The Saturday City: Rome

Rome. The cradle of the West. The center of power for centuries. Birthplace of Caesar. Home to the Catholic Church. A city steeped in 3,000 years of history. All around the world, everyone knows Rome. Saying the name conjures up images of the old, the new, religion, food, romance, and Tom Hanks trying to crack the Da Vinci code.

I was excited to visit Rome. My visit was supposed to last three days, but turned into a solid week. I fell in love with Rome. Despite all the tourists and tour groups that roam the city, the ungodly crowds, and the congestion, nothing could take away from the beauty of Rome. Rome is Rome…it doesn’t need to be anything else. The name alone conveys everything, and it’s easy to see why everyone loves this city.

Nothing I could write about Rome could do it justice. Its beauty and elegance has been described by far better writers and poets than I. So rather than talk about the beauty of Rome, I’m going to show it to you.

A Walking Tour of Rome
I started downtown where most of the ruins are located. There, you can explore the ancient ruins built by Julius and Augustus Caesar as they expanded the Roman Empire.

the roman forum

Cross the street and wander through the ancient Roman Forum, the seat of Roman power. There are a ton of ruins here, and sitting down amongst them was a humbling experience. Someone thousands of years ago sat in this exact spot, watching Senators and Caesars go past.

more of the roman forum

And then head to Palatine Hill, where the kings, Caesars, and aristocrats of Rome lived.

palatine hill in ancient rome

Then cross the street and gaze at the Colosseum. It was an unbelievable site to behold. Massive and beautiful.

colosseum in rome italy

Head west, through the Circus Maximus, and across the river Tiber. There, you can wander through Trastevere, a local area that few tourists see. It was my favorite section of the city – small cobble-lined streets, tiny squares, great restaurants, and not many tourists.


From there, head north to the Vatican, the center of the Catholic Church. There, you can check out the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the tombs of the popes.

the vatican in rome

From there, head back east, across the river, to explore more of Rome.

a bridge over the river tiber

Walk through the Piazza Navarro and to the Spanish Steps for some good people watching.

spanish steps

Continue south, past the Parthenon, to the Trevi Fountain. Make your way through the crowds and follow tradition by turning around and throwing a coin in for good luck.

trevi fountain

Then finish at this monument, built in the Roman style, to honor Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of a united Italy. It’s big and gaudy, but it’s still beautiful.

the altar of the fatherland (aka the typewriter) in rome

Rome is an amazing city. It wasn’t built in a day, and there’s more to do there than my little blog post can handle. In fact, there’s more to do there than you can fit in during a single short trip. It would take years to see the whole city… but I’m up for the challenge, are you?

  1. Anthony

    Rome has its sights, but it is one I’ll pass if ever in Italy again. It was/is very dirty and at least the people we encountered, rude. Nothing like getting kicked off a bus for no reason! Nice photos though.

  2. Nomadic Matt

    @Anthony: Many of the Romans I met where quite nice but I have heard that from other travelers.

    I’m glad you liked the photos though.

  3. Christine Gilbert

    I love Rome. Who said they didn’t like Rome!!

    Anthony, you’re crazy!

    Matt, didn’t you think it was crazy how the Trevi Fountain is behind some buildings? We walked down this side alley, and there it is, on the the back side of these buildings with a throng of tourists packed around it. That was one of the unexpected things about Rome for me… it’s like this city built upon a city. I really didn’t expect a four lane highway going around the colleseum… Great city though, love it. In one minute you’re dodging vespas, the next your in this quaint alley with clothes hanging between the buildings and someone riding a bicycle with a bottle of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

  4. Gypsy Princess

    I loved Rome too, but like Anthony I don’t know if I will ever go back. I love the rest of Italy so much more, Como and the Alps being my favorite part of Italy.

    But that was an awesome post. :-)

  5. laradunston

    Anthony, I’d love to hear more about your encounter of that bus that turned you off Rome… it must have been some terrible miscommunication. Rome is one of my favorite cities and I’ve been a number of times and each time fall more and more in love with it. I have never found Romans to be rude – in fact they are extraordinarily polite generally, but this last trip (last month) I did detect a certain frustration and detachment that I also find with Parisians, and I think like Parisians they’re perhaps a bit tired of the hoards of tourists…?

    Matt, great post! Thanks for link (very sweet) and thanks for the visual “walking tour” – took me back, way back to last month :)
    Are you still in Rome? If so, you really must try out one of the Contexts walks I posted about. I really think you’d love them. They’re inexpensive and the guides are amazingly knowledgeable as well as just being nice people. If you call the office talk to Petulia or Jessica and tell them I sent you! :)

  6. Nomadic Matt

    @Christine: Yeah! I did find it funny that you just come upon the Trevi Fountain…it just comes out of nowhere.

    @Lara: You are welcome. I’m just acknowledging what is true!! I am not in Rome. I was just writing about my time there. I’d like to get back to Italy sometime soon but there’s just too many places to see.

  7. Carrie

    Great photos Matt. I enjoyed this photo essay and would love to see more.

    On another note, do you have an RSS feed going for this site? I’ve been trying to pick you up for weeks and haven’t had any success. :-( I’d like daily access please!! :-)

  8. Carrie

    Oops. My bad. Your feed wasn’t coming up with my Flock browser. This makes Carrie a lazy girl! So sorry. I subscribed manually and now I’m updated. Sorry for the confusion.

  9. Cuckoo

    Well, I went to Rome before I read the novel Da Vinci Code. I don’t agree with Anthony here. Romans are generally nice. It all depends which country/city are you comparing with. We were warned beforehand, so our expectations weren’t broken. Come to India, you’ll find both very nice & very cheat people.

  10. Billigflug Jamaika

    Very nice pictures, Matt. I love Rome, because it keeped its imperial flair. What I most like is that on the on side you got traffic and big city trouble and when you go downstairs you are in a beautiful park with no noise at all. WONDERFULL!

  11. Monna

    Lovely format for this post… I really enjoyed the tour. I remember when I first saw the Coliseum, I thought I would squeal right out loud. Thanks for the memories!

    I would certainly go back to Rome but Florence and the Cinque Terre are at the VERY top of my list of Italian destinations.

  12. Sue

    It is strange how we all prefer different places. My favorite city in all of Italy is Rome. I live near Florence, have visited most of the major cities, but I return to Rome again and again because of the excitement I feel when I am there. I continue to explore new areas, new churches, and new ruins (i.e., all old, but new to me). There are always new festivals (i.e., old festivals but new to me). Where else can you stand in a piazza and witness a new pope being elected? Where else can you go and be in the audience when the old pope announces he is stepping down? Where else can you see the tomb of a recently deceased pope? Only in Rome can you do all of this. It is an ancient city, but there is always something new to see.

  13. Jim Griglak

    Below one photo you said go past the Parthenon to the Trevi fountain. I think you meant Pantheon unless they moved the Parthenon to Rome.

Leave a Comment