For centuries this massive brick tower was mistakenly thought to have been the location where Nero stood watching Rome burn, after he had set it alight to clear the city’s slums.
It is uncertain whether arson was among Nero’s crimes, but it is certain that he did not watch the fire from this tower as it was built in the 13th century.

Capitol Hill. This was the location of all of the most sacred religious and political ceremonies. Capitol Hill was considered the centre of the Roman world because it was dedicated to the worship of Jupiter. The hill and its temple came to symbolize Rome’s authority as “Caput Mundi” (head of the world). It is interesting that Capitol Hill gave its name to the seat of the US Federal Government and the US Congress in Washington DC. A broad flight of steps (the Cordonata) rise to Michelangelo’s spectacular Piazza del Campidoglio, flanked by the Palazzo Nuovo and Palazzo dei Conservatori which houses the Capitoline Museums with their fine collections of sculptures and paintings.

She-wolf. The most famous object located in Capitoline Museums, is a bronze statue of the legendary she-wolf nursing the two little twins and which symbolize the anniversary of Rome’s foundation. According to legend, Ancient Rome was founded by the two brothers Romulus and Remus on 21 April 753 BC. The legend claims that the evil king of Alba threw his baby nephews, Romulus and Remus, into the Tiber river but that they were washed ashore and nursed by a she-wolf. As adults the twins interpreted the flight of birds and established that Romulus was going to be the founder and the first king of the Eternal City which was named after him.