by Steve Smith
The Colosseum in Rome stands as a symbol of a powerful Empire. It has been damaged over the years but its recreation in many films has allowed people to imagine what it must have been like to be part of a crowd of 60,000 watching gladiators fight for survival. Nowhere in the world has there ever been a larger amphitheater and in a city of such beauty it has strong claims to be its top landmark.
Rome attracts huge numbers of visitors every year but even regular travelers to Rome find it difficult not to at least pass by to look up at the impressive structure built back in the 1st Century AD. There is a great deal else to see and do with the Vatican, a country in its own right, attracting huge crowds on a daily basis. It is certainly worth planning any visit to Rome because there is so much on offer, day and night; it is almost like an open air museum in itself.
• St Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel are the highlights of Vatican City. Tourists can expect long queues but patience has its reward.
• The Pantheon was a Roman Temple built by the Emperor Hadrian and is arguably the best preserved ancient building of all, quite possibly because it has been used constantly throughout its life; it is a church today and one of the most visited anywhere.
• The Trevi Fountain is the most impressive of a number of fountains in Rome. It was built in the 18th Century and visitors throw coins in because legend suggests it will guarantee your return. The story of throwing in three coins is also significant; the second coin will lead to romance and the third marriage.
• The Spanish Steps were built in the early 18th Century and lead up to the Trinita dei Monti Church and have featured in song and film over the years as indeed have many of Rome’s highlights.
• Castel Sant'Angelo was the mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian and subsequent emperors. It was later taken over for use as a fortress before the destruction of Rome. Renaissance popes restored it as a fortress and today it is a museum.
It is important to remember Rome is much more than a sum of its landmarks. Not only is it one of the fashion capitals of the world it offers great cuisine at every turn. Italians love their coffee and often sit in a stylish café watching the world go by. Join them! However later there is dinner to consider with a huge number of quality restaurants at every turn. On a warm summer evening you can dine in one of the famous piazzas, perhaps Piazza della Rotonda with lighting producing a wonderful night time setting?
Italian cuisine has few surprises anymore because its dishes have become widely available in places all over the world. That is not meant to suggest it is not special. Dinner is an experience in Italy, several courses and wine, Italian naturally.
Steve Smith graduated in Politics from Liverpool University; he has worked abroad and in the UK and travelled for most of his life, mostly for holidays. After visiting Istanbul and the Turquoise Coast in South West Turkey he has made the country his home.