The Eternal City. The name really seems to fit the more you wander through the ancient streets of Rome. The ancient monuments that you can spot while walking down modern sidewalks really drive it home. The fact that many of the roads follow ancient ones (or the route of ancient chariot races) amazed me, and my mind was blown by the obelisks brought to ancient Rome from ancient Egypt, some over 2000 years ago.
Of all the monuments in Rome, I loved the Pantheon the most. (Not JUST because I’m a structural engineer and it is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world…although that is amazing!) It has been a place of worship for over 1800 years, originally to the Roman gods and now as a Catholic Church. Being changed to a Christian church is what saved the building from destruction (the fate of most other Roman temples), though you can see marks on the front columns from where people tried to pull them down with rope.
We saw the Piazza Navona and wandered by Trajeans Column. It’s incredible to walk by all of these sights in an evening, preferably with a gelato in hand. We were lucky to have excellent weather the first night we were there when we took our walking tour of the city. Walking tours in Rome tend to be pricey and similar to each other. We took a tour with Walks of Italy, and while it was enjoyable, at about 35 euros each it was not a great value. Whether you take a guided tour or wander on the own, spending a few hours soaking in the (free!) ancient sights of Rome is a must.
Accommodations: We stayed at the Hote Nazionale, which is located only a few blocks from the Pantheon and most other major sights. We got a lucky upgrade to the executive suite which we thoroughly enjoyed. The breakfast buffet is amazing.
Getting to the City: we took the Leonardo express (€14 each) from FCO airport to city center (Tremini Station). Depending on where you’re staying the metro is cheaper and may be more convenient.