ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Rome, Italy - top things to see and do

Updated on November 11, 2016

Rome - The Eternal City

Rome is one of those cities that seems familiar to us as we have all seen it on many a movie or TV program. However, nothing can replace actually being there and soaking up the atmosphere and history. There is a marvel to discover around every corner.

Vatican City

Vatican City is a city within a city; there are lots of wonderful things to see within its environs. If you have time, a visit to the Vatican museums will certainly pass several hours and afford you a chance to see the Sistine Chapel and its magnificant ceiling.

Tip: Take one of the guided tours that can be booked ahead of time online and you will jump the long lines for entry.

Be sure to go inside the Basilica. St Peter's is one of the largest churches in the world. (It is undoubtably the largest Catholic church, but the Winner's Church in Nigeria is the largest church building in the world and can hold 50,000 people inside it). Inside St Peter's you will find the Pieta and many other wonderful works of art.

Another great thing to do (if you are fit and able) is to climb to the top of the dome of St Peter's. It is a long climb on winding and inclined staircases but absolutely worth it. The view from the top is magnificant.

Beneath the Basilica are the Papal tombs. Several of the Popes are interred here and there is always calm, reverence and reflection inside. The tomb of Pope John Paul II is particularly popular with visitors and has now been moved up to within the Basilica itself.

Finally, watch out for the Swiss guards in their colorful uniforms designed by Leonardo himself!

St Peter's Basilica (Vatican City), as seen from the Bridge of Angels in Rome.
St Peter's Basilica (Vatican City), as seen from the Bridge of Angels in Rome.
View from the top of St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
View from the top of St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Castel Sant'Angelo

Connected to the Vatican through a (now not so) secret passageway called the Pasetto, is Castel Sant'Angelo. You can clearly see this raised passageway along the route. The Castle was one of the settings for the book Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) and is very interesting to visit. You ascend via a spiral ramp to the upper rooms and battlements.

There is a wonderful little cafe at the top and it is a lovely place to have a snack and soak in the view.

Castel Sant'Angelo
Castel Sant'Angelo

The Mamertine Prison

The Mamertine Prison is a little gem, located between the Capitoline Hill and the Roman Forum. The Mamertine Prison is an ancient prison dating from 7th century BC. Famously and according to legend, St Peter was held here. It is also said that St Paul was held here. The prison is small and consists of two rooms one over the other. The lower room is dark, gloomy and oppressive. Access to this room was originally only through a hole in the floor of the upper room.

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is located between the Capitol and the Colosseum. This is the place where ancient Romans gathered for their daily business; they met, conducted their politics, socialized and shopped. Today, the Forum is and extensive area of ruins but you can still see the Temples, Basilicas and Arches. It is nice to ramble through the Forum on the way to the Colosseum. You can close your eyes and imagine Julius Ceasar addressing the crowd.... "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears........"

The Forum
The Forum

The Colesseum

Who hasn't seen a photo of this epitomy of Rome? I'm afraid it is looking a little tattered now and definitely showing its age! This is probably the most visited attraction in Rome and you can take a guided tour or hire a small hand-held device to listen to a recorded tour as you move around. The floor area was originally covered with sand (the word 'arena' means sand) and gladiators would fight each other and wild animals to the roar of cheering crowds. Although the Colesseum does not have a roof, there was originally sail-type rigging encircling the top - these 'sails' could be extended out if the sun became too hot and the Romans used ex-sailors to operate this.


Palatine Hill

You may have heard that Rome is built on seven hills, well, the Palatine Hill is one of these. In fact it is the center-most hill. It looks down on the Forum and Colesseum on one side and the Circus Maximus on the other. It is said that Romulus and Remus were found in a cave on this hill but the she-wolf who nurtured them. The hill has been excavated and shows that people have lived there since around 1000 BC. Many emperors and affluent Romans lived on the Palatine Hill in beautiful villas. It is a very peaceful place to spend an hour or two away from the crowds below.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon was built by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods. It is a large circular building with a portico of granite columns. The dome in the Pantheon is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. At the center of the dome, there is a circular opening called the oculus. The oculus and the door in the portico are the only sources of natural light. When it rains, yes the rain does fall in through the oculus, however there are drains in the floor to allow the water to drain away. The dome width is 142 ft (for comparison, the dome in the US Capital building in Washington is only 96 ft wide) and the oculus is 27 ft wide. The Pantheon is currently a Roman Catholic church.

The Pantheon
The Pantheon

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is probably the most famous of Rome's piazzas. It is an oblong shape and contains three large fountains. The central fountain is called the Fountain of the Four Rivers and this is the largest of the three. The fountain shows four figures, each representing a river from a different continent - the Nile, the Danube, the Ganges and the Rio della Plata - and is capped with a large obelisk. The fountain was designed by Bernini. The other two fountains are the Neptune fountain and the Moor fountain. Also of note in the piazza is the baroque Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. The facade was designed by Borromini (Bernini's main rival). In the evenings, the piazza is very lively with street performers and restaurants.

The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps are the longest and widest staircase in Europe. They rise from the Piazza di Spagna and were named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See which is located in the Piazza. At the foot of the steps in the Piazza di Spagna, there is a boat-shaped fountain called the Barcaccia which was built by Pietro Bernini (the father of the famous sculptor). In May each year, the steps are decorated with pots of pink azaleas.

Spanish Steps
Spanish Steps

The Trevi Fountain

One thing Rome is not short of is fountains, and the 18th century baroque Trevi Fountain is the most famous of these. The fountain nestles amidst the narrow surrounding streets and is a lovely oasis where you will find many people eat lunch. At night it is illuminated and worth a visit. The tradition is to throw a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain - this will apparently ensure that you will return to Rome again.

Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain

Have you ever visited Rome?

Have you ever visited Rome?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Kerdon profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks Candie V. My husband took that photo of the Forum - he thought he was being 'artistic' !

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 

      9 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      Kerdon! These are wonderful photos, wish the forum could be turned a bit, but they show off a very beautiful city! I was there years (x several) ago and now I want to go back! Thank you for a nice hub!

    • Kerdon profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks thooghun. I love Rome.

    • thooghun profile image

      James Nelmondo 

      9 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Hey, I live next to Castel Sant'Angelo! Great hub, despite living here for so long, its still nice to view it all. Great hub,



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)