A few days ago, my flight landed in Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome, where I started my trip. In the hotel, the receptionist advised me to take the metro to Termini station, central Rome, to have a walk. The beautiful architecture of the buildings and the cobble stone streets all leading to grandiose statues made it felt like I was in an open-air museum. I couldn’t help but feel like I was still in Egypt, as the Italians were so similar to the Egyptians.
Interestingly enough, the architectural style in Rome is similar to Egypt’s, seeing that ancient Egyptians influenced the architecture made by the Romans. Arches used thousands of years ago in tombs and utilitarian buildings gave way to a more mainstream usage in Rome with its popularity in state buildings. Even though it was borrowed by the Romans, they perfected with the usage of sturdier building material.
Rome has a special place in the heart and the memory of Egyptians as many famous films were shot in the amazing city, featuring a lot of its touristic attractions. In this article, I will highlight the most important tourist attractions in Rome, where to shop, and how to make the most of your trip. Here is a list of top Roman landmarks, and keep in mind that you can go to all these places on foot. I found that the saying “all roads lead to Rome” is even more relevant in the city.
Whenever you tell someone that you’re going to Rome, the first thing he would tell you is to visit the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin into it to make a wish. The coin throwing will be familiar to the Egyptians as the comedy film Antar Shayel Seifo (Antar is carrying his Sword) starring Adel Emam had a famous scene at the fountain.
I went to the fountain and threw a coin into it wishing that my dream come true one day. Then I took the metro and stopped at Cavour station on line B. Turns out the fountain was very crowded as many foreigners and Italians were also throwing coins into the fountain.
I wondered about the story behind this tradition
. It all started in the 1954 film Three Coins in the Fountain. The theme of the film goes like this, if you throw one coin into the fountain, you will return to Rome. If you throw two coins, you will fall in love with an attractive Italian. If you throw three coins, you will marry the very same person.
In order for this to work, you should throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.
It may seem like a joke to attract tourists, but hundreds of millions of visitors actually flock to this amazing landmark every year to throw a coin and make a wish. Rome’s city workers used to sweep the fountain’s floor every night to collect the day’s loot, as the fountain fills up so quickly with coins.
Rome collected $1.5m from the fountain in 2016, according to NBC News. The Italian government decided to send this money to Caritas, a Catholic non-profit organisation, that supports causes around the world related to health, disaster relief, poverty, and migration.
The Trevi Fountain is really one of the most beautiful fountains in Rome, and is considered the largest one in the city, having a width of 20 metres and a height of 26 metres. Even if you visit the fountain late night, you will find it lit and crowded.
Piazza di Spagna & Spanish Steps
A 10-minute walk from the fountain while eating ice cream, I found myself at the Spanish Steps. It’s a great place to just sit down and enjoy the weather and views of the city.
While I was sitting on the steps, I found that the police approached tourists and said that sitting is forbidden, but even if you stand on the steps you will enjoy the view.
The place has 135 steps positioned in a mix of curves, straight flights, vistas, and terraces. They connect the lower Piazza di Spagna, the upper Piazza Trinita dei Monti, and Trinità dei Monti Church. An Italian living next to the Spanish Steps told me that every July the square and the 135 steps are decorated to receive the Donne Sotto le Stelle fashion show.
I continued walking for about 25 minutes to find myself standing in front of a building where a lot of people were taking photos of it. There were also street artists holding shows in front of it.
I started asking around to know what the building is. I found it’s the Pantheon, a former Roman temple turned church. The building looks cylindrical with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky.
It is one of the best-preserved building from Ancient Rome. It has been in continuous use throughout its history and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been turned into a church dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs, but informally known as Santa Maria Rotonda.
When I entered the place, I found it contains the tombs of numerous Italian kings and a multitude of art works. Renaissance painter and architect Raphael is among those buried in the Pantheon.
One of the places that I heard about before arriving to Rome is the Colosseum, which is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Colosseum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, and certainly one of the most distinctive symbols of the Roman Empire. I advise everyone visiting Italy for the first time to go to the Colosseum, but you should book a ticket online to skip the long line.
I knew what the building looked like even before seeing it since the image of the Colosseum was printed on the five-cent coin, but I was also amazed by how huge it is.
The first thing that come to mind when entering this huge square was that it was used during the Roman Empire. The tour guide who accompanied me there said this was used as a fight ring for gladiators, mass competitions, and animal hunting. It’s is known among tourists around the world as one of the seven new wonders of the world in 2007.
The Colosseum is 186 metres long and takes an oval shape. While the building’s outer wall rises 57 metres and was made from marble and installed with iron clips, while the interior was designed with extreme precision that allows everyone to watch the performances and sports that take place in the middle of the square.
If you want to take a wide photo of the Colosseum from the outside, you can find a rock that you can stand on to take a photo similar to the Windows desktop picture. And if you want to take a high angle photo, you can go upstairs to the fourth or third floors.
When I was looking at the photos I’ve taken, I found that part of the wall looked torn down. When I asked about what happened, I found that it was the result of a violent earthquake back in the Middle Ages.
About a 15-minute walk from the Colosseum, I found myself walking on a bridge that looks over a river. It’s called the River Tiber. It’s the main river that runs through Rome. At each bridge, you will find stairs that lead down to the path to stand next to the water.
It is the third longest river in Italy, after the Adige and the Po rivers. The Tiber runs about 250 miles and varies between 7 and 20 feet deep.
It is a meandering river that surrounds the Italian capital’s most famous hills, in which dozens of bridges connect its banks in the most beautiful and romantic way.
The Tiber was crucial to Ancient Rome’s economy, as it was used for transporting goods across the city. Criminals, at the time, were punished by throwing them in the river.
After returning to the hotel, I asked about how to go to the Vatican City, they told me that I have to book my ticket in advance online. Through the online booking, you can choose the day and the time you want to visit the Vatican.
I took the metro for about 40 minutes from Laurentina, where I was staying, to Cipro station on line A, which is the nearest station to the Vatican City.
I was amazed by how beautiful everything is in this independent city, and how seamlessly beautiful my photos came out. This city is located in the heart of Rome, and ruled by the Pope (Bishop of Rome). It is the centre of authority over the Roman Catholic Church. Whatever your religion is, you will be excited to visit this amazing city, as the Pope lives there in the Apostolic palace surrounded by beautiful gardens.
I began with visiting the Vatican museums, taking a sound map from the information centre for €12. It was very helpful. Instead of a tour guide, you use the map and choose the number associated with the landmark and listen to the audio.
There are around 20 museums in the Vatican, but what was surprising for me was the Egyptian Museum there. I began with the Egyptian Museum and found some impressive Egyptian sculptures, besides the prized sarcophagi from the third century B.C. There are also some black basalt statues originating from the Villa Adriana, which are replicas of Egyptian models. I then went to the Pio-Clementino Museum, which contains the most important Greek works in the Vatican. I also went to the Ethnological Missionary Museum, which contains art works from papal missions from all over the world, with objects originating from Tibet, Indonesia, India, the Far East, Africa, and America.
I was amazed by the beauty of maps painted in fresco on the walls of the galleries, some depicting maps of various regions around Italy.
In the Historical Museum – Carriage Pavilion, I went back in time, finding myself among the coaches, saddles, cars, and even the Vatican City’s first locomotive.
I also enjoyed the collection of Christian antiquities including statues, sarcophagi, and archaeological ruins from the sixth century in the Pio-Christian Museum. I entered every museum and was amazed by how beautiful everything is.
I made it to Saint Peter’s Square, which is one of the largest and most beautiful squares in the world. It is located in Vatican City, at the feet of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Vatican is the smallest state in Europe with a total area of 0.44 square metres. The city’s population is approximately 1,000 people.
How to save money and enjoy your trip in Rome?
After finishing my trip, which I very much enjoyed, I found that it is a must to write some tips for other visitors who are going to visit Rome later on.
First of all, try as much as you can to book your flight tickets and hotel earlier to enjoy the cheapest airlines tickets and hotels.
Also, try to book your accommodation somewhere in the centre of Rome, preferably next to Termini square to avoid transportation fees, as you can move easily on foot. But if you are staying somewhere far from the centre, you’ll need to take public transportation or taxis.
The first thing to do when entering the airport is to buy Rome pass card from the information centre at the airport, which is a card for tourists that provides reduced price tickets to major tourist attractions in the city and provide unlimited use of all public transportations for two or three days, depending on the card you purchase. The two-day card costs €28 and the three-day card is €38.5.
The Italian cuisine is popular for its amazing pasta and pizzas, so of course you should try the pasta, and the pizza as well as the home made ice-creams, but try to eat in places that are not tourist restaurants. There are more than enough cheap pizzerias that sell by weight.
Of course, when visiting any country you will love to buy Souvenirs and gifts from the country, try not to buy from sellers in the squares of touristic attractions since they are more often than not more expensive than in the centre of the city.
As for shopping, Castel Romano mall will be the best option for buying fancy clothes at low prices. You can go there by bus from Termini in the centre of Rome for €10. If you take a taxi, it will cost you €35 from Laurentina to the mall.
For Italian made goods, your best bet is to go to small shops and boutiques in Termini and around the city.