Rome - 14 things not to miss by Mark Sukhija

There's a huge amount to see and do in Rome and, as a sole-person running this site, I couldn't possibly deal with everything. What follows are what I consider to be 14 must-sees in Rome - in no particular order.

  1. The ancient Roman Forum looking towards the Palatine Hill in RomeAncient Rome - The ancient city of Rome is home to where, according to legend, Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus in 753 BC on the Palatine Hill. The Roman Forum, between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills is home to oldest and most important buildings of the Roman period including the residence of the Kings (The Regia) and the complex of the Vestal Virgins. Palatine Hill, the founding hill, is home to Augustus palace - much in ruins now - but the size and scale of the palace and the "Games Room" are much in evidence. Don't miss the House of Augustus - an impressive restored frescoe from the house of Augustus, who would become Rome's first Emporer.

  2. The Colloseum - once the most important "entertainment" venue in ancient Rome where gladiators fought and Christians were executed by Romans. The Colloseum is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most recognisable sites in Rome and an absolute must see for any visitor to this marvellous city.

  3. Swiss Guards at the Basilica of St Peter in the Vatican City St Peters Basilica - St Peters Basilica is the centre of the Roman Catholic Church and a major place of pilgramage for Catholics worldwide. Built above St Peters grave, the site of St Peters is significant in Christianity, and many Popes are buried in the visitable crypt of St Peters. St Peters Basilica was worked on by legendary artists and architects such as Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini. Adjacent to Vatican Museums which house a whole manner of treasures and the iconic Sistine Chapels and the famed Raphael Rooms. Whatever your opinions of religon, Basilica San Pietro is a work of art and a profound statement of faith.

  4. Vatican Museums - The Vatican Museums are, without a shadow of a doubt, amongst the most impressive museums in the world. Home to the Raphael Rooms (of the "School of Athens" fame) and Michelangelo's famed Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums also house an impressive Egyptian collection and a beautiful map room.

  5. Pantheon - The Pantheon is one of the most important ancient structures in Rome. The dome of the Pantheon remains the largest dome to be built without the aide of scaffolding. Originally built as a temple to all the Gods (Pan -all- Theos -gods) The Pantheon now functions as a Catholic Church.

  6. The Castel Sant'Angello in Rome by night Castel Sant'Angello - Originally built as the mauseleom for the Emperor Hadrian and later fortified as a Castle served as a fortress to protect the Popes when Rome came under attack. Walking around the circular fortifications, you are afforded fantastic views across Rome including the Basilica of St Peter and Pont Sant'Angelo - which boasts statues from the workshop of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

  7. Via del Corso - The Via del Corso is well known as one of Rome's best shopping streets - the Roman answer to Oxford Street.

  8. Vittoriano - Variously nicknamed "The Typewriter" and the "Zuppa Inglese," Vittoriano holds The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Built after the First World War, Vittoriano has been subject of its fair share of controvesy as its construction required the demolition of a large section of the Capitoline Hill and a medieval section of town. Visible from most of Rome it's sometime said that the most beautiful place in Rome is on top of Vittoriano as it's the only place you can't see it.

  9. Campo di Fiori - Serving as a food and flower market by day "Il Campo" transforms into a vibrant piazza with cafes and bars by evening. If you're a foodie / flowery type do visit by day or if you fancy somewhere to watch the world go by over a nice glass of wine, visit by evening. If you're a foodie / flowery / wino type spend the day.

  10. Piazza Spagna - Named Piazza Spagna due to the proximity of the Spanish Embassy, the Piazza Spagna is one of the most beautiful Piazza in Rome dominated, as it is, by the sweeping Spanish Steps which lead up to Trinità dei Monti church. English poet John Keats lived and died at an apartment adjacent to the Piazza Spagna in 1821.

  11. The façade of the Villa Borghese in RomeGalleria Borghese - The Galleria Borghese is justifiably one of Rome's premier art galleries. The sculptures by Canova and Gian Lorenzo Bernini and painting by Carravaggio, without a doubt, justify its position as a must see in Rome. Many of the works on display were commissioned by Cardinal Borghese for this residence and gardens which he established. Scipione Borghese, as Pope Nephew and noted art collector, was an early patron of many latterly prominent artists and sculptors and established both this residence for his artwork and the gardens which surround it. Book your tickets in advance though - only 200 people per hour are allowed in.

  12. Piazza Navona - Located on the one time site of a Roman circus, Piazza Navona is the most beautiful Piazza in Rome. Well proportioned and decorated with three symettrically placed fountains of which the most famous is Fountain of the Four Rivers. Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and sporting an Egyptian Obelisk the Fountain of the Four Rivers sits directly in front of the impressive Sant'Agnese in Agone designed by Girolamo Rainaldi.

  13. The massive Trevi Fountain by nightTrevi Fountain - The largest Baroque fountain in Rome standing an impressive 29.5 meters (85 feet) high and 19.8 meters (65 feet) wide. Famous not only for its aesthetic beauty, Audrey Hepburn got her hair done over the road for the 1963 film Roman Holiday. Aside from the fountains in Piazza Navona this is my favorite Roman fountain and certainly Rome's most impressive.

  14. Cafe Greco - Once the hangout of such literary luminaries as John Keats and Percy Shelley who lived in nearby Piazza Spagna, the Cafe Greco is an odd mix of tails and tourism - tourists are served their coffees by older gentlemen in morning suits. There's a good range of teas and a most enjoyable range of paintings adorning the walls of the cafe. While there's much literary history, there's more than a touch of Leicester Square.

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About Mark Sukhija

Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook