August 31

One Weekend in Rome – The Sights You Can’t Afford to Miss


Rome has so many attractions – how can you see them all in one weekend break? You can’t. And that’s why you need to focus…

The problem with Rome is that it’s so beautiful, so busy and so completely dripping with history that people get carried away. It’s so difficult to narrow down Rome’s highlights that guides squeeze in an extra one, or two, or three…but then feel guilty for leaving something else off…and add another back in.

I’m going to be strong. If you only have one weekend in Rome, then these are the absolute essentials. Otherwise, you reach the end of your 48 hours disappointed that you missed something crucial, like…

The Colosseum, By stuckincustoms
The Colosseum, By stuckincustoms

1) The Colosseum

After almost 2000 years, the largest amphitheatre in the entire Roman Empire still stands (mostly). Through its sweeping oval curves and cascading tiers of arches, the colosseum demonstrates the might – and the intimidation – that was ancient Rome. Walk where gladiators once did during the day and then drive past at sunset, to see this beautiful menace illuminated against the sky.

2) The Sistine Chapel

The hand of God stretching out to infuse life into Adam must be one of the most well-known images in both the world of art – and the world of souvenir shops. Created by Michelangelo on the ceiling of a private papal chapel, this masterpiece has earned its convoluted queues and waiting times. Happily, while waiting, you shuffle through the opulent corridors of the Vatican Museum, allowing you a brief glimpse into the immense collections of art and wealth gathered by the Catholic Church.

Creation of Adam, The Sistine Chapel
Creation of Adam, The Sistine Chapel

To see the entire fresco come to life above your head is an unforgettable experience, far more rewarding – in my opinion – than the Mona Lisa in Paris.

3) St Peter’s Basilica

The church that, according to tradition, marked the grave of St Peter has grown over the centuries into a resplendent monument that seats over 60 000 people for a single service. Sunshine slants through its magnificent dome onto the panelled marble floor with absolute radiance – a spectacle that reminds you once again of the extraordinary influence that this corner of the world continues to exert.

4) The Pantheon

The Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon - By j*photog

Those columns and those chiselled letters define the image of ancient Rome – at least in my head from the storybooks I read as a child. Inside this exalted tomb, you can find some cool relief from the hot, traffic-logged streets and admire the graceful elegance that has survived through 20 centuries.

There, that’s it. That’s my list of essentials.

Once you’ve seen those, relax and feel free to throw a coin in the Trevi fountain for luck, drift past the Spanish steps or simply relax in one of the many sunlit piazzas.

Rome has plenty to offer for a weekend city break. So much, in fact, that you may decide to come back for another weekend in Rome…

Click to see more photos of Rome


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  1. Beth suggested I visit and since I’m off to Rome in a couple of weeks this is very helpful. Any thoughts on Florence/Pisa as well?

  2. Everything was reasonably walkable in Rome but to get around more quickly we hired some bikes. Wouldn’t recommend cycling everywhere because of the mad, car horn happy Italian drivers, but riding a bike along the river and up to the Vatican definitely provided a different perspective. It was reasonably cheap and lots of people looked mighty jealous! The Trastevere district was cool for the evenings – some bits looked a bit dodgy but I sort of liked that aboout it. I feel I’m missing something in a city if I only see other people who look a bit like me wandering about.

    1. What a fantastic idea. I walked all around Rome – and had the blisters to prove it.

      Of course, the safety part of me would leap in here and mention bike helmets. Perhaps not Italian cool – but then neither is brain damage.

      Right, off my soapbox now…

  3. After a day of sightseeing, La Vineria in Campo de Fiori is absolutely brilliant for a well deserved glass of wine. Its in a great location to soak up the ambience (and the vino).

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