Across the world, globe-trotters dream of traveling to the shores of Italy. Whether they hope to see the splendor of the Sistine Chapel’s ornate ceiling, take a romantic gondola ride through the intricate network of Venetian canals or simply toss a euro into the magnificent Fontana di Trevi, there are a myriad of wonderful sights to see and quintessential things to do. When you have the opportunity to visit Italy, make sure to visit these top Venice spots and Roman landmarks.
What was once known to the citizens of Rome as simply “The Forum,” visitors from around the world refer to this relic as the Roman Forum. It’s located at what was once the city center, where impressive royal processions, elections and other imperative city functions were held. The ruins today still hold the shadow of their former glory, and the site is routinely featured on in-depth tours of Rome’s most significant sites.
Constructed almost 2,000 years ago and still standing today is the Colosseum. This is arguably the most recognized Roman landmark and is in relatively good shape considering the damage it has amassed from earthquakes and vandals. Millennia ago, this theater stood to house infamous gladiatorial games in which slaves or volunteers would fight a range of wild animals and armored soldiers, all to please the emperor. Today, it’s one of the Eternal City’s most popular tourist attractions and welcomes visitors within its depths for guided tours.
Despite being the smallest independent country in the world by area, more than one billion Catholics would argue that Vatican City is far from being insignificant. Also known as the Holy See, Vatican City is the seat of power for the Catholic Church. It’s the official residence of the Pope and houses countless priceless artifacts and works of art. Even for the non-religious, Vatican City is still worth a visit. It’s most well-known for DaVinci’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel masterpiece, but those paying homage to the Vatican would be remiss if they didn’t also make time for the impressive collections of other art and tapestries. Make sure to get to the doors early—those who wait until midday to head to the Vatican will most likely not get the chance to enter.
This white limestone bridge is a popular attraction with a dark past. It connects holding cells in the Doge’s Palace with the New Prison across the water. The Bridge of Sighs was so named because it was supposedly the last view of Venice a convict would have before being led to the depths of their cell, or before they were executed. Of course, this would make any person sigh in despair, but the reality is not so bleak. Most prisoners at this particular prison were small-time criminals, and most prisoners of the Inquisition were released before the bridge construction was complete. This doesn’t stop the locals from insisting that the Bridge of Sighs fabled history is true. Another cultural tale is that if a couple is gliding in a gondola—this is Venice, after all—down the Rio di Palazzo and kisses as they cross under the bridge, their love will last forever.
Let’s move away from Roman landmarks and toward the many spectacular sights in the Vatican. Also known as St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Cathedral is easily the most recognizable as a Venetian attraction. Displaying marvelous Byzantine architecture, this cathedral was erected about a millennium ago. Even today, travelers flock to it hoping to see its ornate rooftops and intricate gold mosaics of the interior. It’s also called the “Church of Gold.” If that sounds unnecessarily grandiose and ornate, it’s supposed to be—classic Venetian architecture was an overdone display of wealth to show off how much the investor—in this case, the Catholic Church—would have to spend.
When you’re ready to plan the perfect trip to Italy, speak with one of our trusted travel agents. We recommend a journey with an accomplished cruise line—like Crystal Cruises—for every visitor to this wonderful country’s shores. Begin planning your vacation today to get the most out of your visit.