Hear about travel to Rome, Italy as the Amateur Traveler talks to Gary Arndt from Everything-Everywhere.com about travel to the eternal city.
Gary says, “If you’re with a bus tour, or on a cruise ship, you’re going to see the highlights of Rome and nothing wrong with that. But there is a lot of stuff in Rome. And I do mean, a lot, a lot of stuff. I mean, we’re talking 2500 years of history, layered on top of each other, with all sorts of stuff that’s really interesting that most people don’t even know is there. Most of these things that we’re going to talk about today, I’ve been to personally, because I’m kind of a geek about those things and when you visit, there’s nobody there. Some of the very best parts of Rome get no tourists because everyone’s going to the Colosseum and the Forum. They’re going to the Vatican. They’re going to the Trevi Fountain. If you’re in the slightest bit intellectually curious, but I’m assuming most of the people listening to this are, there’s some amazing things to see.”
We talk about some of the historic sites that people see like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Those are must-see spots for anyone interested in history but you really ought to do them with a guide so you know what you are looking at. For a better experience at the Colosseum take a VIP tour that let’s you go higher and lower and avoid the lines (Save 10% on a LivItaly tour in Italy using the code “chris”).
Don’t miss the Palatine Hill where Augustus had his imperial palace. That’s where our word palace comes from. Along the way, you’re going to walk past the Arch of Titus, which I think you should definitely look at, and actually look at the engravings on it. One of the things you’ll notice on the Arch of Titus is a large menorah because Titus was responsible for the sack of Jerusalem. And that was one of the treasures that they brought back for his triumph in Rome. If you’ve heard the expression, all roads lead to Rome, Well, technically, all roads lead to a sing spot in Rome which is the Milliarium Aureum. That spot is in the forum.
Gary recommends if you want to see the Vatican you should book a tour of the Vatican garden. Not many people do this. At the end of the tour, it ends at the museum and you don’t have to wait in line for the museum which is included in the admission price. He also suggests you don’t get there early. That’s when the tour busses arrive. Later in the day is a better time to avoid the crowds.
When you are at the Vatican did you know you can go all the way up to the very top of the dome of St. Peter’s? There is in fact, even a gift shop and a cafe on the roof of the Vatican of St. Peter’s. It’s an awkward walk because the walls are tilted because it’s a dome. If you want a fantastic view and photo of St. Peter square, that’s probably going to be one of your best places to get it. Also, you can take a tour below St. Peter’s to the area called the grotto. A lot of popes are buried there. This would have been the floor level for the Old St Peters. But, you can go deeper still on a special tour to the scavi which dates back to the first century. This is where you will find the grave that is likely that of St. Peter himself.
The other buried thing that a lot of people don’t get to see is Niro’s palace, the Domus Aurea, Nero built the was probably the biggest building in all of antiquity. It was enormous. You can get a tour of the palace which is still buried underground near the Colosseum. Or you can visit both Christian and Jewish catacombs under Rom. You can also visit the tomb of Emperor Augustus which was only opened recently.
We talk about some of the other significant churches in Rom like St. Paul’s Outside the Wall, St. Mary’s major, and St. John’s Lateran. Did you know you can also find the steps of Pontius Pilate’s Palace in Jerusalem which were moved to Rome?
Just outside of Rome is the old port city of Rome which is Ostia Antica. It has some well-preserved ruins that rival any in Rome and may only be surpassed by Pompei.
Another side trip that Gary recommends is the town of Tivoli. There are two places there that are both World Heritage Sites. Villa d’Este was the villa of a cardinal and Hadrian’s Villa was the villa of an emperor.
Rome is rich in history and culture. Consider spending a week or two just in Rome and in the area. You won’t run out of things to see.
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