If you are looking into spending a vacation in Rome, you had better be prepared to allot no less than three days in this city that they call Caput mundi and la Citta Eterna. There was a time when the whole of the known world did revolve around Rome, and once you step on to the streets of this eternal city, you would feel the weight of its 3,000-year history hanging heavily in the air.
And yet, as ancient as Rome is, the city is nonetheless one of the most modern and cosmopolitan in Europe, easily allowing the momentum of its weighty history carry it towards the future.
With the city bursting with so many sights to see and so many new things to experience, what can you cram into your Roman holiday if you only have three days to stay in Rome?
1. Go on a religious pilgrimage. Even if you are not Roman Catholic, the churches in Rome are worth the visit. Rome, after all, is a very important city among the Christians and is the center of the Catholic faith. The churches in Rome are well endowed in beauty that perhaps matches the devotion of the people who built them.
Among the churches that you should visit in Rome is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. This basilica is the oldest Catholic church in the world, and its construction was commissioned by Pope Liberio after receiving what stories say to be a vision of the Virgin Mary.
And of course, what is a religious pilgrimage to Rome without going to the Vatican? The Vatican is not only the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the residence of the Pope, but it also contains the Vatican Museum, home of the world’s most important artworks such as the Sistine Chapel and the works of Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.
2. Retrace the remnants of Ancient Rome. Rome was once the capital of the known world, and many remnants of the glories of the Roman Empire are still standing today. Foremost of them is the Colosseum, once the center of Roman entertainment and site of gory gladiator fights. Another is the Forum Romanum, the commercial, religious and administrative heart of the Roman Empire. And then there is the Pantheon, the Roman temple to all the ancient pagan gods, famed for its marvelous architecture and its magnificent oculus.
3. Walk among the dead in the catacombs. The early Christians in Rome created a network of catacombs underneath the city as the resting place of their dead. These catacombs are named after the Christian martyrs said to be buried there. This is not what the catacombs of Rome are famous for, however. They contain frescoes, sculptures and paintings that are examples of early Christian art.
4. Take a leisurely promenade at the Roman piazzas. Among the most popular attractions of Rome are its great piazzas, the city squares. The piazzas of Rome are natural places for people to meet and spend some relaxing together. They are also great places to do some people-watching at leisure.
The Piazza Venezia is the most important of these squares. It is located in the center of Rome and is surrounded by many monuments, museums and palazzos, such as the Palazzo Bonaparte and the Palazzo delle Aste.
The Piazza Navona is famous for its Baroque fountains, including the marvelous Fountain of the Four Rivers. You can also find various cafes and bars in Piazza Navona, where you can enjoy the world-renown Italian gelato and some lively music.
The Piazza di Spagna is one of the most fabulous squares in Rome. The glamorous streets that are noted for being Rome’s fashion havens, such as the Via Condotti, lead to this piazza. So it is no wonder that the piazza’s famous Spanish steps are used as catwalks in fashion shows.
5. Drop a coin at the Trevi Fountain. The famous Trevi Fountain is one of the grandest Baroque fountains in Rome. It depicts the god Neptune with two Tritons, an illustration of the opposing pacifist and the violent natures of the sea. The Romans hold a belief that if a visitor drops a coin in the Trevi Fountain, he or she shall return to Rome one day. This romantic tradition has inspired the immortal Frank Sinatra song “Three Coins in the Fountain.”
There is just so much to see in Rome. When you get there, it is most certain that three days will not be enough to enjoy your Roman holiday.
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