If I were to ask you who is the most famous Roman of all time, I can pretty much guarantee you would answer Julius Caesar. And I think you would be right. He was the catalyst that moved the Republic to the Empire. His life story and achievements are incredible. He was a great politician, a great military man, and by all accounts a great man. He was a man of the people, he loved them and they loved him right back.

statue of julius caesar

Caesar’s Story (The Short Version…)

Julius Caesar was born in 100 B.C, into a family that was noble but broke. He grew up around middle class and poor people, and as such could identify more with the common man than the upper class.

His early years read like a wild adventure, hiding from the bad guys who were out to kill him, living a life on the run. At one point he was captured by pirates and ransomed, and then once freed he turned around, attacked those same pirates, got the ransom money back and then crucified them all!

Caesar was an accomplished military man and he fought for the poor and the landless against the members of his own class, which endeared him to the citizens of Rome. After years of fighting and civil wars he eventually became the leader of Rome

Unlike his predecessors he wasn’t about bloody purges and savagery, instead was a really good leader. He brought about peace, pardoned enemies instead of crushing them, and always, always maintained a fantastic relationship with the people of Rome. They loved him.

But the Senate didn’t. He was blowing their game on enriching themselves at the expense of the poor, and he held far too much power. So they decided to assassinate him.

RELATED POST: 7 TIPS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO ROME

The Ides of March

It nearly didn’t happen.

On the 15th of March 44 B.C he was to attend a meeting of the senate. His friends had warned him not to go, a psychic warned him he would die on the Ides of March, his wife Calpurnia had a nightmare that he would be killed, and on top of all of these he woke up having one of his dizzy spells. So he sent a message that he wouldn’t be coming.

He was due to head out on a military mission the next day and the senate worried he would come back an even bigger hero than he already was, so in desperation they decided to send someone he trusted to get him, Decimus Brutus. Caesar loved Decimus like a son, so away they went together, arm in arm.

Julius caesar quotes

Murder In The Curia

The Senate house had been damaged by fire so the meeting was held in the Curia (a senate meeting room) in the Teatro Pompeo.

the assassination of Julius Caesar by Vincenzo Camuccini

The meeting began and suddenly dozens of senators pulled daggers from their togas and set upon Julius Caesar in a stabbing frenzy. When it was done everyone fled, leaving him to bleed to death alone on the cold marble floor.

RELATED POST: 14 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT PIAZZA NAVONA

Riots In The Streets Of Rome

The senators thought they had liberated the republic. They saw themselves as heroes. The people saw otherwise. Enraged that their beloved leader had been taken from them they took to the streets and rioted. The conspirators who killed Caesar locked themselves inside their homes or fled.

It got worse too. Julius Caesar’s funeral took place in the Forum and the masses came to pay homage. Remember the people of Rome loved him. Their fury at his murder was at boiling point when Marc Antony took advantage of an incredible opportunity.

marlon brando as marc antony
Friends, Romans, Countrymen… Marlon Brando as Mark Antony

He got up in front of the people and spoke of all the great things beloved Caesar had done for them. A politician to the core he got them whipped into hysteria . Then he held up Caesar’s blood stained toga and pointed out all the stab wounds.

Caesar’s Will

To top it all off, right when the powder keg that was the crowd was about to explode, Marc Antony read them Julius Caesar’s will.

Caesar the great had bequeathed his estates, his gardens, his art collections (which were pretty sizable) and a huge sum of money, to the people of Rome. His people. The people he loved more than anything. For their benefit and for their enrichment. What could possibly show the people of Rome more clearly that he wasn’t the oppressor the senate accused him of being?? This proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that his assassination had been a theft. They had been robbed of this great man. The crowd (literally) went wild.

RELATED POST: 10 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO IN ROME

Fire In The Forum

The crowds raged through the Forum smashing everything they could and throwing anything that could be burned onto the funeral pyre. Fire tore through the Forum and the mob went wild.

Temple of Caesar
The remains of Julius Caesar’s Temple in the Roman Forum

So the Senators plan back fired. Instead of strengthening the Republic, this destroyed it. Caesar had named Octavian as his successor, and he went on to amass more power than anyone ever had before, created the Empire and renamed himself Augustus.

The Anniversary of Caesar’s Death

Every year on the anniversary of Julius Caesar’s death, March 15th, also known as the Ides of March, there are celebrations in Rome. There is a marathon in his name, cultural events happen across the city, there is a re-enactment of his death at the Teatro Pompeo, and flowers are laid at the Temple of Caesar at the remains of his funeral pyre.

RELATED POST: THE BEST DAY TRIPS FROM ROME

Italy’s Festivals In March

One of the things I love to do when I’m in Italy is check out any festivals happening nearby. There are multiple festivals that take place in Italy every March. If you are on the Private Members List you will have a list of my favorites in your inbox. If you are not on the Private Members List and would like to get all the extra information to help you plan your trip to Italy you can join it HERE.

My New Book

I have a new book coming soon! Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome takes you through (more than) 101 different things to see and do in Rome that are not on the regular tourist radar. I don’t talk about the Colosseum, the Vatican, The Trevi Fountain or the Spanish Steps, because A) you already know about them and B) they are always full of tourists.

Most people don’t realize that Rome is full to bursting with hundreds of really amazing things to see, most of which are only a couple of minutes walk from the big attractions. Each of these come with stories that range from intriguing to hilarious, and give you an entirely different perspective on what you’re looking at.

This book not only tells you about some of these places, but also tells you what’s nearby, so you can see where to slot some of them into your existing Rome itinerary.

From Ancient Rome to Underground Rome, amazing churches to the best markets, from where to watch the sunset over the Eternal City to where to find the Caravaggios, from street foods you have to try to where to find the ghosts of Rome, the book is packed with fantastic information designed to turn your visit into the trip of a lifetime, and make you fall in love with Rome the way I have.

Join the list for news about the book release and discounted pricing HERE

There are many fabulous day trips you can take from Rome. I had been wanting to check out Hadrian’s Villa (Villa Adriana) and Villa d’Este for ages, and this past summer I finally made my way there.

Villa d’Este is a story of extreme wealth, corruption, and the Catholic Church, three fabulously suited bedfellows. The more you research the various Popes and Cardinals the more you wonder where all this chastity and celibacy and saying Hail Mary’s for bad deeds comes from. They certainly weren’t living it!

RELATED POST: 10 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO IN ROME

The Villa

Villa d’Este is a 16th century villa built by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, one of the wealthiest cardinals of them all. During this time when the church ruled everything and there was no free press to report the goings on, Popes and Cardinals were marrying and having mistresses and orgies and generally getting up to no good. D’Este had a wife and 4 sons, which I find endlessly entertaining.

view of the gardens of Villa d'Este in Tivoli
The view from one of the balconies at Villa d’Este in Tivoli

He took an enormous amount of land from the locals to build his spectacular villa, and robbed no end of marble and travertine from Hadrian’s place down the hill. At one point he had 12 lawsuits against him, but he didn’t care, he was building his palace anyway.

Frescoed ceilings inside Villa d'Este in Tivoli, outside Rome

The villa would be quite sensational on its own, with its frescoes and mosaics and glorious views. On a clear day from the terrace you can see all the way to St Peter’s Dome.

RELATED POST: 14 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT PIAZZA NAVONA IN ROME

The Gardens At Villa d’Este

The most famous part of Villa d’Este are the gardens and their fountains. D’Este diverted the Aniene river to provide water to one of the most spectacular series of fountains and water exhibits you will ever see.

It all happens on several levels, working their way steeply down the hill to the bottom of the garden.

steep pathways work their way down into the gardens at Villa d'Este in Tivoli
Steep pathways work their way down into the gardens at Villa d’Este

All the fountains and water exhibits are powered by water. It is completely brilliant, especially when you factor in the sheer size of the gardens – they are enormous. You will notice too as you move through the garden that all the fountains that line the way have water flowing at the same speed. You don’t see any gushing while others drip, it is all synchronized and balanced.

musical clock in the gardens at Villa d'Este in Tivoli
This is a water powered musical clock that plays Renaissance music at various times during the day.

One highlight is a huge fountain that plays Renaissance music several times per day.

Make sure you find out what time the musical fountain is scheduled to play and time your visit to be in front of it when it does. It is quite incredible!

RELATED POST: 7 NEED TO KNOW TIPS BEFORE TRAVELING TO ROME

As you are walking down to the musical fountain the walls are lined with gargoyle-like sculptures with water flowing out of their mouths.

walkways lined with gargoyle fountains in the gardens at Villa d'Este in Tivoli
Walkways lined with gargoyle fountains in the gardens at Villa d’este
Villa d'Este Tivoli gargoyle fountain close up
Close up of a gargoyle lining the walkway in the gardens at Villa d’Este in Tivoli

Part way down you see two fountains the man of the cloth had made for the pleasure of his sons.

Fountains spraying water from breasts in the gardens of Villa d'Este in Tivoli
The fountain of the boobies in the gardens of Villa d’Este, Tivoli. There are two identical fountains facing one another.

A pair of female creatures with giant boobs from which water arcs out. I wonder if he gave himself a round of Hail Mary’s to make up for it?

Fountain in the gardens at Villa d'Este in Tivoli

You can spend a really lovely afternoon wandering the gardens at Villa d’Este.

Fountain in the gardens at Villa d'Este in Tivoli

They really are a work of art, and are visually astounding from every angle, wherever you are on the property.

Stairway to the gardens at Villa d'Este in Tivoli
Stairway to the gardens at Villa d’Este in Tivoli

The gardens are quite steep. You can take an elevator back up from close to the halfway mark, but you still need to be able to walk well to get to that point. As such I don’t recommend it for anyone with bad knees or hips, or for anyone who has trouble walking.

Villa d’Este is in Tivoli, only 15 miles from Rome.

Day tours combine Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa) in the morning and then Villa d’Este in the afternoon.


RELATED POST: 10 BEST DAY TRIPS FROM ROME BY TRAIN

When I was at Villa d’Este Rome was having a very hot spell, so it was nice to take a day outside the city and enjoy the shade as well as the break from the heat.

If you are traveling to Rome any time soon you will love my new book, Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome. It will be available exclusively on Amazon.com by late March or early April 2019. Everyone on my Private Members List will get early notification of the book’s release, as well as the chance to get special early-bird pricing. You can join the list here.

Have you read my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy (Secrets To Glamorous Travel On A Not So Glamorous Budget yet? It has become an international best seller and is available worldwide, exclusively on Amazon.com Get your copy HERE


728x90 Get Quote

Are you planning a trip to Rome this summer? Rome is one of the greatest cities in the world. There’s so much to see and do, and no matter what your interests Rome has something for you.

Rome Colosseum, colisseum Rome
The Colosseum on a sunny day

Unfortunately most travelers to Rome just hit the same handful of sites – the Colosseum, Vatican, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. Many find the city overwhelming because they’ve only experienced the places that are overloaded with tourists. I need everyone to love Rome, so have a new book coming out at the end of March that is all about 101 amazing things to do in Rome that pretty much no one knows about. Its fabulous!

If you want to be on the advanced list to get notifications about Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome, as well as early bird pricing, you can join the Private Members Newsletter List here.

I’ve put together a list of 7 tips for traveling to Rome. This is especially helpful if you’ve never been before, but still worth looking over if you are going back anytime soon.

1. Stay Central

Most of the things you want to see and do in Rome happen within a couple of miles radius of the historic center of the city. There is loads of affordable accommodation close to the center of Rome, and you don’t have to be on a loud or busy street.

2. Rome is a Walking City

The very best way to see and experience Rome is on foot. Rome is an incredibly beautiful city, full of little piazzas, ivy walled side streets and little hidden neighborhoods that are to die for. You miss all of this if driving past in a bus or a car.

Use the GPS service on your phone to get you back on track if you get lost, but in the meantime hit the street walking!

cobblestoned street in Rome, Rome streets, cobble stone streets Rome
A little side street in the Trastevere, Rome

3. Wear Good Shoes

Make sure you pack good shoes that you can walk all day in. Rome is full of gorgeous cobble-stoned streets that photograph amazingly but can be hard on your feet. This is not the city to wander around in flip flops or sandals that don’t support your feet.

RELATED POST: THE BEST SHOES TO WEAR THIS SUMMER IN EUROPE

4. Dress The Part

If you plan on going inside any of Rome’s 900+ churches or religious sites your shoulders and knees need to be covered. Keep a scarf in your handbag to throw over your shoulders if they are bare, and wear hemlines that touch your knee.

This past year (2018) women were being turned away from the Pantheon because their shoulders weren’t covered. Companies that lead guided tours through the Vatican will automatically disqualify anyone with bare shoulders or hemlines above the knee, regardless of whether you have already paid for your ticket or not. It’s not worth the hassle or the drama – just plan your wardrobe ahead of time!

5. Wear A Cross-body Bag

It’s a good idea to wear a cross body bag in any major European city. Wherever there are large groups of tourists there are also large groups of gypsies and scammers, just waiting to separate you from your cash and valuables.

The best thing to do is keep your bag across your body with the side that opens against your body. Never leave your bag open and never hang it over a chair in a restaurant or cafe.

Travelon Bags are super popular for travel. They have RFID blockers built into them, are slash-proof and even have a cable running through the strap so it can’t be cut.

RELATED POST: 10 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO IN ROME

The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum

6. Purchase Tickets Online

Don’t waste hours standing in line to get into the big attractions – pre-purchase your tickets online. This year the Colosseum is doing timed tickets that only give you a 15 minute entry window, so plan on being in line with your pre-purchased ticket 30 minutes before your entry time.

Many of the smaller places are also only doing pre-purchased tickets now too. Make sure you research them before leaving for Italy.

7. Walk The Monuments At Night

All the major monuments are lit up at night, and are absolutely beautiful! Many places such as the Forum and Trajan’s Market have multimedia displays happening at night, and they are wonderful to see!

The busloads of tourists are all gone for the night, so the city becomes quite mellow. You will get an entirely different perspective of the various monuments that were crowded all day long. You just can’t beat night-time photos of the Colosseum or St Peters square!

Rome is a safe city to walk at night. The locals are out everywhere, there are lots of great little bars and cafes to stop into for a glass of wine as well as endless trattorias to stop in for dinner. You will love Rome at night!

RELATED POST: 10 DAY TRIPS BY TRAIN FROM ROME

BONUS CONTENT: Would you like to know my favorite rooftop bars in Rome? Each of them is in the heart of the city, is easy to get to, and has a spectacular view. I’ve made a PDF (with photos) for my 7 Best Rooftop Bars In Rome. If you are already on my Private Members List it’s already on its way to you. If you are not on my list you can download your PDF here.


728x90 Get Quote