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Rome

Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. Ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.

Much of the attraction of Rome is in just wandering around the old city. You can quickly escape from the major tourist routes and feel as if you are in a small medieval village, not a capital city. If you can do so while watching for uneven cobblestones, keep looking upwards. There are some amazing roof gardens and all sorts of sculptures, paintings and religious icons attached to exterior walls. Look through 2nd and 3rd floor windows to see some oak-beamed ceilings in the old houses. Look through the archway entrances of larger Palazzos to see incredible courtyards, complete with sculptures, fountains and gardens. Take a stroll in the area between piazza Navona and the Tiber river in Old Rome where artisans continue to ply their trade from small shops. Also in Old Rome, take a 1km stroll down via Giulia, which is lined with many old palaces. Film enthusiasts will want to visit via Veneto (via Vittorio Veneto) in the Modern Centre, scene for much of Fellini's La Dolce Vita. The best way to see the heart of what was ancient Rome's "entertainment centre", namely the Campus Martius, with its theatres, stadiums, baths, temples and porticos is on foot. This is the area that runs south from the Capitoline Hill to the Piazza del Popolo on the north and the Corso on the east to the Tiber and is what generally encloses the "centro storico" or historic centre. Downloadable walking guides through the maze of streets in this area will assist you. See, for instance, P. Jacobs, A Walk Through The Field of Mars - Rome's Ancient Campus Martius A Piedi or A. Claridge, Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide

The main area for exploring the ruins of ancient Rome is in Rome/Colosseo either side of via dei Fori Imperiali, which connects the Colosseum and piazza Venezia. Laid out between 1924 and 1932, at Mussolini's request, the works for such an imposing boulevard required the destruction of a large area of Renaissance and medieval buildings constructed on top of ruins of the ancient forums, and ended forever plans for an archaeological park stretching all the way to the Appian Way. Via dei Fori Imperiali is a busy throughfare, but it has been partially pedestrianised in August 2013; said boulevard is also the location of a grand parade held every 2nd of June in occasion of the Italian national holiday (see the "holidays and events" section). Heading towards the Colosseum from Piazza Venezia, you can see the Roman Forum on your right and Trajan's Forum and Market on the left. To the right of the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine and the beginning of the Palatine Hill, which will eventually lead you to ruins of the Flavian Palace and a view of the Circus Maximus (see Rome/Aventino-Testaccio). To the left, after the Colosseum is a wide, tree-lined path that climbs through the Colle Oppio park. Underneath this park is the Golden House of Nero (Domus Aurea), an enormous and spectacular underground complex restored and then closed again due to damage caused by heavy rain. Further to the left on the Esquiline Hill are ruins of Trajan's baths.