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A historical treasure, Rome also enjoys magnificent weather, stunning architecture at every turn, and unbeatable cuisine. If you’ve never visited it before, here are six reasons why you should take una vacanza in Italy’s flamboyant capital.
An iconic Roman monument, the majestic 2,000-year-old Colosseum is a must-see for beginners in the city. Built in 80 AD during the Flavian Dynasty, the world’s largest amphitheater has hosted gladiatorial games and fights, animal hunts, and simulated naval battles. Up to 55,000 spectators regularly crammed into four floors of steep stands to watch the violent action in the arena below. Italy’s main tourist attraction attracts over seven million (!) Visitors a year. To avoid long lines, book tickets in advance online and visit early or late afternoon.
Book in advance to explore Rome’s premier art gallery. The majestic museum houses a superb collection of paintings, sculptures and frescoes by masters such as Caravaggio, Titian and Raphael. Notable mentions go to Bernini’s intricate Apollo and Daphne sculpture and Caravaggio’s âDavid with the Head of Goliathâ. The notorious artist was accused of murder at the time and experts consider the work to be a disturbing self-portrait. Then, stroll through the peaceful, leafy gardens of Villa Borghese.
The richly sculpted, Instagram-favorite Baroque spectacle was completed in 1762. The fountain takes its name from three streets that converge beside it, and an ancient Roman aqueduct provides its water. Distinctive and elaborate carvings include a centerpiece of Oceanus, the god of water, accompanied by the goddesses Health and Abundance. Trevi is famous for her scene in the 1960 film La Dolce Vita, where Anita Ekberg danced in the fountain. The myth is that if you throw a coin into the depths, you will return to Rome. Enthusiastic visitors donate around 3,000 euros (!) Every day, all of which are collected and donated to charity.
Italian cuisine has a universal fan club, and Roman gastronomy combines delicious, simple and hearty ingredients. Popular street food includes al taglio (slice) pizza and locally invented trapizzino. This triangle-shaped pouch filled with more gourmet toppings (try chicken cacciatore or eggplant parmigiana) is a delicious pizza / sandwich combo. On the menus of the trattoria you will find porchetta, slow roasted pork that melts in the mouth, as well as fried zucchini (zucchini) and artichokes. Classic pasta dishes include cacio e pepe (a simple recipe for black pepper and salted sheep’s cheese), creamy carbonara, and spicy tomato-based amatriciana. Ice cream outlets in Rome are plentiful, and the best use seasonal ingredients and minimal additives. Fatamorgana, Fior di Luna and Del Gracchi are three of the best.
This elegant Roman temple has stood up to nearly 2,000 years with aplomb. The beautiful interior is so magnificent that Michelangelo named it the work of angels. The building is a showcase of Roman architectural ingenuity and ambition: the 16 Corinthian columns came from quarries in Egypt. The height and diameter of the temple are equal (142 feet), while the enormous dome with a 27-foot open ceiling, or oculus, appears to be suspended. The oculus or “eye of the Pantheon” is the only source of light. Clever architects have given the ground a gentle slope, to drain any rainwater that enters the circular opening. The unique structure is the final resting place of several Italian kings and luminaries, including the artist Raphael.
The smallest city-state in Europe, Vatican City is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and home to its spiritual leader, the Pope. Every Wednesday, thousands of worshipers gather in the vast St. Peter’s Square for the weekly papal audience, surrounded by the 140 statues of Bernini’s saints.
St. Peter’s Basilica is the most lavish church in Italy, its magnificent interior is full of breathtaking works of art. Masterpieces include Bernini’s soaring canopy, a majestic bronze arch above the church’s altar, and the Renaissance sculpture La Pieta, made by Michelangelo at the age of 25. Tackle the 320 steps (they are steep!) Of the spire dome of the basilica. At the top, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of St. Peter’s Square and the city’s rooftops. Another must-see in Rome is the famous Sistine Chapel. Look up to the sky at the vaulted ceilings and marvel at Michelangelo’s glorious celestial frescoes, including the splendid Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment. Make sure you dress appropriately for your visit, i.e. no bare shoulders, shorts, or miniskirts.
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