Rome Things to Do Tips by breughel Top 5 Page for this destination
Rome Things to Do: 5,371 reviews and 10,156 photos
San Paolo fuori le Mura - Nave.
On a rainy winter day I took the opportunity to visit this major basilica which I had not seen during my previous stays in Rome. I knew that the basilica of St Paul had been entirely rebuilt after the fire of 1823, and thus expected to see a somewhat banal remake, during the 19th century, of the original church. I was mistaken and much amazed when I discovered this architectural wonder.
I entered by the large transept at the Via Ostensie near the clock tower and already in this part of the Basilica I got lost in admiration looking up at the coffered ceiling with his blazons of the popes.
When I arrived in the middle of the transept I could discover in the darkness the immense nave divided into five aisles by 80 imposing monolithic columns made of granite.
The Basilica of Saint-Paul is imposing by the force of its proportions and the relative simplicity of its decoration. It preserved the plans of a Roman Empire basilica since it was built on order of the emperor Constantine in the 4th century.
I found a drawing showing how the Basilica looked after the fire of 1823. Actually the "Ciborio" above the Tomb of St Paul was preserved from the destruction.
The frontage is preceded by a large atrium surrounded by colonnades. This part dates from the 19th and 20th C.
The cloister, on the right of the transept, is remarkable by the elegance of the small columns of various forms decorated with pieces of marble and gildings.
During my visit in 2012 I saw that since my first visit in 2007 the Basilica has increased its services to visitors: book and souvenirs shops, large toilets, and cafeteria
Open 7 - 18 h. Free entrance.
Address: Via Ostiense 190
Directions: The Basilica is at only 200 m from the metro B station "Basilica S. Paolo".
San Paolo - tombstone
If the basilica is so sumptuous, and this since the 4th c., it is by no doubt because the Apostle Paul, in fact the number two of the Church, is buried here.
It was under Nero, around 64, that the decapitated Apostle Paul - he had this privilege being a Roman citizen - was buried along the Via Ostiense leading to the port of Ostia.
According to the uses in Rome people were buried along the roads leaving the city; the best known example to-day being the tombs along the Via Appia Antica.
Presently the shrine of St Paul is located at the junction of the nave and transept under the "ciborium". The pilgrims go down there by a double staircase. The tomb of the Apostle Paul is hidden behind a grid under a marble flagstone from the 4th c.
A reproduction of this marble flagstone is visible with the details in the small museum which is next to the sacristy.
The stone on which is written “PAULO APOSTOLIMART” is about 2,10 x 1,30 m and placed 4,50 m above the actual sarcophagus of the Saint. The largest hole in the stone is used to descend a censer in the tomb. By the other two smaller holes pilgrims would introduce objects in the tomb which were then kept for worship.
Carbon dating tests (June 2009) on bone fragments found inside the sarcophagus confirmed that they date from the first or second century.
Interesting are also the wooden statues from the 14th c. which decorate the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament on the left of the apse.
The Basilica has increased its services to visitors and pilgrims: book and souvenirs shops, large toilets, and cafeteria.
Navona - renovation of the fountain 2007-08.
Piazza Navona is my preferred square in Rome but at the time of my visit in December 2007 I felt extremely disappointed by the way she looked.
First of all the large central fountain “Fontana dei Fiumi” of Bernin was in restoration. This marvellous fountain was hidden behind panels with some glazed openings. The unhappy tourist could only see some sculptures supported by scaffolding.
Since the summer of 2008 the marvellous central fountain is again visible, a great relief for those who love this piazza like me and were disappointed by what they saw.
My disappointment did not stop there, in December the beautiful perspective of the Piazza Navona is destroyed by fairground stalls mixing a fun fair and a kind of Christmas market without anything of the charm of the Christmas markets of Germany or Alsace.
Don't expect to sit at the nice terraces of the cafes or restaurants; they look at the back of the shacks.
On a sunny Sunday in February 2008 I came back with my wife. The last time she had been on the Piazza Navona was in the early nineties. Although the December fairground was gone she also felt very disappointed. She discovered in the sixties what was once a so romantic piazza. Now all romantic has gone at Piazza Navona and has left room for a commercial market.
Of course this is a personal totally subjective appreciation of persons who have seen this piazza before the great tourist invasion. I'm sure that most first visitors love the present lively Piazza Navona. Elder visitors have found other, still hidden, romantic places in Rome.
Note - May 2008.
From comments received from much younger people than myself (so not influenced by romantic souvenirs of thirty or forty years ago) my disappointment appears to be shared not only because of the works at the main fountain but also because of the somewhat "seedy" aspect of the piazza.
It seems to me that it is vain trying to describe here a place like the Forum when a well-known guide such as the “Michelin Rome” devotes ten tight pages to it! Best thing to do is to walk around, look in all directions, stop here and there to consult the guide book to find out to what corresponds such section of wall, such columns or ruin. I call that "humer l'air antique" sniff the air of the antic Rome.
My favoured walk starts on the height of the Capitole, then descends the staircases towards Via Sacra and joins the Coliseum. The return is even more spectacular with its superb sights on the Capitol with the back of the Vittoriano monument.
What strikes the visitor is the cluttering of this forum by all sorts of constructions. Already during the five centuries of the Roman Republic this place overflowed of administrative, legal, commercial and religious buildings. From this period not much remains.
It is under the Empire that the Forum fills up with temples, basilica, and triumphal arches dedicated to the emperors of which we see now some vestiges. This glorious period stops with the barbarian invasions of the beginning of 5th c. after J-C.
Rome becomes then the city of the Popes and the imperial buildings are transformed into churches. From the 9th century on the buildings on the forum start to collapse or are stripped off their ancient ornaments. The deserted forum becomes a sewage farm and cows feed on the meadows. During the 16th century the old forum is used as career for the construction of other buildings, of which the St-Peter Basilica!
Finally towards 1800 start systematic excavations by Carlo Fea who are continued during two centuries. It is only in the 20th century that the topography of the heart of ancient Rome is reconstituted such as the tourist discovers it today.
TICKETS FOR THE FORO ROMANO + COLLOSSEO + PALATINO at 12 € (full price) have to be bought at the ticket offices (biglietterie) largo Salara Vecchia or Via di S. Gregorio 30.
Price combined ticket (2013): normal 12 €; reduced 7,50 € for EU citizens between 18 and 24 years. Valid 2 days .
The combined ticket can be bought on-line at http://www.coopculture.it/en/ticket with a reservation fee of 2 € for print home ticket.
Free for EU citizens under 18 or more than 65 years.
Open all days from 08.30 H till 1 hour before sunset.
Closing times in 2013:
02/01 - 15/02 = 16.30 h
16/02 - 15/03 = 17.00 h
16/03 - 30/03 = 17.30 h
31/03 - 31/08 = 19.15 h
01/09 - 30/09 = 19.00 h
01/10 - 26/10 = 18.30 h
27/10 - 31/12 = 16.30 h
Attention: closed on 1/01 and 25/12 !
The ticket office closes 1 hour before above times.
Palatino - terrasse with views
The best and the most romantic way of discovering the Forum is to climb on the Palatine Hill by the entry located Via di San Gregorio 30, close to Porta Capena. The visit begins thus with the vestiges of the thermal baths of Settimo Severo at the South-eastern angle of the Palatine.
The entry of Palatine is to be paid for but it gives right to a combined entry to the Coliseum and the Foro Romano and avoids consequently the long lines at the Coliseum which can be joined by going down towards the Arc of Titus and the Via Sacra.
It is on the Palatine that Rome was born with Romulus in the 8th century before J-C, it is there that Cicero lived under the Republic and it is still on this hill that the emperors August, Tiber, Domitian had their residence. Excavations started in the 18th century and are still going on; they made it possible to discover the palaces Domus Augustana, Domus Flavia, Casa di Livia as well as temples of Cibele and Apollo and a stadium.
One needs some imagination to evoke the splendour of this site of the time of the Empire but the place is quiet and shaded by beautiful trees of which the famous romantic umbrella pines.
While moving towards North one reaches the Farnese gardens with a terrace from where one has an extraordinary view downwards on the Foro Romano. It is really a unique sight which no tourist, no photographer could ignore being in Rome.
Open all days from 08.30 till 1 hour before sunset.
Attention: closed on 1/01 and 25/12 !
The ticket offices close 1 hour before above times.
Tickets available at the "biglietterie" Largo Salaria Vecchia and Via di San Gregorio, 30 (also the ticket offices of the Forum and the Coliseum as the ticket is a combined one).
Price combined ticket: normal 12 €; reduced 7,50 € for EU citizens between 18 and 24 years old.
Free for EU citizens less than 18 or 65 years old.
The most visited museum of Rome is also the one with the longest lines and crowds.
(That's why I wrote tips like: "Worthwhile?" and suggested alternatives when lines are extremely long).
The VATICAN MUSEUM and TICKET OFFICE is OPEN from 09.00 h to 16.00 h from Monday to Saturday. The museum closes at 18.00 h.
CLOSED on Sundays except last Sunday of every month, (free entrance from 09.00 to 12.30 h, closure at 14.00 h. Very long lines!)
Closed on following feast holidays in 2011:
January 1, 6;
April 24, 25 (Easter);
August 14, 15;
December 8, 25, 26;
The admission ticket to the Vatican Museums is valid for visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel only on the date of purchase. It is also valid for entrance to the Vatican Historical Museum and Noble Apartment of the Lateran Apostolic Palace if used within the five consecutive days from the date of purchase (included).
Full 15,00 € (unchanged).
Reduced 8,00 €.
Scholastic Ticket 4,00 €.
It is possible to avoid the often extremely long line by purchasing the admission ticket at the online ticket office of the Vatican museums.
http://mv.vatican.va or directly http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va
The ticket gives the right to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel for the day of issue. Tickets may be reserved up to 60 days before the date of the intended visit (they are not refundable).
For the purchase online an identity document, a credit card and names of all the participants is needed. Reduced prices for children and students are possible but not for seniors. A voucher with reservation code is sent back by e-mail to the visitor.
The system is rather flexible. For details see their Help & FAQ on their website.
Works of art and surroundings may be photographed. No flash, no tripods.
No photography or filming in the Sistine Chapel.
Vittoriano - renovation works.
One of the most photographed monuments of Rome (see the number of pics here on VT) is undergoing restoration works. The central part of the frontage is covered with a sheet.
For how long? Non lo so!
Photographers will be disappointed but the two monumental chariots (Quadriga del Unita) in bronze with the winged Victory on the top of both corners at 81 m high and the colossal equestrian statue of King Victor Emmanuel II are not so bad for a pic.
Capitoline Museum - Entry.
If you have only time to visit one museum in Rome I advise you this one.
You will not be waiting in a long line as with the museum of the Vatican and you will see very famous pieces of the Antique art. Moreover the site of the museum is one of most beautiful of Rome.
In fact there are 3 museums on Piazza Campidoglio. They are called "Musei Capitolini" and belong to the city of Rome. The sole entry is on the right by the “Palazzo dei Consevatori”. Here on two floors and about thirty rooms is the main part of the collections. The most outstanding artefacts are statues of bronze or marble of the ancient Rome. Most known are “the She-wolf”, “the Spinario” and the equestrian statue of Marc-Aurelius.
By an underground gallery the visitors reach, after a right turn, the arcades of the antique “Tabularium”, located under the "Palazzo dei Senatorio" and present town hall, from where one has imposing sights on the Foro Romano and the Palatine hill.
By this same underground the visitors join, on the other side of the Piazza Campidoglio the “Palazzo Nuovo” which comprises a dozen rooms with statues of which most known are the “Faun” and “the dying Gaul”.
The exit of the Capitoline Museums is by this palace.
The collections of statues and archaeological artefacts of the “Musei Capitolini” were made up as from 1471 by the Popes and Roman important families like the Horti and the Castellani. The Pinacotheca, art gallery of the second floor was founded by Pope Benoit XIV in the 18th century. There is also a cabinet of currencies and medals.
Open (2013): 9 - 20 h. Closed: Monday, 25/12, 1/01 and 1/05.
Price: 13 €, reduced 11 €.
Nice cafeteria with terrace on the 2nd floor.
Address: Piazza del Campidoglio.
Capitoline Museum - Marcus Aurelius
Since 2005 a new large glass hall built, inside the garden of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, contains the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (the one on the Piazza is a copy).
It is likely that this bronze statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161 - 180 AD) was erected a few years before is death. Where is not sure but probably in the Roman Forum although medieval sources mentioned its presence on the Lateran.
These equestrian statues called "equi magni", larger than life-size, were much diffused in the imperial Rome but from the twenty mentioned in documents this is the only one which reached us through the centuries.
The statue was placed on the Capitol's Hill in 1538. Corrosion and fissures in the legs made a removal of the statue in 1981 for long restoration works necessary. In 1990 Marcus Aurelius became again visible in the courtyard of the Capitoline Museum sheltered by a large window. In the present prestigious hall Marcus Aurelius has got for company some of the major Capitoline bronzes, the Hercules in gilded bronze from the Foro Boario and the remains of the bronze colossus of Constantine.
Open (2013): 9 - 20 h. Closed: Monday, 25/12, 1/01 and 1/05.
Price: 13 €, reduced 11 €.
Address: Palazzo dei Conservatori, Room 25.
Capitoline Museum - Spinario.
Best known, of course, is the Lupa Capitolina or She-wolf (Why is there no specific English word for a female wolf like in other languages!?). This famous Etruscan bronze statue (room VII Palazzo dei Conservatori) of the emblem of Roma goes back as far as the 6th c. BC. The twin brothers Romulus and Remus were added during the Renaissance period. There is a lot of controversy about the age of the "Lupa Capitolina". Carbon-14 dating would indicate that the statue is from the 7th - 8th century AD.
A most beautiful statue is that of the Spinario: "Boy removing thorn from foot". Certainly one of the most gracious statues of all times, it is probably an original Greek work of the 1st c. BC. (room VI). In the same room, I very much liked the bust of consul Junius Brutus dating from the 3rd c. BC. (nothing to do with the Brutus who killed J. Caesar). Have you seen the expression of the eyes!
I also admired a bronze statue of a horse of the 5th c. BC which is being restored. What a perfection!
Open: 9 - 20 h. Closed: Monday, 25/12, 1/01 and 1/05.
Price (2013): 13 €, reduced 11 €.
More Reviews (35)
- See All Grandiose Monument.
- See All Santi Quattro Coronati, basilica.
- See All Very friendly staff.
breughel's Related Pages
Rome Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "R O M E"
- "TO THE SOURCES OF MY CULTURE AND HISTORY."
- "Roma - Città Eterna"
- "Roma, una citta stupenda"
- "weekends in Rome"
- "Rome : A Surpise Around Every Corner"
- "Awestruck in Rome"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Rome
- Hotels in Rome
- Transportation in Rome
- Nightlife in Rome
- Restaurants in Rome
- Shopping in Rome
- Warnings and Dangers in Rome
- See All...
Explore the World
- Jakarta Hotels
- Key Largo
- Delray Beach Hotels
- Nikko Hotels
- The Bahamas
- East Islip Hotels
Badges & Stats in Rome
- 145 Reviews
- 371 Photos
- 15 Forum posts
- 25 Comments
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (38)
Have you been to Rome?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Rome
- Wrote a Review Grandiose Monument. about Baths of Caracalla in Rome Favorites
- Uploaded a Photo to "Grandiose Monument."
- Commented on one of breughel's Rome travel pages
- Posted in Miscellaneous Forum "Re: How bad is the weather in..."
- updated a Rome Travel Page "TO THE SOURCES OF MY CULTURE AND HISTORY."
Photos in RomeSee All Photos (371)
Top 10 Pages
- Top 5 Page for this destination Paris Intro, 239 reviews, 551 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Rome Intro, 145 reviews, 371 photos, 5 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Vienna Intro, 87 reviews, 218 photos
- Amsterdam Intro, 58 reviews, 168 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Brussels Intro, 90 reviews, 132 photos
- Venice Intro, 61 reviews, 148 photos
- London Intro, 58 reviews, 140 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Krakow Intro, 58 reviews, 128 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Cannes Intro, 45 reviews, 88 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Ieper Intro, 42 reviews, 80 photos
FriendsSee All Friends (39)
Latest Rome hotel reviews
- MARC AURELIO
- 142 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 17, 2013
- Hotel Miami
- 314 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 22, 2013
- Jolly Hotel Villa Carpegna
- 163 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 4, 2013
- Best Western Hotel Canada
- 978 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 29, 2013
- Hotel San Valentino
- 37 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Sep 13, 2013
- Mecenate Palace Hotel
- 673 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 4, 2013
- Hotel Executive
- 137 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Oct 6, 2013
- Rose Garden Palace
- 293 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 8, 2013
- La Griffe Hotel
- 424 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 1, 2013
- Santa Costanza Hotel Rome
- 180 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 27, 2013
- Boutique Hotel Trevi
- 204 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 9, 2013
- Hotel Commodore Roma
- 71 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 9, 2013
- Kennedy Hotel (Via Filippo Turati 62 64 Lazio )
- 260 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 27, 2013
- Hotel Romanico Palace
- 487 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 30, 2013
- Hotel Doria
- 130 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 9, 2013
- Colosseum- 490 Reviews, 889 Photos
- Trevi Fountain- 330 Reviews, 543 Photos
- Piazza Venezia - Vittoriano- 183 Reviews, 299 Photos
- Roman Forum- 296 Reviews, 552 Photos
- Piazza di Spagna - Spanish Steps- 294 Reviews, 455 Photos
- Castel Sant'Angelo- 141 Reviews, 264 Photos
- Pantheon- 262 Reviews, 530 Photos
- Piazza Navona- 234 Reviews, 401 Photos
- Trajan & Imperial Forums- 90 Reviews, 165 Photos
- Villa Borghese- 89 Reviews, 159 Photos
See All Rome Things to Do