Rome Travel Guide
Rome – The eternal city and Italy’s majestic capital – is a city of the present, but no other place recalls its past as powerfully as Rome does. It is a place where early places of worship and ruins stand next to – or lie beneath – Baroque Fountains and Renaissance Palazzos. There is no off-season for this eternal city that sees visitors from all over the world, all year round. The city’s mild Mediterranean climate attracts a lot of tourists from the cold northern areas, but the real reason people come here is the history… 2500 years worth, which takes the form of vast classical and imperial Roman style architecture. There is so much to be discovered, from sitting at a café in Campo de’ Fiori to roaming around the remains of the Coliseum. But for whatever reason you decide to visit, this open-air museum of a city is sure to blow you away with its grandeur and majesty.
Let’s face it, Rome is not about what to visit. It’s more about what to skip… This city is so jam-packed that you would need months to see everything… But it’s very unlikely that you’ll be staying that long, so, to feel the essence of Rome without having to stay there forever, here are the major sites that you cannot miss:
1- The Coliseum– This one is a no-brainer. If there’s a place that represents Rome itself in postcards and in everyone’s mind, it’s the Coliseum. Inaugurated in 80 AD, with a capacity of seating for up to 50000 viewers, it’s the infamous place where emperors pitted Gladiators against each other in fights to the death to entertain the public.
2- The Pantheon– Being among the best of all preserved Roman structures, it was built to serve as a temple for the Roman Gods. Now, it is a Roman Catholic Church and a great place to visit with its mesmerizing architecture comprised of 8 Granite columns and the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
3- The Borghese Gallery– Considered to be a heaven for art lovers, it houses one of the world’s greatest art collections. It was built in 1700 by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, it houses paintings by Titian, Bernini’s sculpture and other beautiful and rare artifacts.
4- The Vatican Museum– Its construction began in the 16th century by Pope Julius II. Today, it is home to several museums of the Vatican City. Attractions in the museums include the Raphael Rooms, the Spiral Staircase, the Last Judgment painting, and the beautifully decorated Sistine Chapel. Painted by Michelangelo, the chapel ceiling was constructed around 1510. Today the ceiling and The Last Judgment are considered to be Michelangelo’s best work.
5- Baths of Caracalla– Founded in AD 217, these baths were used by as much as 1500 people at one time. They served as an inspiration for many other notable buildings like the Basilica of Maxentius and Baths of Diocletian. Negligence, disuse and an earthquake turned them into ruins, but their sheer enormous size and ingenuity continue to impress visitors.
6- Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona– Situated very close to each other, they act as marketplaces during the daytime and party central for tourists at night. They are the go-to places for a good selfie, with beautiful fountains where you can enjoy a gelato or sip a cappuccino, watch street performers, or just spend the afternoon roaming around.
7- Domus Romane– If by any means, you get tired of the historical architecture (unlikely), then Domus Romane is the place for you. With its intricate lighting and glass floor overlooking some impressive relics, this multimedia museum is a blend of history and wonder.
So, there you have it, my essential picks for the top places to see and experience in Rome. Of course there are much more equally impressive places to also add to your Roman itinerary, such as: St. Peter’s Basilica, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, MAXXI, Piazza del Popolo, Piazza de Spagna, Appian Way, Catacombs, Saint Peter’s Square, and Palatine Hills.
The Nightlife in Rome is pretty decent believe it or not. The same place which proudly flaunts its history during the day turns completely modern during the night with a large option of bars, clubs, restaurants, and cafes. The bohemian Trastevere area is a favorite night spot. Located just across the river Tiber, it is a place where tourists and locals flock alike for its nightlife. It has a lot of pubs and restaurants but its original character still remains.
San Lorenzo is another option for budget travelers. This area is mostly frequented by local students, so you’ll see a cluster of alternative and really cheap bars around.
FREE and CHEAP ACTIVITIES TO DO
There are a lot of restaurants that offer cheap and good quality food in Campo de Fiori and near Trevi Fountain. You can also do some shopping in these areas where you will find relatively low price tags.
Places like the hills of Aventine and Gianicolo as well as all Catholic churches like the Pantheon and St. Peter’s Cathedral are free to visit. You can also visit marketplaces like Piazza Navona and Campo de Fiori for free, although dining and shopping is quite expensive in these areas. A cheaper option would be to stay away from the main squares and explore the back alleys instead!
Then, there are architectural sights like the Spanish Steps, San Carlo Alle Quatro Fontane, and the Trevi Fountain which will cost you nothing to visit. As expensive as visiting Rome sounds, it really doesnt have to be…
Rome is definitely one of my personal favorite places to visit around the world. It’s a marvelous unique gem that combines outstanding historical architecture with modern creativity. Who knows, with that many amazing things to explore, you might end up discovering things about yourself too…
recommended places to stay
The Yellow Hostel: This very social, modern and very well equipped hostel has an outstanding location, in Rome, within a 5 minute walk to Termini Station. Set in an classical Roman building, this place was designed to be a self-sufficient entity, complete with it’s own small cafe, a bar that serves food and drinks as well as nightly live entertainment and even a hair salon! Very friendly, professional and accommodating staff who are ready to help out in any way possible. Great new kitchen facilities, a chill-out room with a TV, a summer roof terrace, with yoga classes and walking tours offered as well (Suzy was our favorite tour guide btw). Would recommend this place to anyone looking to have the full-on roman experience…