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There’s No Place like Rome

There's No Place like Rome

Rome is a city that requires no introduction. The name alone invokes images of leaf-crowned emperors, mythical gods and majestic architecture. Travel in Rome is an enveloping task as Rome is one of the largest and oldest cities in Western Europe, with every corner marked in meticulous detail. Italy’s capital city is largely a sightseeing extravaganza geared almost solely toward the tourist; consequently, you may want to venture to the outskirts of town to experience local life and hospitality (and cheaper prices).

Rome’s Vatican City: See the Holy See

Many are confused by the autonomous status of the Vatican; however, Vatican City is an enclave within Rome that functions independently as an ecclesiastic state with the Pope as head. It is comprised of Saint Peter’s Basilica, Saint Peter’s Square and the Vatican Museums. Saint Peter’s Basilica is the largest and arguably the most awe-inspiring church in Christianity’s history, covering 5.7 acres with a capacity of over 60,000. The famous dome (cupola) was constructed by Michelangelo, who remained the main architect for many years. To get an idea of the total magnificence, the Statue of Liberty can fit neatly inside the dome where the main altar sits. While inside the Vatican City walls, be sure to visit the Vatican Museums, which house an incredible collection from ancient Egypt to Ethnology.

From the Imperial Age to the Renaissance Era

The Eternal City, as Rome is appropriately known, stands fixed and timeless within history’s ever-moving corridors. Ancient Rome still stands proud in the form of the Coliseum, the ultimate symbol of gladiator-like prowess and community gathering. The Sistine Chapel, named after Pope Sixtus IV, speaks of the enlightened Renaissance era with the most famous ceiling in the world 1000 square meters painted by Michelangelo alone. For a comprehensive and detailed history of Rome, be sure not to miss the Capitoline Museum and the Galleria Borghese, a collection started by the Borghese family in 1600. For a look into government, visit the Palazzo Montecitorio. This grandiose palace built by Bernini around 1600 housed the courts of Rome until 1870, when it became the Lower House of Parliament. Nearby, the 15th century Palazzo Madama was once the powerful De Medici family’s residence and in 1871 became the House of the Italian Senate.

Rome is not all monuments and architecture. The city is dotted with splendid and elaborate parks, gardens and villas that are open to the public. The residences of many of Rome’s celebrated families, including the monstrous Villa Borghese, are wonderful escapes from Rome’s – of course beautiful – marble surroundings. Travel to Rome in the mild spring and autumn months but be prepared for the busloads of tourists, which make it almost more desirable to brave the hotter but quieter months of the summer. Centrally located on the Italian peninsula, Rome is also an excellent jumping point to explore the rest of this convivial country.