'When in Rome' go for a stroll, ticking off some boxes on the way. Here are a few of the must-sees.
The Colosseum stands in all its curvy, ethereal beauty in the ruinous area East of the Roman Forum. It's €10 for an inner tour, and, while an outside glance is breathtaking, milling around the 50,000 capacity inner seating area is awesome. Since its completion in 80AD, the Colosseum has played host to mock battles, theatre shows, gladiator fights, and animal stampedes. Historians estimate that a cool 500,000 people and 1 million animals lost their lives in the name of Roman entertainment. Throughout the 2000 years it's been standing, the Colosseum has also taken a battering from earthquakes, fires, decay and damage from stone thieves - all of which points to the fact that the Romans were very good at building. Box, ticked.
Head from the Colosseum in the direction of town and you'll pass the Roman Forum - basically an open air museum, full of giant cobbled paving stones, column filled theatres and immaculately preserved living quarters. The Forum was the political and social hub of Rome and much of it has been beautifully preserved giving visitors a real feel of how the Romans used to live. Entrance to the ruins is currently free but is liable to change any day so get in while you can.
You'll know when you see Palazzo Venezia because it looks like a big silly typewriter. It's just round the corner from the Forum and is a ridiculous but nevertheless stunning by-product of the Mussolini era, built to demonstrate the Duce's power. A visit to the museum inside is free - and well worth it - but a lift ride to the stunning view at the top will set you back €7. That said, it's well worth it too, especially on a clear, sunny day.
From Piazza Venezia, it's straight up Via Del Corso and swing a right onto Via Gondotti for the Spanish Steps. There is literally never a day when the steps aren't dripping with hoardes of tourists eating icecream and lounging like extras in a fashion show, but don't let the crowds put you off. The steps are turned into an extravagant fashion show every year which is graced by some of the world's most prominent fashionistas, so there might be a real life model or two in the mix too. It's the perfect spot to relax and take stock.
Directly at the bottom of the steps is Via Gondotti, Rome's achingly chic shopping street which is home to Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Yves St Laurent, Burberry, Armani and lots lots more...which would be more than enough if it didn't curve neatly onto another equally lavish shopping street - Via Barbuino. This is credit bashing territory. Go with it. Then go and drown your sorrows with a cocktail or three at trendy Gusto on Via Della Frezza. (The snacks are like a full course dinner.)
If you're tipsy after too many Bellinis and need to walk it off, then a shady stroll through the labyrinthine backstreets of the Corso area is in order - full of boutiques and galleries and faux antique shops (which are actually designer and hilariously expensive.) Mozey around long enough and at some point you'll hear the sound of water and cameras clicking. You've reached the Trevi Fountain. Amazing. Stunning. Totally full of itself and much much more, the fountain is a dazzling tribute to the Baroque architecture of the day. It features winged horses, the statues of Neptune and the Tritons and is the epitomy of water feature opulence - which noone can deny, Italians do best. Iconic film scenes, (Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, Fellini's La Dolce Vita) were all shot there.
Nb. Heartwarming fact. Every day up to 3000 coins are thrown into the Trevi before being collected at night and donated to a supermarket supporting Rome's poor. Legend has it tossing a single coin over the left shoulder will ensure safe return to Rome, two, marriage and three, the divorce courts. Up to you!