With so much to see in Rome, you could easily spend a week here, and still have more to do! But, we decided to make the most of a weekend in Rome and explore as many major sites as we could.
I can’t describe enough how fortunate I felt to visit here… multiple times! For many years, visiting Rome was just a dream; but now, it’s a dream come true!
Piazza Navona used to be a Roman stadium for chariot races. Now it’s one of the most famous piazzas in Rome, as people flock to the area to socialize, eat and drink, and see street art. It’s featured in Angels and Demons (spoiler alert… it’s when Tom Hanks saves the last Cardinal from drowning).
There is so much to see in this piazza: street performers, artists, eateries, fountains, and a lot of people strolling on through.
We then walked to the Pantheon, an incredible structure built in 126 AD. Its dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. It was much bigger than we expected it to be, and we were amazed at the architecture. The first time we went we were unable to go inside, as they were holding services, but we returned about a month later with my parents and were able to go inside this amazing building.
Before visiting the Colosseum, we walked around the Roman Forum and marveled at the remaining structures from over 2,000 years ago. We tried to picture the hustle and bustle with the ancient government buildings at work: elections taking place, people orating public speeches, criminal trials being held, and celebratory military processions taking place, among others.
We walked through the Circus Maximus, which was the site for chariot races during ancient times. Now it is a public park.
It’s hard to describe how I felt the first time I saw the Colosseum. This was probably the most exciting part of our weekend in Rome. Ever since I studied Ancient Roman civilization as a student (and then taught it to my own students), I’ve wanted to come here… and the Colosseum embodied that entire feeling for me.
The first time I saw this incredible structure, tears welled in my eyes. Jon wasn’t sure what was going on, but then laughed it off when he realized they were tears of happiness. In that moment, standing in front of the Colosseum, I was incredibly thankful for the amazing opportunity to visit all of these places.
The Colosseum is massive, and it was more impressive than any picture could have prepared me for! As we looked around we kept thinking, “How did they manage to build this without modern technology?” The answer, as it turns out, was 40,000 Jewish slaves… go figure.
We were astonished by its architecture and detailed design. For example, tiered seating provided different areas for different classes. The whole place could hold around 50,000 people. Each person had an entrance ticket, and each seat was numbered. Slaves had standing room up top.
Inside the center, there were two levels of tunnels and cages with 80 vertical shafts, elevators, and pulleys. This gave instant access to the arena for caged animals, scenery, and the gladiators. Although it’s gruesome to think about what happened here, it’s still pretty spectacular that this was even built!
What I find funny is that the whole city of Rome just goes about their business around this massive historical masterpiece, and they don’t think anything of it. It truly is a sight to be seen!
Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain
Next up during our weekend in Rome was the Spanish Steps, also known as Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti in Italian. This site consists of 138 steps connecting the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti at the top. It is the widest staircase in Europe! We spent some time here eating some gelato before dinner!
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world and is a striking piece of work! It stands about 85 feet high and 66 feet wide. The fountain was illuminated at night which gave it an aura of serenity and tranquility. We ended up coming back to the fountain several times over the course of two years because we found a delicious (and surprisingly untouristy) restaurant a block away from the site. Each time we visited the Trevi Fountain we tossed in coins to make our wishes!
Reflections on Rome
Rome is a city that I have wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. Our weekend in Rome was so exciting, I didn’t want it to end! Obviously, that meant that we had to return here – again and again. We made more trips to Rome on our own, and we were able to experience the city with many of our visitors. Each time provides a special and unique experience!