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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.


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There are so many amazing things to see and do in Rome.

Today I want to tell you about a fantastic place that you may want to fit into your Rome itinerary. It is located along the Appian Way at the 3 mile marker, so is near the catacombs of San Callisto and San Sebastiano.

The Tomb of Caecilia Metella

The tomb of Caecilia Metella on the Appian Way in Rome
The tomb of Caecilia Metella on the Appian Way in Rome

This ancient Roman mausoleum dominates the view along this particular stretch of the Appian Way, with its huge tower and castle-like fortifications. One of the best preserved and most visited monuments along the Appian Way, it is intriguing and fascinating, and like everything in Rome, has a great back story.

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Who Was Caecilia Metella?

This particular Caecila Metella (there were several) was born into one of the wealthiest families in ancient Rome. The Metella family wealth and power dated back to the 3rd century B.C and lasted until the end of the Republic. The family held both political power and important military seats.

In that time female names were often taken from the father’s family tree, so the Caecilius Metellus clan had multiple Caecilia Mettelas. Every daughter in the family had the same name, as if they had no importance at all, and were just human chattels. The males were given first names – her father was Quinicus Caecilius Metellus. This Caecilia was born around 100 B.C and was married to a powerful Roman general and politician who was actually instrumental in the conversion of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. His name was Marcus Licinius Crassus

Positioned as it was on the highest and most prominent point on the Appian Way, this glorious structure could be seen for miles. You could be forgiven for thinking it was built as a testament to a husband’s inconsolable grief at the loss of his wife, but it wasn’t. We don’t know the reason for her death or even exactly when she died. We don’t actually know anything much about her, and her mausoleum gives us no clues either. Which is a little odd. Well, actually it tells us two things in an inscription on the wall.

But we’ll get to that in a minute.

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The Mausoleum

The Tomb of Caecilia Metella on the Appian Way in Rome

The tomb or mausoleum is made up of a rotunda sitting atop a square podium, with the Caetani Castle attached to the back. The podium is 8.3 meters tall and the cylindrical drum rotunda standing on it is another 12 meters tall. The diameter of the drum is 29.5 meters or 100 Roman feet. Caecilia’s sarcophagus originally sat in a funerary sill inside wall of the massive tower, facing the Appian Way, but now calls the Palazzo Farnese home.

Although as a side note, there is some dispute over whether this is in fact Caecilia’s sarcophagus. At the time of her death cremation was the norm, so her ashes would have been placed in a funerary urn. Also a study that was done on the sarcophagus suggests it dates to 180 A.D. But who knows?

The exterior of the mausoleum was made of travertine. The upper level of the tower was decorated with a marble frieze depicting wreaths and the skulls of oxen, both of which were a reference to sacrifices made to the Roman gods. Quite a masculine motif – not what we would expect for a tomb dedicated to a woman. The relief in the center is also very masculine, depicting a helmet, shields and a prisoner. The only nod to Caecilia is on the inscription:

inscription on the Tomb of Caecilia Metella in Rome

CAECILIAE Q.CRETICI.F METELLAE.CRASSI

Which translated reads Caecilia, daughter of Quinicus Metellus Creticus and wife of Crassus. (The Creticus part refers to her father having conquered Crete.)

Not beloved wife and daughter, not any descriptors of her. Just an indication that she was the daughter of one man and wife of the next, like a possession passed around.

The Fortress

The Cetani castle at the Tomb of Caecilia Metella in Rome

In the middle ages the fortress was built, eventually becoming the Cetani Castle. The earth covered, rounded roof of the mausoleum had battlements built onto it and it became an important fortress, guarding the Appian Way and the southern entrance into Rome. The castle houses a museum and has ancient statues throughout the courtyards

Why Build the Mausoleum?

Tomb of Caecilia Matella on the Appian Way in Rome

So why build this huge, spectacular mausoleum for a woman not important enough to have her own name? It is thought to have been built towards the end of the 1st century B.C, sometime after Caecilia’s death, but in all likelihood not to celebrate her. Her death probably coincided time wise with the opportunity to show off the wealth and power and greatness of this eminent family, and celebrate the glory of the men named on the inscription.

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A single ticket is valid for 7 days and gets you into the Baths of Caracalla, the Villa of the Quintilii and the Tomb of Caecilia Metella. A great way to enjoy the Appian Way is by bicycle, and the area surrounding the Tomb of Caecilia Metella and the Cetani Castle is fabulous both for taking photos and for having picnics!

Bonus Content

Would you like to go wine tasting in Rome but don’t know where to go?

I have three favorite places to go wine tasting in the Eternal City. Each is quite different from the next and each offers a very different experience. I have made a downloadable PDF with all the information for you, as well as some tips for Walking Wine Tours. (If you are subscribed to my newsletter this will already be in your inbox) Get your Wine Tasting In Rome PDF Here