Altogether I have spent 18+ months in Rome. And in that whole time I have been to the Roman Forum zero times. I have walked by nearly everyday. I have peered over the fences into the Forum from every vantage point. I have been to Trajan’s Forum/Markets across the Via dei Fori Imperiali twice, but I could not bring myself for over a year and a half to pull the trigger on what is considered by many to be one of the must-see sights in a person’s first trip to Rome, let alone their eleventy-billionth.
But I hadn’t been. I didn’t particularly want to go. The lines were long, the forum dusty and mostly in the sun, and it all just seemed like a giant pile of undefined ruins. And when Ostia Antica is only a 40 minute suburban train ride away, why bother with the Forum?
Well, under the influence of a freshly minted art history PhD who was living in Rome at the same time as me, who was writing her dissertation on the baroque interventions into the Forum, I was persuaded to go. To bask in the crowded, dusty, sunny, undefined-ness of this must-see sight.
And am I converted? Do I now join the chorus of how unmissable the Roman Forum is? Did I wish I had gone on my first visit, my first day in Rome many years ago?
Nope. Not really. There are similarly dramatic, less costly, less crowded, and better shaded ruins elsewhere (like Ostia Antica). Or across the damn street at Trajan’s Forum.
If you feel compelled to go to the Forum, for the love of all things Roman, go late in the afternoon/early evening, when the sun is low and the lines are shorter. Also, for this particularly large piles of stones, an actual human guide is pretty much a necessity. The guidebook isn’t going to cut it, when pretty much all half-fallen columns look the same. But honestly, I say skip it. Skip it good.
And at least nobody has convinced me to go in the Colosseum yet. And no one ever will.
What do you think? Is the Forum a must-skip?