Italy From Above: Where to Find the Most Stunning Views of Rome
It might be February, therefore rainy and, well, cold, but traveling never stops. You may have already visited Rome, walked around its streets, picturesque alleys and pathways, or eaten and enjoyed a drink at some of its restaurants and bars. However, there is one thing we can all agree to: one time isn’t enough to get the ultimate experience. After all, we are talking about Italy’s ‘eternal’ city; the city of endless opportunities, authenticity and unique people. What adds to its beauty and magnificence is, of course, the breathtaking scenery, which extends for miles and miles and can be viewed from various places. In case you were wondering, here we present you three places where you can find the most stunning views of Rome from above.
1. Il Vittoriano: Rome’s National Monument
Between Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill, right in the heart of Rome, you will find the magnificent monument known as “Il Vittoriano”. This national monument was built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the First King of Italy, (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II) and in commemoration of his greatest achievement: making Italy unified. After his death (1878) and in 1885 began the construction of one of the most impressive monuments the 19th century has to present, which was completed later in 1925.
Main part of the monument is the statue of a horseman, considered to represent Victor Emmanuel II. Another well-known part is the Altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Patria), the tomb where a soldier of the 1st World War was buried, becoming the symbol for Italy’s unknown soldiers that fell in battle.
Last but not least, at the base of the monument there is the Museum of Italian Reunification. Moving upwards, you get a panoramic view of the city of Rome, while admiring all the grandiose pieces hosted in the museum. If the weather allows it, the ideal place to get the perfect glimpse of the city is the terrace on top of the monument. This is where you will have Rome right at your feet, admire the city’s architectural greatness and feel its vivid and lively vibe. Among the people there, you will come across some other frequent visitors: seagulls flying above your heads and usually sitting on the marble, being a good company while you stare at the ‘eternal’ grandeur of Rome.
The monument is open to the public from Monday to Thursday from 09.30 until 19.30, Fridays and Saturdays from 09.30 to 22.00 and on Sundays from 09.30 to 20.30. For more information regarding visiting hours, you can find here.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica: the Papal Enclave in the City of Rome
The best place to get a one-of-a-kind view of Rome is St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. It is the largest church in the world, a work of incomparable beauty and the greatest achievement of Renaissance architecture. The Basilica can be approached by St. Peter’s Square (or Piazza San Pietro in Italian), at the center of which a giant ancient Egyptian obelisk was erected in 1586, and is surrounded by tall colonnades. On the steps that lead to the interior of the church stand two sublime statues depicting Saint Peter and Paul.
Once you enter inside, you are overwhelmed by the vast dimensions and the undeniably lavish decorations of the entire interior. Numerous sculptures made of marble, meticulously handcrafted paying attention to the smallest detail, decorate different parts of the basilica, such as Michelangelo’s Pietà. As the papal enclave within the city of Rome, it is the burial ground of popes and other notable people, whose tombs are considered exceptional works of art. Moving on and approaching the Papal Altar, you can see the central feature, the baldachin over the altar, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
As one of Rome’s main attractions, it is the most famous destination for tourists from all over the world. Coming in in hordes to witness the construction’s unparalleled beauty and uniqueness, waiting lines is something you cannot avoid. From the very entrance to the staircase with its 551 steps that lead to the Dome, people closely surround you to the point you can barely move. However, once you get at the top of the dome, you get immediately carried away by the view, right where you gaze down to the city that stretches out to the horizon.
All these features are what make St. Peter’s Basilica the jewel of Rome. It combines religion, history, and architecture and forms the center of the civilized world, where artistic and spiritual excellence can bring you a step closer to the Divine.
Tip #1: If you are just like me and cannot stand in what seems like endless lines, I recommend heading straight to the ticket office (just follow the sign that says “Cupola”) and buy a ticket to the top.
Tip #2: If you are brave and fit enough, you should definitely climb on foot. Nevertheless, for just a few more euros, you can take the elevator to the interior terrace (the base of the dome) and then climb the rest, thus 320 steps. Well, it might not seem as a huge difference, but it is a decision you have to make.
3. Villa Borghese: the Roman Gardens of Eden
One place you definitely should not miss during in Rome is Villa Borghese. This extraordinary landscape is known for its gardens of uncanny beauty, the villas and museums spreading throughout the place and the zoo. It is among the three largest public parks in Rome; but if you want my opinion, it is the only one that offers the most unique view of the city. The best place? The Pincio Terrace.
Located directly above Piazza del Popolo, at the end of Via del Corso, it gives you a sweeping view towards the western part of Rome. Having that in mind, I would totally recommend a visit during sundown, at the time when the city reveals its most romantic side. Your eye can reach as far as the historic center, to the charming Prati district, and across towards the Vatican. Once you’re done and have engraved the view on your mind, and probably your heart, it is time to keep strolling around the beautiful gardens and perhaps visit Galleria Borghese, where you’ll find works by Caravaggio, Raphael and Federico Barocci.
And for those of you that walking around “opens” their appetite, I recommend enjoying an espresso and something to eat at the La Casina dell’ Orologio. A small, yet stunning place right in the middle of the Villa Borghese park. Order an insalata del mare or a caprese, a pizza or pasta with pesto. Have your coffee and perhaps order something sweet from the menu. If you find yourself there in the morning, then it is a good place to have breakfast (or you can try here) and then carry on with your walk around the city of Rome.