Looking at the entrance of Saint Peter's Basilica from the square of the same name.
Posted Jul 10, 2015
If you're thinking about a trip to Italy, your mouth is probably already watering at the thought of all the pizza, pasta, olive oil, and other delicious food you'll taste. But there's much more to visiting this country than its delicious cuisine.
As you plan activities to enjoy on a Mediterranean cruise, you'll want to make sure you get to experience the best of what Rome has to offer. Start by adding these attractions to the top of your must-see list for Rome, Italy:
The Colosseum is an incredibly popular tourist attraction, but many visitors may not know that this nearly 2,000-year-old amphitheater sat in disrepair for centuries.
In fact, the Colosseum was built over a period of 10 years in 70–80 CE under the orders of Emperor Vespasian, who believed it would promote public welfare after a long history of excess consumption by the Emperors. For 400 years the Colosseum was an active part of Roman life, and as many as 50,000 visitors at a time could gather to watch gladiator matches, animal fights, and more. Over time, this method of entertainment went out of style, and the Colosseum fell into disrepair. Once abandoned, the structure was raided for raw material to be used on other projects. It wasn't until the 1990s that restoration on the structure began.
Allow yourself to be transported back through time on an excursion to this grand, iconic monument.
The Roman Catacombs
One of the most captivating attractions in Rome, and also one of the hardest to reach, is the catacombs. The oldest of these underground tunnels and tombs are believed to have been built as early as the first century, and used as cemeteries for Jewish communities. After about a century, Christian catacombs were also built and utilized.
Because they're so shrouded in mystery, the catacombs have become the source of myths and legends. Most notably, the Holy Grail is said to be located somewhere inside the recesses of these sacred resting places. On an excursion to the Roman Catacombs, you can explore other historical sites including the Roman Catacombs and learn about their history. Keep your eyes peeled, and maybe you'll catch a glimpse of the chalice yourself.
Saint Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums
The modern Saint Peter's Basilica has deep religious and cultural roots that can be traced back to the first century CE, when many believe it became Saint Peter's burial spot.
The basilica was built on an existing fourth-century church that was constructed by Emperor Constantine the Great. It was abandoned by the papacy in the fourteenth century, and it wasn't until the mid-fifteenth century that steps were taken to plan its restoration. In the sixteenth century, working off plans for a new basilica that were crafted by Bramante, Michaelangelo drafted the basilica's famous dome. Although the artist didn't live to see his plans completely realized, his architectural achievement has not gone unnoticed: Saint Peter's Basilica remains one of the largest and most impressive basilicas in the world.
Around the same time as the construction of the new basilica, the popes began displaying their art collections to the public. Today, the Vatican Museums are among the top museums in the world, and they are a great place to learn about the Vatican's incredible history. When it comes to exploring Rome on a Mediterranean cruise, take the Ultimate Rome tour, an excursion you absolutely must not miss.
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