January 14


FCI 039 – Top Sites to See in Rome with Elyssa Bernard

By Rick

January 14, 2020

Here’s the thing about Rome that everybody should understand and accept:  you will NEVER see it all

Doesn’t matter if you’re on a long vacation, living in the city as a resident expat, or even a native Roman. There is simply too much for one lifetime. Non basta una vita, as the Romans say...

Beyond that, I’ll say that even the most famous sites never cease to amaze. I can’t tell you how many times I've walked past the Pantheon, and yet it still takes my breath away. Every. Single. Time. You just can’t get “used to it,” nor should you. It’s living history, and it’s miraculous.

Still, we all have our “top sites to see in Rome” lists. While you can’t see it all, if you’re on vacation in The Eternal City for a few days, you should certainly try to experience the best of the best in this endlessly appealing “Capital of the World.” And nobody breaks it down better than my friend Elyssa Bernard. 

Here’s the thing about #Rome that everybody should understand and accept: you will NEVER see it all.  There is simply too much for one lifetime. "Non basta una vita," as the Romans say...  @romewise

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Top Sites to See in Rome

On her blog, she has the perfectly curated Rome Top Ten List. Rightfully so, The Vatican and The Colosseum are numbers one and two. The list is rounded out by Piazza Navona, The Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain… all the usual suspects. Again, as it should be.

But on the podcast, I explicitly ask her to go beyond this list, and tell us “what else” we should see in Rome. My theory is that some of the most interesting sites in Rome are hiding in plain sight, available (and often free of charge) for anyone to stumble upon. But be careful, because some of these places aren’t open when you’d expect, and they aren’t always so easy to find.  Elyssa has all those details, too, so you won’t waste a moment of your vacation.

During my tour next year, we will certainly hit the most popular sites. However, it is my intention to let people have some free time for their own discoveries, and the suggestions by Elyssa are the perfect place to start.


In fact, I’m going to use Elyssa’s suggestions as a starting point for a list that I’ll give my guests when we arrive in Rome next September. But I’m willing to bet that someone in our group will stumble upon a gem that even myself and Elyssa have never visited. THAT is the constant allure of Rome.

Elyssa Bernard

Elyssa Bernard is an American expat in Rome, married to a native Roman. Her U.S. base, like mine, is in Florida, where she received her BA in Anthropology from the University of Florida in Gainesville. 

Besides living a Roman life with her husband, she counts among her friends Roman art historians, archeologists, tour guides, chefs, authors, and many other fascinating people who've given her a real vision of Roman life like nothing a person could discover on their own.

Her blog, Romewise, grew from a single FAQ page on the website of the B&B that her and her husband owned and operated. Now, in my opinion, it is the single best independent website for information on visiting Rome.

Elyssa answers...

What are the four Papal Basilicas of Rome and which one is the most important in the Catholic Church?

Which churches are the best "free museums" in Rome, where are they, and whose works can we see?

What are some of the lesser known sites of ancient Rome? Some are newly opened to the public, hidden, or literally underground.

I would like to thank Elyssa for being so generous with her time and knowledge, and I encourage anyone planning a trip to Rome to check out her extensive base of information on her website, Romewise

Click the link to check out other episodes and see my list of the best podcasts about Italy.

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About the author

Living in the Caput Mundi and trying to decipher Italian culture for the English speaking world.

    • I’ve always wanted to do a cycling excursion. That’s a great tip, actually, for anyone who has a little more time in Rome to go beyond the site-seeing. Cheers!

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