The ancient city of Rome is located in Central Italy. The capital of the country has so much to offer to its visitors that there is no way to even scratch the surface of it all in one trip. The Eternal City has been inhabited for over 2500 years. It was the capital of the Roman Empire. It was the center of Italian Renaissance. It is here that the baroque style and neoclassicism were born. The city is full of statues, monuments, paintings and other masterpieces of all the famous artists who came here to work, throughout the history.
Things to see and do in Rome
Saint Peter’s and the Vatican City
At the top of the list of places, you must visit is the Vatican City with Saint Peter’s Square, Saint Peter’s Basilica, built on Saint Peter’s tomb, the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s famous fresco The Last Judgement and of course the Vatican Museums, holding the vast collection of the Catholic Church. The entrance fee to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel is 16 EUR. The entrance to the basilica is free, but if you want to go up to the dome, you will be charged 5 EUR for using the stairs or 7 EUR for using the elevator and the stairs. The view from up there is absolutely worth the time and the money, though.
Sites from the Roman Empire
The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built in the Roman Empire, it could house 60 thousand spectators. The building dates back to the 1st century AD, so when you enter you can feel the long history within its walls. Right next to the Colosseum you can find the Forum Romanum, the center of ancient Rome. It was the economical, political and judicial center of Rome. There were houses, markets, shops and temples in this area. The ruins are dated between the 7th century BC and the 4th century AD. You have the rare possibility to see the ruins of the Forum Romanum by night, with guided tours. It is a great and unique experience. The Pantheon, built in the 2nd century AD, is one of the best preserved ancient Roman buildings, probably because it was continuously used. Since the 7th century, it has been used as a church dedicated to Saint Mary and the Martyrs. It is still functioning as a Catholic church, masses are celebrated here every Sunday. The Renaissance painter Raphael and two Italian kings, Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I are among the famous people buried here.
Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps
Next on my list are the two landmarks of Rome. The 18th century Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the most famous fountain in the world. It is believed that if you throw in a coin with your right hand, over your left shoulder, and wish you could come back to Rome, your wish will come true. Approximately 3500 EUR are thrown into the fountain every day. The other must-see landmark, the Spanish Steps are located on the Piazza di Spagna. The 135 steps, built in the 18th century, connect the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinita Dei Monti. At the end of April and the beginning of May part of the steps are covered with pots of azaleas, creating a magical atmosphere. Just sit down on the steps and breath in the spring magic.
I love all the fountains scattered through Rome, but one of my favorites is the Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi, the masterpiece of Gianlorenzo Bernini, located on the Piazza Navona. There are many things to see here too, but the pizza is really alive and vibrant in the evenings when street musicians perform here and the restaurants are filled with people.
The Mausoleum of Hadrian or better known as Castel Sant’Angelo and the Bridge of Angels leading to it are a rare sight. The mausoleum built in the 2nd century AD was later used by many popes as a fortress and castle, it houses a museum now. The view from the top of the castle alone is worth the entrance fee of 13 EUR, but of course, you can visit many rooms used by the popes, a great arms collection and even a torture chamber in the dungeons.
Is a very special and interesting neighborhood, a little bit strange and bizarre at the same time. The 18 buildings were designed by Gino Coppede and built between 1913 and 1927. The buildings present a multitude of styles: Art Nouveau, Baroque, with middle age and ancient Greek characteristics. Looking at these buildings you can’t stop thinking of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona. The movie industry also seems to like them, since they filmed several movies here. So if you would like to see them go to Piazza Mincio, in the northern part of Rome.
Cinecitta Film Studio
The Italian film studio called Cinecitta is well worth visiting, it was founded in 1937, and in the 1950s it was the filming location of international movies, like Ben Hur. Later on, Federico Fellini filmed here some of his movies, like La Dolce Vita or Casanova. Other world famous movies that were filmed here are Cleopatra, The English Patient, The Passion of the Christ or Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. The series Rome was also filmed here between 2004 and 2007.
If you feel you need some peace and quiet you can relax in one of the beautiful parks of Rome. Villa Doria Pamphili is a 17th-century villa with the largest public park in the city. Villa Ada is the second largest park with tall trees and a lake. In the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica, you can walk among ancient ruins, stretching along The Old Via Appia Antica.
Dining and bars
As for the restaurants that you should try in Rome, the first one I recommend is 433, a restaurant close to Piazza Navona, where you can buy a menu for 13 EUR, that include bruschetta, pasta, meat, and dessert, plus water and wine. The quality is top notch for a very fair price. The Ad Hoc is yet another Ristorante with amazing food. It is a very romantic restaurant, famous for its high-quality serving and menu, but with a slightly higher price than the 433. Likeat is a great place to grab a sandwich. They have very tasty paninis at a very reasonable price. You can find Likeat close to Castel Sant’ Angelo. Pane e Salame is a small cozy place not far from the Trevi fountain, making the very best sandwiches in the city, at a fair price.
For traditional Italian and local food, I recommend you visit the Pastasciutta, close to St Peter Basilica. They have home made pasta dishes, very very good, fresh pasta at a very good price. Another place serving traditional food is Filetti di Bacala. They have only one thing on the menu: fried cod fish. It gives you the authentic Italian experience you crave for.
Moriondo and Gariglio are the places to go if you love sweets, they have a great variety of those and you can taste the best chocolate in Rome.
If you are looking for a bar I suggest you try the San Calisto in Trastevere neighborhood, close to the Santa Maria Trastevere Cathedral. It is a very trendy bar with a great atmosphere, serving probably the cheapest beer in Rome (2.50 EUR).
You can also enjoy a handmade Italian gelato (ice cream) in any of the piazzas of the city, admiring the beautifully sculpted fountains, found on most of these squares.