Are you planning a trip to Rome or are currently in the city and want to know what to see and do at and near the Trevi Fountain?
You’ve come to the right place. This article details 11 things you should check out while near the Piazza Venezia + restaurant recommendations!
Pro Planning Tip: Consider bookmarking this article into a “Rome” folder in your browser. This way you can circle back to it while planning. Also, check out our Best Rome Tours so you can see the Eternal City right.
- Top # Things to See at the Trevi Fountain
- Top # Things to See at the Pantheon
- Top # Things to See in Piazza Navona
- Top 14 Things to See at the Spanish Steps
- Top # Things to See in Piazza del Popolo
- Top # Things to See near Piazza Venezia
11 Things to See in Piazza Venezia
Piazza Venezia is the center of Rome. It is the intersection that connects many of Rome’s main roads together. This main intersection of the city connects you to all the things you can do in Rome as a visitor or local. That said, there are literally tons of things to do in this very Piazza – it’s action-packed!
1. Altare della Patria
The Altare della Patria, otherwise known as “the big white Piazza Venezia building” or ” Vittoriano” is one of Rome’s largest and most famous monuments.
The name translates to Alter of the Fatherland. This refers to the great unification of Italy under its first of two kings, Victor Emmanuel II of the Savoia Family. The monument is dedicated to him for unifying Italy in 1861 – 1871. Yep, Italy is pretty new. Originally the country was divided into kingdoms like that of Milan, Venice, Florence or Naples. Now it is one country united.
The official name of the structure is the Victor Emmanuel II Monument or Vittoriano in Italian but it is often referred to as the Alter della Patria which refers to a shrine with a burning flame, that of ancient Rome, dedicated to the unknown soldier. It has also been referred to as the Italian Wedding Cake since it – well looks like a massive wedding cake.
The building has been heavily associated with Fascism since Piazza Venezia was the location Mussolini chose for many of his parades and speeches. All fascist symbols have been removed from the structure and square but living in Rome, many locals spoke of the building as a beautiful structure but a reminder of near-term Italian failures. The structure points towards Rome’s ancient history since the city has so few victories in the last hundred or so years.
That said, I think its a pretty impressive structure at least architecturally. Victor Emmanuel II is featured in the center on horseback (equestrian). Emmanuel is flanked & framed on either side by propylaea which are greek style gateways. On the very top of each stands a massive four horses drawn chariot (quadriga) pulling Winged-Victoria. Victoria is the Greek goddess Nike and represents victory.
The idea of the monument is simple yet complex. Italy, a now unified nation, can leave behind the victories of Ancient Rome and the control of the Papal State to form a new Italian Rennaissance. Something that locals feel has not been accomplished but they are in fact very wrong.
While the government cannot seem to get their sheets together, the unified nation has accomplished far more than people speak about in the last 100 years. The phrase “made in Italy” is synonymous with high-quality craftsmanship. That feeds into many sectors, from textiles to cars and fashion. Speaking of which, many of the world’s premier fashion houses hail from Italy from sunglasses to shoes.
Do a search of the world’s most beautiful cars and a majority of the list will be Italian. The country is the fifth most visited country on Earth says The World Bank behind France, Spain, USA & China. All of which are much larger than Italy. France is more than twice the size.
Personally, I think the building is beautiful, iconic and I am happy to have it as one of the many landmarks in Rome. A really great feature is the elevator up next!
Looking for a bite to eat? Check out our annually updated list of the best places to eat near the Spanish Steps in Rome!
2. Panoramic Terrace
Very possibly the best view of Rome, the Panoramic Terrace on top of the Vittoriano is a pretty cool experience for anyone visiting Rome with an extra hour in their schedule and 10€ in their pocket.
Getting to the Terrace is pretty easy and you don’t have to enter the monument/museum to access the elevator. The elevator is surprisingly empty as nobody really knows it exists. Enter the front gates of the monument and start heading up the steps. While looking at the monument, keep right and walk around to the back of the building. Once at the back you’ll see a large glass elevator.
Address: Map | Hours: 9:30 am – 7:30 pm (Last entrance 6:45 pm) Daily
3. Trajan’s Column
Trajan’s column is an incredible monument and surviving piece of propaganda from the 2nd century AD. The column has an incredible history and plays a very important role in in our ability to put together ancient timelines. The column, built in approximately 113 AD, honors Emperor Trajan for his conquests in Dacia or modern-day Romania. It is located in Trajan’s Forum, also dedicated to the late emperor, and is 114 feet tall (35 meters).
It is an incredible feat of engineering by none other than Apollodorus of Damascus who is one of the most influential architects of all time. He can take credit for two of the best-preserved buildings in Rome. The structure is built of 20 massive Carrara marble cylinders stacked on top of a base.
The column is wrapped with a helical frieze that winds 23 times around the column and features 2662 figures telling 155 stories or scenes. Ok, so a massive column survived this long with some stories on it. What’s the big deal?
The column is hollowed out in the center and there is a staircase winding all the way to the top. On top, you’ll find a statue of St. Peter, but you better believe that the figure of Trajan’s sat on top of it until it was removed by the church and replaced with St. Peter.
The symbolism goes further. Trajan’s Forum is home to Trajan’s market which was a multi-level market that even featured luxury apartments in the center. Yep, Romans wanted the same material stuff we do! Prior to the market being built there was a massive hill here. How high? You guessed right, 114 feet tall. Trajan builds a massive phalic symbol the size of the hill he moved with him on top. Amazing.
Address: Via dei Fori Imperiali
4. Trajan’s Market
It’s said that Trajan’s Market, built around 100 A.D., is the world’s first covered shopping mall.A prominent landmark and a symbol of imperial power since 113 A.D., Trajan’s Column in Rome was a focal point of the great forum and market complex built by Emperor Trajan on the north side of the Roman Forum.
The arcades in Trajan’s Market are thought by many to have been Emperor Trajan’s administrative offices. Built in a multi-level structure, it’s still possible to visit several levels. Highlights of Trajan’s Market include the remains of a library and delicate marble floors.
This is also the location of the Museo dei Fori Imperiali. The Colosseum isn’t the only archeological site in town, branch out and see this place too.
Address: Trajan’s Market | Hours: 9:30 a.m to 7:30 p.m. every day
5. Palazzo di Venezia
Palazzo Venezia is one of my favorite monuments in all of Rome for reasons far from its lack-luster facade or the infamous Mussolini balcony but we should get them out of the way.
While the structure feels like it is in Piazza Venezia, the front is actually in the adjacent Piazza S. Marco. The structure is a brick and stone building that has origins all the way back to 336 AD. There have been numerous improvements over time making the building more of a complex that it is today.
The purpose of this building is what is truly interesting to me. Major restoration happened in the late 15th century when the building functioned as a papal residence for a short period. Eventually, it was given to the Kingdom of Venice as a gift which is likely when the neighboring piazza took the name Piazza San Marco.
It then became the Venetian Embassy to Rome. Yes, Venice had an Embassy in Rome. Italy was not a unified country from the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD up until the late 19th century. Rome was controlled by the Papal State and sometimes the kingdoms got along and other times they were at war.
You can visit the inside of the palace. If you have some spare money in your pocket you want to spend, the interior courtyard is very peaceful and you won’t find any crowds.
Address: Piazza di S. Marco, 49
6. Napoleon Balcony
If you look at the building on the left-hand side corner of Via del Corso and Piazza Venezia, you can look up to the top terrace and see the word, “Bonaparte” written on the top. After Napoleon I was exiled to the Island of Elba in 1814, his mother Letizia Bonaparte managed to strike a deal with Pope Pius VII to grant her asylum in Rome.
Napoleon managed to escape Elba and head back to France where he would reign again, but only for a few months. His mother stayed in Rome despite Napoleon’s continued escapades. She lived there until her death in 1836 outliving her son by 15 years. She was 85 when she died.
7. 5 Story Ancient Roman Apartments (Luxury Living!)
The word insula in Latin translates to “island” but the Romans used this word for their apartment buildings. If you take the road on the right-hand side while facing the Vittoriano you’ll see a few staircases. One is La Cordonata and the other leads to the Church of S. M. d’Aracoeli. Just before the first staircase, you’ll see some brick structure that was discovered in 1927.
This 2nd-century structure was once a 5 story apartment building for residential housing. The first three stories were single-unit shops. The fourth story was likely slave housing. The 5th would have been an aristocratic apartment that would have luxuries similar to today.
Other than 20th-century housing upgrades like airconditioning, not much has changed. We use mostly the same building materials. Apartments were made of brick and wood. Plaster could be added to those surfaces to decorate and walls were often painted. Running water was a feature for the wealthy. Not in multiple rooms like today but many palaces had numerous fountains.
Forced air (heat) was even a feature for the super-wealthy as it was on the Palatine Hill. The main thing they lacked is electricity.
8. La Cordonata
This great sloping ramp (not staircase) was planned out by Michelangelo himself and built by Giacomo della Porta in 1582. The goal was simple – build a staircase that a horse and carriage could ride up. Yep, la cordonata was designed so statesmen and officials could take a horse up to the top of Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill) where the local government is run.
On either side of the ramp, you’ll see two massive figures – brothers! These are demi-gods Castor and Pollux with their horses. They were found in 1561 near the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum and reconstructed to line the steps. Their story can be found in our article about what to see in the Roman Forum.
Many other statues were re-erected and placed around the city in places they otherwise don’t belong. The idea was to beautify the city by using past-relics. It worked!
8. Capitoline Hill
Also known as Piazza Campidoglio, the Capitoline Hill is the area in which the Capitoline Museum sits on the foundation of the Temple of Jupiter. As you get to the top of the steps you’ll see three buildings that form the Capitoline Museum – listed below.
Directly in the center, you’ll see a copy of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. He rides on horseback to show is military prowess but features a beard to symbolize he was a scholar. This is a copy of an original that is inside Palazzo dei Conservatori Museum.
Behind him, you’ll see two more large men relaxing – reclined semi-nude holding cornucopiae. They have long beards and are both river gods. On the left you’ll find the Nile. On the right the Tiber. They were taken from the Baths of Constantine to decorate the area. Between the two you’ll find the goddess Roma.
9. Capitoline Hill Terrace Overlooking Forum
Just behind the Palazzo dei Conservatori, the central building is an incredible and free view of the forum. When standing next to the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius look to the right of Palazzo dei Conservatori and you’ll see a small street that looks like you may not be aloud to go down it. The street is named Via del Campidoglio and you are aloud to go down it.
Turn left when you see the incredible view of the Forum! If you like to go a little further, you can try to walk up to see the Tarpeian Rock. Take the high-road from the view point up the hill. This steep cliff/rock was an execution site in Roman times. The cliff is about 25M tall (80 feet) and was used to execute many guilty and probably not-so-guilty people in antiquity.
10. Capitoline Museum
The Capitoline Museum or Musei Capitolini is definitely the full package. The theme of the museum is more ancient history which is befitting as it sits on the outer edge of the Roman Forum with one of the best views.
The museum is split up into three buildings
- Palazzo Senatorio – built in the 12th century and updated by Michelangelo himself. Overlooks the forum.
- Palazzo dei Conservatori – built in the 16th century and also redesigned by Michelangelo
- Palazzo Nuovo – built in 17th century directly across from Palazzo Conservatori with identical exterior design
Michelangelo had a massive effect on the exterior appeal of this museum complex. He not only designed the format of these museums but also the stairs leading up to Piazza Campidoglio which are named la Cordonata. Here is a shortlist of what you need to see when visiting this monumental museum.
- La Cordonata
- Piazza Campidoglio
- View of the Roman Forum from the back of Palazzo Senetorio
- The Dying Gaul
- Head of the Colossal Statue of Constantine I
- Eros Thanatos
- Bust of Augustus
- Commodus as Hercules (gotta love Commodus)
- Heracles Fighting
- The Pinario
- Baby Hercules Strangling a Snake
- Capitoline Wolf
- Bernini’s Medusa
- Statue of Horti Lamiani
- Cupid & Psyche
- Statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (most notable attraction)
For more detailed descriptions of these tremendous works of art as well as general information about the Capitoline Museums, check out our related articles
Address: Piazza del Campidoglio, 1
Admission Cost: 11.50€ + Exhibition fee (3€ to 4€ extra which varies)
11. Teatro Marcello
The Theatre of Marcellus in Rome is an ancient open-air theatre that existed even before the Colosseum. It was built in about 13 BC but was not used for gladiatorial events. Romans were savages and patrons of the arts all in the same day.
You could sit with up to 20,000 other spectators and watch theatre or musical events here. It was inaugurated by Augustus in the name of his son Marcus Claudius who had died at a young age.
One of my favorite things about this structure is its modern use. The theatre was bought by the Orsini family in the 16th century and became their residence. The noble family was formed in the 12th century and the name lives on today. The current living descendant of the household is Prince Lelio Orsini d’Aragona.