Things to do in Rome
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The Coliseum, or the Flavian Amphitheater as it is properly called, is the largest of the many amphitheatres built by the Romans. It was constructed in the year 52 AD and during its heyday could fit more than 50,000 spectators inside.
Although much of the Coliseum is in ruin, it can still be toured by visitors and is often used for large events and religious celebrations.
It is inevitable that there will be a long line in the peak season, but advance ticket holders or those taking guided tours can completely skip the wait and walk right into the attraction.
The Roman Forum
During the height of the Roman Empire, the Roman Forum is where the leaders gathered to make any and all political, religious and military decisions. To many historians, it is considered to be the single most important landmark in Roman history. Today, visitors are able to access the Roman Forum on foot and see some of the surrounding structures like the second century Basilica Aemilia, the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina, the Tabularium and the Arch of Septimius Severus.
This amazing temple was built in 125 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and is unique because it has a large hole in the domed roof that opens up to the sky. That roof, even 2,000 years after it was constructed, is still the largest reinforced concrete dome in the world. The temple is designed to worship and honour all of the Roman gods, and is filled with beautiful artwork and fascinating sculptures worth a look.
This chapel may not be as large as many of the cathedrals throughout Rome, but it is certainly one of the most beautiful.
The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, and is best known for the incredible murals and frescoes painted on the interior.
The breathtaking roof scenes were painted by Michelangelo, but other famed painters like Pietro Perugino and Sandro Botticelli contributed significantly to the paintings in the interior. The Sistine Chapel was intended to be the place of worship for the residents of the Apostolic Palace.
St. Peter's Basilica
This is perhaps the best known religious building on Earth, and is the center of the Catholic Church. The large building is a Renaissance structure that is designed to be built on the tomb of St. Peter, who was called the rock of the Christian Church. Today, however, it is best known for its incredible dome constructed by Michelangelo and the sheer number of artifacts and works of art that it houses. Keep in mind that there is an enforced dress code for St. Peter's Basilica and much of the Vatican City. The best rule of thumb is simply to cover your knees and your shoulders in respect for the holy site.
Santa Maria Maggiore
This ninth century basilica is rarely visited by international visitors who prefer instead to visit the better known churches within the Vatican. However, Santa Maria Maggiore is incredibly significant within the Catholic Church and deserves to be visited for its beauty, its extensive art collection and its history. The cathedral sits atop the Esquiline Hill in Rome and offers incredible views of the city below, but the real reason to visit Santa Maria Maggiore is because of the breathtaking mosaics within the church itself.
The interior of the dome and many of the walls are decorated with bright mosaics depicting religious scenes, but what really stands out is that the mosaics themselves are covered in gold leaf.
Museums in Rome
The National Museum of Art From the 21st century
Called Maxxi by art lovers around the world, the National Museum of Art from the 21st Century is a tribute to contemporary art in a city where most residents and visitors are looking back to the past rather than forward to the future.
The entrance is a fascinating myriad of ramps and walkways, all part of the vision from architect and designer Zaha Hadid.
The museum houses hundreds of modern sculptures, paintings and multimedia pieces from around the world.
With hundreds of palaces, manors and ancient landmarks to explore in Rome, the Palazzo Altemps is rarely visited. However, it holds a staggering number of impressive sculptures and is mere minutes on foot from the famed Piazza Navona. The Renaissance palace of Palazzo Altemps was owned by an Austrian Cardinal until it was bought by the state at the end of the 20th century. Today it is open for the public to explore. Make sure you stop by and view the giant sarcophagus carved from one huge piece of stone in the third century.
Those who are interested in cinema and film history will want to stop by the incredible CineCittà Studios for a tour and a visit to the museum. CineCittà Studios was built by Mussolini at the beginning of the 20th century, but the buildings were bombed heavily during the Second World War. The studios were used following the war for films like Ben-Hur and Cleopatra, and were even used recently for the film Gangs of New York. While the studio is no longer in use, tours can be organized so that visitors can see the sets up close.
Great Meals to Try in Rome
Around the world, pasta is perhaps the most recognizable Italian dish. So it should come as no surprise to learn that pasta is a major staple of the local diet in the capital city of Rome.
Spaghetti and capelli d'angelo are the top choice among locals and are usually served with a carbonara or amatriciana sauce.
Look around at what the locals are eating and you might notice that on Thursdays, the plates are all covered in gnocchi. This is because in Rome, gnocchi is traditionally served and eaten each Thursday as the pasta course in nearly every restaurant and home kitchen.
Artichokes, called carciofi in Italian, are a favourite food item among Romans in the spring. They can be found on menus two different ways depending on the preference of the chef and the diner. Carciofi alla romana, or artichokes in the Roman style, are baked with mint and garlic. Carciofi alla giudia, or artichokes in the Jewish style, are instead pounded flat and then deep-fried. Carciofi are often found on the appetizer menus of Roman restaurants and are a definite must-try food in Rome.
Suppli al Telefono
Lovers of Italian cuisine might see these tasty treats and assume that they arancini, a similar dish served up in Sicily. However, Roman citizens will tell you otherwise. Suppli al Telefono are balls of cooked rice mixed with a red tomato sauce that have been dipped in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs and then deep-fried in oil. The centre of each Suppli al Telefono is full of gooey and delicious local mozzarella cheese. You might find these delicious treats in a bar or a restaurant as an appetizer, but they are also a cheap way to fill up for lunch while sightseeing throughout Rome.