Everyone knows how advanced the Roman civilisation was and that the best way to immerse yourself in ancient history from this era is with a visit to Italy. A warm destination nearly all year round, you can enjoy the sites off-peak and really imagine what it might have been like 2000 years ago.
If you’re interested in Roman history and also like beaches, good food and of course, coffee, here are the best and some of the most visited historical sites in Italy:
A good starting point is with the most famous site of them all, Pompeii. This ancient city is fantastically preserved due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. The huge site offers a wonderful insight into daily life as well as to the violent end for many of the townspeople. You can stroll rather freely into well-preserved palaces, explore streets lined with bakeries and ‘bars’, as well as read graffiti from gladiators. Perhaps the most sombre element of any visit is seeing the casts of victims of the eruption.
Top tip: It’s a large site and whilst provided with a map, it’s best to opt for the audio guide as well for context on what you’re seeing. In the centre of the site there is an eatery so you don’t necessarily need to pack a lunch, just ensure you have a bottle of water.
Herculaneum was a coastal town further south of Pompeii which was also preserved by the eruption. As a lesser-known site it doesn’t attract the same crowds so you’re able to have a personal experience and some experts even argue the buildings are better preserved. Here you find a number of mosaics, shopfronts with original beams and water features throughout the streets. Unlike Pompeii which was a working town, this was more of a retreat for the wealthy and their servants.
Top tip: Visit the site in the afternoon and make time for the stretch of ancient high street towards the far-side of the site. Here you can see an advert for different sized pots and the street looks like it could still be functional. A great place to use your imagination.
Colosseum & The Forum, Rome
When most people think of the Italian capital of Rome their first thoughts go to the amazing structure of the Colosseum. The huge amphitheatre has survived just about everything to become a top tourist attraction. In it’s hey-day it was an entertainment venue for some 50,000 Romans who would flock to see gladiators fight to the death and even mock sea battles.
On the same site and included in the same entry ticket is The Forum – the ancient centre of Rome and also the Roman Empire. Here you can revel in the shadow of the Senate House and see the burial site of Julius Caesar.
Top tip: In The Forum take a walk up Palatine Hill for a mesmerising panoramic view of the ruins with Vittorio Emmanuel II monument in the distance. This is ideal on a sunny day and great for budding travel photographers.
Florence, once the capital city of Italy, is basically the home of the Renaissance complete with fantastically gothic architecture and several must-see museums and galleries. The building which defines the city is the The Duomo, otherwise known as Florence Cathedral. It’s mosaic-esque exterior draws the eye and the religious artwork inside is magnificent. You can also take a trip up into the dome to see the huge ceiling paintings and walk around the exterior with views of the entire city. The route up is narrow and not for anyone with a fear of heights.
Top tip: Purchase the Firenze Card in advance for priority entry as the queues are pretty much constant throughout the day. The best pictures are also taken from a distance, so consider going up the nearby taller buildings for an excellent view.
Get Jaunty is a travel and lifestyle blog run by Frances Atkins. The blog caters to solo adventurers, daydreamers and interrail fans. Visit http://getjaunty.com for city guides, top tips and travel advice.