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Rome - Europe's Ancient Empire

The ancient city of Rome needs no fan-fare introduction. Once caput mundi (capital of the world),

is still very much a thriving modern metropolis set against it's ancient ancestry.

The open air culture of Rome is refreshing and alive with sunglass adorned priests sipping espressos in the sun to Armani clad locals buzzing around millennial monuments on their Vespa's.

Modern Romans like to party and party hard. The night life is outstanding with street cafe's, bars and clubs littered with students, business professionals and socialites until the small hours of the morning.

All roads lead to Rome and you can be sure that during the summer season every car, truck and Vespa will be using them.

romeitaly.ca

Top 10 things to do in Rome

Colosseum

Completed in 80AD after 8 years of construction, this elliptical shaped amphitheatre was the largest ever build in the Roman Empire.

Originally named the Flavian Amphitheatre it was capable of seating 50,000 spectators who would watch gladiatorial games, re-enactments of famous battles and dramas based on classical mythology.

Although it stands today partially ruined due to damage caused over the years by earthquakes and stone robbers, it is known world over as an iconic symbol of the Roman Empire.

Included in the many walking tours of Rome, the colosseum is one of Italy's top tourist attractions.

www.rome.info/colosseum/

Pantheon

Originally built by Marcus Agrippa around 100AD as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, the Pantheon is one of the best preserved buildings of ancient Rome.

Although officially designated as a temple, the exact use of the structure is highly debated due to the unusual inside construction which is unlike any other temple in it's era.

At it's entrance, the building has three rows of large stone columns supporting a huge triangular pediment. Inside, the huge dome is truly breathtaking for it's sheer size and intricate stone masonry of intersecting arches. The arches correspond to the eight bays on the ground level that house statues.

The top of the dome is open to the air through what it called the oculus which lets in light and provides for ventilation. During storms, a drainage system underneath the floor takes away rainwater that falls through the oculus.

www.rome.info/pantheon/

St Peter's Basilica

Located within the Vatican City, St. Peter's Basilica is the largest Christian church building in the world with a holding capacity estimated at 60,000 people.

It is the burial site of Saint Peter who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and the first bishop of Rome who started the line of papal successions.

The basilica was completed in 1626 after over a century's construction and is the most prominent building in the Vatican City where it's dome is one of the dominant features of the Rome skyline.

It is believed that St. Peter's tomb is located directly underneath the altar inside the basilica and as such is considered one of the most holiest Christian sites in the world with many Christians making a pilgrimage there.

To make the most of your visit to the basilica, take one of the audio tours.

saintpetersbasilica.org/

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace which is the official residence of the Pope in the Vatican City.

One of the primary functions of the Sistine Chapel is as a venue for the election of each successive pope in a conclave of the College of Cardinals. If white smoke appears from a chimney atop the roof of the chapel, a new Pope has been elected.

The chapel itself is a tribute to Renaissance architecture which was popular in Rome at the time and the walls inside are decorated with marvelous frescos and tapestries depicting scenes from Bible and many different aspects of Christianity.

The ceiling was painted by Michelangelo and includes stories from the Book of Genesis including the famous image of the the Hand of God giving life to Adam.

mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/CSN/CSN_Storia.html

Roman Forum

This area contains the oldest buildings and monuments of ancient Rome and is the central area around which the Roman civilisation developed.

Originally the area was a marsh, but the Romans drained the area and turned it into a center of political and social activity.

When the Roman Empire fell, the Forum became forgotten, buried and was used as a cattle pasture during the Middle Ages.

There are many ruins of temples, basilicas, arches and other structures all in and around this central area such as the former royal residence, the Regina.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Forum

Piazza Venezia

As the central square of Rome, the Piazza Venezia is at the foot of the Capitoline Hill and near the Roman Forum and you will undoubtedly find yourself here at some point during your wandering.

Unlike some of the other piazza's in Rome where you can relax outside the many little bistros, this square is a busy traffic route with vehicles buzzing around in all directions.

The square is dominated by the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II erected in 1935 to honour Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy.

As recently as 2009, excavations in the center of the square have unearthed ancient remains of emperor Hadrian's Athenaeum, a school or college for the promotion of literary and scientific studies.

www.rome.info/squares/piazza-venezia

Trevi Fountain

Standing 25.9m high and 19.8m wide, the Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city.

There is a folk lore which holds that visitors who toss a coin into the fountain, are ensured a return to Rome.

Although there are many different derivations on the number of coins one should throw in and their related good fortunes (and misfortunes), approximately 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain every day. This has inevitably led to a rise in attempts to steal the coins.

The fountain is subtly lit at night making for a particularly nice addition to any travel album.

www.italyguides.it/us/roma/trevi.htm

Piazza di Spagna

Translated as Spanish Square, the Piazza di Spagna is one of the most popular squares in Rome and a regular meeting place for tourists and locals.

A French church (Trinità dei Monti) sits on top of the hill and is connected to the square via a long staircase known as Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti or simply, the Spanish Steps.

The gothic church with a renaissance facade has two bell-towers. Inside, several paintings decorate the different chapels. Among them are two works by Daniele da Volterra, a pupil of Michelangelo.

The elegant staircase consists of 137 steps over twelve different flights and in May is decorated with flowers (azaleas) and during the height of the tourist season the steps can get very crowded.

At the foot of the Spanish Steps is the Fontana della Barcaccia, a sober fountain commissioned by Pope Urban VIII and designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The design, a small boat, was inspired by the flooding of the Tevere in 1598, when a small boat stranded here after the water subsided.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_di_Spagna

Galleria Borghese

The Galleria Borghese houses a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculpture and antiquities, begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V.

There are twenty rooms across it's two floors. The main floor  is mostly devoted to classical antiquities of the 1st–3rd centuries AD and classical and neo-classical sculpture such as the Venus Victrix.

Also on display here is a collection made up of instruments from not only western cultures but also instruments from ancient cultures (such as Egyptian, Greek, and Roman) and instruments from America, Africa, and Oceania.

The building is located within the Villa Borghese gardens which is the second largest public park in Rome.

www.galleriaborghese.it

Piazza Navona

Probably the most liveliest of the squares in and around Rome. The Piazza Navona has three spectacular fountains and the baroque church of Sant'Agnese in Agone.

The square is built on the former Domitian's stadium, built by emperor Domitian in 86 AD and hence the long, oval shape of the square.

In the 15th century the stadium was paved over to create the Navona square, but remnants of Domitian's stadium are still visible around the area and tours to visit the monuments underneath the square are available.

The baroque church of Sant'Agnese in Agone was commissioned in 1652 by Pope Innocent X and built on the site where according to legend, St. Agnes was stripped naked, but miraculously saved from disgrace by extraordinary growth of hair.

This is a great spot for socialising during the day or at night with many outdoor cafes, restaurants and night clubs in the neighbourhood.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_Navona

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