Rome is the city with a thousand faces. The ruins of the Roman Empire are blended with bourgeois palaces that have made the city even more majestic and richer in time. Amazing in contrast, Rome is a city that would surprise even after a dozen visits.
Life in the city is alive and vibrant. With many restaurants, trattorias and bars available, here you can have fun in the square drinking good wine and eating pizza romana, one of the best foods to eat in Rome.
A WALK IN ROME
The best way to start your visit here is taking the metropolitan to the Colosseum. This stop, with one of the best panorama in the world, will bring you in the middle of the age of the Empire. Fake Gladiators with a proud attitude walk the around the square and people from all over the world visit the monument.
Recently restored to bring it back to its earlier splendor, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater of concrete and sand ever built. Right in the middle of the Roman Forum, from here you could walk through the forum visiting old temples and stunning ruins.
Before leaving, take a walk in Via San Giovanni Laterano, just behind the Colosseum. Here is the Gay Street in Rome, a small street full of restaurants, shops and gay cocktail bars. The best time to visit the gay street is for lunch to eat something in the shadow of the Coliseum or when the sun goes down for drinking with locals and getting ready to party.
Go back in the forum where, at the end of the street, the Vittoriano will welcome you to a modern city. This building, built in the 1885 as a place in honor of King Victor Emmanuel II, is an eclectic structure packed with statues of Gods, horses and quadrigas. Don’t forget to take a ride on the crystal elevator and see the entire forum from above.
Via del Corso is the main shopping street of the Capital. Atelier and fast fashion stores copy each other and grow in beauty until they reach the climax of Via Condotti. This street is the reign of the high fashion. Luxury brands from all over the world and old workshops welcome you for a real Italian fashion experience. Some of the stores here are like museums for the tailoring addicted. If you need a rest stop, try Antico Caffè Greco where you can have a coffee while sitting among the most beautiful works of art in Rome.
At the end of Via Condotti the majestic Piazza di Spagna with its famous steps will leave you breathless. These stairs have enchanted everyone and it is here where Audrey Hepburn lived the best of her Roman Holidays.
Did you know that Rome has a waterfall flows right in the center of the city? The Trevi Fountain, is once again shining thanks to a recent restoration, and is a true marble made waterfall. Even if you cannot bath like Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita, you can try a lucky shot. Take a coin, make a wish and put your back to the fountain. Throwing the coin into the water can make every desire come true!
There are so many things to do in Rome, but to finish your essential tour you can’t miss the three squares. Piazza Navona is the tallest example of the Baroque Roman with the stunning Fountain of the Four Rivers made in 1651 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Here is also the place where the buskers meet to sing, paint and act for the people visiting the square.
Campo de’ Fiori is a square full of people every hour of the day. During the morning, you will get lost in the food market tasting typical food or buying delicious souvenirs like Italian olive oil, spices or creams made with mushrooms, truffles and vegetables. The farmers tell what they have singing out loud the names of the foods they sell. During the evening, the cafes serve food and drinks for the aperitivo. “Aperitivo” or happy hour happens between 7pm and 9pm. Ordering a drink you get food from a buffet full of pasta, pizza and sides of every kind. Right in the middle of the square there is a giant statue of Giordano Bruno. The legend says that if you are a college student you don’t want to look in Giordano Bruno’s eyes. If you do, you will not be able to graduate.
The last square is Piazza del Popolo. This huge square hosts great concerts and events welcoming many thousands of Romans. In the church of Santa Maria del Popolo a real treasure will be unveiled to those who love art. A real Caravaggio can be found here and you need no tickets to see it. The Crocifissione di San Pietro is incredibly beautiful and emerges from a somewhat dark but charming chapel.
If you are thinking that Rome has nothing contemporary you will need to discover it. Close to Piazza del Popolo you can reach two incredible buildings by Renzo Piano and Zaha Hadid. Parco della Musica designed by Renzo Piano is a large public music complex, home of the Festa del Cinema, one of the biggest movie festivals in Italy. Inside the building the ruins of an ancient villa can be seen through a panoramic window. Outside, the funny outlines of the concert halls recall the outline of three Egyptian beetles. Take a look in the book shop near the entrance: you will be able to buy some of the most beautiful books of art, music and fashion.
Just around the corner the brand new MAXXI Museum by Zaha Hadid hosts temporary exhibitions about contemporary art and design. The building is composed of tubes intersecting over each other with great windows to get a glimpse of the best Roman urban architecture.
This monument is an altar dedicated to Pax and commissioned by the Roman Senate in 13 BC when Augustus come back in Rome after 3 years of war in Spain. Made of marble, the open air altar is elaborately and finely sculpted. The museum was designed by Richard Meier. Highly criticized by art critics, the building is a breath of fresh air in a city that lives immersed in the past.
ADDRESS: Lungotevere in Augusta, 00186
Literally outside the Italian territory, the Vatican Museums are famous for its many works of art, and for the Sistine Chapel and the infinite line to enter. Buy an online ticket to enter without waiting too long and go straight into the rooms of this museum that attracts people from all over the world. Sculptures, tapestries and architecture take you to the entrance of the Sistine Chapel that will leave you breathless! From the Sistine Chapel take the shortcut to enter St. Peter’s Church. You will miss another long line to visit in the biggest Church of Rome.
ADDRESS: Viale del Vaticano, 00165
WEBSITE: : www.museivaticani.va
MAXXI – National Museum of Art from 21st century
Opened in 2010, this museum is a labyrinth of glass, concrete and steel. Designed by Zaha Hadid, this is one of the biggest Italian museums of contemporary art. With a permanent collection and a lot of amazing temporary exhibitions, don’t forget to spend some time in the garden: huge sculptures and a lovely tea shop will welcome you.
ADDRESS: Via Guido Reni 4A
The Capitoline Museums are the best spot to start discovering the history of Rome. Starting from the incredible square made by Michelangelo Buonarroti, the gallery will take you through the different ages of Rome. From the ancient Rome to the Renaissance, here you will see the original she-wolf, the symbol of the city.
ADDRESS: Piazza del Campidoglio, 1
Rome is a very big city and it is easy to get lost in tourist-only spots. But if you are among those who will want to discover the hidden corners of the city, Rome will know how to surprise you.
Take a stroll down to the Gianicolo where every day at noon there is a cannon firing to remember the Battle of Rome that was won here. Plus, the panorama is one of the best in the entire city.
The sunsets are all wonderful, but those at the Garden of Oranges are the most beautiful! At sunset, enjoy a view of Rome from above as wonderful as you will see anywhere. When the night goes down, take a few steps further. In Piazza Cavalieri of Malta you will find a strange door with a lock. Look inside to discover one of the most beautiful secrets in Rome.
Are you a chronic liar? Go find out at the Mouth of Truth. This large marble mask that is found in Santa Maria in Cosmedin and it is said to eat the hands of those who promise to be faithful, but instead are lying. Challenge the fate and put your hand in the mouth of the statue.
Very close to many other places easily accessible by public transport or car, Rome offers the possibility to explore the enchanting areas of the center of Italy.
Ostia is the perfect city for those who want to spend some hours on the beach. With a seaside season from May to September, here you can find beaches where you can swim and sunbathe. Capocotta is an incredible gay naturalistic oasis. You can’t miss it! To reach Ostia just take the metropolitan service “Frecce del Mare” that in 30 minutes from the city center takes you near the first beach.
At 20 km, south of Rome and easily reachable by the metropolitan system, Ostia Antica is the largest archaeological site near the city. It is not as immense as Pompeii but it manages to give a vivid image of how life was during the Roman Empire.
Viterbo is an ancient medieval village. Historic palaces, ancient churches and lanes follow one after the other bringing you back in time. The natural spas are also famous and here you can spend a few hours of wellness. You can reach the city in one hour by train.
Narni is another enchanting medieval village famous for having named the saga “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Full of stone lions and historic buildings, don’t forget to eat something in one of the authentic medieval restaurants.
Rome has a vibrant gay nightlife. Thanks to all the tourists who crowd the city, the parties are very international. A good place to start the night is by going to Gay Street for a couple of drinks or to eat something local. Here you will meet many friendly guys who like to go out and have fun.
The gay life here is very active during the weekends when the main parties open the doors to the LGBT community. On Friday night, the biggest party is Muccassassia. This historical club has been organizing this party since 1991. The name literally means “Killer Cow” and this is because this venue was a formerly a slaughterhouse.
On Saturday night there are gay gatherings everywhere. The most commercial is the Alpheus, not too far from the General Warehouses and the Ostiense district, a place particularly loved by the gay community.
BEFORE YOUR TRIP
Rome has two main airports: Ciampino (the city airport) and Fiumicino. From Fiumicino, you can reach the city center by train, from Ciampino just take one of the private bus services you’ll find just outside the airport.
Rome may not be easiest city to get around. The three metro lines take you almost everywhere in the city center, but becomes a bit difficult to go in the less central districts. Be assured that the public transport service works 24/7 thanks to an efficient night bus network.
Festivals and main events
Even if there are not so many festivals in Rome, you will always find something to go to. Here are the main ones:
- May – May Day Concert
- June – Pride Week and Parade
- July/September – Gay Village
- September – Festa del Cinema