At the end of the classic movie Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn’s character Princess Ann is asked which city in Europe she liked most on her tour. At first, she begins with a democratic answer and then interrupts herself exclaiming, “Rome, by all means, Rome.” Many visit Rome for the sheer amount of ancient, impressive history still standing about the city. Rome just has that unexplainable feeling. It is magical. It is beautiful. And by all means, it is just Rome, unlike any other city in the world.
The center of the Roman Empire was laid out in the Roman Forum area of the city. Today most make their way here before anywhere else in Rome. Commerce, business and judicial life played out on these grounds. What some could think a pile of ruined buildings is one artistic marvel after another. The city’s most important buildings called this area home, including the Arch of Septimius Severus, constructed in 203 A.D. The goal drawn out here is without question to impress. The Romans probably knew they would build a major attraction for statues and the architecture hint at the opulence and extravagance of the Roman Empire.
Just to the east of the Forum, probably the bloodiest place in the Roman Empire still has an iconic place in the city. The Roman Colosseum impressively stands largely intact. Emperor Vesasian commissioned the coliseum in 72 A.D. It contained 80 arched entrances and could hold over 50,000 people. Many would sit and watch gladiators slaughter each other or exotic animals killed for sport within this circular structure. The area is 188 meters long and 156 meters wide, creating quite the blood bath back in the day.
The highest and most sophisticated fashions of Rome all lead to some very famous steps. Prada, Valentino, and Gucci open up shop daily, beginning at Piazza di Spagna. The Spanish Steps climb above this piazza. The ultimate stair master Francesco de Sanctis created the design for these elegant and iconic steps. The activity here seems to be just sitting, lapping up that gelato and watching people go by. For the less lazy, a climb to the top warrants a view of Rome worthy of a picture. Pincio hill, as it is called, contains the French church Trinita dei Monti at the top of Spanish Steps.
While not technically in Rome, the Vatican is truly the church to end all churches. Saint Peter’s Basilica rests in Vatican City. It is the world’s largest Basilica of Christianity and remains the seat of the Pope. While its construction was constantly ongoing throughout Rome’s development, it is believed to have commenced in 320 A.D. Perhaps the most famous element many line up to see is the Sistine Chapel within. The Chapel contains the famous Michelangelo created world upon the ceiling.
Before leaving the eternal city, travelers may want to throw a coin in the famous Trevi Fountain to please those ancient gods. The Trevi fountain does not just sit in the historic center of Rome. It sprawls out, being one of the largest and most well known baroque fountains in the city. Designed by Nicola Slavi in 1732, the fountain crowds with tourists throwing that coin over their shoulders in hopes that they will return to Rome some day. The god of the sea, Neptune is at the forefront of the fountain. Films have even cast the Trevi with leading roles, appearing in Three Coins in the Fountain, Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita.
The tritest of phrases center on Rome. Rome wasn’t built in a day. All roads lead to Rome. Do as the Romans do. The funny aspect to all of these sayings is they are completely overused, but sum up Rome entirely. Rome offers layer on top of layer of history, reminding travelers that yes, it was not built in a day. Serving as a crossroads for Europe, most roads really do lead to Rome. Finally, most of us do embrace the Roman way of life when enchanted in the city, doing just as the Romans do when in Rome.