|View of Vatican City from Castel Sant'Angelo|
There are many reasons to put a trip to Rome on the top of your list. There are so many familiar sights that need to be experienced in person, such as the Colosseum, Ancient Rome, and the Pantheon. The Vatican, technically a separate sovereign city-state, is an increasingly familiar sight as it has been in the news so much lately because of the newly elected Pope Francis. Rome is incredibly easy to navigate, with many sights within walking distance, and with beautiful architecture, statues, and fountains around every corner. Plus Rome is frequently a destination featured in flight deals.
Other must-sees, of course, are the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. Booking tickets of any type for the Vatican Museums ahead of time is a huge time saver. The line to enter the museums is always long and can even take hours. However, if you have purchased your tickets in advance online, you can enter immediately, bypassing the long lines. If you visit the museums before the basilica, you can take advantage of a shortcut by finishing your tour of the museums in the Sistine Chapel and exiting the Sistine Chapel through the door at the back right which leads you directly into the basilica, allowing you to avoid a second long line. Be sure to dress appropriately when visiting St. Peter’s; no shorts, skirts above the knee, or bare shoulders. We took a morning tour of the Vatican Gardens. The Vatican Gardens are expansive, lush and colorful. You will see views of St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel which cannot be seen elsewhere, and the Vatican helipad. The Vatican Garden tour includes admission to the museums. Another fantastic way to visit the museums is in the evening during Night Openings. During certain parts of the year, the museums are open one night a week in the evening from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Because booking online is mandatory, not only are you able to enter immediately, there are also far fewer crowds, allowing better enjoyment of the museums. A visit to Castel Sant’Angelo can be combined with a visit to Vatican City, and is also covered by the Roma Pass.
|Ponte Sant'Angelo on the Tiber River|
Another fantastic place we visited was the beautiful Colonna Palace and Gallery, a private palace with lavishly decorated rooms, including the mirrored Great Hall with frescoed ceilings and a cannonball embedded in the staircase. There are only a few rooms open to the public, and it is only open for four hours on Saturdays, but is definitely worth a visit. On the same day we visited the Palazzo Doria Phamphilj, another palace with extravagant rooms. After the two palaces we headed to the Pantheon, strolled through the Piazza Navona and visited the Palazzo Altemps (covered by the Roma Pass) as well as the extensive Capitoline Museum (also covered by the Roma Pass).
|Michelangelo's Moses, San Pietro in Vincoli|
|Romeo and Er Buchetto Owner Franco Fioravanti|
When choosing a hotel for your visit to Rome, find one that is centrally located. There are many hotels that are reasonably priced that are outside of Rome’s center. While they may seem like a good deal, and may even offer shuttles, you will waste too much time traveling back and forth, and you will be relegated to dining in the hotel restaurant instead of experiencing the wealth of food in the city. We stayed at the Picasso Hotel in the Rione Monti district, which is near excellent food and only a 20 minute walk to the Colosseum. It also cost about 110 Euro per night at a fairly popular time of year, with breakfast included.