Rome has a patchwork of sights dotted around the city that breathe continual life into its history. These are the legacy of the Roman Empire and the later Roman Catholic church which took its place. Many monuments hark back to the times of antiquity, yet are interwoven with works of religious devotion. The results are breathtaking expressions of the period. They continue to capture the attention and imagination of many a Roman and tourist alike today. This guide is dedicated to some of the city favourites. The marvellous ancient sights are covered in an alternative guide.
Fontana di Trevi
The famous fountain that has been a backdrop of movies including ‘Three Coins in the Fountain’ and Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’. It intersects three major roads, and so takes its name ‘tre-vi’. Constructed in 1762 by Nicola Salvi it is one of the great landmarks of central Rome. It’s stunning facade is dedicated to Neptune and the importance of water, which in the hot summer months you’ll surely be sympathetic. A must see both during the day and night, backdrops of either blue or black match it perfectly. Renovation work has recently restored it to its best condition since its original construction. There are no tickets because it is an open air, public fountain, so feel free to visit as much as you like. However, such a beauty doesn’t go unnoticed, so there are often large crowds at the fountains taking photos.
These beautifully crafted steps are one of the major highlights of every trip to Rome. Funding by the French Diplomat and architectural work by Francesco de Sanctis lead to their completion in 1725. The total of 135 steps from the Piazza Spagna to the Trinita dei Monti church at the top. The piazza itself features La Fontana della Baraccia, the stunning sculpture-fountain that depicts a half sunken marble boat. Architects Bernini and his father created this, which remains one of their noted works today. In spring, the steps are adorned with pots of azaleas, whilst in winter the nativity scene presides at the top. The surrounding vicinity includes places such as the Shelley-Keats House and Babington’s Tea Rooms. Eating food on the steps is prohibited, but it is a beautiful resting site with great access and views.
Many consider this square to be the formal centre of the city. It is the intersection of major roadways, as well as being the beginning of the Via di Fori Imperiali. This is the grand passage that leads from the Piazza, through the Forum and to the Colosseum. Access to the piazza is available via foot or vehicle. For many years it was a place of residence for Venetian diplomats, before Italy was a united country. It is also home to the magnificent Il Vittoriano– the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the first King of Italy. This monument is now free to enter and houses the ‘tomb of the unknown soldier’, as well as a breathtaking view of the city from the top.
The Vatican City
Tourists and pilgrims alike flock to this most reverent place, the seat of the Pope and the centre of the Catholic church. Just west of the city centre, across the river Tiber, is the Vatican City. As you come here, the immensity of St Peter’s Square and the central obelisk will catch your breath for a moment. But the true artistic delights lie inside the main buildings: St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library. Being a central hub for Rome’s tourism, the huge queues can last hours, particularly in peak season. Skip-the-line tickets with audio guides are available, to avoid any disappointment when you arrive there. A diverse range of official guided tours are also optional if you want to learn more details about everything.