Rome was my favourite city so far. I just fell in love with it. Even though it was only a weekend in Rome, it was just great!
If you ask me what is the best time to visit the Eternal City, I will tell you right away it’s WINTER!
But why? Let me give you couple reasons:
- it is off-season – between November and April (except Christmas and New Year’s) there are much less crowds. And that means waiting only 20 min in front of the attractions instead of couple hours! And that is a lot! You can squeeze so much more in! The whole city seems calmer and you don’t have to stress that much. Just walk around and enjoy the views. And you can actually take pictures without the whole crowd in the background!!
- it’s not cold – I know it’s winter, but it’s Italy and that means still relatively warm. I visited Rome in January and there was still 15C ( I walked with a short sleeve! )
- cheap plane tickets – I’ve paid 20 Euro both ways! Prices during the high seasons are much higher so it’s excellent way to save some money.
- cheap hotels – Hotels are so much cheaper because of not that many people 🙂 I’ve paid 80 Euro for 3 nights for two people in a hotel 😀
Now that we established that winter is great time to visit , the next question is, what is worth visiting! I have spent 3 days in Rome and tried to see as much as possible with my limited time, so below is a list of places I think are totally worth seeing:
The Colosseum or Coliseum is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The Colosseum could hold around 70,000 spectators and it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles (even mock sea battles! ), animal hunts, executions. In the middle ages it was used for housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress and a Christian shrine. And because of all that different function through centuries, it managed to be preserved till our times.
Be aware there is a long queue to the Colosseum due to the fact that it can only allow 3000 visitors at the time and there is a security check. The best way to beat the queue, is to order tickets online ahead of time. You can do it here via this website.
When ordering the tickets I have chosen an option: “Colosseum, Underground and Third Ring tours“. That was a great choice, as we were allowed into the parts where other tourist were not allowed to go 🙂 We saw how the gladiators were transported up to a stage and how the Colosseum functioned in the underground. Later, we admired the whole monument from the 3rd floor. So instead of hundred people trying to take selfies, we were only around 20. And that made a huge difference! This option is little bit more expensive but totally worth the price.
The Golden House of Nero was the BEST attraction that I went to. It is a truly amazing, undiscovered gem of Rome that not many people know of.
Why did it leave such impression on me?
It was the first time I was in an ancient ruin that wasn’t ruined 🙂 The amazing history of that place allowed the palace to be almost untouched and instead of only some old pillars and pieces of mosaic, you ventured into the palace that looked the same way 2000 years ago! Well, almost the same 🙂
So what is the history of the place?
It was built by Nero right after a very convenient fire that for some reason destroyed exactly the place where the palace was supposed to be standing 🙂 He aimed at building the most splendid palace in the history. The rooms were laminated in gold leaf (hence the name “Golden House”) and filled with marble. He even had private artificial lake where Colosseum is now standing. Right after the construction was finished, Nero died. Because he was really disliked and unpopular, next emperors tried to distance themself from him. That’s why they have taken out everything valuable from the building, filled it with dirt and stones and built public bathhouse and another palace on top of it. And it became forgotten for centuries, until at some point in 16th century someone found a hole in the ground and decided to check it out. Afterwards, it remained forgotted until 19th century when people rediscovered it again.
The tours are only available during weekends and space is limited. If you are interested, book it online ahead of time. You can do it on their website. The reason why it is only open for such short time, is that they are still working on digging up the palace and restoring it, so in the future much more should be available to the public. But even now this is the best place to go if you love ancient history and architecture!
Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum
If you love the ruins that is definitely place to go! Stroll down through the Palatine Hill and see the ruins of the palaces and villas. Enjoy the beautiful garden areas. Even in January I was still able to spot oranges on the trees!! Walk down to Forum Romanum and admire the centuries of history!
Remember you still have to go through the security check so reserve some time for that.
Altar of the Fatherland
Be sure to climb to the top of it. From the very top of the building there is a perfect view of the city and all the ruins.
The Roman Pantheon is the most preserved and influential building of ancient Rome. So don’t miss it! Compared to all other churches it does not look that spectacular but think how long it withstand the tide of time!
The most beautiful fountain I have ever seen. Make sure to toss a coin into the fountain! The tradition says that if you do that you will visit the Ethernal City again.
Originally it was intended as mausoleum for Hadrian Emperor and his family. Later in the history popes used it as castle and fortress.
From the top of the fortress, there is amazing view at Rome and Vatican city.
St. Peter’s Basilica was the most spectacular church I have ever been to! So richly decorated that you felt more as being in a palace than a church. If you like nice panoramic views, climb up the “cupola”. You can take a lift part of the way, but truth to be told, it’s cheaper and almost faster to just climb all the way up.
If you are into art, make sure to visit Vatican Museums. Make sure to check Sistine Chapel out 🙂
Be sure to get to there pretty early. There are usually queues because of security check and metal detector check.
Plazas and streets of Rome
There are many plazas around. Take your time, buy some gelato and just walk through the streets.
Some of famous plazas are: Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo, Piazza del Campidoglio.
Rome wouldn’t be Rome without many churches 🙂 Some of them are richly decorated and are really nice to look at. While walking, try to check some out 🙂
Museum and Crypt of Capuchins
It is definitely interesting place to see. You walk through the corridor filled up with bones of the monks that are arranged into chandeliers and other wall decorations. When you leave, you have this a weird creepy feeling.
I was tiny bit disappointed as I thought I would be much bigger, however when you realise how many spines they had to use for one room you will will be really impressed 🙂
It is impossible to see the all of the Rome during a single weekend, but that is just a beginning 🙂 I am sure, after short visit you will want to come back again (and because you tossed the coin into the Trevi Fountain, you definitely will!).