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Rome: Suggested Itineraries from

Rome's Colosseum

Few cities combine the ancient and the modern with as much aplomb as Rome, the Eternal City. From musty catacombs packed with the dead of millennia to Roman ruins and Renaissance masterpieces, there are more than enough sights for any history junkie or photo opper.

Seamlessly entwined with its past is Rome's stylish present - its achingly beautiful locals, its perfect espresso and its inevitable scooters. This being one of the most visited places in the world, you'll encounter no shortage of fellow travelers. Still, it's possible to get off the beaten path. Read on for ideas on how best to approach the famous and the forgotten.

The following Rome tours and things to doare based on feedback from travelers at

Day 1: The City of Rome & The Eternal Sights

There are several options for getting around Rome. A good idea for getting oriented is to hop on (and off) the open-top double-decker bus, which takes in the heart of Rome in six languages. You can even get around on a Segway tour of Rome. Or see the city's nocturnal side on a night-time tour. You can also see a lot of the city on foot: several walking tours concentrate on different eras in Rome's history, including its classical and medieval periods and its Renaissance years, or cruise the Tiber River and marvel at Rome by night.

The Glory that was Rome is nowhere better displayed than at the Colosseum. It won't be hard to imagine a lion breathing down your neck as the crowd cheers - especially if you've dressed up like a gladiator.

Next is the Forum, the center of ancient Rome and home to monumental arches and temples. Nearby is Michelangelo's Piazza Campidoglio, one of the greatest bits of Renaissance architecture and urban planning anywhere. Ascend the Capitoline Hill to get a bird's-eye view of Il Divino's handiwork.

At the Pantheon, admire the panels of colored marble and crane your neck up at the hole in the ceiling known as the 'oculus', though be careful if it's raining - there's no glass up there. Although the gold leaf is largely gone you can appreciate the opulence of Nero's apartments, the Domus Aurea. Following the spiraling bas reliefs up and down Trajan's Column can get you dizzy. At Circus Maximus you can recall the chariot races of old (though it might help to watch Ben Hur before you go).

Top the day off by throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, which as legend has it will assure your return to the Eternal City. Or you can act out your favorite scenes from Roman Holiday or La dolce vita (though no doubt the authorities frown on people actually getting into the fountain).

The Roman catacombs are a subterranean wonderland of the weird and creepy; some of the permanent residents have lain here since the days of Empire. If that appeals to your inner ghoul you might also consider the night-time ghosts and mystery tour.

Day 2: The Holy See

Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel

Vatican is the smallest sovereign nation in the world (at 0.2 square miles), though they've managed to pack it full of fascinating things to see. Don't miss St Peter's Basilica and St Peter's Square, site of papal gatherings and a magnificent example of renaissance architecture. You can climb to the top of the Basilica's cupola for a fine view of the square. The Vatican Museums have an excellent collection, but most people come for the majesty of Michelangelo's ceiling in the Sistine Chapel; there are also paintings by Boticelli, Bernini, Raphael, Giotto, and other masters.

If you've got time left, head to the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere area - crooked back streets and narrow alleys packed with cafes and bars and historical sights. It's hard to imagine, standing in the buzzing piazza of the Campo de'Fiori, that it was once an execution ground during the Inquisition. For bonus points, find the plaque marking the place film director Sergio Leone used to live. ]]

Day 3: Around Rome

It's worth a trip to the edge of the city and beyond - there are more riches to savor. One of Rome's gems is the Villa Borghese, home to a fine gallery and stately gardens. There are several other magnificent villas scattered around Rome; among the best are Villa Doria Pamphili, Villa Albani, and Villa Torlonia.

There are also several excellent museums. One of the best is the Capitoline Museums (in the Piazza del Campidoglio), with its outstanding collection of ancient, medieval and Renaissance art. There are pre-Roman relics at the National Etruscan Museum, Hellenic treasures at Hadrian's Villa, and Hadrian's Tomb at Castel Sant'Angelo.

Rome is a good base for day trips to some of the closer cities, including Naples and Pompeii.