The beauties of Rome sprawl across its landscape and are a compelling blend of the ancient with the Renaissance. Classically imposing are the Colosseum and the Roman Forum while the austere exterior of the Pantheon belies its stunning interior. St Peter's Square and Basilica are Renaissance masterpieces while gloriously ornate fountains and statues greet you at every twist and turn of the city's streets.
The most iconic example is Salvi's Trevi Fountain. Dominating the small cobbled avenue in which it sits, this fountain is an outrageous example of over-the-top Baroque sculpture, and is immediately recognizable from its appearance in classic films such as 'Three Coins in a Fountain' and Federico Fellini's screen masterpiece, 'La Dolce Vita'.
When you step inside Rome's cathedrals, museums, churches, and galleries you'll find awe-inspiring paintings and sculptures that cover all the eras and great names of Western art. These range from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling to frescoes by Raphael and paintings that show the skill of Caravaggio to the glorious fountains of Bernini. A trip to Rome, though, encompasses much more than a stroll through art and architecture. Sipping a cup of coffee or aperitif in street cafes, or enjoying a glass of beer while you take in the vistas from terraces and piazzas are just as much a part and package of the tourist experience in this most romantic of cities.
It's easy to while away a whole day in The Vatican City, west of the River Tiber. When you do, you're entering the world's smallest state. Cross the Tiber and pass the imposing might of the Castel Sant'Angelo before entering the Vatican along the Via Della Conciliazione. In the end, the vastness of St. Peter's Square with its grand Bernini colonnade and central obelisk opens up before you. Across the square is St. Peter's Basilica topped by the tallest dome in the world. Taking the stairs or elevator to the viewing gallery is a must for splendid views of the Eternal City.
While it's easy to fill a visit to Rome with the cultural wonders found in every guidebook, it also has a secret side. Some of the city's population of wild cats live pampered lives at the Torre Argentina excavation site, happily posing for the cameras of passers-by while the French-style gardens of Doria Pamphili near the Trastevere district are often overlooked by visitors. The final resting place of the English Romantics, Shelley and Keats is in Rome. They lie in the beautiful Protestant cemetery on Via Caio Cestio. With its grand marble monuments, it provides a peaceful respite from the city bustle.