One of the most-visited sites in Rome, the Roman Forum is an architectural marvel. Wondering which bits you won't want to miss? Check out these easy tips and learn a bit about the history before you visit!
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Well I have certainly been on an ancient Rome kick these last few weeks! Ostia Antica, the Baths of Diocletian, and now the Roman Forum! But, once I got started exploring all that we had seen during this trip, I just couldn't stop to add more variety to my posts!
One of the reasons I hadn't posted on the Roman Forum before is because it is just so daunting, both as a place to visit and, of course, as a place to summarize in a casual, but informative and researched!, blog post.
My advice both for a visit to the Roman Forum, and for this post, is to spend your time with what interests you most - and don't feel the need to see everything. Take in the feel of the place, in addition to checking specific sites off your list. Try to imagine the buildings full and coated in marble - and the statues with their heads. Think of the streets filled with toga-clad ancient Romans, discoursing on the progress of the Punic Wars, or going full fan-girl over Virgil. Don't forget to pack those water bottles!
Is the Roman Forum crowded?
Ancient Rome is a bit of a favorite for my Husband and I (read: mostly my Husband, but now I'm into it to - I was always more of a Colonial America/ Modern Europe girl myself). As I was discussing earlier, some of our best times in Rome were definitely at Ostia Antica and the Baths of Diocletian - both ancient sites that are definitely not on the main tourist circuit.
Obviously, the same cannot be said of the Roman Forum, which is, with good reason, one of the most-visited sites in Rome. That said, it's an extremely well-deserved honor. The Roman Forum is absolutely mind-boggling.
And, as far as tourist sights go, take my advice - to survive a trip to Italy, and Rome in particular, be sure to make your trip a good blend of crowded and non-crowded sites. For example, maybe the day after your visit to the Forum, if you love ancient history, would be a great time to take a relaxing trek out to Ostia Antica and see similar artifacts in a much different setting - just you, three other guests, and a few enthusiastic, older, Roman gentlemen and lady volunteers in togas.
All a long way of saying: yes, the Forum is a bit crowded, even in low season. It's not as crowded as the Colosseum...if that makes you feel better? But, it's also HUGE, so people are quite spread out. Most importantly, even though it's crowded, it's 100% worth navigating a few crowds in order to explore it.
What you should know before you visit the Roman Forum
A few practical reminders before you visit the Roman Forum! WEAR STURDY SHOES. I would strongly suggest not wearing flip flops. Strongly. You will be walking A TON and the ground is often dirty or uneven, ancient bumpy cobble stones (or both). For more on what to wear in Italy, check out the full post!
Also, there's not a huge amount of shade. Most of the buildings are half-crumbled - it's not the buildings' fault. They're from a different millennium! That Italian sun can get hot, hot, hot. Bring a water bottle (or a few) with you and a hat if you're sensitive to sun. And maybe don't plan to hit a 5-star restaurant for dinner immediately afterward- though, in fairness, Italians eat so late that you should have more than enough time to get back to your hotel to freshen-up before dinner.
Additionally, though I don't really need to tell you all because if you're reading this article, and therefore you're obviously already doing this, but be sure to read-up on the Roman Forum before you visit. The Roman Forum overall be a bit overwhelming, both in sheer size and age. I will freely admit that, as much as I prepare for trips, I was definitely surprised by the vastness of the site and that occasionally even this history major struggled to conceptualize how old these buildings actually are.
Be sure to have a good map handy to help you identify buildings whose use isn't immediately apparent. Of course, I generally haul around my entire Rick Steves book, which I have never regretted, and he also offers pocket versions, if you're looking for just the essentials!
The Roman Forum Entrance Made Easy -
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