ROME, Italy – So, Rome is pretty much amazing. I mean, you’re walking down the street and boom, there’s the Colosseum. There are ancient ruins to the left and the right.
The only complaint is the crowds. And, everyone wants to sell you a selfie stick, a fake purse, an umbrella or some other item you have no use for or don’t want.
Pickpockets are ever-present, but the city is better in that regard than Paris, but we remained vigilant and didn’t have any problems.
Regarding attractions, the touristy places are favorites for a reason: They are all pretty amazing. For starters, consider:
- Colosseum: Pretty self-explanatory. We thought the inside was worth it.
- Roman Forum: Walking through the ruins is fantastic (and could take the better part of a day), but if you’re short on time, there are some incredible overviews that provide pretty nice views, including the Capitoline Museums and Vittorio Emanuele II (both below)
- Capitoline Museums: A fantastic collection overlooked by the ruins themselves. One of the main highlights is an original Capitoline Wolf. On a side note, there is a Capitoline Wolf in Rome, Ga., that was a gift from Mussolini. The original is more impressive.
- Altare della Patria also (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, also known as The Wedding Cake): Built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the king who united Italy in 1861. There is an excellent museum inside (costs extra), and the view from the top is excellent (you can go part way up for free, the very top costs extra). Both are worth it if that’s your thing.
- St. Peter’s Basicilia: Pretty self-explanatory. Must. See. Also, go to the top. Pay for the tour, it’s a great way to skip the line, and they’ll point out all the Vatican buildings and Rome sites you can see from the top.
- Vatican Museums: If this were anywhere else in the world, it would be one of the premier art museums. I suppose it still is, but the Basicilia itself almost overlooks it. You could spend days in here and not see it all. The Sistine Chapel is crowded and the tourists annoying, but it lives up to the hype.
- Pantheon: It’s still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome nearly 2,000 years after it was built, so it’s pretty amazing. The crowds are no joke, but it’s worth seeing. (And, as a treat for braving the masses, there’s a Grom gelato shop nearby – said to be the best gelato in Rome – get the pistachio and crema di grom!)
- Archbasilica of St. John Lateran: So, this place is a bit under the radar, but outside the Vatican, it’s the most important cathedral. It is actually the Cathedra, or ecclesiastical seat, of the Roman Pontiff. It’s also quite stunning.
- Museo Criminologico (Crime Museum): Sounds strange, but if you’re looking for a museum about torture and the police, this is your place. I thought it was great, but may not work for the kids.
- Capuchin Crypt: So, if you want something weird, go here. The upstairs is a museum that tells the story and history of the Capuchin friars. But, downstairs is a series of chapels made from human bones. That’s right. Creepy, yet fascinating.
Invest in the Pass
Be sure to invest in the Roma and Omnia pass. If you hate to wait in lines – and who doesn’t – this is worth the price. There is still some waiting in lines with the pass, but it’s much better.
Note that they do sell the Roma Pass on its own, but it won’t get you into the Vatican sites or churches. The combo pass with both is the way to go.
Eat Your Heart Out
In terms of dinner, here are a few places we ate (and would recommend):
So, cacio e pepe is an absolute must. As is pasta alla gricia. Both are Roman dishes, and we loved them both. We didn’t do much for breakfast, but the lemon crème croissants with a café were really good.
Pro tip: Walk past a few coffee shops to make sure people were speaking Italian before popping in. We recommend avoiding touristy places as much as possible.