The city of love; the Eternal City; the most well-known city in the world, and it has been for centuries. Over 28 centuries of inhabitation, Rome has seen some of the greatest architectural and artistic wonders of all time created in its city walls.
Visiting Rome is the adventure of a lifetime. The city is like an open-air museum with the addition of shopping opportunities and endless eateries that will beckon you in with the alluring smell of oregano and garlic.
Get lost in the city hustle, where sculptures mark every corner, music fills the streets, and the calming opportunity to relax in a piazza is never too far away.
The innumerable sights and sounds of Rome warrant a month of explorations! Relax while planning your next trip with this comprehensive list of things to do in Rome;
Visit the Ancient Sites
Dating back to the 8th century BC, Ancient Rome was the greatest civilisation of the ancient world because of the knowledge, innovation and democracy that led to their rapid development. Such advancements were not surpassed until the late-19th century.
Rome is considered the epicentre of Classical architecture which flourished during the Roman Republic and boomed during the Empire, leaving traces of the progression of style that can be seen around the city and across the world today.
Taking a decade to complete, the Colosseum was built between 72-80 AD during the Roman Empire under the ruling of Emperor Vespasian and completed under his heir, Titus.
At the time of its completion, it was the largest amphitheatre ever to be built, holding between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators who gathered to watch gladiator fights, demonstrations of animal hunting and plays based on mythology. Events ceased to be held in the Colosseum during the Early Middle Ages, when it turned into accommodation and workshops.
The Colosseum is partially destroyed due to earthquakes and stone-robbers who wished to take some of the building as a souvenir; however, visitors may still enter.
Often overlooked on trips to Rome, Palatine Hill is the most famous of the seven hills of Rome. In Ancient times, Palatine Hill was an upper-class neighbourhood where the aristocrats and emperors resided.
What remains of the neighbourhood is now an archaeological site where you can explore palaces, stadiums and houses including that of Augustus and Livia. Go back to the glory days of Palatine; legend has it, Rome began on this very site.
Found in the centre of the ancient city, the Roman Forum was a public meeting place and exposé of the city’s finest architecture. Formerly a marshy burial land, the area rapidly turned into an administrative centre in the 7th century.
Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the Forum was looted for its marble and stone and turned into a cow field before archaeologists realised its historical and architectural value, since then, it has been extensively excavated.
You can visit Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum with one inclusive ticket, which makes the perfect half-day tour following the footsteps of Ancient Roman nobility.
A place of worship since 120 AD, this Roman-temple-cum-Catholic-church is one of the best-preserved in Rome; its spectacular dome shape still stands almost perfectly intact due to its continuous use.
Created during the reign of Hadrian, although probably started by Trajan, the Pantheon is dedicated to Agrippa, who built the first version of the Pantheon in approximately 25 CE.
Stepping inside the Pantheon to see the intricate details of the Roman dome will blow you away along with more recent Roman Catholic additions such as the high altars.
Hop Between the Architectural Wonders of the City
The Roman Empire was just the beginning of artistry in this city. In the years that proceeded, Rome became the centre of Catholicism and home to the Papal.
During the time that the Popes ruled Rome, the city was transformed; basilicas and cathedrals were built, and open spaces were seen as an opportunity to demonstrate the artistic skill that the city seemed to cultivate.
Classicalism became Baroque, and everyone wanted to show it!
Built on top of the Stadium of Domitian, the Piazza Navona has been a public meeting place since the 1st century AD, when the stadium was created.
The space you see today still follows the layout of the stadium and has been transformed into a Baroque masterpiece during the reign of Pope Innocent X in the 17th century. Fountains and sculptures, including the Fountain of Neptune and some works by Bernini, were added to the piazza.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
The largest of eighty churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Rome, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore was built in 432 AD by order of Pope Sixtus III on an apparition site. It became one of the four papal basilicas in Rome.
The basilica became known as Our Lady of Snow when snow was seen falling on the exact site of the church in the height of Summer. This was deemed a miracle, although it has no historical merit; it was not spoken of until 100 years later.
The basilica is noted for its marble columns which are thought to have come from an Ancient Roman building, and the coffered ceiling is made from gold that Columbus first brought back from the Americas.
A consistent historical reference point for Rome throughout its hundreds of years of existence, the Castel Sant’Angelo will take you a step back in time.
Originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family, the resting place rapidly changed its role in the centuries that would follow. The statue that sits at the top of the turret-like structure is representative of Archangel Michael, who apparated on this very site to end the plague.
By the 14th century, Castel Sant’Angelo became a military fortress for the Vatican, where blood was shed, and traces of war were left throughout its corridors. Today, history and turmoil have been recorded to create a museum in the castle walls.
Rome is not limited to Ancient Roman conversions, and the Galleria Borghese is an outstanding example. Originally the Villa Borghese, the former home of Scipione Borghese, is an elegant mansion that was opened out into a space that could only be a gallery. It is now one of the most renowned museums in the world.
The 17th-century mansion design was inspired by the Ancient Roman suburban villas and was based on the sketches from Cardinal Scipione Borghese himself and built by Flemish architect, Flaminio Ponzio.
With pieces many from the Renaissance period, the grandeur of the building is matched perfectly with the masterpieces it contains with extensive collections of both Bernini and Caravaggio; Scipione Borghese was a patron for both of the artists. Booking in advance is not just recommended, but essential.
Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (MACRO)
Originally designed by architect Giovannoni in 1912, the Museum of Contemporary Art was initially a Peroni brewery. In the turn of the 21st century, the building was to be re-designed, repurposed and converted. It then became the project of two French artists, who would make it into the municipal art gallery.
MACRO is a fascinating structure that will tie up the loose ends of your architectural tour. The building reflects all that contemporary art should; it creates space, poses questions and conceals and reveals in a way that leaves ideas open to interpretation. All, while paying homage to the legacy that Rome’s artists have left behind.
Be a Cliche Romantic in Rome
Known all over the world as the City of Love, stepping into Rome can seem like a romantic act in itself. From dining in a restaurant looking over the Colosseum to staying in old mansions; the grandeur of Rome will make you weak at the knees.
Throw a Coin in the Trevi Fountain
An iconic image of Rome, the Trevi Fountain was built on top of an ancient aqueduct that brought water to the city’s thermal baths. The Baroque-style, 49-metre-wide fountain is one of the most impressive attractions because of its aesthetics and engineering.
Although often attributed to the infamous architect Bernini, the Trevi Fountain was, for the most part, the work of Nicola Salvi by order of Pope Clement XII. With four statues that all attest to the fountains positioning on top of Rome’s first aqueduct.
A romantic location that has featured in countless films, throwing a coin into the fountain is a token of love that is often regarded as an Italian folk custom, although its origins are often questioned.
Rent a Vespa
Cruise around on a vintage Italian bike in the city of love by hiring a Vespa for the day.
There are numerous rental places across the city where you can choose the kind of Vespa you would like. The prices vary depending on the bike you want. There is the additional option to choose between a 50 cc and 125 cc, which in layman’s terms, means very slow or almost at the speed of a car.
Driving a Vespa has the benefit of allowing you to zip through the small streets of Rome to find hidden gems and the ability to park easily in this hectic city! If you do not feel too confident driving a scooter by yourself, organised tours are available, including tours in the Vespa Ape – perfect for two.
Watch the Ballet at Teatro dell’ Opera
The third opera house built on this site, the building you see today, and the one that you could potentially sit in to watch a performance, was remodelled in 1958, following the end of the monarchy.
Teatro dell’ Opera is reputed to have the best acoustics of any auditorium in the world. Seating is limited, creating an intimate experience to watch a delicate and moving performance.
With the perfect opportunity to dress up, an evening in the theatre is the perfect date in Rome.
Explore the Smallest Country in the World; The Vatican
The home of Catholicism, the Vatican is up there with some of the holiest places in the world. Spending a day in the Vatican offers the opportunity to see some of the masterpieces of Italy, commissioned or bought by the papal themselves. And, a private tour of italy would let you experience this like nothing else.
Known to be one of the most important museums in the world, the Vatican Museums holds an ever-growing maze of masterpieces commissioned by papal from the 16th century until the present day.
Over centuries, rooms were renovated, works were commissioned, and collections were brought together to create one of the most staggering collections of art and ethnology in existence. Ranging from the Hall of Masks to the collection of Modern Religious Art alongside Apostolic Palaces; the Vatican Museums represents history itself.
Perhaps the most famous chapel in the world, the Sistine Chapel is found within the Apostolic Palace where the Pope resides. The ceiling, some frescoes and the altar wall were painted by none-other than Michaelangelo, who created scenes from the Bible that are regarded as a cornerstone for High Renaissance art, including his most famous works, The Last Judgement and The Creation of Adam.
Interestingly, upon completion of Michaelangelo’s work, the Sistine Chapel was used for the papal conclave, with smoke blowing out the chimney on top of the building.
St. Peter’s Basilica
One of the holiest Catholic churches in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica is built around the resting place of the Apostle, Saint Peter, who was buried here in 64 AD.
Visited by thousands of devotees and travellers every month, the basilica is the work of some of the best architects of the 16th century. It took over 100 years to complete and almost immediately became the first of the four major papal basilicas, three of which are found in Rome.
The basilica contains several masterpieces, including Michaelangelo’s Pieta, the only work he ever signed, in addition to 126 statues and the burial grounds of almost all of the papal who have reigned in Rome.
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