An enticing mix of breathtaking art, ancient ruins, and vibrant street life, Italy’s passionate capital city is one of the most inspiring and romantic places to visit. This historic metropolis is an exhilarating spectacle of ancient icons like the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and the Colosseum. It’s also home to extravagant basilicas like St. Peter’s Basilica, a towering example of Renaissance architecture.
1.Campo de Fiori
© Pino Pacifico/stock.adobe.com
Campo de Fiori is a flourishing open-air marketplace that draws throngs of tourists to its colorful stalls offering everything from produce to flowers to backpacks. But the most interesting point about Campo de Fiori is a central statue of 16th-century friar Giordano Bruno. This forward-thinking philosopher was martyred for believing the universe is unlimited. After a seven year trial, Friar Bruno had a spike driven through his tongue and was burned at the stake on orders of Cardinal Bellarmine. Bruno never recanted. The brass statue of the friar with bowed head faces the Vatican, which has never removed his heretic status.
Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-06-08
2.Casina Delle Civette
Casina Delle Civette, Rome’s fairytale castle, was built by nobleman Giovanni Torlonia as a retreat for his recluse tendencies. What started as a Swiss Hut tucked away behind a hill at Villa Torlonia in 1919 morphed into his Art Nouveau dream mansion. A mix of medieval themes and stained glass windows depicting owls, plants, flowers, and other birds characterize the beauty of this whimsical castle. Before his death in 1938, Torlonia lived in seclusion in his magical world while renting the rest of his villa to Mussolini for one lira per year. This restored castle is a must-see.
Via Nomentana, 70, Rome, Italy, Phone: +9-06-06-08
Arguably the most thrilling of Rome’s ancient sights, the 50,000-seat gladiatorial Colosseum should be on every traveler’s bucket list when visiting this city. The amphitheater, once opulent with Corinthian, Doric, and Ionic pillars wrapped in travertine, marble statues, and ornate pilasters was abandoned to ruin when the Roman Empire fell during the 5th century. At its height, thousands of animals were slaughtered by gladiators for the entertainment of the Romans. Structurally amazing, the Colosseum’s interior held a wooden floor arena covered in sand for soaking up blood, a cavea where spectators sat, and a podium where the VIP sat. Security is intense, so visitors should check the website for regulations.
Piazza del Colosseo, 1, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-07-39-96-77-00
Located in Villa Borghese, the third largest public park in Rome, Galleria Borghese is a world renowned museum known for its iconic works by Bernini and Canova. This includes the former’s famous masterpiece, ‘Abduction of Proserpina by Pluto.’ The gallery features a collection of sculptures, paintings, bas-reliefs, and mosaics primarily from the 15th to 18th centuries. Sculptures are mainly found on the first floor while the paintings are typically housed on the second floor. The latter features notable works by several masters like Rubens, Titian, and Raphael. Visitors should plan to pre-book tickets to the museum, or risk having to wait several hours for entry.
Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-8-41-39-79
Galleria Sciarra is a hidden gem located just a few feet away from the chic Via del Corso and the legendary Trevi Fountain. This relatively unknown courtyard has the ability to transport visitors to the peak of the Art Nouveau movement with its brilliant colors and stunning frescoes. Constructed for the influential Sciarra family in the late 19th century, it was originally meant to be a shopping mall, however that never came to fruition. Today, visitors are encouraged to visit the courtyard to view the colorful frescoes of men and women encircled by graceful, curling floral designs. Painted by renowned artist Giuseppe Cellini, the artwork was intended to honor women and celebrate their various stages of life.
Piazza dell’Oratorio, 75, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-6-79-07-76
6.Keats Shelley Memorial House
The last home of legendary poet John Keats is now the memorial and museum known as Keats Shelley Memorial House. It is dedicated to his life and the life of his contemporary, Percy Bysshe Shelley. The museum displays a variety of artifacts and memorabilia from both Keats and Shelley as well as numerous other works by notable poets from the Romantic Period. This includes a library with more than 8,000 works of Romantic literature. The room that contained Keats’s death bed was also preserved and recreated as a shrine to the tortured writer who endured much pain before passing away from tuberculosis at the young age of 25. A small movie room shows an introductory film when guests enter the house.
Piazza di Spagna 26, 00187, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-6-78-42-35
7.Meridian Line of the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs
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Built on the remains of an old Roman bath in the 16th century, the Meridian Line of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs was an act of one-upmanship. Commissioned by the pope, the meridian-aligned sundial was a Gregorian victory over pagan time keeping. Its location in the basilica was chosen for numerous practical reasons including the structure’s southern position, historic architecture, and high ceilings. The clock still works today, every day the sun lines up perfectly with the hole in the ceiling of the basilica casting a light that lands on the line precisely at noon. It can also determine the time of year based on where the light falls on the line.
Piazza della Repubblica, 00185, Rome Italy, Phone: +39-06-4-88-08-12
8.Museo Nazionale delle Pasta Alimentari (National Pasta Museum)
Museo Nazionale delle Pasta Alimentari commonly referred to as the National Pasta Museum is a charming little museum devoted to just one thing, pasta. Home to the nation who perfected the art of water, salt, and flour, this is the only museum of its kind in the world. Founded in 1993, it was created to explore, educate, and showcase the history, production, evolution, and consumption of pasta. With thoughtfully curated exhibits and enticing displays, the museum features old machinery from the early days when China originally brought pasta to Italy. Visitors will see traditional tools like the rolling pin, and revolutionary inventions like the kneading machine, plus drying techniques. Several photographs of Neapolitan scenes are also displayed.
Via Flaminia 141, 00196, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-6-99-11-19
Constructed in 125 A.D., the Pantheon is the most complete ancient building in Rome. Inside, there are monumental tombs fixed into the walls including that of renowned artist Raphael. Most often praised for its concept of space and architectural feats, this 142-foot by 142-foot structure looks like a perfect sphere resting in a cylinder. Its only source of natural light comes from the opulently designed dome featuring a round opening in its center, spanning 27 feet in diameter. Nestled in the center of the Ancient City of Rome, it is nourished by a few narrow lanes and the Piazza della Rotunda, an energetic square situated in front of Pantheon filled with restaurants, cafes, and bars, as well as occasional live music.
Piazza della Rotunda, 00186, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-68-30-02-30
© Enrico Della Pietra/stock.adobe.com
Situated in the heart of Rome, Piazza Venezia is a lively square located at the end of Via del Corso, and just a short walk to many of the city’s most prominent attractions like the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and Capitoline Hill. Unlike many Roman piazzas known for being tranquil and relaxing, this square is dominated by chaotic traffic. With that said, it does feature some of the city’s most iconic sites including Il Vittoriano, a landmark monument dedicated to the first king of Italy, King Victor Emmanuel II. Additional famous buildings found at Piazza Venezia include Palazzo Venezia, Palazzo Generali, and Palazzo Bonaparte.
Via Quattro Novembre 147, 00187, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-69-79-75-54
11.Pyramid of Cestius
After conquering Egypt in 30 BC, Egyptomania began to overtake Rome with numerous artifacts and copies erupting all around the city. Among them were two pyramids; the only one that remains is the 120-foot-tall Pyramid of Cestius. It was originally built for a wealthy Roman about whom not much is known, except for an inscription located on the pyramid’s southeast side. It was documented in his will that the pyramid, made of cement and brick covered in white marble, was completed in 330 days. Stories during the middle ages claimed the two pyramids were tombs of Remus and Romulus, the founders of Rome. The best access is from the Protestant Cemetery on the northwest side.
Via Raffaele Persichetti, 00153, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-39-96-77-00
Located in the northern part of Rome in the Trieste District, Quartiere Coppede is an unexpectedly bizarre area boasting a fantastical mix of architectural styles. Created in 1919 by renowned architect Coppede, the 101,706-square-foot Quarter features a mishmash of Roman Barroque, Ancient Greek, Medieval, Mannerist, and Art Nouveau structures. A Venetian palazzo embellished with external frescoes and mosaics, Florentine towers, and a sundial are just a few of the structures and design features showcased here. There is even a musically decorative building with an exterior boasting carving and ironwork of musical notes. Its unusual whimsical atmosphere has made it a popular setting for many movies including Inferno, by Dario Argento.
Piazza Mincio 4, 00198, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-06-08
Situated in the same archeological area as Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum offers a peek into the ancient Roman Empire. The Forum served as the marketplace of Rome, and the center of social and political activity. It was later used as a gathering spot for gladiatorial matches, triumphal processions, and criminal trials. Some of the most ancient and important buildings in the city surround it. Today, it is a mass of ruins with various temples and shrines, including the House of the Vestal Virgins. Some of the oldest monuments found here date back to 6th-century BC, the time of the first Kings of Rome.
Via della Salara Vecchia 5/6, 00186, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-06-08
14.Santa Maria Della Concezione
Santa Maria della Concezione is a unique Roman burial site. After leaving the friary of St. Bonaventure in 1631, a large group of Capuchin friars settled at Santa Maria della Concezione, a place that only contained a crypt and a church. They were told by the Pope’s brother to bring the remains of their deceased friars along, so all of the Capuchin friars would be in one place. Instead of burying the remains of their dead brethren, the Capuchin monks decided to use their bones to decorate the walls of the crypt. The bones of approximately 4,000 Capuchin friars, who passed away between 1528 and 1870, are still adorning this Roman crypt.
Via Vittorio Veneto 27, 00187, Rome Italy, Phone: +39-06-88-80-36-95
Dating back to 1723, the Spanish Steps are a historic collection of 138 steps located at the eastern edge of the Old City Center. The base of the steps begin at Piazza di Spagna. Visitors can climb the steep steps to the top, which is Piazza Trinita dei Monti, home of the Trinita dei Monte Church. Historically these steps have always been a place for poets, painters, and artists to visit. Today, locals and tourists use them as a meeting spot or a place to congregate and hang out in the spring and summer months. Visitors who need assistance can use the lift near the Metro Station to take them to the top.
Piazza di Spagna, 00187, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-69-92-56-57
16.St. Peter’s Basilica
© Achim Baqué/stock.adobe.com
Located in Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest temples of the Catholic Church and a significant pilgrimage site. It is also considered one of the holiest temples for Christendom. Construction of the basilica began in 1506 and was completed in 1626, that same year on November 18th, it was consecrated. Several notable architects participated in the design of the temple including Michelangelo, Bramante, and Carlo Maderno. One of the most prominent features of St. Peter’s is the 446-foot-high dome that was started by Michelangelo and completed by Maderno. The basilica also features an array of priceless artworks like The Pieta, the statue of St. Peter on his throne, and St Peter’s Baldachin.
Piazza San Pietro, 00120, Citta del Vaticano, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-69-82
17.The Mithraeum at Circus Maximus
© Samuele Gallini/stock.adobe.com
Uncovered in 1931 during Rome’s fascist-era building planning, The Mithraeum at Circus Maximus is one of the biggest secret Mithraic temples in the city. The temple dates back to the 2nd century. It showcases five parallel chambers connected to a central sanctuary that features paved white marble and two alcoves for the statues of Cautopates and Caute. Although several Mithraic temples have been discovered in London, France, Germany, and Hungary, not much is known about this ancient movement that was popular from the 1st to the 4th centuries. The cult died out once Christianity took hold at the end of the 4th century, but today these subterranean spaces, dedicated to the god Mithras offer some insight into this once hidden sect.
Via del Circo Massimo, 00186, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-7-74-00-21
18.The Roman Guy
The Roman Guy is a tour company founded by two likeminded Italy experts that provides a wide variety of adventures all over Italy. They offer over a dozen tour options led by English-speaking guides, including the Colosseum Underground and Arena Floor Tour. It includes a tour of the Roman Colosseum, a 2,000 year old structure with exclusive skip-the-line privileges for the Colosseum Underground experience, behind-the-scenes access to the re-built Arena Floor, and a guided stroll of the Ancient City. Additional tour options include a local foodie tour with dinner and wine in Trastevere, a half-day tour of Rome on electric bikes, and a driving/walking tour of the “Best of Rome.”
Via di Ripetta, 142, 00186, Rome, Italy, Phone: 888-290-5595
19.Torre Argentina (Roman Cat Sanctuary)
Torre Argentina is an archaeological wonder discovered in 1929 by Mussolini’s rebuilding efforts. An excavation revealed four Republican victory temples that were located 20 feet below street level at that time. A piece of the historic portico of Pompey was also uncovered, it was upon these steps that Julius Caesar was killed after being betrayed in 44BCE. Today, the ruins serve as a tourist attraction and a cat sanctuary for approximately 130 cats, most of which have some sort of disability or illness. They are taken care of by a committed group of volunteers, it is common for visitors to come and “cat-watch” while exploring the ruins, they can even adopt a feline if they so choose.
Largo di Torre Argentina Angolo, Largo Arenula, 00186, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-68-80-56-11
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It is difficult to imagine a better way of discovering Rome, Italy than being guided by Katie Parla, a renowned Rome-based food writer, journalist, and educator. Rome-based Katie has written more than 20 books on the food, history, and culture of Rome and Italy. With an art history degree from Yale, a master’s degree in Italian gastronomic culture from the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata,” a sommelier certificate from the Federazione Italiana Sommelier Albergatori Ristoratori, and an archeological speleology certification from the city of Rome, Katie’s private tours of Rome are an in-depth exploration of Rome, its art history and archeology, wine and beers, and foods. Her walking tours of various Rome neighborhoods are fascinating ways to explore the city’s ancient markets, squares, and narrow alleys while tasting fresh breads, cheeses, salamis, and coffees. The groups are small, no more than six people, and last half a day. The cost of food and drinks is not included in the price.
Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-34-40-62-86-99
Located in the heart of Rome, Trevi Fountain is the most famous fountain in the city and a popular must-see tourist attraction. Originally constructed in 19BC at the end of an aqueduct, it was designed to bring water to Rome from roughly 13 miles away. It took three centuries to complete the fountain, most of which was created by Roman architect Nicola Salvi. Today, the fountain’s design is a large basin with a semicircular shape sunk just a little below pavement level creating a natural amphitheater for visitors to enjoy. The fountain’s main attribute is a symbolic living scene of Neptune, god of the sea.
Piazza di Trevi, 00187, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-06-08
© Konstantin Kulikov/stock.adobe.com
Vatican City, the world’s smallest country is located just north of Rome’s city center and is home to some extraordinary museums. The vast group of Christian museums showcases a noteworthy collection of artworks that have been amassed by various popes throughout the centuries. This includes several of the most significant masterpieces of Renaissance, art and some of the most renowned Roman sculptures in the world. All together there are 54 galleries, better known as sales, containing approximately 70,000 important works, of which 20,000 are displayed. The last stop on the museum route is none other than the Sistine Chapel, with its famous ceiling decorated by the legendary Michelangelo.
Viale Vaticano, 00165, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-69-88-46-76
© Casa Mia
Having a local guide to show you around when visiting any city allows you to see it and experience it the way locals do – as home and not as a tourist destination. Casa Mia Italy Food and Wine present their guests with an authentic, exclusive, and original experience. Their guides are established experts in food and wine and happen to be culinary professionals. They will custom-design your adventure in eating and wine drinking in Italy. Their tours can take you to Rome, Sicily, Naples, and Florence. If you decide to explore the culinary delights of Rome, try their Trionfale food tour, and your local guides will take you to the traditional local market just a few blocks from Vatican where no tourists venture. You will meet farmers and vendors and taste their cheese, cured meats, and ripe seasonal fruits. After the market, you will move on to the best pizzerias, pastry shops, bakeries, and gelaterias sold in the Prati neighborhood nearby. End your day with a glass of wine and a cup of espresso like a real Roman.
Via Giosue Borsi 5, Rome, Italy 00197, C.F. 97839120587, Phone: +39 3468001746
24.Villa Borghese Gardens
Villa Borghese Gardens is an 18th-century, naturalistic English-style landscape garden including numerous attractions, buildings, and museums, such as Galleria Borghese. Rome’s third largest public park, it was created by architect Flaminio Ponzio and spans nearly 198 acres. Several vendors are scattered throughout the park selling souvenirs, maps, refreshments, and ice cream, as well as four-person bike rentals, and nine sightseeing walking routes. The park’s highlights include its ‘Villas in the gardens’ such as Casino Borghese, home to sculptures by Bernini, including Daphne and David. Other notable points of interest include the Zoological Museum, and a replica built in 2003 of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Piazzale Napoleone I, 00197, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-34-70-65-23-13
Zuccari Palace is perhaps the most bizarre, quirky, and downright hilarious building in Rome. Created in 1590 by legendary Baroque artist Federico Zuccari, the palace is most notably known as the Monster House. This is due to the giant monster faces featuring wide gaping mouths that look to be in the process of swallowing all of the palace’s windows and doors. Inspired by the Gardens of Bomarzo in northern Lazio, Italy, Zuccari built the palace as a studio for himself and his children. Both architecturally praised and criticized, the palace was a celebrated locale for aspiring artisans. Today, it is the home of Bibliotheca Hertziana - Max Planck Institute for Art History.
Via Gregoriana, 00187 Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-89-92-85-00
25 Best Things to Do in Rome, Italy
- Campo de Fiori, Photo: Pino Pacifico/stock.adobe.com
- Casina Delle Civette, Photo: lpictures/stock.adobe.com
- Colosseum, Photo: Jenifoto/stock.adobe.com
- Galleria Borghese, Photo: nikhg/stock.adobe.com
- Galleria Sciarra, Photo: mitev/stock.adobe.com
- Keats Shelley Memorial House, Photo: PennaPazza/stock.adobe.com
- Meridian Line of the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs, Photo: DPI studio/stock.adobe.com
- Museo Nazionale delle Pasta Alimentari (National Pasta Museum), Photo: kuvona/stock.adobe.com
- Pantheon, Photo: sborisov/stock.adobe.com
- Piazza Venezia, Photo: Enrico Della Pietra/stock.adobe.com
- Pyramid of Cestius, Photo: scaliger/stock.adobe.com
- Quartiere Coppede, Photo: Fly_dragonfly/stock.adobe.com
- Roman Forum, Photo: BRUCE/stock.adobe.com
- Santa Maria Della Concezione, Photo: lpictures/stock.adobe.com
- Spanish Steps, Photo: Javen/stock.adobe.com
- St. Peter’s Basilica, Photo: Achim Baqué/stock.adobe.com
- The Mithraeum at Circus Maximus, Photo: Samuele Gallini/stock.adobe.com
- The Roman Guy, Photo: Alextype/stock.adobe.com
- Torre Argentina (Roman Cat Sanctuary), Photo: adisa/stock.adobe.com
- Katie Parla, Photo: Andrea Izzotti/stock.adobe.com
- Trevi Fountain, Photo: nicomax/stock.adobe.com
- Vatican Museums, Photo: Konstantin Kulikov/stock.adobe.com
- Casa Mia, Photo: Casa Mia
- Villa Borghese Gardens, Photo: kmiragaya/stock.adobe.com
- Zuccari Palace, Photo: Florence/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Boris Stroujko/stock.adobe.com
Via Appia Antica
Via Appia is an ancient 2,300-year-old road spanning nearly 348 feet from the center of Rome to Brindisi. Built in 312 BCE, it was constructed and named after Appius Claudius Caecus, a politically powerful and wealthy Roman. The road exists much as it originally did. Perfectly cobbled, it’s equipped with stones fitted so tightly that it would allegedly take a knife to pry them apart. Initially meant to provide supplies and armies across the empire, its use was expanded when construction concluded. Many wealthy Romans’ tombs can be seen alongside the road, and after Christianity took hold of Rome, catacombs were built beneath a large portion of the road to use for Christian burials.
Via Appia Antica, 60, 00179, Rome, Italy, Phone: +39-06-5-13-53-16