When In Rome
The best thing about Rome is not the Colosseum. It’s not even Saint Peter’s Basilica, or the Sistine Chapel or the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.
The best thing is that when in Rome, you could never think you’re anywhere else.
Rome is a charming yet trendy blend of old and new. And not just the kind of ‘old and new’ we talk about when comparing, say, Boston or Sydney’s colonial architecture with their modern bars, which are separated by a couple of centuries at most. No, the mix of old and new in Rome spans 2000 years, with buildings dating back to the first century CE.
From the Pantheon to the Vatican to the Pasta Museum, Rome awes and overwhelms with the sheer weight of history bearing down on its cobbled streets, and gives the minutiae of our modern lives a healthy dose of perspective.
In every sense of the word, Rome is BIG. Big personalities, big passion, big history and big bragging rights to some of the biggest thinkers of all time. When it all gets too much, however, there is always the option to find a sunny spot and indulge in a BIG serving of some of the best food you’re ever likely to wrap your lips around.
Fashion forward, cultured, bold, brassy and with a well-earned and slightly arrogant pride that runs through the veins of every resident, Rome never fails to draw a reaction. Like its many lively older gentlemen, the city will unapologetically pinch your bum, take your hand, teach you a lesson and play you a tune, all in the time it takes to say ‘uno gelati per favore…’
Rome's Top 10
10. Piazza del Popolo With a name that rolls ever so beautifully off the tongue, this was once the site of public executions. There’s no need to worry now though as that’s thankfully all in the past. Best people-watching spot in the city.
5. Sistine Chapel You’ll kick yourself if you miss this one. Well worth the fun little walk to get there. Quite a nice paint job on the ceiling (needs a bit of work on the cornices, though).
9. The Spanish Steps Enjoy the phenomenal view from these steps built in 1720. Then relax with a beer in the trendy surroundings.
4. The Roman Forum Best friends with the Colosseum and right near an ancient park where you can still see traces of a mighty old racetrack. Makes modern houses of parliament seem oh-so passé.
8. Campo dei Fiori Markets Super cool outdoor markets where you can buy foodstuffs that you wouldn’t have thought possible.
3. The Pantheon It might seem obvious but this is a must-see. And listen to your guide; they know the best little stories to keep you interested.
7. The Vatican Complete with museum, guides and a history that will blow your mind. Consider getting that annoying hanger-on an exorcism. Two birds, one stone.
2. Trevi Fountain It’s worth it just for the people-watching. Legend has it that if you throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, you’ll be sure to return to Rome. Kind of like a long-term tourism investment strategy, perhaps?
6. St Peter’s Basilica Think you’ve seen all the churches you need? Think again. If the history behind this place doesn’t blow your mind then you’ve got some reading to do.
1. The Colosseum We know we said it wasn’t the best thing about Rome, but that was just for prosaic effect (a literary device invented by the ancient Romans, incidentally). Once you explore this inside and out, you’ll wonder if anything will ever impress you again.
- Pantheon – The ultimate temple that is dedicated to ancient Roman gods and goddesses.
- Colosseum – You cannot say you have been to Rome until you have seen it.
- San Giovanni in Laterano – This is the first Christian church built in Rome.
- Foro Romano – Now in ruins, this was the religious and cultural centre of Ancient Rome.
- Baths of Caracalla – Travel back in time to the 3rd century and visit the public baths.
Rome Art & Culture
- National Gallery of Modern Art –This is a refreshing exhibition of 20th-century art.
- Explora – A children's museum and a great place to take the kids for a fun visit.
- Fabiolous Cooking Day – This is not a one-day event, but rather a way to tour Rome through its food.
- Vino Roma – A chance to sample wines from all over the country.
- Galleria Borghese – For a fee, visitors can see the Borghese family's exceptional art collection.
- Palazzo del Freddo – The area is not only good for shopping but is also a spot to get really good ice cream.
- Wonderfool – Enjoy being pampered at this spa.
- Trionfale Market – Native market with an array of fruit, vegetables and clothing for sale.
- Art Studio Cafe – You can buy artwork or just enjoy a snack.
- Sergio di Cori – A shop dedicated to the finest leather gloves that you can buy.
Rome Gay & Lesbian
- Trastevere – This is the section of Rome that is known for being artsy and open-minded.
- Alcatraz – Three floors of fun.
- L'Alibi – Mostly, but not exclusively, male.
- Garbo – A more laid-back place that caters to both tourists and natives.
- Joli Couer - Saturday night is lesbian night.
- Beautiful Rome Walking Tour – The tour lasts for three days and features great spots in Rome.
- Trevi Fountain – Absolutely the most photographed fountain in the world.
- Borghese Gardens – Beautiful gardens in the city.
- Protestant Cemetery – You will go to see the cats, as well as the cemetery itself.
- Aventine Hill – Look through the keyhole and continue to see the site’s lovely features.
- Olympic Stadium – This venue hosted the FIFA World Cup.
- Stadio Flaminio – While football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Rome, rugby is growing in popularity.
- Foro Italico – Every May, you can catch the ATP Masters tennis tournament.
- Golf – Some notable clubs are the Olgiata Golf Club or the Percosi Golf Club.
- City Marathon – Held each spring.
Right near the central train station, Stazione Termini, this will most likely be your first look at Rome. But don’t just give it a cursory glance and move on to the prettier things nearby. You’re in Rome, so do as the Romans do. And since Roman men thing anything in a skirt is fair game, regardless of how attractive the façade, give Piazza della Repubblica the attention it deserves.
Although not home to many of the hard-hitting attractions,Piazza della Repubblica offers up plenty of great food, live music and a even the time and place for quiet drink with your amore. On the sightseeing front, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and Baths of Diocletian are both worth a look.
Ancient Rome is home to many of the major tourist attractions that Rome is so famous for. Although crowded, walking around it is far more relaxing than you might think – if you take your time. By stopping off for coffee, lunch, and a glass of vino in the afternoon you turn sightseeing into an authentically Italian experience that’s a world apart from the tour groups following their leader’s umbrella.
In Ancient Rome, you’ll find the Colosseum, Forum, Palatine Hill, Imperial Forums, and Circus Maximus. A short walk will take you to Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon. We know this seems like a whole lotta sightseeing, but you can pick and choose, or just take it all in as you saunter by.
The Jewish Ghetto
If you want to get off the ridiculously well-trodden tourist track, take a wander through Rome’s Jewish Ghetto, where hidden gems belie the unappealing name (an equally unappealing history). Only one section of the ghetto wall now remains (in the Piazza della Cinque Secole), and where poverty and oppression once lived are some fantastic restaurants serving up the best food in the city.
Centred on Piazza Farnese and the market square of Campo dei Fiori, this is where to go to get of glimpse of Rome as it was around the time when Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Around 1600, this was the most fashionable area in Rome. It’s less trendy now, but a walk down Via Giulia will reveal some smashing hidden art galleries and unique little shops.
The Vatican City
Home to just 800 residents (one of home happens to be the Pope), the Vatican is not only the smallest country in the world, it’s also one of the grandest. Centre of the Roman Catholic faith, pilgrims flock there from around the world, while others come to marvel at the magnificent baroque architecture of St Peter’s Square and surrounding buildings.
Inside its walls, the Vatican is dominated by Saint Peter’s Basilica, said to be the burial place of Jesus’ leading disciple, Simon Peter. The Vatican Gardens and Vatican Museums are also worth visiting, but with over four million visitors a year, don’t expect to find time for quiet contemplation – especially on or around Catholic feast days.
Rome Eat & Drink
Pastarito – Pizzarito There are several branches of this around Rome. You can choose your own pizza or pasta toppings and everything is computerised so there’s no waiting for the bill.
Il Posto Accanto A family-run business serving up real Italian grub. It’s only small, but that just means the service is great. Try the house specialties, the fish or homemade ravioli.
Da Tonino Good, cheap pasta and an atmosphere so welcoming you’ll probably eat there twice. Via del Governo Vecchio
Enoteca Antica No need for a suit and tie, but a little bit of class won’t go astray. This adorable wine bar has decent food as well.
'Gusto A restaurant, pizzeria, wine bar and bookshop all in one. You can’t go wrong – an oldie but a goodie. Via del Corso
Siciliainbocca Traditional Italian, as well as seafood and house specialties. Cosy and sunny. Share a bunch of appetisers to sample the best dishes.
Zio Ciro Proper proper pizza and to-die-for desserts. Sit inside or out and enjoy a good glass of wine.
Gelateria Giolitti You can’t do Rome without at least one gelato or ice cream. Per day. There are few better places for your sugar fix. Campo Marzio
Hostaria Costanza Old-school Roman dining at its absolute best. Traditional but trendy. Try the stuffed zucchini flowers and ravioli. Piazza del Paradiso
La Botticella Adventurous eaters are in heaven with this authentic Italian menu. Forget the popular exports like pizza and pasta, this is all about goat, tripe and tongue, among others. Step outside your culinary comfort zone! Vicolo del Leopardo
July puts its fancy pants on for some high-end fashion shows in Piazza di Spagna by the magnificent Spanish Steps which is called Donne Sotto le Estelle.
Summer also brings the Festa di Noantri. Look out for craft, heaps of food fairs and outdoor theatrical performances.
RomaEuropa is an annual international event featuring performances in dance, music and theatre. It is held around September to November.
Whether you’re a lover of jazz or comedy, October is the month for you. There are two big festivals this month, the Roma Jazz Festival and Festival Romics. (See how they blend ‘Rome’ and ‘Comics’ to make ‘Romics’? We’re slapping our thighs already…)
There are a few ways of getting around Rome, but the best way to really soak it up is to walk. There are so many great places to stop off, and you’ll miss them if you’ve fallen asleep on a bus!
Taxis in Rome are safe and reasonably priced, although some drivers will inevitably try to con you. Make sure you get a licensed cab by looking for the letters SPQR on the front door.
The main bus station is in front of Stazione Termini on Piazza dei Cinquecento. Pick up a timetable from the information booth and you’ll have it down pat in no time. Other hubs are at Largo di Torre Argentina, Piazza Venezia and Piazza San Silvestro.
When To Go
Winter (November to February) temps average around 10-16°C (50-61°F). It’s occasionally overcast or rainy, and can get seriously cold in January. That means you’ve got the best chance of seeing the sights relatively unimpeded, but pack your woollies!
Spring (March to May) averages 13-18°C (55-64°F). Weather is generally sunny and getting nice and warm. In many ways this is the best time of year to visit as Rome is still not too crowded.
Summer (June to August) averages 21-29°C (70-84°F). Can get very hot, especially in August so make sure you hydrate at one of the city’s many fresh water sources (a charming little public service!). Be prepared to stand in queues at popular destinations and bring plenty of sunscreen.
Autumn (September to October) averages18-22°C (64-72°F). Still pleasant, but rainfall is at its heaviest.
What To Miss
As simple as it sounds, beware of pickpockets and other thieves. There’s no need to carry a safe around, just don’t dump your purse on the nightclub floor and keep your valuables close at crowded tourist attractions.
Any food joints you can get back home. Skip the familiar Golden Arches and immerse yourself in the exquisite Italian cuisine. You’ll regret it if you leave without having taken advantage of every meal!
Change your money at a bank, or if you’re desperate, at hotels or the airport. Don’t trust street vendors offering you a ‘very-a good exchange-a rate!’
Rome or Roma is the 'Eternal City', and capital of Italy, the former powerhouse of the Holy Roman Empire. History is everywhere in this huge European city, with palaces, churches, basilicas and monuments and statues providing evidence of it former stature as head of one of the most powerful global civilizations. The centre of Rome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and home to the Vatican City, and the Three Coins Fountain. Unsurprisingly Rome is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and today boasts modern as well as ancient attractions and is a renowned fashion capital, as well as being home to some of the best shops and restaurants on the planet.
Where to start is the main problem for visitors on a trip to Rome. Rome is divided into a number of districts including the Modern Centre, Old Rome, Colosseo - the old part of Rome, the Vatican, the North Centre, Trastavere, Aventino-Testaccio and Esquilino-San Giovanni. Visitors are usually keen to see the historical centre first, and the Pantheon is one of the most popular attractions. The Pantheon was constructed in 125 AD and is incredibly well preserved. Originally built as a temple to the Gods by Hadrian, light enters through a central oculus which, with the aid of a sundial, allowed the Romans to measure time.
The Colosseum is one of the landmark attractions in Rome, featuring a range of architecture including columns which are Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Underneath the former gladiatorial arena there is a network of corridors, ramps and elevators, which were used to take animals from their cages to the arena. Today, we can only see a bare skeleton of the once magnificent structure.
The Roman Forum was where Romans played out political, religious and business life - and was located in the valley between the Palatine and Capitoline hills. A map of the area is useful in order to find the best preserved monuments including the Arch of Septimus Severus, the House of the Vestal Virgins, and the Temple of Vesta.
The Trevi Fountain is a well known attraction, and is found in Piazza di Trevi. The fountain was constructed for Pope Clement XII, and features statues representing Abundance, Agrippa, Salubrity, and the Virgin and Neptune being led by two tritons. Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the fountain you will one day return to Rome.
One place which should not be missed is the magnificent Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, in the Vatican City (which is the smallest independent republic in the world). Michelangelo famously painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and frescoes on the wall were painted by Botticelli, Roselli, Pinturicchio, and della Gatta. Michelangelo also painted the altar wall with a depiction of the Last Supper. The Vatican Museums feature one of the best collections of art in the world, with galleries which cover more than 4 miles - the Raphael rooms, Etruscan Museum and Pio-Clementino Museum are highlights. The museum is open Monday to Friday.
The Basilica di San Giovanni is the oldest church in Rome, and is more important to Catholics than even St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Mass is celebrated here on religious holidays, and it is the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope. The cedar table which is housed in the church is said to be the one at which the Last Supper was held. Opposite the church is the Palace of the Holy Steps - one of the holiest Christian sites in the world. The steps are said to be the marble ones which were climbed by Christ at the villa of Pontius Pilate, and they have been present in Rome since 1589.
More Info On Events
The Roma Europa Festival is a yearly event which features concerts, dance, and classical music and attracts a large number of international artists. The festival takes place from September to December at a number of venues across the city.
The Birth of Rome takes place in April each year, and celebrates the birth of the city via a plethora of events at The Roman Forum, the Campidoglio,and spectacular firework displays over the Tiber River. Visitors can also enjoy the gladiatorial displays and banquets.
The Rome Marathon takes over the city in March when runners take a scenic route around the capital, past the Colosseum, St Peter's Basilica and many other major attractions. A Marathon Village is erected up to a week in advance of the marathon, with stalls, entertainment and concerts. The racestarts at the Colosseum.
Leisure And Recreation
Shopping in Rome is notoriously expensive but there are bargains to be had if you step off the beaten track with many quirky shops to be found on the backstreets. Here, leather goods, gifts and glasswork can be purchased, plus the markets in central Rome should not be overlooked. The Porta Polese flea market takes place in the Trastevere area of the capital. If money is no bject then there are enough designer shops here to please any fashionista - from Prada, Gucci, Valentino and Fendi , all located around the Piazza di Spagna. Piazza San Silvestro is the place to head for if in search of jewellery.
Romans have a relaxed approach to nightlife and enjoy spending evenings at cafes, and restaurants at Campo dei Fiori, the Piazza Navona. Testaccio and Ostiense is the place to head for if you want a night out clubbing. The Teatro dell'Opera is home to the Rome Opera Ballet, and for Opera the Baths at Caracella feature open air performances during the summer. The Stadio Flaminio and Palazzo dello Sport are large venues which frequently hold rock concerts and music events.
Rome can get extremely hot in the summer with temperatures around midday often reaching 35 o C or more, which is why Romans tend to shut up shop in August and go on vacation somewhere cooler. Winters tend to be mild with average temperatures in December being around 13 o C. Springtime in Rome has long been thought to be the best time to visit, although rainfall can be expected at any time of year.
More Info On Getting there
Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport is around 19 miles southwest of the centre, and a free shuttle links the three terminals. Express trains run from Termini Station in the city centre every 15 minutes and the journey time is around 30 minutes. There is also a late night bus service which connects the airport with Rome's central bus station Tiburtina Station. Taxis are readily available from the airport which takes from 40 to 60 minutes depending on traffic.
Rome's historic centre is highly accessible on foot, as it is mostly pedestrianised. Driving should never be attempted in Rome unless completely necessary, but the buses, trams, metro and trains are all efficient ways of getting around the capital. Night buses take over from midnight to 5am. The metro stops at all the main attractions, and all forms of public transport are relatively inexpensive with tickets covering all forms of travel - tickets must be bought in advance.
Top 6 Free Things To Do
Villa Doria Pamphili Park is a lovely place to while away an afternoon in. The park features a playground, football fields, a skating rink and pony rides, and is located on the Janiculum Hill at Via San Pancrazio.
The Palatine Hills tower over the Circus Maximus and can be accessed from near the Colosseum. Legend states that Romulus stayed here after he had fallen out with Remus, his brother - who lived on the other side of the circus at Aventine Hill. Visitors can view the Servian Wall which dates back to the 4th Century BC.
The Villa Borghese in Camp Marzio, is an area which features many museums. The Galleria Borghese is home to a private collection of art acquired over the years by the Borghese family. The Museo Natonale di Villa Giulia features the biggest collection of Etruscan art in the world, and the Galleria Nationale d'Arte Moderna features works by Cezanne, Degas, Monet and Van Gogh.
The Colosseo district also features museums, the Capitoline Museums which have Rome's most significant Roman and Greek sculptures and art within them.
The National Museum at the Baths of Diocletian which is located in Rome's modern quarter has a huge collection of archaeological artefacts, and the Museo di Civilta Romana is renowned for its vast replica of Imperial Rome, as well as many Roman statues.
Visitors are highly recommended to check out Rome's Piazzas including the Piazza della Minerva, the Piazza Colonna which features a column of Marcus Aurelius, and Piazza Chigi which is where the Italian Government meets.
Money And Costs
Rome can be quite expensive, but on the plus side, museums and galleries are mostly free to get into. Public transport is also reasonably priced and discounted for people under 18 and over 65. As a member of the Euozone Italy's currency is the Euro which has notes ranging from 500 Euros to 5, as well as coins which come in denominations of one to and two Eeuros, and in five, ten, 20, and 50 cents.
There are plenty of ATMs (Bancomat in Italy) which accept the major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, and there may be a charge for withdrawals. Money can be exchanged at banks, post offices, and at foreign exchanges. Exchange facilities are available at the Stazione Termini railway station and at the airport too. American Express and Thomas Cook are found on the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Barberini.
The trend of tipping started in Italy so tips are expected when eating out - generally of around 10-15% unless there is a service charge included in the price.
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