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Rome's Big Sights
Italy

 

 

The Pantheon, Rome, italy

And now for something completely different, the Pantheon.

 

Roma Pass Information

 

After Capitoline Hill there are more sights nearby...

 

The Pantheon

A massive, hulking place of worship for over two thousand years, the Pantheon started life as a Pagan temple built in 27 BC by Agrippa, upgraded by Emperor Hadrian in 128 AD, then converted to a Christian church in 609 AD - Santa Maria ad Martyres.

The Pantheon is a superb engineering feat and supported the world's largest dome (43m/142ft in both diameter and height) until overtaken by the English town of Buxton (Buxton beats Rome?) in 1882.
The top centre of the dome has a 9m/30ft diameter hole that lets in light and rain while letting out prayers and meditative views of the heavens.

It's difficult to believe that this temple to all the gods has been standing here for almost 2,000 years. Even the bronze doors are still intact. The dome, with its oculus, was the biggest in the world until the beginning of the 20th century.
Piazza della Rotonda. Open Mon-Sat, 8.30am-7.30pm; Sun 9am-6pm. Free admission.

 

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

The Colosseum, arena.

 

The Colosseum

The Colosseum's interior is impressively large but poorly organised and displayed though recently Romans have upped their game and improved the experience, we believe.
There are usually long lines to get in so avoid queues by buying a combined ticket with the adjacent Palatine Hill, a lush and lovely green space that doesn't have lines.

There are usually long lines to get in so avoid queues by buying a combined ticket with the adjacent Palatine Hill, a lush and lovely green space that doesn't have lines.
A combined ticket is valid for two days and includes not only the Palatine and Colosseum but also the Forum, all of them essential tourist sights.

Alternatively buy a three day Roma Pass online or in various places in Rome when you arrive. This gets you straight into the Colosseum via a special gate, free travel on buses and the Metro (subway/tube), a couple of free attractions and discounts on others.

 

The Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

The Trevi Fountain.

The Trevi Fountain

One of Rome's joys is the number of fountains great and small around the city centre, from which overheated tourists can drink, refill their water bottles, or soak their heads. The water is perfectly potable and brought to Rome via an aqueduct built by Agrippa in 19 BC.

Trevi's name is derived from tre vie, the three roads that met at the fountain, was commissioned by Pope Clement and finished in 1762. These days there are five very small streets leading to the fountain so the first sight of the gushing waters has a big impact. Tourists wishing to return to Rome throw coins into the waters.

 

A view of the famous Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

Rome's ancient Forum

The Forum

Bugbog's favourite view of Rome, the Forum view looking towards the Colosseum from the top of the white 'Wedding Cake' otherwise known as Vittorio Emanuele II Monument (the first king of Italy).

Best to come armed with a plan of how it all used to look (buy one at the visitor centre in Via dei Fori Imperiali ) to make sense of the majestic ruins of Rome's power centre and on the Palatine hill its upmarket residential district.
Sign up for the guided tour of the Casa di Augusto, the early emperor's surprisingly modest and intimate private house with vibrant frescoes.
Via dei Fori Imperiali/Via di San Gregorio. Open daily 8.30am to one hour before sunset.

 

A victory column in Parliament Square, Rome, Italy

The central section of the victory column in Parliament Square.

Victory Column

Like Rome's triumphal arches but less extravagant, victory columns celebrated martial success. Built from Carrara marble this one shows war scenes in a continuous 30m spiral.

 

Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy

The Spanish Steps, looking down to the Piazza di Spagna and a fountain in the form of a leaking boat.

Museo e Galleria Borghese. Photo by Alessio Damato.

Galleria Borghese

This small but perfectly formed collection of sculpture and paintings, including Bernini's Apollo and Daphne requires a reservation in advance to get in.
It's a pain to get to as it's a bit north of centre and has no metro running nearby so expect a long walk or taxi ride, but art lovers must see this.

When visiting museums and galleries, make sure you have your passport or other official photo ID with you if you qualify for free entrance - for example, if you are an EU citizen under 18 or over 65.

Getting in

Entry is complicated for this gallery, as is getting there!

Borghese Gallery is closed on Mondays. Opening times 9.a.m. Last entry (for 2 hours) at 5 p.m. 2 hours is maximum time inside.

Book your visit days/weeks in advance to secure a place. You are unlikely to find a spot the same day or even over a few days. Reservations are for 2 hour time slots and you pick up the ticket promptly 30 minutes beforehand.

• Reserve a ticket up to 7 weeks in advance here. Borghese English website.

 

 

Rome's Churches

 

The peculiar exterior of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, Italy

This is the start of some outstanding church interiors, starting with Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

Built on the site of a Roman temple to Minerva, Santa Maria sopra Minerva was built in 1280 in unusually gothic style; the interior is lavish and contains a spectacular ceiling, frescos, carved marble tombs of a couple of Medici popes among others, a Risen Christ statue by Michelangelo and varied works by Bernini, Italy's second favourite sculptor after the big Mike.

The elephant carrying an Egyptian obelisk outside the church is by Bernini, supposedly extolling the virtue of strength supporting wisdom.

The Pantheon was originally a temple dedicated to various gods but later became a church to the one god.

 

Santa Maria sopra Minerva church's superb interior, Rome, Italy

Part of Santa Maria sopra Minerva's sumptuous interior, with the marble carving to the right by Bernini.

 

The brilliant ceiling of the Basilica of Ambrogio e Carlo, Rome, Italy

The spectacular Basilica of Ambrogio e Carlo church.

 

Santa Maria del Popolo marble skeleton, Rome, Italy

An astonishing marble skeleton by - yes, the inevitable Bernini - inside Santa Maria del Popolo church.

 

Moses, Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome,  Italy

The famous statue of Moses by Michelangelo in Rome's Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli.

 

Street Sights

Rome Scooters, italy

Scooters rule in Rome.

Scooting Around

Due not so much to heavy traffic as very limited parking space scooters are transport du jour but the ubiquitous cobblestones are extremely slippery when wet.

The centre of the city appears to have neither underground car parks (afraid of what they might find down there?) nor multistorey or even old style surface parks though a few small, expensive indoor parks exist.

Since 'imaginative' street parking is thus sine qua non the fashionistas have taken to short-ass Smart cars, so, for example, the Trastevere bistro area that gets packed at night sees a huge ratio of Smarts over regular motors, mostly parked nose-in to the kerb.

 

Strange old Rome street lighting, Italy

We have no documented evidence what this unpleasant lighting-support critter is but Starcraft game players are of the opinion that it's a deformed infant mutalisk.

 

Shops in Rome, Italy

Shopping in Rome, expensive? Not compared to Paris or London, yet excellent quality, dramatic colours and unique Italian designs.

Shopping

Rome offers some stunning high quality goods in original and imaginative designs and fantastic varieties of colours. Shoes, gloves and other leatherwear, cotton clothing, kitchenware, all stylish but reasonably priced.
When entering  or leaving shops, bars it's traditional etiquette to say 'buon giorno' in the morning or 'buona sera' in the afternoon or evening ( it covers both hello and goodbye). 'Ciao' is informal, for use with friends, young people or kids, or among work colleagues. If somebody thanks you by saying 'grazie' it's polite to say 'prego' (you're welcome) in return.

 

Markets

For good value try the market in Piazza Testaccio which offers a mass of stalls selling good-quality shoes and bags at knock-down prices.
You will need to sift carefully to find quality at the Porta Portese flea market, which unfolds along Via Portuense. It's entertaining and atmospheric but watch out for pickpockets.

 

Trastevere Pictures >>>

 

Vatican Pictures >>>

 

 

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