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Vacation Time: The Eternal City!

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All roads lead to Rome [PHOTOS COURTESY OF Adobe Stock]

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WHEN IN ROME, you’ll want to get a feel for the ancient city. Visit Palatine Hill to see where the emperors and aristocracy lived, and the Roman Forum – the site of elections, processions and criminal trials – for an insight into day-to-day Roman life. The Pantheon is Rome’s best preserved ancient monument, with the largest unreinforced, concrete dome in the world.

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A GREAT PLACE FOR PEOPLE WATCHING, the elegant, butterflyshaped Spanish Steps feature in Roman Holiday (1953), The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) and the Bob Dylan song When I Paint My Masterpiece. There are 135 steps – don’t mistake the slightly elevated drainage system for the first step – linking Spanish Square below with Trinità dei Monti church above.

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BUILT WHERE THE ANCIENT ROMANS went to watch the “games,” ovalshaped Piazza Navona is Rome’s largest “square.” Today, it’s a centre for openair cafes and seasonal fairs, lively with painters, fortune tellers and street performers. It’s best known for its jawdropping Baroque fountains: Fountain of the Four Rivers, Fountain of the Moor and Fountain of Neptune.

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ORIGINALLY THE 17TH CENTURY ESTATE of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, Villa Borghese is set in a lovely 80-hectare park, with naturalistic landscaped gardens arranged in the English style. The onsite art gallery, housing the Borghese’s private art collection, boasts paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian, as well as sculptures by Bernini.

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IN THE COLOSSEUM, which used to seat 50,000, you can walk in the footsteps of emperors, and explore the underground complex, where gladiators prepared themselves for battle. If this speaks to your imagination, sign up at the Roman Gladiator School, which offers classes for children as well as adults. Visit www.gruppotoricoromano.it.

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NO ONE IS EVER PREPARED FOR the size and magnificence of St Peter’s Square, St Peter’s Basilica (the largest church in the world), or the Vatican Museum, which is over 14.4 kilometres long. The Renaissance wow-factor carries through to Michelangelo’s glorious Sistine Chapel, and its world-famous frescoes. To book your place at Pope Francis’ weekly audience, visit www.citywonders.com.

NO TRIP TO ROME IS COMPLETE without a glimpse of the outrageously Baroque Trevi Fountain. Arguably the best-loved fountain in the city, every night about HK$28,000 is swept up from its basin, and donated to needy families in Rome. What makes visitors to the Trevi Fountain so charitable? Throw a coin into the water and, legend has it, you’ll be sure to return to Rome.

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