San Pedro del Vaticano
St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican stands over the tomb of the Apostle, located in a 1st century necropolis. The first Vatican basilica was built by Constantine in the 4th century, and stood for over 1,000 years, until the Renaissance Popes tore it down in order to build a new basilica over the tomb of St. Peter. Its dimensions were so gigantic that the undertaking seemed unfeasible, and it almost succumbed. The work lasted 160 years and was carried out by artists of the highest order. Maderno's façade, Michelangelo's dome, or Bernini's Piazza are unique in the world... but the first time one enters the interior of the basilica one receives an almost overwhelming impression.
Symbol of the eternity of Rome, the Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre, as it was known in classical times, will transport you like few other monuments to the splendour of Imperial Rome. Its almost perfect architecture has allowed it to survive for 2,000 years despite the fires, earthquakes and systematic looting it has suffered throughout history. The largest amphitheatre in the world stood in the heart of Ancient Rome. Emperor Vespasian had it built on the site of a large pond in Nero's mansion to erase the memory of his hated predecessor.
Castle of Sant'Angelo
Hardly anyone leaves Rome without having taken a photograph of this famous castle on the Tiber, connected to the other bank by the most beautiful bridge in the city and to the Vatican by a long walled passageway. The building was originally conceived as the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian (117-138), but its solid structure and strategic position have made it play a decisive role in the endless struggles for control of the city.
An impregnable fortress where sieges could be resisted for months, no invader could claim to be master of Rome until Sant'Angelo had surrendered. In addition to being a fortress, it also served as a palace, where the Popes spent long periods of time in troubled times. For this reason it has noble rooms, enriched with elegant Renaissance frescoes. It later served as a prison, when it passed into the hands of the Italian State, and since 1925 it has housed the Museo Nazionale del Castel Sant'Angelo.
Fontana di Trevi
The Trevi Fountain is the largest baroque fountain in the city and one of the most beautiful in the world. The fountain served as a display of an ancient roman aqueduct, which was constructed by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa around 19 B:C. In accordance with tradition, visitors have to throw a coin into the fountain to return to Rome.
La Piazza Venezia
Piazza Venezia is now a major traffic junction in the very heart of the city, and you'll often pass by it. It is dominated by the huge and controversial Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, erected to honour the homeland after Italian reunification. In order to build it, an entire section of the Palace of Venice had to be moved, destroying one of the last remaining Renaissance squares in Rome. In addition to the showy Vittoriano, the square is enclosed by the Palazzo di Venezia and by a building constructed in the 20th century in symmetry with the Palazzo di Venezia. Right in front of the great white mass is the famous Via del Corso, at the opposite end of which you can see the obelisk of Piazza del Popolo.
Piazza di Spagna
Piazza di Spagna is one of the most magical places in Rome. Its monumental staircase, built in the 18th century at the expense of the French crown, is a grand backdrop that makes it one of the most frequented places in the city. When observed empty, however, one has the feeling of being in a theatre at the wrong time. The name of the square is due to the presence of the Spanish embassy, in front of the Holy See, installed in a palace at the foot of the hill since the 17th century. The upper part, where the Trinità dei Monti church with its double bell tower stands, was under French rule, and for centuries the whole area was the scene of fierce fighting between the two monarchies.