7 Historic Sights in Rome that Everyone Should Visit

Written by Rem Malloy, since 1995 Rem has been guiding and designing trips to Italy and all of Western Europe and is considered an expert in his field for over 30 years.

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Rome is truly one of the most historic cities in Europe. Legend is that Rome was built by brothers, Romulus and Remus, on the seven hills flanking the Tiber River. Rome is the nation’s capital too, and its unique culture draws on every aspect of Italian life and history. The beauty of Rome’s modern culture is found on the streets. Here, you’ll enjoy slow mornings sipping espresso and late evenings enjoying amazing food and wine in the shadow of epic, ancient buildings and statues dating back thousands of years. Rome is the Eternal City, and its culture is endless, too.

For first time visitors to Rome, you may find that the choice of what to visit is mind-boggling. If you’re traveling with companions, you may find that everyone wants to go in a different direction! Some will want to travel to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican on one side of the Tiber. Others will prefer to view the glories of ancient Rome on the other side. There’s so much more to see and do! 

What makes Rome so special is its blend of old and new, and the city’s modern culture can be enjoyed alongside its history. After a day of sightseeing, soak up the laid-back atmosphere of cafes and restaurants or stroll through the city streets that have inspired so many artists, writers, and filmmakers.

Doing research before you arrive will help you make the most of your time in the Eternal City of Rome. Italy4Real can help organize your experience and customizing private tours in a way that is comfortable and enjoyable. Through our extensive knowledge, contacts and local staff, we will make sure your Rome experience is everything you’ve dreamed it would be. As they say, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. These are the top historic sights that you won’t want to miss!


The Roman Colosseum

The Colosseum is an iconic symbol, listed in 2007 as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Located just east of the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum, the Colosseum is the largest historic amphitheater ever built. Dating back to AD 70, it is one of the best preserved ruins from the Roman Empire. Stories say that this sand and stone structure was capable of fitting 80,000 people at one time. There’s also an underground portion called the hypogeum, which is visible today. According to historians, this was the area that held animals, prisoners, and gladiators.

More than any other monument, this iconic amphitheater symbolizes the power and drama of Ancient Rome. The massive arena once held thousands of spectators who packed the stands to watch gladiators battle and fight animals. The Colosseum still stands in the center of Rome as one of the most recognizable buildings of the ancient world. Millions of tourists visit the site every year, and it is a must-see destination for sightseers in the city.


Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is situated between the Palatine and Capitoline hills. Once the scene of public meetings, law courts, and gladiatorial combats, the Forum contains the ruins of Rome’s most imposing temples and monuments. It is one of the most spectacular sights in Rome — a vast, ruin-filled area that speaks to the glory days of the Roman Empire. It’s one of the most-photographed — and photogenic — areas of Rome. Take a walking tour and get a first-hand look at the ancient ruins and architectural fragments that were left behind.


The Pantheon

The Pantheon is the best-preserved ancient building in Rome. Built in 125 AD, it was constructed as a temple dedicated to the Gods. It sits on the Piazza della Rotonda, a square in the historic heart of Rome. The most impressive element is the dome – the largest ever built from unreinforced concrete – topped by a 9-meter diameter opening, the oculus. The oculus is the only source of external light and is is uncovered so rain falls directly into the building. The Pantheon was dedicated in AD 609 as the Church of Santa Maria Rotonda, or Santa Maria and the Martyrs, and remains so today.


Spanish Steps Rome

Fact: the stunning 135 travertine Spanish Steps weren’t actually built by the Spanish. When constructed in the 19th century, they were named due to the proximity to the Spanish Embassy. Designed by an Italian architect, they lead to the entrance of the Church of Trinita dei Monti, set at the top of the steps.

The scenic spot has attracted numerous visitors with its unique features. At the foot of the steps sits Bernini’s Fontana della Barcaccia and the house of the famous English poet, John Keats. The Spanish Steps have also featured in some classic films, including the American romantic comedy film Roman Holiday.

Previously, you could sit on the steps and take in the atmosphere, but unfortunately this is now banned. However, from the top you can still enjoy a wonderful view over the rooftops of Rome. It’s a wonderful vantage point.


Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museums are home to the world’s most extensive collection of precious artworks spanning the centuries. Our private guided tours take you to The Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, with its famous Michelangelo-painted ceiling – truly a breathtaking sight. It is said if you stand in front of each item in the museum for just ten seconds, you would need to be there for ten years to see everything! There are over 2000 different rooms that span nearly 10 miles.

The independent city-state known as the Vatican City is one of Italy’s most popular attractions. Its opulent architecture and beautiful decor makes this an incredible place, providing an elegant and almost dreamlike atmosphere. 

There is a huge range of galleries and buildings to explore in the Vatican Museums, offering spectacular masterpieces everywhere you turn. Your ultimate stop will be the incredible Sistine Chapel, home to artist Michelangelo’s heavenly frescoes. It’s impossible to not be moved by the beauty and scale of these works.


Trevi Fountain Rome

To truly indulge in the beauty that is Rome, make sure that a visit to the magnificent Trevi fountain together is on your list. This beautiful water feature is one of the most-visited sites by tourists who come to Italy’s capital city. 

Tossing a coin into the fountain guarantees that you will return to Rome, which is certainly worth doing if you are enjoying your time in the city. Did you also know that throwing THREE coins into the fountain with a special someone leads to marriage?

At 85 feet high and 65 feet across, this fountain and its piazza take up almost an entire city block. Each section of the Trevi symbolizes a concept, all forming together to create the story. The center statue is the Greek Sea God, Oceanus, pulled on a chariot by two sea horses; one wild and one passive. These symbolize the changing moods of the ocean. It is not just a beautiful structure, but is a historic monument, as the oldest water source in the entire city of Rome. 


Castel Sant'Angelo Rome

While most of the monuments from the Roman era are in ruins, the breathtaking Castel Sant’Angelo has stood the test of time for almost 2000 years. This unique monument has had several structural and architectural transformations throughout history. It started as the tomb of Roman Emperor Hadrian to eventually becoming a fortress, the Pope’s residence, a prison, and finally a museum.

Linking Castel Sant’Angelo with the Vatican City is the Passetto di Borgo, an elevated 800-meter-long passageway built in 1277, commissioned by Pope Nicholas III. During this time the fortress also happened to serve as the Pope’s Residence. The passage served as an escape route for Popes in case of an attack. Visitors can see the passage from the castle and it is occasionally opened to the public in the summer months.

The museum currently houses artwork, frescoes, sculptures, and much more from various moments in Roman history. It is located across a dramatic 1365-meter footbridge, the Ponte Sant’ Angelo – Bridge of Angels – built by Emperor Hadrian.

Let Italy4Real Introduce You to Rome

Our small group tours of Rome have been personally designed to give you a truly wonderful view of the city in a way that is comfortable, enjoyable and informative. Whether it is a cooking class, private tour of the Vatican, a guided walking tour or something more unique like a private vespa tour of Rome, our professionally certified guides will introduce you to the city in a way only a local can. We hope you enjoy our selection of Rome sightseeing and tours.

When planning your trip to Rome, take your time planning and making sure you know where you want to go and what you want to see. Start by creating your own trip online.

About the Author

Rem Malloy started Italy4real back in 1995 with his mother, Deborah de Maio.

He specialises in Italian tours as well as customised tours to France, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. He was also featured in the Travel Channel show Mysteries at The Museum in 2016.

Rem has family in Italy and his mothers home town is Cava di Terrani, near the Amalfi Coast. The family has a street named after them in Sorrento, Via Luigi de Maio; a relative who was mayor of Sorrento.

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