The timeless charm of the eternal city will strike you with the ancient majesty that shines through the old twisted streets. Here are some suggestions about things to see and do. Have a good time in the capital of Italy!
The world-famous Colosseum, Roman and Italian icon, its construction started under emperor Vespasian in 80 AD. Beside it you can admire the Arch of Costantine and the Roman Forum, old republican square which was the political, religious and commercial heart of the city; don’t mix it up with the Imperial Forums, series of monuments and squares built by different emperors (Trajan, Augustus, Caesar, Nerva and Vespasian) into a lapse of time that swing between 42 BC and 112 AD. In the area it is also located the Palatine Hill, one of the seven roman hills, and great open air museum, furthermore, the Circus Maximus, the biggest Roman stadium, which could host up to 200.000 people! A stone’s throw away you can find the Mouth of Truth, an ancient man-like face carved in a porch wall: according to legend you have to put your hand inside the mouth and make an assertion, if it’s the truth you can pull it away unharmed, otherwise it will cut it away.
A short distance away the Baths of Caracalla, named after the emperor Caracalla, example of roman imperial baths were the greatest baths of the ancient Rome. On the Appian Way you can visit the Catacombs, ancient burial places, mainly Christians. The most important of these are Catacombs of St. Callixtus, Catacombs of St. Sebastian and Catacombs of St. Domitilla.
Going north you’ll reach Venice Square, with the impressive Victor Emmanuel Monument, also known as Altar of the Fatherland. This part of the city is stuffed with attractions and the long Via del Corso, right in front of the monument, is an important point of reference. On the east side of this street you get to the biggest fountain in town, the well-known Trevi Fountain; it’s a tradition to make a wish throwing a coin in the fountain. A little bit further the Spanish Steps and Via Condotti with luxurious and fashion boutiques like Gucci, Prada, Armani, etc. Nearby are also the Quirinal, the official residence of the president of the republic, and the Ara Pacis Augustae.
On the west side of Via del Corso the glorious Pantheon, dated 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa is the best preserved ancient monument in town. Plus, there is Piazza Navona with its baroque style and the great market of Campo de Fiori. If you have ever wondered how does it feel to live in a roman palace you might enjoy visiting the Galleria Doria Pamphilj and its amazing private art collection.
Walking through Via del Corso you’ll get to PIazza del Popolo with the 13th century Egyptian Obelisk. Just beside the square is located the huge and elegant park of Villa Borghese, and the Galleria Borghese, unique collection of masterpieces, sculptures and paintings of artists such as Caravaggio, Botticelli and Raphael.
On the other side of the river Tiber is Castel St. Angelo built in the 2nd Century as a tomb for emperor Hadrian, but was also used as a fort during the Middle Ages, moreover is linked to the Vatican through an underground passage. You can enter Vatican City, the smallest independent country in the world, by the huge elliptic shape St. Peters Square. Vatican Museum and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel will leave you breathless. Last but not least the St. Peter Basilica in honor of St. Peter: the first church has been built in the 4th century over the place of St. Peter crucifixion.
Lastly, southwest is located the colorful and delightful neighborhood of Trastevere, it was once a working class area, but nowadays is overflowing with bars, clubs, dining place and people especially at night and in the weekends.
What/where to eat
The first “where to eat” address is Trastevere, Rome’s most characteristic neighborhood, with its narrow streets overlooked by many traditional trattorias where you can enjoy Roman cuisine in familiar and rustic settings. We recommend you stop in one of these restaurants:
Tonnarello. A historic inn with rustic settings in the heart of Trastevere. With outdoor and indoor spaces, it offers the best of traditional cuisine, including cacio e pepe pasta, carbonara, Roman saltimbocca, etc.; I Pizzicaroli. Excellent for a quick meal to discover the genuine flavors of the past. It is a small shop that offers cold cuts, cheeses and bruschetta to pair with excellent local wine.
La Boccaccia. A small restaurant in Trastevere serving a delicious and inexpensive Roman pizza, excellent for a quick meal.
Da Enzo al 29. Maybe you will have to queue a bit but it’s worth it. In the quieter area of Trastevere, it offers a menu that ranges from amatriciana to cheese and pepper, without missing Roman “fritti” and meatballs.
Another good location is the one around the Spanish Steps where are several bars and restaurants that are excellent for a dinner or an aperitif before departure, such as:
Fiaschetteria Beltramme. Historic trattoria in the heart of Rome with ancient charm and genuine flavors.
Il Palazzetto. A restaurant with a terrace that offers a sensational view from the top of the Spanish Steps. For a panoramic aperitif.
Imàgo at the Hassler. Starry restaurant with an elegant setting and panoramic views, inside the Hassler hotel. Among the many proposals there is also a tasting menu.
What/where to buy
Among the most popular souvenirs are the Roman gastronomic products, from pecorino and spicy provolone cheese and the salami that you can buy in the shops of the city. There is no shortage of typical desserts, such as maritozzi or the “zeppole di San Giuseppe” stuffed with cream and tart with sour cherries (a type of cherry). But in addition to the numerous gastronomic products, Rome still preserves ancient arts and crafts traditions, such as the production of handmade leather articles, hats and shoes that still contribute to making the “Made in Italy” appreciated all over the world.
The shops in Via del Corso, Via Condotti and in the area of Piazza di Spagna are the perfect stop for those without budget problems: here you will find brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Armani. Even in Via Veneto there are some prestigious boutiques. If instead you are more interested in an art and antiques shopping, then the right place is along Via del Babuino, the road that connects Piazza di Spagna to Piazza del Popolo. But the best places to do business are perhaps the markets in Rome, a must for fans of gastronomy, vintage products and antiques. Among the best known markets there is that of Porta Portese (every Sunday in the Trastevere area), which sells a bit of everything, the Flower Market (every day in Campo de ‘Fiori), specialized in flowers and vegetables, and finally the Market in Piazza Fontanella Borghese (every day, except on Sundays near Piazza di Spagna) to find second-hand books and antiques.
There are no shopping centers, but we can recommend the Galleria Alberto Sordi, near Via del Corso, an elegant shopping mall housed in a building from the 1920s and the Department Store La Rinascente where the -1 floor presents the remains of the Virgin Aqueduct, inaugurated by Augustus in 19 BC, dedicated to the feeding of almost all the most impressive and grandiose fountains in the center, including the Trevi one.
If you want to browse in some historical or particular shop, here are some addresses:
Antica Manifattura Cappelli. It is the oldest Roman laboratory of hats, which saw its birth in the 1930s. It is located in Via degli Scipioni and inside it both the laboratory and the shop where you can buy unique handmade hats.
Sergio Di Cori. It is one of the best known boutiques, even among foreign tourists. Inaugurated in 1969, it is located in Piazza di Spagna and produces exclusively excellent quality leather gloves in a welcoming and vintage setting.
Alberto Valentini. A true artist of ties, so much so that his atelier in Via Tor di Nona is also frequented by VIPs. Perfect if you are looking for original and colorful ties, made with fine fabrics.
Del Giudice. In the heart of Rome, it has been the realm of bags since 1959, with original and classic leather products of excellent workmanship. Paciotti Salumeria. A paradise of flavors where to buy (and taste) local gastronomic products, in particular cold cuts and cheeses.