GOING TO ITALY – What Not to Miss in ROME! #27ItemBucketlist
What not to miss in Rome, was originally an expose of the places we have been to in Rome and you must not miss if you ever save a day or 10 in that vicinity!
You also know we always update our posts to keep the travel lover informed and on point. So today we are doing
exactly that. Updating this post with more details. A Local’s View on what not to miss in Rome!
We have the amazing Pretty Kontagious sharing her expert views on the scenes to hit while in Rome.
As a local in that City I would say, listen to her. You can also connect with her on Facebook @PrettyKontagious
Scroll to #17+ to see Pretty’s extras
From #1 – 16 is our solid list of Cannot be missed, on the well beaten trail attractions, recommendations and suggestions if you’re planning a Roman sojourn! 🙂
Now if you dream of ever venturing that way, there is a whole lot more to See, Do and Be, but this is a list of where we have been and seen of What Not to Miss in Rome, Italy!
We love Italy, we could live there lol! We love the cuisine, weather, colourful old world architecture of Italian cities. Perugia is an amazing region, Assisi is not to be missed by any pilgrim. Tuscany is totally addictive, indeed Florence was an amazing experience for us, but our favourite part of Italy is Rome.
We have very fond memories of Rome. We purposed to make it an annual pilgrimage. The Italians call it Roma, and we totally get why it’s called the eternal city. Trust me you have so much to See, Do and Be more while in Rome.
Word to the wise, There is a strict dress code in most of the religious sites. So Do cover up, take a scarf if a woman you may need to cover your hair or buy one at the site! Your choice. No open sleeves, tank tops and in most not even shorts, we do give you some super advice in our article on Vacation etiquette.
Do take your drinking bottle esp in summer. Rome can be extremely hot. Thank goodness it is also full of public drinking fountains. You’ll find a fontanelle spigot in numerous locations. Perfectly safe to drink and ohhh so refreshingly cool!
Also you might reconsider renting a car to drive in Rome. The Italians are crazy drivers, you might end up hypertensive unless you can handle it! Take public transport very good or walk!
Before you head off to Rome or anywhere else for that matter, you might find our Ultimate Detailed Smart Travel Tools and Apps very helpful.
Okay lets get to the fun bit. In our humble opinion, here are our 16 things and places not to be missed in Rome!
What not to miss in Rome – Our Best 16 Item #TravelBucketlist
1. Vatican City esp. The Sistine Chapel.
Of course the destination of most people headed to Rome. Lots of people mix up the two. The Vatican is a country in its own right, surrounded by the City of Rome. So most people simply call it Rome. Vatican City is the biggest attraction in Rome and when you see it, you know just why. Its awe-inspiring! Totally amazing work of art and architecture. Vatican City has a plethora of beautifully decorated Churches and Museums to see including the famous Sistine Chapel, which we will talk about in its own right!
You can drink from the water faucets that pull directly from an underground spring by the Vatican. And grab your religious memorabilia further out on Borgo Pio where the prices are a little bit more pocket friendly!
If you don’t mind the looong queues or can wake up at the crack of dawn then Absolutely don’t miss the awe inspiring attraction that is the Sistine Chapel. And word of advise, leave your Selfie stick at the hotel or don’t take your camera at all! Its prohibited to take photos inside of the chapel, to preserve the art!
These two are separate but co-joined in our view. Not to be missed on your Italian itinerary unless you are in a total rush. In which case, leave them for another visit when you have a good number of days to explore. They are worth the wait!
2. St Peters’ Basilica
Well while this is also a major part of the Vatican, if all you got is a day or a few hours, then absolutely this is one of the attractions to see in Rome. In our view it’s probably one of the most beautiful and regal religious structures worldwide. As you walk up Vatican Hill, you will be totally impressed by St Peters Basilica. Its surrounded by St Peter’s Square and majestic Statues of the 12 apostles. It’s also the ground where Open Air Papal masses are held.
It has 2 massive fountains and a huge Egyptian obelisk built by Bernini. A real Kodak moment waiting to happen! And huge columns called colonnades embracing it almost. If you walk down the piazza straight across St Peters, is The Hadrian Mausoleum. The view was best captured in the image below by the cupola taken in 2007 – (source wikipedia.) Amazing view of Rome!
3. The Trevi Fountain
In our view, the Trevi is one of the world’s most beautiful water features aka fountain in Rome and the world indeed. We were peeved to find it closed for renovation on our last visit in 2015. Its apparently worth it as they’ve built a viewing platform where the water should be, so you can get closer to the beautiful sculptures. And the best Gelato in Rome is served in a café by the Trevi Fountain Shhhhshhh don’t tell anyone lol!
This is a sight you surely cannot miss. Our very first tour guide assured us that by legend, if you throw 3 coins backwards into the Trevi fountain, and make a wish, you will return to Rome, and if single, you will definitely get married within 2 years! We threw the coins and do so every visit…lol! 🙂
Don’t even entertain the thought of having a dip in this seemingly deep fountain for a lark or a stag do dare, or you will have a not so friendly Chat with the Polizei!
4. Roman Forum
This may seem like a huge pile of ruins to most people. Until you are told the history behind it. Once the political hub of Rome, today the Roman Forum is one of the world’s most important archaeological sites. It gives tourists an idea into how the Ancient Romans lived, its on most Rome bus tour routes.
5. The Colosseum
We always had the Colosseo as the Italians call it, on our Travel Bucket list along with the Tower of Pisa. It is an Ancient amphitheater that needs no introduction. You will be spell bound by the sheer architecture esp. the Underground chambers, we were!
The Colosseum never disappoints, however many times we see it. It’s a fantastic symbol and some would say, the most Spectacular Spot in Rome! Let’s just say if ever in Rome, don’t miss this Kodak moment and amazing Insta-photo opportunity lol!
Now while we can book such attractions at much lower prices than many online providers via various tools, (You can learn a bit more and book your next trip at a 20% discount right here.) We understand that not everyone is a Savvy traveller.
Side note: We got a Two City Trip 7 nights/8 days to Rome and Assisi at a steal total cost of £867 For 2 adults! 🙂 This included Flights, Half board accommodation & 5 Guided tours. The Tours included i.e. 2 Guided tours of Assisi, a Guided tour of the Vatican, Walking Tour of Rome by Night and an Extensive Tour of Rome by Bus. A similar trip was found on Expedia at just over £700 PER PERSON; for One City -Rome. Room only and a city guided tour! It pays to Be part of a community that travels together.
Anyhow we highly recommend you pre-book the underground and 3rd level tour on the OFFICIAL Site. The ticket costs a few more euros than a standard ticket, but it Gets you out of the Looong queues, as your ticket is picked up at the desk. You also get a Deeper guided tour of the Colosseum, to areas that others do not get to see. The views from the 3rd tier are Ammaazing. 🙂
Still its important to be able to save smart for such activities if you want to keep buying your travel deals retail! Here are 15 tips to Save for your Next Vacation, enjoy! 🙂
6. Fountain of the Four Rivers
Head over to Piazza Novona and you will find this lesser acclaimed yet just as impressive fountain. The Italians call it Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. It also has a huge Egyptian style obelisk at its center. The Fountain has 4 huge rocks with statues cascading water, you cant miss it!
The 4 faucets apparently represent the 4 major rivers of the 4 continents: The Ganges for Asia, Danube for Europe, the Nile for Africa, and the Río de la Plata for the Americas. Wikipedia has a very interesting background and details on this fountain if you wish to learn more.
7. Have an Ice cream
Ohh yes yumm and then some. Heck don’t leave Rome without tasting the Gelato aka ice cream unless you have allergies. Honestly the Ice cream is out of this world. If you miss it at the Trevi then head on to the famous Giolittis, Via Uffici del Vicario 40, 00186 Rome, for simply deliciouso gelato. Just thinking about it makes us want to jump on the next flight to Rome! 🙂
But wait a minute, How about those frothy yummy original Cappuccinos…Yes please in the morning. But NOT AFTER 12 noon. You will get that odd Italian look. Seriously!
8. Have a Pizza & PastaWhen in Rome do as the Romans do- Eat lots of delicious Pizza and drink wine! #visitrome Click To Tweet
Yes, while in Rome do as the Romans do. Eat lots of delicious authentic pastas, anti pasti, and flat bread with toppings aka Pizza. Oh, and drink lots of vino of course! 🙂
Promise, we have never tasted any pizza as delicious as the ones in Italy and we love to have our fill at a little inconspicuous Café on Borgo Pio. Right out of Vatican City, turn right and keep going! We know the place by sight, we just can never remember the name….Pity!
9. Aventine Hill
Want some stupendous views of Rome and surrounds? Then pack a picnic; drinks, sandwiches, snacks and your walking shoes. Head on over to the Aventine Hill. One of the seven hills of Rome. You won’t regret it.
10. The Spanish Steps – Not Spanish at all!
A whopping 135 steps up a steep hill. Meander through to this site that attracts millions of visitors per year! Very popular probably because of the shopping in the square and the Piazza Spagna another beautiful fountain, at the bottom. Honestly your butt and calves will thank you for the exercise.
You will feel it the next day for sure, unless you are super fit. Climb your way to the pinnacle the Basilica Trinità dei Monti a fine example of baroque architecture. Mind the “travellers.” And definitely watch out for the sink holes as you walk down the hill from the Basilica, or simply go back down the steps…ouch! 😉
11. Roman Catacombs
Love ghoulish & dark stories, and are not claustrophobic? Then these are an absolute must see in Rome! They are mazes of underground tunnels which were used to bury thousands of bodies in ancient Rome and some of them are open to the public…Super cool if you went for the “Dark Rome Tours!”
Apparently burials were forbidden inside the walls of Rome as early as the fifth century BC. So miles of tunnels were cut underground to be used as burial chambers.
You can decide which Catacombs to see using this Appian way map. If you are not part of a guided tour, to get to the catacombs Via Appia Antica, take bus 218 from San Giovanni Metro Stop.
12. Basilica San Clemente
To you and I the Basilica of Saint Clement. Not a lot of people know about this Church, yet it is truly amazingly beautiful. One of the most richly adorned churches in Rome! It’s over 3 tiers, one of them underground! A former private property of a noble man.
“This ancient church was transformed over the centuries from a private home that was the site of clandestine Christian worship in the 1st century to a grand public basilica by the 6th century, reflecting the emerging Catholic Church’s growing legitimacy and power. (Wikipedia)”
We had the pleasure of being shown around by one of the Irish Dominican priests as part of a Pilgrimage. We were more or less visiting historical places of religious and architectural beauty.
12. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Again to you and I it’s the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. It is also sometimes referred to as “Our lady of the snows.” (legend of snow falling in middle if summer, as a sign from the virgin Mary.) This extraordinary church is the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome, and oh boy, is it big, absolutely magnificent thus the name “Major.” While out of Vatican City, it is fully owned and managed by the Vatican.
The mosaics we saw in this basilica were simply breath taking, apparently works of Late Antique art; and some of the oldest representations of the Virgin Mary in Christian History.
Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the 5 ancient basilicas and one of the 7 Pilgrim churches in Rome. As such, it is a popular stop for visitors to Roma. A walkable distance from the Stazione Termini, St Mary Major is located at 34 Piazza del Esquilino. It is a must do in Rome.
13. The Hadrian Mausoleum
Also known as Castel Sant’Angelo, or “Castle of the Holy Angel,” it was built for Emperor Hadrian as his tomb. Later used as a papal fortress and today it is a museum.
It was once the tallest building in Rome. Sat by the River Tiber it’s also a short walk across to Vatican City. There is an underground passageway that leads to the Vatican, making this an intriguing point of interest.
Not to be missed when you visit Rome. The statues of Angels were later additions but very much works of beauty and tourist attractions as well. Rome is rife with statues of angels and demons lol!
We stayed in a hotel right across this imposing mausoleum and didn’t realize its significance until we were taken on a full guided walking tour of Rome…Which is a must do when in Rome
14. Walking Tour of Rome and Rome by Night!
Rome is quite a compact city and can be comfortably walked if you are fit or would love to get your sweat on while there. Yet if it’s your first time, we highly recommend one of the guided tours.
The guides are highly qualified as they are regulated. They have to have a degree and take both oral and written tests (Proudly shared by our guide).
Simply inquire at your hotel to book you a guided walking tour of Rome and if time permits Rome by night too. This tour will include the Colosseum and Forum!
There used to be free walking tours at night available just by the Spanish steps circa 2013. We are not sure if they still are as good or even offered. The best way to find out is to head on over there and check. A fun and budget friendly way to learn more about this amazing city.
15. Pantheon also known as Santa Maria Rotonda
The Pantheon is a Roman temple, built during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), and rebuilt in 126 AD by emperor Hadrian. It was originally build in dedication to the worship of every god (Pan-every Theon-divinity- Thanks to Wiki.) Later it was dedicated to St. Mary and the martyrs.
The interior is absolutely stunning and today still operates as a place of worship for Roman Catholics. It is also one of the best maintained buildings in Rome due to this continual active use as a place of worship over centuries!
It’s absolutely stunning by night and the Dome roof inside, its only source of natural light. One of the the things not to miss in Rome, go check it out. It was one of our Rome by Night walking tour stops too!
16. Stroll Along the Trastevere
Great for working up that appetite and seeing some Roman streets by foot. You will have an authentic experience and feel of the amazing ancient yet very modern city, very easily walked. The Italians call it “passiagata,” through Trastevere. Keep the River as your bearing always and you won’t get lost!
Great of an evening, you will see street performers for free, grab a bite at any of the bars and eateries. Find little designer shops with really tempting leather bags and stuff. Wander through the worn and still beautiful Piazzas, walk into the Ferrari store and take a selfie or two…Vision board anyone. 🙂 It’s an experience you won’t be forgetting soon!Keep the River as your bearing always and you won’t get lost!Click To Tweet
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A LOCAL’S EXTRAS ON WHAT NOT TO MISS IN ROME – By @PrettyKontagious
#17. Bocca della Verita – Also known as the mouth of Truth. It is said that you put your hand in the Lion’s mouth and must tell the truth or the lion would bite your hand.
This disc is found on a wall of the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church.
#18. The keyhole of the embassy of The Orders of Malta – is found at the Priory of The Knights of Malta on the Aventine Hill in Rome. It is believed that on a clear day, if you look properly through this Keyhole to the Villa, you just might see 3 states! The states are:
The sovereignty of Malta, because the grounds of this ancient villa are recognized by the state of Italy as a sovereign nation. And of course.
The Vatican City The Basilica Dome. The Vatican is a recognized state. 🙂
Unfortunately the grounds are not open to the public, unless you apply for and are grated a permit to visit…so you are limited to “Peeping” through the Keyhole, but the view is so worth it!You are limited to 'Peeping' through the Keyhole, yet the view is killer! #WhatnottomissinRomeClick To Tweet
#19. Villa Farnesia – You can find this suburban villa along the Tiber River in Trastevere. Apparently it was built for a rich Sienese banker by the names Agostino Chigi, who was the treasurer of Pope Julius II circa 1506. (Source Wikipedia.)
You will notice the villa’s grandeur as a huge contrast to the narrow yet charming, cobblestone streets of the neighboring Trastevere.
Spread over two floors, visitors will enjoy Art from the moment you step over the threshold. Beautiful paintings and Renaissance decor.
Want a Tour? Set aside at least 3 hours. Private walking Tours of Villa Farnesina are available Monday to Saturday. So I guess you have to be fit!
#2o. The Botanical Garden in Trastevere (Orto Botanico)
Located right across from the Villa Farnesia, behind the Palazzo Corsini is one of Europe’s finest small botanical gardens. Orto Botanico is like an ocean of peace and quiet from the craziness of Rome!
If you have children, they will love it, have a picnic in there. And after, stroll to the trendy shops for some retail therapy! They charge a small fee, but its worth it. Clock it to your education lol.
#21. Free Papal Audience etc. – As a highlight to your trip, do not miss the FREE Papal Audience every Wednesday. You could catch a glimpse of the Pope and receive a blessing during the Service. The Pope always prays for families at the square.
Did you know that the museums and other historical places are free to all every first Sunday of the month? Now you do.
Want to spend a lazy day in Rome like a local, then either head to Rome’s largest park; Villa Pamphilli. This where the Roma locals go cycle, walk, jog or simply be. Or to the Villa Borghese, the 3rd largest park in Rome, close to the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo.
You wont be bored as this park features several museums, temples, a lake, fountains, and statues.
Not forgetting Ponte milvio (where the great Constantine invasion happened.)
Go see the ruins of the Temple and tower, currently a shelter to the stray cats of Rome.
Check out Circo Massimo or the Circus Maximum, where they used to have the war chariots races. In the neighbourhood sits the FAO headquarters.
There is Città Dell’Acqua (near the Trevi fountain), an old roman house containing part of the Roman Aqua duct. And did you miss the Bascilica st. Climente? Well now you wont! 🙂
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What not to miss in Rome – Final Words
Well all good things do come to an end, and so is our list of what not to miss in Rome, Italy! Buon giorno or buona sera wherever you are! 🙂
The checklist is now over 21 sites thanks to our Guest Contributor and Rome resident @PrettyKontagious.
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See, Do, and Be more!
Pauli Kalungi & Pretty Kontagious