What to do in Rome, Italy
Visiting the Eternal City
Rome is the capital city of Italy. It's a cosmopolitan place, that has been a bustling metropolis for thousands of years. Look around the city, and you'll see traces of different periods, from the ancient Roman empire, through the Italian Renaissance, to modern times.
With its Mediterranean climate, spring and autumn days are warm, and in the heat of summer you can expect temperatures in the eighties. If you visit in the winter, be sure to take warm things with you. Last time I visited Rome in the winter, the first day found me shopping for a hat and leather gloves!
So what to do when you're in Rome? Here are some of my favorites.
Major monuments of Rome
- Visit the Roman Forum, and picture what life was like 2000 years ago, when people like Julius Caesar walked these very paths. This was the political center of ancient Rome, when Rome was the center of the sprawling Roman Empire, the power center of Europe. You can still see ruins of the streets and buildings.
- See the Coliseum of Rome. This ancient amphitheater is in the middle of the city, and is the largest of its kind built in the Roman Empire. It's an excellent example of Roman engineering and architecture. Close your eyes and you can see visions of gladiators clashing in front of cheering crowds. The ancient Romans had many other entertainments here too -- even flooding it for mock sea battles!
- Stroll around the Seven Hills of Rome, and along the River Tiber. Although this central area is not large, there are many hotels, palaces, churches, and you'll also find the Houses of Parliament and the official home of the Italian President. This area is full of interesting monuments, bars and restaurants and is popular with visiting tourists from the world over.
- Visit St Peters Basilica -- the top Roman Catholic cathedral in the world. It's the most prominent building in the Vatican City, it can hold 60,000 people, and you can't miss the huge dome on the skyline of Rome. You're unlikely to see the pope, but when he does show himself, the square is thronged with the faithful. Try to find the marked spots in the center of the piazza -- if you stand in just the right place, you'll see all of the columns line up perfectly.
Sights to see in Rome
- Even if you don't fancy yourself a museum buff, it's worth visiting the Vatican museum. They have a spectacular array of paintings and sculptures. The highlight of any visit is the Sistine Chapel with its stunning Michelangelo ceiling. You've seen those images so many other places, now you can see the original! Even though it's in the middle of Rome, Italy, technically the Vatican City is a different country. If you mail a postcard from here, you'll get a postmark of the Vatican, not Italy.
- When it's time to stop for much needed refreshment, there are many cafes to choose from in Rome. Italy is fabulous for people-watching -- it's a regular pastime. Just grab a seat at a sidewalk table, relax with your epresso, and watch the world go by.
- The Spanish Steps climb a steep slope from the Piazza di Spagna. They're said to be the widest and longest set of steps in the whole of Europe, though I wouldn't swear to that. If your visit to Rome takes place over Christmas, have a look at the crèche that's displayed there. In May, the steps are adorned with many pots of flowers, and in recent years a fresh flower market has been taking place on the Spanish steps.
Relaxing in Rome
- If you are a music-lover (especially opera), then why not take in a performance at the Baths of Caracalla, built almost 2000 years ago? The ruins of these old Roman baths act as a spectacular backdrop for the Roma Theatre during the summer season. If you're lucky, you might even see a performance of Aida, complete with real live camels and elephants. This venue has also become popular for other events.
- If you're a gardener at heart, or just enjoy some relaxing greenery, try a walk through the many gardens and parks in the city of Rome. Many of the green areas around the city are dotted with the remains of villas that originally circled the papal city.
- Enjoy some of Rome's local cuisine specialties. A few Roman favorites include Pasta amatriciana, Pasta carbonara, or one of my favorites - Veal saltimbocca. Delicious!
- The city of Ostia is about 15 miles away, but this was the ancient port of Rome. You can easily visit here as a day trip from Rome. You'll find it's an amazing place, with extensive ruins of the ancient city.
Enjoy your time in Rome! Italy's premiere city has so many fascinating sights, such a wealth of history, and such a lively spirit, there's sure to be something to suit everybody.
Explore Rome, Italy
Books about Rome
- What to do in Sicily, Italy
- Top Ten Ancient Ruins of Rome, Italy
- Italian cities to see before you die
- The Lost City of Pompeii, Italy
- What to do in Florence, Italy
- What To Do In Milan, Italy
- What to do in Venice, Italy
- Siena, Italy - Favorite Things to Do in Siena
- Tuscany - Fabulous Hill Towns of Tuscany, Italy
Useful links about Rome
- Italy Vacations: When is the best time to go?
With its picturesque villages nestled into seaside cliffs, its Old World love of laughter and culture, and food that makes your soul stand up and sing; there's really never a bad time to go to Italy.
- Rome - Wikipedia
Wikipedia has a lot of background info about Rome.
- Seven hills of Rome
Find out about the 7 hills that ancient Rome was founded on.
- Public Transportation in Rome
Believe me, you don't want a car here! Walk or take public transit.
- Your Trip to Italy
Useful information for planning your trip to Rome, Italy.
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