Viva la Roma! What an amazing city! 48 hours here is definitely not long enough to do this iconic city justice, but if it’s all you’ve got then get yourself to these wonderful locations.
Vatican City and St. Peter’s Square are absolute must sees if this is your first time in Rome and you only have a limited period in the city. The square itself is not as big as one might have imagined, nonetheless it is breathtaking.
The open air square is trapezoidal in shape, bordered on two sides by sweeping, curved crofts of roman columns. Atop the columns are statues of saints created by the students of the architect of the square.
The alabaster colour of these beautiful pieces of architecture are worth a closer look, and affords some welcome shade if you are there in the hot summer months. There are a number of pieces of art work to see within the crofts themselves that are worth taking the time to visit.
St. Peter’s Square is a large, open, tiled space broken only by two intricate water features and a large obelisk. The square was designed by renowned Italian architect and sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who took eleven years to build the square between 1656 and 1667. The square is designed to draw the eye to St. Peter’s Basilica and the royal staircase that leads up to it.
The original basilica was Constantinian in style but was replaced by the current Renaissance style basilica in 1612. The basilica took 150 years to construct and was overseen by seven famous Italian architects and artists, Raphael Sanzio, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Michelangelo, Giacomo Vignola, Giacomo della Porta, Domenica Fontana, and completed by Swiss-Italian architect Carlo Maderno.
The interior is quite literally resplendent, featuring huge mosaics, and some of the most famous art works from all over the world. Amongst others you will find Bernini’s baldachin and Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Other things not to be missed on your trip to Vatican City include the Vatican Grottos, St. Peter’s Treasury and the Sistine Chapel. It is literally a mind blowing experience not to be missed. The lines will be long, no matter when you go but more so in summer months, so be prepared to wait. It’s completely worth it!
The Roman Colosseum is a tourist mecca and you will need to account for lines and crowds if you want to make a visit to it. If you visit in the summer time bring lots of sunscreen, water and hats for the wait and the visit.
Construction of the Colosseum started in 72 A.D. and was completed 160 A.D. It is a elliptical shape that is 188m long by 156m wide. In its heyday it could seat 55,000 onlookers who entered by some 80 arched entranceways. Home to the gladiators of legend it has an incredible, almost tangible atmosphere as you walk around.
It costs 12 euro for a ticket to visit the Colosseum but children under 17 are free. There are also discounts for EU citizens. The Colosseum opens at 8.30am everyday and closes between 4.30pm and 7.15pm, depending on the time of the year. Make sure you check operating times in advance to avoid disappointment.
Another way to see the Colosseum is to buy a Rome City Pass, which includes St. Peter’s and Vatican City; a hop-on hop-off bus tour; airport transfers; and discounted tickets for a number of museums, tours, cruises and excursions.
Piazza Venezia and the Altare della Patria
The piazza is at the end of one of Rome’s major roads, Viale di Fori Imperiali. This road takes you past the Roman Forum and the Colosseum on its way to the Piazza Venezia. It is a bustling location full of motorised and foot traffic and a great location for people watching!
Bordering the piazza you will find the Altare della Patria. This monument (Altar of the Fatherland) was built in honour of the King Victor Emmanuel, who was the first king of Italy after it was unified. It is a truly impressive building and well worth a wander around.
Of particular note are the gorgeous water features and impressive stairways. The equestrian sculpture and other statues in the piazza are also worth your time. Situated inside the monument is the tomb of the unknown soldier. In the very base on the Altare della Patria you will find a museum dedicated to the unification of Italy. If history is your thing, then this may be an enjoyable place to spend some of your time.
If you love art than you absolutely must spend some of your time in Rome, at the Palazzo Barberini. This 17th century palace is home to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica (National Gallery of Ancient Art).
The palace is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 8.30am to 7pm. The gallery is open Wednesdays to Mondays 8.30am to 7pm. A full priced adult ticket to visit both is 12 euro and lasts for 10 days. Visitors under 18 years of age can visit the palace and gallery for free. If you are travelling in a group of ten or more then bookings are necessary.
Ruins, Streetscapes and Architecture
If you enjoy architecture and ancient history there is no better place than Rome! We recommend you take a sightseeing bus, private car tour, taxi, or public bus to the locations that we have recommended here for you. If you do, you are going to be treated to some amazing architecture and streetscapes as you travel between Rome’s incredible historic sites.
Along the way you will also see many ruins and archaeological gardens that are open to visitors. These are worth going to if you have the time and will augment your experience of Rome. If your time is too limited though, then just driving by them is also an experience in itself.
With so many iconic locations and touring options you might never run out of choices!
Viva la Roma!