Ancient and Modern Rome

By David Smith

 You are in the Eternal City and hope to make use of your time effectively while on vacation. What should you do? Here are a few suggestions:

Ara Pacis/Alter of Peace

Ara Pacis

Consecrated by Augustus in 13 BCE, the Alter of Peace displays excellent examples of Roman relief art. It is a peaceful location and well worth a visit.

National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art

Though not typically a site in which tourists would visit in Rome, the museum holds a variety of art pieces painted by contemporary artists. There are also a variety of exhibits that feature works from the 19th century.

The Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel

The Vatican Museum is one of Rome’s most visited tourist destinations. Though at first many people would at first think twice about waiting in three-hour lines, the wait is worth it. If you book days ahead on the Vatican Museum’s website, it is an extra four Euros to skip the long line. Another good way to not have a long wait is to join a tour group from a nearby travel agency.

A Trip to the Pantheon

The Pantheon is arguably one of the most well-preserved examples of Roman architecture. Upon your entry into the Pantheon, you understand how the structure captivated great minds such as Thomas Jefferson. You will also develop an understanding of how the Romans were in many ways ahead of their time.

Roman Forum, Colosseum and Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum, Colosseum and Palatine Hill are all must-see sites for tourists in Rome. The Roman Forum includes legendary sites such the Arch of Titus and the Temple of Julius Caesar (The location where he was cremated after his assassination).

The Capitoline Hill Museums

Located on the Capitoline Hill (one of Rome’s original seven hills), the Capitoline Museums were created by donations of art and relics from Pope Sixtus IV in 1471. The museum became open to all members of the public in 1734. The Capitoline Museums are among the oldest set of museums in the world.

A Papal Audience- Tickets are Free (Book a Day in Advance and Come Three Hours Early for a Good Seat)

Held every Wednesday when the Pope is in Rome, a papal audience is a life changing experience. 

The Aurelian Walls

Though the Romans were known for their expansion campaigns, in the waning years of the empire emperors ordered the construction of great walls. A visit to the Aurelian Walls is an excellent example of Roman defensive structures.

Baths of Caracalla

Another favorite of mine, the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla allows visitors to see how extensive Roman baths were in the time of the Roman Empire. There are also excellent examples of Roman floors throughout the site.

Castel Sant Angelo

Photo from Italy Museum News

Once a mausoleum to Emperor Hadrian and his family, the building is now a museum.

Ostia Antica

An impressively preserved port city. Ostia Antica will allow you to have a deeper understanding of Roman life with its wealth of ruins.

Trevi Fountain

One of the most recognizable sites in Rome, Trevi Fountain is a must see by all visitors to Rome. Don’t forget to toss a coin and make a wish.