Must-see: Unmissable Rome

Vatican, Rome, Via Francigena

Must-see: Unmissable Rome

Adam from our Products team shares his unmissable Rome.

Suppose you are walking or cycling the Via Francigena. In that case, we recommend you take an extra day to explore the Eternal City before returning home and re-joining the real world. Having cycled the last section of the Via Francigena from Viterbo to Rome, this is my favourite, not-to-be-missed Rome.

Views from Monte Mario

On the way into Rome, the Via Francigena took us to Monte Mario, where you will get fantastic panoramic views of the capital before descending along an ancient Roman road, the Via Triumphale, on the way to the Vatican. As we entered St Peters square around midday, with the solitude we had experienced over the past few days, I was unprepared for the crowds. There was an audience with the Pope the following day, so the capacity of this vast square was reduced by roughly 60% to make way for seating.

Castel Sant’Angelo

St. Peter’s Square is a short walk from the impressive Castel Sant’Angelo. It was initially constructed as a cylindrical castle by the Roman emperor Hadrian around 130 AD; in the 14th century, it was converted into the Papal Fortress to house the Pope in times of unrest. A tour of this beautiful building is highly recommended; you will be surprised by how many of its ancient features are on display, like original red brick internal walls, mosaic floors and wide ramped corridors for horse and cart.


Trastevere at night

The Trastevere quarter is the place to be if you are looking for good food and a lively atmosphere in Unmissable Rome. Trastevere is a warren of cobbled streets, ancient courtyards, open-air restaurants, street performers, and pop-up stalls selling leather goods and silk scarves. After dinner, I spent the evening wandering these streets, absorbing the buzz; a high point for me was exploring some small, lesser-known, but still exquisite local churches.


The Coliseum – Unmissable Rome

Visit the Coliseum early in the morning to skip the major rush, as it is the most popular attraction in Rome after the Vatican. There are plenty of local providers offering guided tours of the monument with a variety of extras. Essential questions to ask are:

  • How many people per tour? Smaller numbers travel quicker and cover more.
  • What is covered on tour? Coliseum, Basements, Forum etc.
  • How long will the tour take? And most importantly, how much?

A good option is a tour combining the ground floor, upper floors, forum and ancient city (basement tours need to be booked in advance). Our Coliseum guide Mario was very enthusiastic and informative, he explained the history and construction methods used to make the Coliseum one of the greatest works of Roman engineering and architecture. When we finished a tour of the Coliseum, Mario led us outside, where we met Laura. She would be our guide for the forum and ancient city.

The tour was an hour long and took highlights such as Via Sacra, Imperial Palace, House and Temple of vestals, Palatine Hill and the Roman Senate. After your tour, you can spend some additional time exploring the ancient city overflowing with history. There is so much to see in such a small area it feels like your senses are being assaulted and overloaded.

Contact us for more information about the Via Francigena.


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