The 10 most beautiful Roman monuments to visit in Italy

Monuments romains en Italie

Fascinated by history? Here are 10 Roman monuments to visit in Italy to relive the glorious past of this ancient civilization!

Of all the civilizations of antiquity, Rome was undoubtedly one of the most powerful. Its legacy is felt throughout the world, starting of course withItaly. From Rome to Pompeii, via Sicily and Milan, it bears witness to its greatness and attracts many travellers. Dive into history with us and discover our selection of 10 Roman monuments in Italy that have stood the test of time. Ready to travel back in time? We’ve got you covered!

Rome’s Colosseum: the gladiators’ den

Colisée de Rome en Italie

Shutterstock – Muratart

The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is one of Italy’s most emblematic Roman monuments. Located in the heart of the capital, it boasts an impressive oval-shaped structure. Built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian between 70 and 80, it could accommodate up to 50,000 people.

Its primary purpose was to quench the public’s thirst for spectacle, gladiatorial combat and entertainment of all kinds. It also had a darker side, as it was the scene of open executions. Whether you admire it from beneath its thousand-year-old arches or from the distant terraces of the Capitoline Hill, the Colosseum will leave you speechless.

Pompeii and its ruins frozen in time

Ruines de Pompéi en Italie

Shutterstock – A-babe

The archaeological zone of Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a true wonder of Campania. It bears witness to the tragic fate of the once prosperous city, wiped off the map by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79. There are several gates leading to it. Choose the one that inspires you most and let your curiosity guide you as you stroll through the ruins.

They offer a glimpse of what Roman life was like. Soak up the daily life of the era as you explore the thermal baths and frescoed houses. Stroll down Rue de l’Abondance to the Forum, dotted with temples including that of Apollo. Don’t hesitate to hire a guide for total immersion in this emblematic city of Roman culture.

Herculaneum: Italy’s best-preserved Roman monuments

Ruines Herculanum en Italie

Shutterstock – Abrilla

The city ofHerculaneum, near Naples, is often overshadowed by the beauty of the ruins of Pompeii. Yet it’s well worth a visit. According to legend, it was founded by Hercules before being conquered by the Romans. Its remains bear witness to its importance in Italian history, and will plunge you into the past of those who once lived here. Until Herculaneum fell victim to the wrath of Vesuvius.

Admire the public buildings and the wealth of architectural elements, frescoes and mosaics. The volcanic materials that covered Herculaneum have enabled the site to be remarkably well preserved. It is overflowing with treasures such as furniture, jewels and original objects. Don’t miss the port warehouses, where 300 skeletons were discovered, the ancient thermal baths and the Sacellum dei Augustali. Last but not least, a museum offers an interactive tour for a complete experience.

The Forum, the high point of Roman public life

Forum Romain en Italie

Shutterstock – Tilialucida

The Roman Forum, nestled between the Capitoline Hill and the Colosseum, was the heart of the city of Rome and the epicenter of its political life. It was also the setting for pompous religious and military ceremonies. Construction began in the 7th century B.C., but the edifice underwent several modifications right up to the fall of theWestern Roman Empire. Today, it is one of the most beautiful Roman monuments in Italy.

Its remains offer a succession of marble columns and blocks. Behold triumphal arches such as the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Septimius Severus. And don’t forget the Curia Julia, the basilica and several temples dedicated to Saturn and Vesta, among others. A word of advice after your visit: head to the panoramic terrace of Mount Palatine for a spectacular view of the entire Roman Forum.

The Greco-Roman theater of Taormina in Sicily

Théâtre de Taormine en Sicile

Shutterstock – Igorzh

A UNESCO gem, Taormina’s theater is the second largest in Sicily after Syracuse. Although of Greek origin, its current appearance is the result of changes made by the Romans as early as the 2nd century. They enlarged the theater and modified its original function, transforming it into an arena for the gladiatorial combats they were so fond of. At the same time, they gave it a facelift by adding columns and arches.

Its distinctive semi-circular architecture houses an enclosure, orchestra and stage designed for perfect acoustics. The bleachers are no longer of the first vintage. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still be used for today’s cultural events. The site’s renown is due as much to its historical value as to its view of Mount Etna and the green hills overlooking the Mediterranean.

Ostia Antica, Rome’s ancient port

Ostia Antica en Italie

Shutterstock – Stefano Tammaro

Want to immortalize Roman monuments in Italy? Go to Ostia Antica, just 30 km west of Rome. With its thriving commercial and port center, the city under the Roman Republic had nothing to be ashamed of. Until it was abandoned and lay buried under sand for several centuries.

Relive its fascinating past as you stroll along the main causeway, dotted with buildings, taverns and a grand theater. Built under Emperor Augustus at the end of the 1st century BC, and subsequently enlarged, it has retained its original charm. It symbolizes the power of Roman civilization and can accommodate up to 4,000 people for performances during the summer months.

The columns of Saint-Laurent in Milan

Colonnes et Basilique de Saint-Laurent à Milan

Shutterstock – Delbo Andrea

While you’re in Milan, take the opportunity to discover the Colonnade de Saint-Laurent opposite the basilica of the same name. The colonnade consists of16 marble columns, each several meters high. Its origin remains unknown, but it is assumed to have come from ancient buildings, probably public baths or a pagan temple.

It was installed here to complement the Basilica of Saint Lawrence. Milanese people are particularly fond of this colonnade and its privileged location. All the more so as it borders a pretty square that is a meeting place for the locals and the scene of the city’s nightlife. A stroll through the square will immerse you in both its rich history and its modernity.

Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli: the ideal city

Canope Villa Adriana à Tivoli

Shutterstock – Marco Rubino

Are you fascinated by Roman monuments in Italy? If so, you’ll love getting into the Emperor Hadrian’s shoes when you visit his residence near Tivoli. This 2nd-century imperial residence is a UNESCO World Heritage site, set in a verdant landscape. It blends the architectural traditions of ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt. It is said that the emperor drew inspiration for his ideal city from his travels.

Only part of Hadrian’s Villa is accessible today. That’s 40 hectares to explore. You’ll be able to admire numerous buildings, thermal baths, pleasure gardens and the Maritime Theater, a sort of islet where the emperor took refuge for his artistic activities. The highlight of the visit? The Canopus, with its magnificent pool enhanced by statues and columns.

The Neapolis archaeological park in Sicily

Amphithéâtre romain de Neapolis à Syracuse

Shutterstock – Michele Ponzio

The Neapolis site boasts some of the finest Roman monuments in Italy, as well as a number of Greek buildings. It is located in Syracuse, Sicily, northwest of the island of Ortygia. This archaeological park offers an immersive experience and a leap into Syracuse’s past. Booming in Antiquity, Syracuse struggled to contain its population. Hence the construction of a neapolis (new town).

Enjoy the heritage of this civilization as you explore the latomies (quarries) and the swimming pool beneath the church of San Nicolò dei Cordari. The most remarkable building is the Roman Amphitheatre, built in the 1st century by order of Augustus after Syracuse became a military colony. It could accommodate 20,000 spectators for animal and gladiator fights. Nearby, you can also see the pillar of a triumphal arch and the remains of a fountain.

Verona’s majestic Arena

Vue aérienne Arène de Vérone

Shutterstock – Saiko3p

Verona‘s 30,000-seat Arena is a veritable treasure trove of art and culture. Proudly located in the city’s historic center, it features an open-air amphitheater completed in 30 A.D. This architectural masterpiece is considered the third largest Roman amphitheater, after those in Rome and Capua. The amphitheater has lost none of its splendor, and today ranks among the best-preserved Roman monuments in Italy.

Here, the Romans organized animal shows imported from distant parts of the empire, fights to the death and executions as barbaric as they were inventive. The word arena comes from the sand that covered the floor to absorb the blood. Today, these arenas are put to better use. They host a wide range of cultural events, from concerts and plays to operas at the annual Verona Festival.

Which of these Roman monuments in Italy are you planning to visit? Tell us all about it in the comments section!