The Best Things To Do In Rome

Written By: Chris Manning

For centuries, it has stood as a center of power, magnificence and opulence in the region. Today, it basks in the glow of its illustrious past and the glory of the present while continuing to inspire a sense of awe and wonder like no other. Welcome to the Eternal City whose renown has fascinated travellers through the ages and continues to draw them in their millions even today. The city of Rome sits at Italy’s center, on the banks of the Tiber and a short distance (24 km) from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Italy’s capital and largest city also lies south of Florence and Perugia and north of Naples and Salerno.

Rome’s amazing heritage is evident in the abundance of historical ruins, statues, palaces and aqueducts which have adorned it throughout its past. The city has also done an amazing job of evolving into the present with its gastronomy, fashion and shops. With all these and so much more, you are certain to find your vacation in the Eternal City an exciting, new experience. Italy’s high-speed Alta Velocità trains are a great option for making the most of your Italian holiday thanks to their links between major cities. If you intend to travel from Milan you will be able to arrive at Rome in a little over three hours while a journey from Naples will last slightly over an hour. Once you arrive at the city, you will be able to avail yourself of the bus, light rail and trams which are all excellently run.

A visit to Rome is an amazing opportunity to admire the one mighty structure synonymous with the city’s illustrious past: the Coliseum. The largest amphitheater ever built in recorded history, it stands as an iconic testament to the architectural genius which Rome possessed in ancient times. You will also be able to view other silent witnesses to the city’s glorious past including ruins such as the Circus Maximus, Trajan’s forum and the Flavian Palace. Closer to the present are the magnificent St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, which tell the tale of Renaissance Rome. Fans of art will love being able to view the work of luminaries such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli and Perugino while touring these churches.

And if seeing such priceless work puts you in the mood for admiring more art, you will enjoy visiting venues such as Galleria d’Arte Antica, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna and Galleria Borghese which hold some of the most amazing art collections in the entire world. Fans of fashion will also thoroughly enjoy visiting Rome and one of the best places to begin is its center of high fashion, Via Condotti which is home to some of the biggest brands such as Armani, Dior, Gucci and Valentino. They will also be able to enjoy the thrilling pace of Porta Portese, the city’s largest flea market.


The Colosseum

The magnificent Colosseum in Rome is a must do for anyone visiting the city, and it surely needs no introduction. Dating back to 80AD, the architecture will hold you in awe, and the history will envelope you as you see and touch the underground rooms where so many awaited their fate. Thousands of gladiators fought here over the years, to the death and for nothing more than the amusement of the public! This truly is a magical piece of ancient Roman history that you will never forget.


Vatican City

When you tour the Vatican Museum or stroll through St Peter’s Square, you have entered the Vatican City, a separate jurisdiction that is home to the Pope and the offices of the church. With a population of 1,000 – and covering 44 hectares – the city’s official language is Latin, and it even has its own postage stamps!


The Pantheon

Majestic; the Pantheon has a history going back to 27 BC and was again rebuilt around 128 AD. With towering columns, this is the largest masonry vault ever constructed and is one of the most well-preserved in the world. Take time to explore the scale and beauty of this church, and admire the magnificent feat of engineering that it is.


Trevi Fountain

A visit to Rome just must include a trip to the Trevi Fountain. The fountain is the largest baroque fountain in Rome and dates back to the early 1700’s! Watch as the water cascades from the feet of Neptune, with Triton and sea-horses carved into the stone. And don’t forget to toss a coin into the fountain for good luck – around 3,000€ is collected for charity each and every each day!


The Vatican

Get ready for non-stop, awe-inspiring beauty as you tour the Vatican. Start with the Vatican Museum, where you can spend a full-day studying and admiring the incredible collection of history and art that is on display. Then, take a seat along the sides of the Sistine Chapel and soak up the majesty of the painted ceiling. A guided tour will turn the art into stories, and bring the magical history to life!


The Sistine Chapel

The magnificent Sistine Chapel provides the stunning venue for the Papal Conclave, when the cardinals elect a new Pope. Famous for its artistic masterpieces, Michelangelo spent several years painting the ceiling fresco, and then returned decades later to paint the “Last Judgement” on the altar wall. Find space on the seats that line the sides of the chapel, and spend some time soaking up the history and the beauty of this magical place.


The Roman Forum

In ancient Rome, the heart and the head of the empire resided in the Roman Forum. Public speeches and triumphant processions happened here, so as you wander through the ruins – that are now mostly columns and arches – imagine back to around the fourth-century AD, where the hustle and bustle never ended, and the powerbrokers and politicians played their tricks!


Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo)

The equivalent of a cross between our modern day stadiums and race tracks, Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) was the ancient home to the amazing chariot races of Rome, and could accommodate up to 150,000 spectators! With its track spanning 620-metres long and nearly-120 metres wide, today the site is a beautiful park, nestled between the Palatine and Aventine Hills. Take a walk and explore the grounds, and imagine the pounding hooves and roaring crowds of a bygone era!


Palatine Hill

Considered to be the most ancient districts of Rome, Palatine Hill is a magnet for archaeologists searching for undiscovered treasures. Take some time to explore the palace ruins, as well as the other historical sites such as the Arch of Septimus Severus and the House of the Vestals. Enjoy the open green spaces, and escape the crowds as you take in some of the most beautiful views in Rome, just as the royalty of times past once did, so long ago.


Via Sacra

As you explore the Roman Forum, you are sure to walk along the Via Sacra; the main thoroughfare of Ancient Rome. It was here that the wealthy built their houses, the Roman crowds enjoyed their festivals, and where slaves were dragged to market! Take some time to contemplate this ancient life, before re-joining the hustle and bustle of the modern city.


Piazza del Popolo

As you tour the city, you will certainly come across Piazza del Popolo; a large, pedestrian-only space, dominated by a large obelisk set in its centre. Take a seat, people-watch as the locals go about their day, and imagine the history of the square as it was up until 1826, when public executions were held here. As you admire the architecture of the surrounding buildings, see if you can pick the differences in two churches that appear to be twins, and then visit the church dedicated to the Virgin Mary!


Ancient Rome

While the city of Rome has many displays of its history, the ruins from its most ancient times are found near its centre. Discover the magnificent origins of the Roman Empire, and explore the countless ruins of temples and buildings, built throughout its vast and lengthy past. Ancient Rome is a truly magical place filled with amazing conquests, and fascinating stories that you will never forget!


Piazza Venezia

If all roads lead to Rome, it seems that all roads in Rome lead to the Piazza Venezia! This major transport hub is an intersection of many of the main thoroughfares within the city, and seeing as it is so close to many landmarks, you will no doubt pass through it several times! As you pass through, take some time to admire the stunning monument of King Vittorio Emmanuelle II.



Take a short detour away from the traditional tourist areas of Rome, and you will be pleasantly surprised to discover Testaccio! Testaccio is a vibrant and exciting district that is not only authentic Rome, but it is fast becoming the place to be, with is fine-dining restaurants, chic cafes and trendy bars, it attracts both foodies and night clubbers alike, from all over the city. Explore the markets and see what the locals are buying, or visit the Macro Museum of Contemporary Art for a great day out!


Roman Jewish Ghetto (Ghetto Ebraico di Roma)

In the 1500’s, the Roman Jewish Ghetto was home to the city’s Jewish population, who were forced to live here, locked behind imposing city walls. The walls were finally torn down in the late 1800’s and the neighbourhood has since flourished. Come and explore the churches and synagogues, visit the Jewish Museum of Rome, and admire the many ruins of the ancient times.


Saint Peter’s Basilica

A trip to Rome must include a visit to the Vatican, and a trip to the Vatican just must include a visit to St Peter’s Basilica! This magnificent structure needs little introduction, with its stunning artworks and tombs, and its masterpiece creations by Michelangelo. When you have explored every nook and cranny, climb to the top of the dome, and enjoy the special views over the city.


Protestant Cemetery

Rome may be one of the most Catholic cities in the world, but even so, not everyone who lives there is of such a faith! It was for this reason that the Protestant – or Non-Catholic Cemetery, as it is now named – was established in the early 1700’s. With graves available for anyone who is not of the Catholic Religion, you will find the burial sites of many famous people here, such as the poets, Keats and Shelley!


Capuchin Crypt

Beneath the church of Santa Maria Della Concezione dei Cappuchini, is the very unusual Capuchin Crypt, where over the centuries, Capuchin friars were buried. Who knows why, but when the order ran out of room, they made more space by exhuming the bones from old graves, using them to decorate the burial chambers in highly intricate designs! Macabre – or quirky – this is an amazing place to visit and learn about the fascinating history of the friars.


Parco degli Acquedotti

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, and head out to Parco degli Aquedotti; a public parkland spread over almost 600-acres. Just five-miles from the city centre, take a picnic and enjoy the ruins of two important aqueducts and a second-century palace, all without the queues!


The Roman Catacombs

Head underground to explore another side of the city, with a visit to the magnificent Roman Catacombs; the Roman burial chambers dating back to the second-century. Wind your way through the tunnels and see some of the most spectacular and macabre sites in Rome, such as the Capuchin Crypt, where the walls are literally decorated with bones!


Aventine Hill

While historically important, a visit to Aventine Hill will give you a break from the sometimes overbearing crowds of the city. It is also a great opportunity to leisurely explore an amazing district that most people skip entirely. Visit the beautiful churches, and see the Knights of Malta Keyhole as you pass through the Piazza dei Cavaleiri di Malta. There are also plenty of fantastic restaurants to enjoy, so why not make a day of it and head off the beaten track for a while!


Church of Santa Maria del Popolo

Art lovers flock to the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, to admire the paintings and stunning frescoes that decorate the interior, as well as the monuments that complement its architectural brilliance. Dating back to the 1470’s, the facade of this imposing church was redesigned in the 1600’s to take on a more baroque style.


Mount Vesuvius

Infamous for its destruction of Pompeii in 79 AD, today a trip to Mount Vesuvius is a fun way to get some exercise and see the country’s natural beauty. The last active volcano in continental Europe, it last erupted in 1944. Take a hike along the nature trails of the national park, and enjoy magnificent views of the crater and the surrounding landscapes, stretching right back over the Bay of Naples!


Ostia Antica

Once a thriving seaport, Ostia Antica was gradually abandoned as the Roman Empire deteriorated and its citizens fled in fear of contracting malaria. Just 25-kilometres from the centre of Rome – and an easy train ride – you will be stunned by how well the city has been preserved. With brilliant mosaics, beautiful remains of shops and taverns, and baths of a bygone era that are still largely intact, Ostia Antica really is a hidden gem!


Palazzo Farnese

With stunning architecture – that includes a creation by Michelangelo on the façade – the Palazzo Farness is a beautiful palace that dates to the early 1500’s. Currently on a 99 year loan to the French, today it is used as their embassy, but guided tours can be booked so that you can enjoy the stunning paintings and frescoes that decorate the building.


Piazza Navona

Two-thousand years ago the Piazza Navona was a stadium where the locals cheered their heroes! Today, it is beautiful open space where people come to meet, have coffee, and explore the famous landmarks that surround it. Admire the Fountain of the Four Rivers with the towering obelisk, and explore the churches that flank the square; stay a while and people-watch as workers go about their daily lives.


Piazza Santa Maria

By day, the cobblestones of the Piazza Santa Maria clatter with the sound of people visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, who come to admire the golden mosaics that adorn the façade, and the magnificent artworks that decorate the interior. As the sun goes down, the piazza turns into an incredibly popular and trendy nightspot, with the bars and restaurants humming to the sound of fun loving locals!

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