What to see and do in Rome, Italy

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. I have no idea what the Romans did, but I did my best to immerse myself into the culture (mostly by eating pizza… just kidding). Rome is such a historic city and it’s amazing to see the cobblestone roads, the intricate architecture and the historic landmarks. Here are some of the things we did, saw and ate… when we were in Rome.

Trevi Fountain

It’s the Lizzie McGuire fountain! Just kidding. Don’t judge me as this was the way I was introduced to this popular fountain. Aside from that, it’s a gorgeous fountain with an elaborate palace and triton as it’s backdrop. It’s been told that if you turn your back and use your right hand to throw a coin over your left shoulder, you will come back to Rome. Pro tip: Come to this fountain super early or super late or else it get’s super packed. We came at 9:30am and it wasn’t terrible, but it got crowded really fast.

9:30am crowd:

Pantheon

Check out one of most well kept Roman buildings that was once a temple and now a church. You can go inside for free and check out the pristine sculptures and paintings as well.

  

Piazza Navona

I loved this piazza with the open space, the architecture of the Church of San’Agnese and the intricate Fountain of the Four Rivers in the middle with 2 other fountains on the side. I could literally stand and look at the details of everything in this piazza all day.

 

Piazza di Spagna

This square is named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy Sea. In the center of the square is the barcaccia (ugly boat) which was built to remember the overflow of the Tiber River in 1598. Above that is a wide set of stairs leading up to the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.

    

Piazza del Popolo

This is a huge square that means the people’s square. Here you will see two “twin” churches, fountains and an Egyptian obelisk standing in the middle of the square.

  

Colosseum

One of the 7 wonders of the world! We took a tour to learn more about the history and to see the inside of the colosseum. It was built for entertainment – for gladiators to fight animals, and each other, but I was surprised to learn that this was free to the Romans which included the food and entertainment. It could also fit up to 80,000 people! It was damaged by an earthquake, but the majority of the frame still stands for everyone to come and see this historic landmark.

Hint: purchase your tour in advance – preferably anything that “skips the line” because the line can wrap around for hours if you choose to wait in it. Our tour included the Roman Forum and Palentine Hill (see below).

Inside the Colosseum:

Roman Forum

I think this was one of my favorite parts about Rome. It was so cool to see the political, administrative and religious center of the city, and some of the oldest structures of the world from thousands of years ago.

   

Palentine Hill

According to our tour guide, this was the best view in Rome and I can’t say that I disagree. Amazing!

Piazza San Pietro

Most people know of the Vatican as where the pope lives, but did you know that the Vatican is technically not part of Rome? It’s actually it’s own small little city. The square is named after St. Peter who was the first Catholic Pope.

 

Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museum has a collection of art which includes paintings and sculptures collected by popes. It includes the Sistine Chapel (which we were not allowed to take pictures of), which is the pope’s private chapel with Michaelangelo’s masterpiece of The Last Judgement painted on the ceiling.

Sculptures:

 

Tapestry:

   

Ceilings:

  

Floor to ceiling paintings:

Map room:

St. Peter’s Basilica 

St. Peter’s Balsilica is the largest church in the world! The architecture, the designs, the art, the details… all a must a see!

  

Santa Maria in Trastevere

This is one of the oldest churches in Rome. There is so much artwork painted in real gold.

    

Piazza Venezia

This where the central hub of Rome is. The Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II (below) was built to honor Victor Emmanuel who was the first king to unite Italy.

    

View from the top of the monument:

Steps on the side:

Ruins in the area:

Pasta & Tiramisu Cooking Class

We did a pasta and tiramisu cooking class here in Rome. It was at a local’s house and Fernando was our teacher. He welcomed us with wine and started us off with teaching us how to make tiramisu. I was happy to find that it’s actually pretty easy and really good! Next, we made two pastas – a ricotta ravioli and fettuccine. While our group made the pasta, Fernando and his assistant did the actual cooking while we watched. We ended up making a butter sage ravioli and a carbonara with pork cheek and both were delicious! I was pretty impressed by how it turned out.

Overall, it was really fun, super delicious and I have high hopes that I can re-create these dishes. I would totally recommend this class.

The making of the pastas:

Left: Butter sage ravioli with ricotta; Right: Carbonara with pork cheek

Tiramisu:

Though cooking was was fun, I still enjoy eating out when I travel to taste what those places have to offer…

Dar Poeta

This has got to be one of my favorite pizza places ever. The pizza dough was delicious, the wood fire cooked the crust to perfection, and the toppings and cheese were fresh and well… delicious. I wanted to eat here again, but sadly we didn’t have time.

Hosteria Volpe Pasini

We came here while walking around for a light breakfast. I got a pistachio croissant and a cappuccino. I loved both of it and started getting addicted to drinking cappuccinos (until I got back the Bay Area and paid $5 for a small cup that wasn’t nearly half as good).

Giotto

One of the most famous gelato places in Rome. After much indecisiveness, I got scoop of blackberry and a scoop of raspberry and did not regret either. The gelato itself had such a soft texture and the scoops were bursting with natural flavors. They offer whipped cream and I usually love it, but this was unsweetened so it literally tasted like cream that was whipped. The texture was so silky and creamy, but I wanted it sweetened.

Risotrante Max

I’m not typically a fan of to tomato sauce but I got the Amatriciana and it was so good! I loved the thick chewy pasta noodles, the fatty pork and the light but slightly spicy sauce. It got better and better as the sauce set into the pasta throughout the meal.

Pizza Zizza

Yes! I want all the pizzas! They have large sheets of pizza where they cut it to whatever size you want and then weigh to let you know how much it is. We got the sampler to share where we got 6 difference “slices” to try and I loved every single piece that we had.

Panini

I grabbed this as a quick meal before catching the train. It so simple with just cheese, tomato, basil and bread, but it’s so good!

Where we stayed

We stayed at the Freedom Traveller hostel near the Termini train station which was really convenient when we needed to take the train or the bus. It has free breakfast (it was just okay), a water fountain to refill your bottles (which was nice) and decent rooms. Considering the price we paid, it was a decent bed and the bathroom was usable. I mostly liked it for the price and the convenience.

Overall

Rome is a must visit. There’s so much to see, so much to do, and so much to eat!

Check out my other Italy posts

Things you should know: Random things to know before visiting Italy

Cinque Terre: One day in Cinque Terre, Italy

Lucca: What do do in Lucca, Italy

Pisa: Day trip to Pisa, Italy

Florence: What to see and do in Florence, Italy

Milan: Half a day in Milan, Italy

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