When in Rome: A Tourist Guide for Traveling Rome

Rome City Guide

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When in Rome, do as the Romans. In a city that seems to be erected by or on historical buildings and architecture and art, with half-hidden gems of sculptures and murals and ruins peeking out even from everyday backyards and shops—seemingly everywhere—that means living with a history and legacy so rich that it feels like a part of the air you breathe.

Landmarks and Attractions in Rome

Rome’s top sights include the world’ most famous Roman arena, located (no surprise) in the heart of Rome: the fascinating Roman Colosseum where gladiators and lions once treaded. You’ll have to visit the cobblestoned Roman Forum nearby, strolling along the neighboring Palatine Hill, one of the oldest parts of Rome. Be sure to check out the awe-inspiring Pantheon, boasting 2,000 years as a functioning church and a setting nearly as intact as its birth day.

Admire timeless paintings and statues by artistic geniuses at the palaces (and world’s oldest public galleries since 1734!) of the Capitoline Museums, flanking Michaelangelo’s piazza del Campidoglio. Continue with art at the Borghese Gallery and Palazzo Barberini Galleria. Escape to the serenity of the Villa Pamphili Park in the company of turtles, ponies, and lush trees. Journey to the Vatican City and explore the labyrinth Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica (big museums are free on the last Sundays of each month). Some Wednesday mornings, you might even catch a glimpse of the Pope.

Nightlife and Family Fun in Rome

A popular favorite is the Piazza Navona, once the site of a Roman circus, and especially spectacular at Christmas. Flex your muscles on the romantic Spanish Steps (in May they’re brimming with azaleas) or people-watch at the stunning Baroque-styled Trevi Fountain (follow the legend and toss in a coin to guarantee your return to Rome). For Rome’s best views, hop and cruise your way to the top of Vittorio Emanuele Il Monument. Enjoy performances at Rome’s major theaters, scoring half-price tickets (Botteghino Last Minute), or slip on elegant gloves for an unforgettable night at the Teatro dell-Opera di Roma-Teatro Costanzi.

Explore the ancient Trastevere Neighborhood for some inexpensive mouth-watering delights and vibrant nightlife options. Testaccio is another old neighborhood that has enjoyed recent revival with the clubby crowd, and features useful food markets and car repair shops as well as nightlife.

Off the Beaten Path in Rome

Ah, weird and wonderful Rome. For a chill, check out the chapels embedded with the bones of more than 4000 monks at Cappuchin Crypt, or thank goodness you’re not chained up to the instruments in the Rome Crime Museum. Animal lovers may fancy the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary (naturally, there’s a tour of ruins; this is Rome), while cuisine connoisseurs will fall in love with the Pasta Museum. If literature is more your forte, mingle with authors and artists at “book bars” like Bibli and Caffe Letterario. You’ll especially love the Angels and Demons Tours (group- or self-guided) in Rome if you are a Dan Brown fan; if not, there’s always time to change your mind.

Restaurants and Shopping in Rome

Authentic seasonal Italian food can be mind-blowing—and where better to sample the most authentic and best but in Rome? Try local favorites such as the peppery-cheesy pecorino romano pasta, the tomato-pork-sauce bucatini all’amatriciana, the egg-yolk-creamed spaghetti alla carbonara, or grab a slice of thin-crust pizza with a glass of wine (restaurants like the rustic La Gatta Mangiona will steal your heart). Outdoor markets in Rome are plentiful; the Campo dei Riori Markets rank as one of the best. Dismiss summer heat with a Granita di Caffe near the Pantheon or the granita-like Grattachecca. And don’t leave without sampling from the bars and restaurants of Il Pegneto, from the bar-shop Cioccolata e Vino (exquisite chocolate and wine: enough said!) and from Il Gelato di San Crispino (and ice-cream will never be the same again…).

Rome also offers much in the world of fashion and shopping. Browse Rome’s independent designers at boutiques such as the bohemian Arsenale, the vintage reworkings of Le Gallinelle, and the classic Le Tartarughe. Explore for antique souvenirs at via del Babuino, via Giulia, and via de’ Coronari (with biannual fairs).

Photos provided by: David Evers and ZeroOne