You can’t turn a corner in Rome without running into some slice of history. It seems that whether you look high or low, the past greets you with one surprise after another. The eternal city is a travel icon for a reason. However, sprinkled in to the nooks and crannies between the basilicas and the forums are quite a few treats. Don’t get me wrong, no matter what kind of traveler you are, there are a few standards to see while there. So where do you even start? It’s time for a little travel, Roma Style!
Five Tickets To Secure Before You Visit The Vatican.
There is no denying that St. Peter’s Basilica is the finest church in Christendom. Within its literal borders, The Vatican has more priceless artwork per square foot than most art establishments in the world. As you can imagine, it’s a popular hot spot on the city’s grand tour. In fact, up to 20,000 people could file through to see marvels like the Laocoon and the Sistine Chapel. It can be very overwhelming!
With a little careful planning, you can enjoy the best the Vatican has to offer with a few clicks. First, do not buy any tickets from an outside source. They are inflating the price and are taking advantage of you. Instead, go straight to the source. In addition to getting a reservation at the museum and gardens, there are two other tickets worth looking into.
Bonus: You can climb the 550 steps up Michaelangelo’s Dome and take in the breadth of the Holy See and the city beyond. It costs 10 Euro, cash only. Plus, there’s a little coffee shop up there. The Italians think of everything.
Through a little known procedure, you can get a reservation to see the Tomb of St. Peter. to do this, you must make a request through the Office of The Scavi. This will allow you to see the ancient ruins, St. Peter’s resting place, and the Clementine Chapel if this request is approved.
Bonus: Get to the Office of the Scavi early so you can pop in to the Teutonic Cemetery just across the way. It’s free to look around.
Don’t get the Necropolis that is offered through the Museum confused with the one offered through the Scavi. Do go see the second site located under a parking garage. Those tickets can be purchased at the same time you get your full museum pass.
Lastly, if you intend to get in to the weekly audience with the Pope, you’ll need to request your tickets for that as well. There are two ways to go about it. You can either check in with your local parish and find out of your diocese has any available for your dates or request them directly from the Prefecture of the Papal Household.
Five Tickets To Buy Before You Touch Down Rome.
There are two types of visitors to Rome. Those who stand in line and those who don’t. With so much to see and do, Rome is one of those cities that takes careful planning. The bottom line is that if you don’t schedule some specific must do’s, you will wind up rushing from one thing to another without time to truly appreciate everything you’ve come so far to enjoy.
Santa Maria Maggiore…
…is one of the four major churches devoted to Mary. It has quite an interesting history and two fascinating features. First, the entire cieling of the sanctuary is gold leafed with gold that Columbus brought back and gave to Queen Isabella. To see it up close, you can climb up to the roof courtesy of a spiral staircase crafted by the great Bernini. You can see the ceiling, the stairs, and so very much more by booking a tour.
Bonus: At The Basilica of San Clemente, there are three levels of ruins to explore under the simple church with an anchor. The underground ruins are a cash only business and tend not to have a big line anyway.
The Castel Sant’ Angelo and the Secret Borgia Passetto…
…are loosely connected to the Vatican- physically. However, it doesn’t take much to see how important the Castel is to Vatican history. Those pesky Borgias were up to no good and needed an escape plan in case things went belly up. Touring both the Castel and the secret passage gives an incredible insight into Rome throughout the years.
Bonus: There’s no need to buy a ticket to go to Rome’s oldest church, The Pantheon. Located very close to Piazza Navona, the Pantheon is a true architectural wonder. With a perfect occulus in the dome and proportions that seem impossible, it’s amazing to think that it still stands, in quite good condition I might add, after almost 1900 years. Although, to avoid the lines, get there early or right at closing as the crowds are the thinnest then.
The Borghesi Gallery…
…is probably the second most famous art collection in the city, falling in line behind The Vatican. With works of art like Apollo and Daphne, the Borghesi is only available by reservation. Plan on taking a full morning or afternoon to fully explore the entire gallery.
Bonus: Don’t discount the gift shops of Rome. As we all know, pretty much every tourist site dumps you into a gift shop. I happen to find lots of them fun in this part of the world. There are some real treasures in them! My favorite souvenir? A glow in the dark Virgin Mary that I found at San Giovanni en Laterno.
…certainly finds itself on the bucket list of most travelers who plan to see Rome. It’s no wonder considering all of the legends that surround this first sports arena of sorts. But, make no mistake, while the ancient Romans were able to fill and empty the place in five minutes, efficiency plays no role in today’s tours.
Bonus: It’s really worth the time to rent a few bikes and get out of town on the Appian Way. This historic road was the main thoroughfare from the south and into ancient Rome.
Lastly, don’t forget your rail ticket out of town!
Like any good Roman from years past, it’s a really good idea to have an exit strategy! Whether you are taking the train to the airport or another part of Italy, book ahead of time so that you have all the information you need to make your transition smooth.
The romance of Rome is undeniable! And as long as you are well prepared, you’ll enjoy every minute of that Dolce Vita!