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. 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 for convenient access to varied Rome attractions 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
One of Rome attractions 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.
And now for something completely different, 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 perhaps our favourite of all Rome attractions, 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.
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.
The Spanish Steps, looking down to the Piazza di Spagna and a fountain in the form of a leaking boat.
Part of Santa Maria sopra Minerva’s sumptuous interior, with the marble carving to the right by Bernini.
The spectacular Basilica of Ambrogio e Carlo church.
An astonishing marble skeleton by – yes, the inevitable Bernini – inside Santa Maria del Popolo church.
The famous statue of Moses by Michelangelo in Rome’s Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli.
Scooters rule in Rome.
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.
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.
Shopping in Rome, expensive? Not compared to Paris or London, yet excellent quality, dramatic colours and unique Italian designs.
One of many Rome attractions is the 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.
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.