Historic Center of Rome

Location: Lazio, Italy

Visited: Aug 3-6, 2012

Site Type: Cultural

Inscribed: 1980

Background and Opinion:

Rome, like any great city, has its historic beginnings shrouded in myth and legend. According to the stories of ancient Romans, the city was founded in 753 BC by Romulus and Remus (no, not the capitals of the Romulan Star Empire). The two brothers were nursed by a she-wolf and due to a dispute, Romulus eventually kills Remus. According to later additions to the myth by the Roman poet Virgil, it is said that following the fall of the Trojans, Aeneas of Troy survived and fulfilled his destiny by fathering the founder brothers, and starting a lineage claimed by the likes of Julius Caesar and Augustus themselves.

Colosseum of Rome 2

Rome already had a lot of history going for it and I was very excited to explore the ancient ruins of the Colosseum. What I didn’t expect was how much had actually survived in the Roman Forum. The Roman Imperial Forum was the center of the ancient city. I initially hesitated because whenever something is described as “site of,” it’s usually a nice way of saying “nothing really remains, but we’re pretty sure it was here.” Many of the great columns are still standing with original Roman inscribed stones. A relatively recent discovery has also unearthed the site of the gladiator living quarters, connected directly to the Colosseum.

One of the buildings I was most excited to see was the Pantheon. I shamefully admit that my excitement was from confusion with the greek Parthenon, but it was nonetheless, magnificent. The Pantheon was built in 127 AD, but is probably the best preserved ancient building in the world. It was built for the gods, but since changed allegiances to Roman Catholicism.

Pantheon of Rome

Ancient history aside, the city is just gorgeous. My favorite thing about Rome were the plazas. Dozens of plazas are scattered throughout the entire city, with a beautiful fountain or statue in the middle and surrounded by coffee shops or restaurants. Rome is one of those cities you really can just walk around, get lost, and have a fantastic experience.


1) Completeness and Originality (13/15): Very difficult to judge, but it is extremely well preserved given how old it is. The Colosseum lives up to expectation as does the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon.

2) Extensiveness of the Site (15/15): After four days in Rome, there was still a lot more to see such as the Castle of St. Angelo and the National Museum of Rome. Like the saying goes though, some travel is better than no travel :).

Spread of Rome
The expansion of Rome.

3) Cultural Significance (25/25): If this doesn’t deserve a perfect score, what does? Rome was the capital of possibly the most influential empire in earth’s history for a thousand years. Furthermore, close to 1 billion native speakers of latin-derived languages exist today.

4) Personal Impact (10.5/15): Rome was the highlight city in my trip across Italy. Its ancient ruins and history are difficult to match anywhere on earth. I do however, have to criticise the overall general treatment of foreigners by native Italians. I don’t want to go into details, but let’s just say that when you ask me what I loved most about the country, I’m NOT going to say “the people.”

This monument, walking distance from the Colosseum, is dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II, one of the founders of modern Italy.
This monument, walking distance from the Colosseum, is dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II, one of the founders of modern Italy.

5) Logistics (6/10): Getting there is incredibly easy, even if you speak no Italian at all. Roma Termini Station is in the heart of the city and the Colosseum literally casts a shadow on the entrance of the Metro station. However, I found the entire city to be incredibly overpriced. The Colosseum is 12 Euro (15 USD) and 20 euro for the full tour, the Vatican museums 16 Euro (20 USD), the Galleria Borghese 16 Euro (20 USD). I know they are world known places, but these prices are outrageous. By contrast, most palaces in Korea are 1-3 USD, the Great Wall in China is 7 USD (at most), and Chichen Itza is 5 USD. In addition, hotels are also expensive compared to other capitals, including “pricey cites” like Tokyo.

6) Uniqueness (14/20): “Historic Center of” is probably the most common UNESCO world heritage title. However, I will say that Rome is no ordinary city. I can’t think of any other city that commands so much history, culture, and contains more monuments than the ancient Roman capital. I would say it is on par with Mexico City in this category.

Combined Score: 83.5/100

Is this a good score? Find out how it compares in our rankings.

Santa Maria delle Grazie with “The Last Supper”

Grazie - Last SupperLocation: Milan, Italy

Visited: August 11, 2012

Site Type: Cultural

Inscribed: 1980

Opinion and Background:

Santa Maria delle Grazie is a small church located in Milan whose call to fame comes from containing the painting known the world over as “The Last Supper.” While the inscription for making this a UNESCO World Heritage Site includes both the church and the masterpiece, it is obvious that most people have Leonardo da Vinci’s work in mind when they visit this site. When you purchase tickets to see the painting (which must be done weeks, if not months in advance to get a fair price) you have a very strict time slot when you are allowed to see it (15 minutes). Knowing this, I scouted the area the day before which happened to be a day when “The Last Supper” was closed. The whole area looked like a ghost town with virtually no tourists Read more

Piazza Del Duomo, Pisa

Looking down of the Duomo de PisaLocation: Pisa, Italy

Visited: August 8, 2012

Opinion and Background:

I am always hesitant to write an article about Italy, as it has probably been done to death. Even the Lonely Planet doesn’t want to hear it anymore! I recently wrote one on the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily because I felt it was one of the least known WHS, and definitely one of the most amazing ones in the world. How often do you see Greek ruins older than Acropolis? Nonetheless, the Piazza del Duomo, Pisa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site I have visited, so I am doing it an evaluation anyways, dammit!

While planning my Italy itinerary, I had the good fortune of knowing a friend who had recently visited, and for the first time in my life, I took her advice when she insisted that I skip staying the night. The area is walled off from the rest of the city, which actually looked much prettier than I expected, but she was right in pointing out that the tower and plaza were the main attraction.

City of Pisa

I had the fortune of Read more

Archaeological Area of Agrigento

Concordia - Archaeological Area of Agrigento

Location: Agrigento, Sicily, Italy

Visited: July 29th, 2012

Background and Opinion:

The Archaeological Area of Agrigento, also known as the Valley of the Temples (Valle Dei Templi) is one of the best preserved signs of Greek civilization and architecture still standing today. With the earliest building, the temple to Heracles, being built at around 890 BCE, the history of the temples spans almost 3000 years. By comparison, when Angkor Wat was completed, this site was almost two thousand years old! Just the fact that anything remains is a minor miracle. The main structure, the temple of the Concordia is almost completely intact giving one of the most insightful views into ancient Greek architecture.

The archaeological area is divided into two main zones across southern Agrigento. On one side of the road, upon entering the area, is the temple to Zeus and Polloux. Not much remains of these besides a few scattered columns and some large atlases, an architectural column in the shape of a man (possibly Zeus himself?) Despite this, it is still quite incredible to see. On the far side of the temples was a hidden garden which cost 5 Euro to enter. While I am going to label this a tourist trap, the jam that the lady in charge sold was definitely worth it (4 Euro). In fact, I am eating it as I type right now, almost a year later (maybe not a good idea).

Atlas - Archaeological Area of Agrigento

The other side of the ruins has the more impressive and complete temples of Heracles, Hera, and Concordia.

Before coming across this Open Travel article, I actually had no idea Read more

Ancient Rome Adventure and My Detailed Italy Itinerary

I have a sneaking suspicion that people don’t really dislike the idea of a planned out trip, they just hate the work that comes with the ‘planning’ part of it. Many hard core travelers rave about how they just ‘go with the flow’ without plans and see where that takes them. Some of them even shun the idea of planning as ‘not real traveling,’ evident in this forum discussion. I like that idea too, but I like to have a back up plan as the pieces don’t always fall into place. I have seen countless of these travelers searching for things to do in the hostel they are staying in during the trip! To me, this is a complete waste of time which could be spent actually enjoying a new place. Trust me, you don’t want to be that guy who spends his day staring at a map and trying to figure it out the day of.

Recently, I was looking at my old pictures and found one of a map of Italy. It was a Google map which I made during the brainstorming part of my summer of 2012 trip to the land of Ancient Rome. When I was about to hit delete, I thought, “this is the kind of thing I wish I could find online to give me an idea of potential travel routes.” Then, it hit me, why not post my Italy itinerary of what I did on that trip, in the hopes that someone will find it useful, or entertaining at the very least.

Here is my Italy itinerary, with a map of my route along with a short run through of what happened.

[Note: Because I was traveling with my mother and brother, the itinerary was a lot more rigid than I prefer. Nonetheless, it went great!]

The Actual Route I Took:

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July 28th

* Fly to Bologna, Italy for an overnight layover – This went as planned, with no time to Read more