Rome is an endlessly enchanting city. Home to incredible art, one of the most beloved cuisines on the planet, an endless number of neighborhoods to explore, and an impressive history that has been folded into the very fabric of modern…
Whether you are in Rome for 3 days, 3 weeks or 3 months, be prepared to step into the world's biggest open air museum. You can decide to follow the typical tourist paths or be brave enough to go off the beaten tracks. One way or the other, Rome will romance you, surprise you and leave you with wanting more! Rome is one of world's most photogenic cities. Whether you spend your time sightseeing, or watching the world go by in a pretty outdoor cafe, it will be your turn to feature in your very own Roman Holiday.
Rome is an enchanting city where you'll discover a romantic blend of culture and history spiced up with a vibrant street and nightlife. The beauties of Rome sprawl across its landscape and are a compelling blend of the ancient with the Renaissance. A trip to Rome, though, encompasses much more than a stroll through art and architecture. Sipping a coffee or aperitif in street cafes, or enjoying a glass of beer while you take in the vistas from terraces and piazzas are just as much a part of the tourist experience in this most romantic of cities. Add in to the mix delicious gastronomy and excellent Italian wines, and you have an inspiring and beautiful destination that our travel guide will help you make the most of.
Official Site: http://www.turismoroma.it
Because Rome is such a huge tourist draw, choose the date for your trip carefully. The best times of the year to visit are April, May, and late September through October. In the depths of summer, the heat and the crowds make the city nearly unbearable. August in particular should be avoided because this is the month that the entire country of Italy seems to go on vacation. Traveling too late or too early in the year can also be risky because the opening hours for many attractions are shorter, and some are closed completely.
Currency: [EUR] Euro
Timezone: GMT +2
Airports: Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport [FCO]
Annual Number of Visitors: 91 million (2017)
The city is wonderful to visit in any season and the historic centre is very walkable and you’ll easily discover hidden treasures around every corner (be sure to pack a pair of comfortable shoes!). Locals in Rome are friendly and always eager to practice their English so don’t be shy to ask for help or strike up conversation; Romans are more than happy to tell you about their favourite places to eat and the best things to do in the city. Always be mindful of your bags on public transportation and around key tourist attractions. The city is very safe but petty crime is rampant, especially on crowded buses and metros.
Local Culture, Local Cuisine, City, Museums, Landmarks/Sights, Walking Tours, Party/Nightlife, All Active/Outdoor, Family Friendly, Bars, Romantic, Bus Tours, All Arts, Shopping, Spa, Classical Music, Ballet/Opera, Fine Dining, Dance Clubs
You could spend your entire time in Rome just visiting churches, and you would not run out of awesome art and architecture to gaze upon. Rome has ancient Roman monuments and building, turned into churches and so many more amazing Renaissance and Baroque churches, all filled with history, art and architectural wonders.
When in Rome, you must drink espresso. It’s not uncommon for Romans to drink three or more espressos a day, and there are some unspoken rules if you don’t want to look like a tourist when ordering. First, cappuccinos are only drunk at breakfast. After that, order a shot of espresso or un caffè macchiato (a shot of espresso with a dollop of steamed milk). In the hotter months, ask for un caffè freddo (cold espresso sweetened with loads of sugar) or crema di caffè (the Roman equivalent of a frappuccino).
Eat All the Gelato
Rome has no shortage of excellent gelaterias, and many Romans are steadfastly loyal to their favorite. Giolitti, a few blocks from the Pantheon, is the city’s best old-school gelateria. It’s been around since 1900 and serves dozens of flavors in a rainbow of hues. If you’re getting yours to go – and it’s less expensive if you do – line up at the cashier and pay before ordering. A small cone gets you two flavors plus whipped cream. Other favorites include the Gelateria del Teatro, which makes artisanal gelato using pistachios from Sicily, hazelnuts from Piedmont.
Find Rome’s Cinematic History
Strolling through Rome’s cobblestoned streets can sometimes feel like being in a movie, but there are a few places with an especially cinematic history. One of the most picturesque is Via Margutta, where legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini lived. Gregory Peck’s character in Roman Holiday lived on Via Margutta too. Keep walking and soon enough you’ll come to Piazza di Spagna, which was featured in Roman Holiday and The Talented Mr. Ripley to name just two.
La Cucina Romana
Italian cuisine is beloved throughout the world but few people realize that each region of Italy has its own unique dishes. To taste Rome’s famous “cucina povera” dishes, you have to eat a traditional trattoria in the Eternal City. Rome is lauded for its pastas, including amatriciana, carbonara, gricia and cacio e pepe as well as its thin Roman-style pizza and pizza al taglio, or pizza by-the-slice – a favorite street food. There is also a heavy Jewish influence in the cuisine, so you’ll find lots of artichokes, zucchini flowers and anchovies incorporated into the dishes. Be sure to try the city’s delicious fried artichokes during your time in Rome.
Stumble into just about any church and you’re likely to see some impressive art and architecture. There are a few, however, with altars by Caravaggio and other Renaissance and Baroque masters that will leave you awestruck. On Piazza del Popolo, the church of Santa Maria del Popolo holds two of Caravaggio’s masterpieces: the Crucifixion of Saint Peter and the Conversion of Saint Paul. Raphael, Bernini, and Pinturicchio also contributed to its splendid interiors. Near Piazza Navona, the smaller, unassuming church of San Luigi dei Francesi displays three of Caravaggio’s greatest works: the Calling of St. Matthew, Matthew and the Angel, and Matthew’s Martyrdom.
The ancient Romans were lauded for their architectural and engineering artistry, and testaments to their brilliance still stand throughout the city. A visit to Rome brings you up close with monuments and constructions that influenced building practices and trends over centuries and across continents, including the Colosseum, the world’s largest amphitheater. If you venture outside the historic center, you’ll also see Via Appia Antica, an ancient road that made the most of cobblestone techniques, and the aqueducts, an innovative way to bring large quantities of water into the city.
Take a mid-afternoon break and have coffee at the Illy kiosk at the Galleria Alberto Sordi. The galleria, which dates to 1922 and features stained-glass skylights and mosaic floors, is one of Europe’s most gorgeous places to shop. Check out stores like La Rinascente (Italy’s Macy’s), Zara, Massimo Dutti, and the Italian mega bookstore La Feltrinelli. For designer boutiques, walk along Via Condotti and the surrounding streets. For vintage and Italian heritage brands, stroll through the Campo Marzio.
Home of Italy’s patron saint and lovingly restored to its medieval glory after a devastating 1997 earthquake, Assisi enjoys endless panoramic views from its hillside terrace. Assisi is small enough to see in about three hours. The imposing Basilica di San Francesco, on the left-hand side when facing the town from below, is the big draw. The Roman temple nestled among the buildings along the central Piazza del Comune also makes for a good photo. For the best views of the surrounding countryside, climb up to the ruined fortress (La Rocca) above the town.
Sitting on a steep outcrop in the middle of a vast rocky valley and reached by a long bridge from the modern town, Civita di Bagnoregio is mostly deserted save for a handful of street cafes and restaurants and souvenir shops. But it is worth visiting for the magnificent setting and haunting charm. Anything between a couple of hours and half a day is more than enough to walk around and sit down for lunch. Bagnoregio’s greatest asset is its setting. Inside the old town, rustic stone houses, and the occasional semi-wild garden, are sure to please photographers.
Set on a steep hillside with dramatic views across a deep gorge on its other side, Spoleto has a lovely Duomo square, a stunning medieval viaduct bridging the gorge, and a Roman theatre. The old town itself is largely vertical, but there is help in the shape of an escalator going from the vicinity of Piazza Garibaldi to the fortress (Rocca) at the top. The escalator will leave you off the side of the wide circular trail going around the Rocca fortress (called via Gattaponi; its other side is called via del Ponte). Going clockwise along the trail lets you look at the town and nearby hills and take in the star attraction, the 81-metre-tall Ponte delle Torri viaduct, halfway along the way.
Tivoli has three villas to cater to every visitor’s taste: the impressive Roman ruins of Villa Adriana just outside town, the romantic gorge of Villa Gregoriana with its gushing waterfalls, and the Renaissance masterpiece of Villa D’Este with its thousand fountains. The water attractions at Villa Gregoriana and Villa D’Este make for a welcome escape from the oppressive summer heat. As an added bonus, Villa D’Este offers night visits with magical subtle lighting between 8pm and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays from early July until mid-September. The three villas are the principal draw but Tivoli town outside the old centre is rather plain.
The largest urban archaeological site within easy reach of Rome, Ostia Antica may not have the reputation of Pompeii but gives curious visitors a good idea of a Roman city. It is an important archeological site that is located at the mouth of the River Tiber. The site has well-preserved ancient buildings, some of which date back to the fourth century BC. Ostia Antica is known for the outstanding frescoes and mosaics on these old buildings, as well as ancient public toilets that turned bathrooms into a social setting. If you take the time to explore the streets, Rome’s one-time maritime port still lets you visualize the way of life two millennia ago.
Viterbo is relatively large and lively. It has an attractive medieval centre, carefully restored after wartime bombing damage, an imposing papal palace, and good views from a number of lookout points around the old town. There are several picturesque streets within the old city walls. Corso d’Italia is the main drag leading into the central Piazza del Plebiscito. Going past the square along twisting Via San Lorenzo, past the incongruously pretty Piazza della Morte, will bring you to the papal palace with its monumental square. This area is a curious little maze: it is surprisingly easy to get lost in despite its small size.
Vatican City is the world’s smallest independent international state, a walled-off enclave within Rome. It’s home to the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. Some of the world’s most important relics are located inside the Vatican Museum. Located inside the Apostolic Chapel, within the residence of the Pope, Michelangelo’s ceiling fresco in the Sistine Chapel is a sight to see.
The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. There is a mix of street food, restaurants, and shopping at the bottom.
The Galleria Borghese is an art gallery housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana. A truly fine collection in a wonderful setting. A huge collection of Bernini sculptures and paintings. Don’t forget to walk around the park because it’s lovely and has nice fountains.
Arch of Titus
The Arch of Titus is a 1st-century AD honorific arch, located on the Via Sacra, Rome, just to the south-east of the Roman Forum. This arch depicts the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Looking up, you’ll see images of Roman soldiers plundering the religious treasures of the Jews after destroying the Temple.
The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant’Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. A lot of history connected to Vatican City plus you get an amazing view of Vatican City, Rome and the river.
The Capitoline Hill, between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the Seven Hills of Rome. The hill was earlier known as Mons Saturnius, dedicated to the god Saturn. Hilltop square designed by Michelangelo, lined with museums & offering views of the Roman forum.
Archbasilica of St. John Lateran
The Pope’s official seat, with ornate 1700s facade & statues of the Apostles. This is one of the oldest churches in the world. Considering that the Pope is also the Bishop of Rome, the basilica is considered to be the place of the papal throne and is also the cathedral of Rome.
The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. The entrance fee gives you access to many more attractive points of the Roman Archaeology. Take your time and be prepared to walk for a good three hours if you are serious about getting to know it.
Bocca della Verità
The Mouth of Truth is a marble mask which stands against the left wall of the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church, at the Piazza della Bocca della Verità, the site of the ancient Forum Boarium. Legend says that if you are a liar and place your hand inside Rome’s Bocca della Verità, a marble face known as the mouth of truth, you’ll lose some fingers.
The Pantheon is a former Roman temple, now a church, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus. You don’t need to buy tickets to enter the Pantheon but timing is important if you don’t want to waste time in queues – an hour before closing time is perfect. Use an app for the guide and stay away from guides.
Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla were the city’s second largest Roman public baths, or thermae, likely built between AD 212 and 216/217, during the reigns of emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla. Ruins of a vast rectangular-shaped Roman thermal bath complex – they are large, elaborate and beautiful. If you like the Roman ruins, you must go here.
The Colosseum or Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city. Built of travertine, tuff, and brick-faced concrete, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. It has about 80 entrances and is large enough to accommodate 50,000 spectators. Sink yourself in this marvel and go back to the Age of Gladiators. A tour guide is highly recommended to fully understand this beauty.
The Trevi Fountain is situated at the end of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus. Best to come here in the evening when the lighting of the fountain is on. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains. Scoop on the best ice cream at Gelato shops near Trevi Fountain – there are a dozen gelaterie around it.
Largo di Torre Argentina
Largo di Torre Argentina is a square in Rome, with four Roman Republican temples and the remains of Pompey’s Theatre. Archaeological site close to where Julius Caesar was killed, also home to a colony of cats.
Altare della Patria
The Altare della Patria, also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II or Il Vittoriano, is a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy.
Via Appia Antica
Remember the old saying “All Roads Lead to Rome”, well this road stretched all the way to the southeast of Italy in Brindisi! The Appian Way or Via Appia, was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It was named after Appius Claudius Caecus and was the first long road built specifically to transport troops outside the smaller region of greater Rome. Via Appia Antica is a gorgeous cobbled road surrounded by towering pine trees, grassy fields, and dotted with ancient wonders.
Trastevere means “across the Tiber,” and once you cross the river, you’ll notice the difference. The vibe is hip and bohemian, and you’ll find plenty of boutiques selling jewelry, perfumes, and handicrafts in a neighborhood where you can stroll aimlessly through the cobblestoned streets flanked by ochre buildings and stumble upon amazing discoveries. At night, Trastevere buzzes with people hanging out and drinking at the bars that line the streets.
Santo Stefano Rotondo
Santo Stefano Rotondo is one of the largest and oldest circular churches in existence. Built on top of a 2nd-century Mithraic temple, this church dates back to the 5th century A.D. and is dedicated to St. Stephen, the first martyr. The altar in the centre of the church was ordered by Pope Gregory XIII (1572-85), along with the frescoes on outer arcade walls, painted by Antonio Tempesta and Niccolo Circignani, which portray the grisly deaths of 34 martyrs.
One of the most famous of Rome’s many squares, Piazza Navona was established towards the end of the 15th century, and preserves the shape of the Stadium of Domitian that once stood here. Built by Emperor Domitian in 86 AD, the stadium, which had a larger arena than the Colosseum was mainly used for festivals and sporting events. The buildings surrounding the square stand where the spectators once sat. Today, the square features no less than three magnificent fountains and is an immensely popular place to sip a cappuccino, shop, and watch street performers.
The Fountain of Acqua Paola
Designed and built to mark the terminus of the Trajan Aqueduct, between 1610 and 1614, the fountain was commonly known as the Janiculum Fountain because it dominates the large terrace there that overlooks the city. It was commissioned by Pope Paul V of the Borghese family and it is their emblems – dragons and eagles – that can be seen in several places around the fountain itself. It comprises five archways flanked by columns and topped with a large pediment complete with dedicatory inscription. Towards the end of the 17th century, the fountain’s facade was altered into what it is today and a monumental semi-circular marble basin was added, substituting the five original basins located between the arches.
A celebrated and picturesque market by day, Camp dè Fiori quickly turns into a hub for nightlifers in the evening. The piazza, in the morning heaving with people bustling among the fruit and vegetable stands, at night sees its restaurants and bars open for business. For centuries Camp dè Fiori was the stage for public executions. An absolute must is a visit to the nearby historical streets, such as Via dei Baullari, Via dei Cappellari or Via dei Giubbonari, which are lined with an assortment of small shops still bearing the name of craftsmen who once worked there.
The Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in Rome. Almost 250,000 people could be seated in the Circus Maximus. The oval course stretches about 650 yards from end to end; on certain occasions, there were as many as 24 chariot races a day and competitions could last for 15 days.
MAXXI (Museum of 21st Century Art) is arguably the best place to see modern and contemporary art. The building itself is a huge draw – designed by Zaha Hadid, it’s all glass, big open spaces, and staircases that seem to float in the air.
Unknown to most tourists and even the locals, Quartiere Coppedè gets its name from Gino Coppedè, a Florentine architect who designed and built the quarter between 1913 and 1926. Upon entering this tiny neighbourhood from Via Tagliamento and Via Dora, you’ll see Tuscan turrets, Liberty sculptures, Moorish arches, Gothic gargoyles, frescoed façades, and palm-fringed gardens.
The Jewish Ghetto, full of distinct charms, forms a small area between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Venezia. From the Renaissance until the nineteenth century, its gates were locked after sunset. Today it still feels distinct from other neighborhoods because of its concentration of Jewish restaurants, shops, and bakeries. Ristorante Piperno is one of the oldest and best places to get carciofi alla giudia (Jewish artichokes), which are fried whole and absolutely delicious.
Piazza Venezia is the central hub of Rome, in which several thoroughfares intersect, including the Via dei Fori Imperiali and the Via del Corso.
The Palatine Hill, which is the centremost of the Seven Hills of Rome, is one of the most ancient parts of the city and has been called “the first nucleus of the Roman Empire.” It stands 40 metres above the Roman Forum, looking down upon it on one side, and upon the Circus Maximus on the other.