The Colosseum is definitely one of Rome's main tourist attractions and is considered one of the 7 wonders of the world. It could hold 40,000 seated spectators (and another 10,000 standing), making it the largest theater in the entire Roman Empire. It was built between 72 and 80AD by the Flavian emperors, to whom it owes its original name: the Flavian Amphitheater. The name Colosseum comes from the gigantic Colossus of Nero statue nearby which, sadly, is not standing today. The Emperor Titus inaugurated the Colosseum during a celebration lasting 100 days.
The spectacles were meant to be a form of public entertainment. Admission was free and the cost of running the events was bore by the Empire. Seating was according to social class, with the aristocratic class seated near the front and lower classes in the higher seats. There were public executions, animal hunts, dramatic plays, and all kinds of gladiator battles.
The Colosseum is located in downtown Rome and is easily reached on the Via dei Fori Imperiali. You can also take the Metro line B and get off at the Colosseo station or by bus. I'd suggest getting tickets on Palatine Hill as these tickets include a visit to the Colosseum and the queues will definitely be shorter. Or, just simply get the Roma Pass.
The Trevi Fountain has its origins in the year 19BC when a freshwater spring was discovered, supposedly with the help of a Virgin. The discovery of this spring led Romans to build an aqueduct which, as was the tradition of the time, ended with a fountain. And so the Trevi Fountain was built.
The monumental fountain we admire today was built in the 18th century by an obscure character named Nicola Salvi. It took 30 years to built and ended up ruining Salvi's health. He died unable to undertake other projects and without seeing his beautiful fountain completed (the work was finished by Pietro Bracci). One of the Trevi Fountain's most outstanding features is the contrast between the fountain's overwhelming grandeur and its location amid narrow alleyways and tiny squares. It was intentionally designed to elicit a surprise from tourists, most of whom are no doubt deeply impressed when they come face to face with it.
What I want to talk about, though, are the statues: at the top, the papal shield stands between two winged figures playing trumpets. Below, there are sculptures representing the four seasons and the cyclical nature of time. On either side of the main figure, there are two reliefs that depict the story of Agrippa’s soldiers discovering the spring with a dowsing rod and Agrippa ordering the construction of the aqueduct.
Two other large statues tell of the benefits of this water: good health (the snake, still symbolic of pharmacies, was associated with Asclepius, the god of medicine), and the arrival of material goods (the cornucopia). Finally, Neptune is center-stage under a grand triumphal arch. The titan of the ocean brings to mind both Bernini and Michelangelo. On either side, winged sea horses dart furiously at onlookers.
It's truly impressive. You'll want to sit and stay for a while, transfixed by the fountain’s beauty.
For centuries, the Roman Forum was a marshy and unpleasant gully that the Romans used as a cemetery. The Etruscan kings finally drained it and the resulting space became used for public events. Walking through the forum is like being in a movie. You expect to see a victorious Caesar arriving through the triumphal arch to a cheering crowd. The Temple of Vesta, Trajan’s column, and the Mamertine Prison are also unforgettable.
On Sundays, they close the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the street which runs from the Forum to the Colosseum. Romans love to go for a walk in the area and it’s the perfect chance for tourists to explore and take photos of this amazing area without having to worry about the traffic. I’d recommend going on Sundays.
"Angelic and non-human design," was how Michelangelo described the Pantheon 14 centuries after its construction. The highlights are the gigantic dome, the upper eye, the sheer size of the place, and the harmony of the whole building. We visited with a Roman guide which is exactly how you should (or shouldn't) visit the city, especially since they talk too much and have lots and lots of history of each building.
And so we learned things like how the interior dome was filled with sand during construction. Or not, because it really is impossible to be sure of anything when one doesn't know Italian and the guide has a very thick Roman accent. But we loved the place, especially the entrance portico with its stout columns.
The Duomo of Milan is a famous Gothic cathedral that's a true symbol of this city. This impressively large temple, among the largest in the world, was built during many artistic eras but I'd like to make a special mention of its famous stained glass windows which bend the light in six colors, as well as its six naves and endless columns.
It is not known exactly who was responsible for their design and construction, but they stained glass windows of the Duomo are equally as famous as those of the Notre Dame de Paris and the Saint-Chapelle. When you go to Milan, be sure to observe the wonderful atmosphere they create!.
The pinnacles and spires that adorn the wonderful and colorful roof of Milan's Duomo are also incredibly beautiful. You can visit the roof and walk among the statues, gargoyles and decorative ornaments. The highest point of the exterior of the temple is the Madonnina, created by the sculptor Giuseppe Perego in 1774. The view of Milan from the roof is absolutely breathtaking!
This is an important historical landmark, situated in the Italian city of Florence (Tuscany). The Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge in Florence that was not destroyed during the occupation of Italy in World War II, which it is said is because of the orders given by Hitler. At the beginning of its existence, it connected the historical buildings on both sides of the river Arno, the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti. There were butchers shops which then had to leave in the year 1593 in order to increase the prestige of the bridge. Then jewelers and gold dealers set up their shops there, continuing this tradition until today. It is one of the most important place in Italy, because of its beauty and importance.
Without drawing attention away from the majesty of its dome, approaching the Duomo is even more exciting because we can quickly feel the vertigo of the high tower, solid and white, the delicacy of the Baptistery doors or the strength of the walls of the cathedral. It is always full of people, no matter the time of day. There is always a queue to climb the bell tower and admire the city of arts, the frescoes in the dome or the precious and colorful marble floor. Do not forget to admire the walls, tombs and Renaissance frescoes. But surely the mixture of marbles outside are what caught my attention, that unique combination that looks like paint but in actual fact is rock art. That is Florence.
To visit Venice in January is to discover another city different from that found on other occasions in July or August. Tourists (from myself included) inadvertently "spoil" the best views of the sites. If in summer the city is abuzz with activity, in winter it has a romantic touch that makes me like it even more, if possible. Getting lost in the alleys away from the sea of humanity, finding a niche with an carved image, a passageway under a building, or a hidden courtyard awaken in my mind an adventurous sensations which makes me like Venice most each time I visit. Also, you can get off the beaten track and mix it up with the inhabitants of the city and have drinks at places like "Al diavolo with l'Aquasanta" or "La Taberna do mori". You can go shopping stress-free, visit museums or palaces and get on and off the vaporettos at an unhurried pace. A real blast!
Venice is not a city that you can walk around in at night by the light of the street lamps. The city sleeps when the sun disappears, except near the Grand Canal and St. Marco's Square. In my opinion, there is nothing more romantic than to wander what Napoleon called "the most beautiful room of Europe": The Ducal Palace, the church of San Marco, the Campanile, and The Piazza of San Marco when the sun sets. When you finish your stroll, the perfect ending is to have a coffee or a cocktail at one of the cafes in the square. The most famous are the Quadri and Florian.
I don't know if it's a blemish on a city with so much beautiful art or if I should take it as another piece of history that's worth investigating. The emperor Hadrian decided that he wanted his remains buried in a garden that had long belonged to the imperial family and joined the garden to the land with a bridge known at the time as Elio. If you visit the interior, specifically the Treasure Room, you'll be in the heart of the mausoleum where the remains of the emperor were buried. Emperors continued to be buried there up until Caracalla, the last emperor to be buried there before the building was converted into a fortress. The building is shrouded in legends of treachery, political intrigues, and tunnels which connect with the Vatican, but the imposing exterior also hides an astonishingly delicate interior which breathes life into this place built to house death. All of this amazing history is found right there on the banks of the eternal Tiber.
The Piazza Navona is one of the most famous squares in Rome. It's located east of the river not far from the Vatican. This is where the Stadium of Domitian was located in ancient times and if you view the area from above, you can still imagine the circular form of the arena. The square itself is like a work of art, not only because of the sculptures and fountains but also due to the surrounding buildings. The ruins of the ancient arena are nearby and you can get a good idea of what the zone was like a thousand years ago.
Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is located at the center of the square along with the obelisk. The fountain represents the four great rivers of the world: the Rio de la Plata (the Americas), the Danube (Europe), the Nile (Africa), and the Ganges (Asia). It's one of the busiest squares in the city and is usually crowded with locals as well as street artists who come during spring and summer afternoons to paint and entertain the crowds of tourists. The Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone is another major landmark in the square. A popular Christmas market is held during the holiday season, but there is also a street market on weekends.
The area surrounding the square seems pretty exclusive judging by the spectacular homes and not-so-affordable cafes and restaurants in the area. That being said, having lunch on a terrace is a true pleasure, especially when the weather is nice. After lunch, have a stroll and see if you can figure out which fountain represents which river. It's during those moments that you realize how truly majestic this city is.
The essence of Rome's charm lies in its historic ruins and architecture, two facets of the Eternal City which continue to seduce and enchant thousands of visitors.
Aside from the city's imperial highlights, a certain Etruscan flavor can also be found in the charming Trastevere neighborhood. It is said to have once been the most popular part of the city and that Julius Caesar himself lived in one of its majestic gardened homes.
Trastevere is a paradise for city-explorers. If you like the walk the streets and soak in the old-fashioned atmosphere of traditional trattorias, then this district on the banks of the Tiber is for you. There's nothing better than having a good slice of pizza al taglio on a sunny terrace before heading off to sample some refreshing gelato.
You can also peruse the art galleries and second-hand clothes stores, but the best way to experience it is to sit down at a Roman table to delight the palate while enjoying the views of the area's beautiful basilicas.
There are two forms of tourism. One where you go and stay in the place for a while. In the second case, where the Erasmus students go and maybe aren´t rushed to visit everything and forget to see some things. There are places I visited, but lived experiences and places that were part of the environment, like sitting on the lawn of Pisa and improvising a meal from the supermarket. When you find a ball and play a game with the shadow of the Leaning Tower as arbitrator it is normal and when you go back home and see the photos you feel like you can lose yourself but you discovered all that isn´t shown in the tourist guides.
Being in Venice implies certain must-do activities, one of which is to visit the Rialto Bridge passing through the crowd of tourists who want to do the same as you. It's crucial to have patience and get there at the right time so that others too can enjoy the moment.
For me, one of the most beautiful views of Venice is the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge. You can see the canal from the Rialto bridge as well, but it's not the same. It has imposing buildings so full of history bring up memories of a past Venice which still persists. The charming palaces, the magical gondolas, and the whole unique environment of this city, have a very powerful effect when you are on the Accademia Bridge. You just can't stop looking and saying "wow!"
The Piazza del Popolo is one of the most famous squares in Rome and its name means "the People's Square." It’s located at the north gate of the Aurelian walls where the Porta Flaminia once marked the beginning of the Via Flaminia, the main northern road during Imperial times.
The square currently has a neoclassical look thanks to architect Giusseppe Valadier who redesigned it from 1811-1822. If you look at the square from the north, there are three main streets which sprout from the square in trident shape: Via del Corso in the center, Via del Babuino on the left, and the Via di Ripetta to the right. The twin churches of Santa María dei Miracoli (1681) and Santa Maria in Montesanto (1679), begun by Carlo Rainaldi and completed by Bernini and Carlo Fontana, mark the intersection of the streets.
But what really my caught my attention were the three fountains in the square, all designed by Giuseppe Valadier to represent the Goddess Rome with the Tiber and Aniene rivers and the God Neptune with two tridents. In the center, there's another group of four smaller fountains surrounding the Egyptian obelisk and its decorative lions.
Piazza di Spagna is one of the most famous squares in Rome. You can reach it by following the Via Due Maccelli. If you’re coming from the Trevi Fountain, go past the Column of the Immaculate Conception and you’ll find Bernini’s famous early-baroque fountain, the Fontana della Barcaccia. It is surrounded by the famous steps of the church of Santa Trinita dei Monte and the start of the Via dei Condotti. To the north, the Via del Babuino leads to the Piazza del Popolo. It is a magical place and always packed with crowds of people from all over the world.
For me, this is the most impressive arch in Rome. It's located on a road between Caelian Hill and Palatine Hill where they once celebrated victory marches. It's 21 meters high, 26 meters wide, and more than 7 meters thick. It was built in 315AD to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the reign of Constantine and his victory over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312AD. A restoration took place in 1804 and it is now decorated with medallions.
Constantine I is considered to be the first Christian Emperor since he converted to Christianity on his deathbed. This arch, however, makes no reference to this. The bottom of the arch is built from blocks of marble and the upper part is brick with marble trim. As far as the decoration goes, it's in accordance with other monuments of the time: Flavian columns, sculptures of Trajan, and roundels of Adrian. There are also reliefs of Constantine and a very detailed depiction of the battle.