Destination guide: Rome, Italy

Rome is a city where the past and the present converge in perfect harmony. The capital of Italy (Europe) is also known as the Eternal City and is considered the birthplace of the ancient Roman Empire. It is worth noting that this city has a valuable architectural, artistic, cultural and religious heritage which makes it attractive to any tourist.

Plan your trip to Rome and visit The Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s Pieta. Discover the ruins of the Roman Forum, the Coliseum, Agrippa’s Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain (which tradition dictates you must throw a coin into if you want to come back to Rome) and the bohemia of Trastevere, an area located south of the Vatican.

  • Rome - Things to do

    Sights

    Colosseum

    The Colosseum is the most extraordinary of all Rome’s monuments. It’s not just the amazing completeness of the place, or its size, but the sense of its gory history that resonates: it was here that gladiators met in mortal combat and condemned prisoners fought off hungry lions. Two thousand or so years on, it’s still hauling in the crowds. Don’t let the lengthy queue put you off: just pop down to the Palatine ticket office, buy your combined ticket there, and on returning march straight in.

    Latitude: 41.8901831700000 / Longitude: 12.4922162000000
    Sub-Type: Archaeological Site
    Opening Hours: 8.30am-6.15pm Apr-Aug, to 6pm Sep, to 5.30pm Oct, to 4.30pm mid-end Mar, to 4pm mid-Feb–mid-Mar, to 3.30pm Nov–mid-Feb
    Pricing
    : admission incl Palatino & Roman Forum adult/EU 18-24yr/EU under 18yr & over 65yr €9/4.50/free plus possible €3 exhibition supplement, audioguides €4.50, videoguides €5.50
    Address: Piazza del Colosseo
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Colosseo
    Website: www.pierreci.it

    Museo e Galleria Borghese

    Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1579–1633) was the most knowledgeable and ruthless art collector of his day, and his collection, in the Museo e Galleria Borghese is as dazzling as his park. If you only have time (or inclination) for one art gallery in Rome, make it this one, which is not only exquisite, but also provides the perfect introduction to Renaissance and baroque art without being overwhelming. It’s housed in the Casino Borghese, whose neoclassical look is the result of a 17th-century revamp.

    To limit numbers, visitors are admitted at two-hourly intervals, so you’ll need to call to prebook, and enter at an allotted entry time, but trust us, it’s worth it.

    Latitude: 41.9142698527991 / Longitude: 12.4922597408295
    Sub-Type: Gallery
    Telephone Number: +390 6 3 28 10
    Opening Hours: 8.30am-7.30pm Tue-Sun, prebooking necessary
    Pricing: adult/EU 18-25yr/EU under 18yr & over 65yr €8.50/5.25/2, audioguides €5
    Address: Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5
    Transportation Type: bus
    Details: Via Pinciana
    Website: www.galleriaborghese.it

    Pantheon

    Competition is fierce, but the Pantheon is surely ancient Rome’s most astonishing building. This Roman temple has been standing for almost 2000 years, and it’s a unique, unparalleled experience to enter its great doors and have your vision directed upwards, just as it would have been for the ancient Romans. Its current form dates to around AD 120, when the emperor Hadrian built the Pantheon over Marcus Agrippa’s original temple (27 BC). For centuries, historians read the name Agrippa in the inscription on the pediment and thought that Hadrian’s version was the 1st-century-BC original. When excavations in the 19th century revealed traces of the earlier temple, they realized their mistake.

    Latitude: 41.8985717487887 / Longitude: 12.4768745899200
    Sub-Type: Monument
    Telephone Number: +390 6 683 00 230
    Opening Hours: 8.30am-7.30pm Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm Sun
    Pricing: admission free, audioguide €4
    Address: Piazza della Rotonda
    Transportation
    Type: bus
    Details: Largo di Torre Argentina

    Piazza Navona

    With its ornate fountains, baroque palazzi and pavement cafés, Piazza Navona is central Rome’s showcase square. Like many of the city’s great landmarks, it sits on the site of an ancient monument, in this case the 1st-century-AD Stadio di Domiziano. This 30,000-seat stadium, remains of which can be seen from Piazza Tor Sanguigna, used to host games – the name Navona is a corruption of the Greek word agon, meaning public games. Inevitably, though, it fell into disrepair and it wasn’t until the 15th century that the crumbling arena was paved over and Rome’s central market transferred here from Campidoglio.

    Today interest centres on Bernini’s extravagant Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). Commissioned by Pope Innocent X and completed in 1651, it depicts the Rivers Nile, Ganges, Danube and Plata, representing the then-known four continents of the world. Legend has it that the figure of the Nile is shielding his eyes from the Chiesa di Sant’Agnese in Agone, designed by Bernini’s hated rival, Borromini. In truth, it simply indicates that the source of the Nile was unknown at the time.

    The Fontana del Moro at the southern end of the square was designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1576. Bernini added the Moor holding a dolphin in the mid-17th century, but the surrounding Tritons are 19th- century copies. The 19th-century Fontana del Nettuno at the northern end of the piazza depicts Neptune fighting with a sea monster, surrounded by sea nymphs.

    The largest building in the square is the elegant Palazzo Pamphilj, built between 1644 and 1650 by Girolamo Rainaldi and Borromini to celebrate Giovanni Battista Pamphilj’s election as Pope Innocent X. It is now the Brazilian Embassy.

    Latitude: 41.8984918909871 / Longitude: 12.4731087684631
    Sub-Type: Square, Plaza
    Telephone Number: +390 6 688 09 240
    Opening Hours: Christmas market and funfair, early Dec-6 Jan.
    Address
    : Piazza Navona, Parione
    Transportation Type: bus
    Details: Corso del Rinascimento

    St Peter’s Basilica

    In Vatican City, a city of astounding churches, St Peter’s Basilica outdazzles them all. Awe-inspiringly huge, rich and spectacular, it’s a monument to centuries of artistic genius. On a busy day, around 20,000 visitors pass through here. If you want to be one of them, remember to dress appropriately – no shorts, miniskirts or bare shoulders. If you want to hire an audioguide (€5), they’re available at a desk in the cloakroom to the right of the entrance.

    Free English-language guided tours of the basilica are run from the Vatican tourist office, the Centro Servizi Pellegrini e Turisti, at 9.45am on Tuesday and Thursday and at 2.15pm every afternoon between Monday and Friday.

    Latitude: 41.9021900000000 / Longitude: 12.4534200000000
    Sub-Type: Religious, Spiritual
    Telephone Number: +390 6 698 83 731
    Opening Hours: 7am-7pm Apr-Sep, 7am-6pm Oct-Mar
    Pricing: admission free, audioguides €5
    Address: Piazza San Pietro
    Transportation
    Type: underground rail
    Details: Ottaviano-San Pietro
    Website: www.vatican.va

    Eat

    Pizzeria da Baffetto

    Da Baffetto offers some of Rome’s best pizzas, served in typical wham-bam style. To partake, join the queue and wait for the bustling waiters to squeeze you in – you may have to share a table. To start, try the tasty fried things – courgette flowers, olive ascolane and so on – before moving onto the pizzas, bubbling hot from the wood-fired oven, and as Roman as it gets.

    Latitude: 41.8983960614934 / Longitude: 12.4699652194977
    Sub-Type
    : Pizzeria
    Telephone Number: +390 6 686 16 17
    Opening Hours: 6.30pm-midnight
    Pricing
    : pizzas €6-9
    Price Range: Low
    Address: Via del Governo Vecchio 114, Parione
    Extras: nr Piazza Navona
    Transportation Type: bus
    Details: Corso Vittorio Emanuele II

    Trattoria Monti

    The Camerucci family runs this elegant, brick-arched place, offering top-notch traditional cooking from the Marches region, with an unusual menu that includes lots of daily specials. Expect wonderful fried things, delicate pastas and ingredients such as pecorino di fossa (sheeps’ cheese aged in caves), goose, swordfish, sultanas, mushrooms and truffles. Try the speciality egg-yolk tortelli pasta. Desserts are delectable, including apple pie with zabaglione that’s worthy of a postcard home. Word has spread, so book ahead.

    Latitude: 41.8960082635119 / Longitude: 12.4998772144318
    Sub-Type: Trattoria
    Telephone Number: +390 6 446 65 73
    Opening Hours: lunch & dinner Tue-Sat, lunch Sun
    Pricing: meals €35
    Price Range: Moderate
    Address
    : Via di San Vito 13a
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Vittorio Emanuele

    Volpetti alla Scrofa

    This place is an Aladdin’s cave of delicacies, including Belgian beer, French champagne, Italian truffles, sausage and cheese. It’s also a tavola calda (‘hot table’) where you can enjoy a fast lunch of pasta, salad and fruit for under €10.

    Latitude: 41.9017500082100 / Longitude: 12.4751579761505
    Sub-Type
    : Pizza
    Telephone Number: +390 6 688 06 335
    Opening Hours: Mon-Sat
    Pricing
    : meals under €10
    Price Range: Low
    Address: Via della Scrofa 31-32
    Transportation Type: bus
    Details: Corso del Rinascimento

    Entertaiment

    Chiringuito

    Pierandrea ‘the Professor’ is currently running this summery kiosk bar in the centre of Parioli. With lots of pavement tables, it’s a relaxed, inexpensive place to drink, watch the Pariolini play, and listen to some tunes on a summer’s night.

    Latitude: 41.9279013800000 / Longitude: 12.4866543400000
    Type: Night
    Sub-Type: Bar
    Opening Hours: 6pm-2am
    Address: Viale Parioli 104
    Transportation Type: bus
    Details
    : Viale Parioli

    Freni e Frizioni

    Everyone’s favourite hip Trastevere hang-out: in a former life, this bar/café was a garage, hence its name (‘brakes and clutches’). The arty crowd flocks here to slurp well-priced drinks (especially mojitos) and pack the piazza in front. You can eat breakfast here, have lunch, munch brunch at the weekend, and feast on the good-value aperitivo. Hell, you could even move in here.

    Latitude: 41.8908530306793 / Longitude: 12.4712419509888
    Type:
    Night
    Sub-Type: Bar
    Telephone Number: +390 6 583 34 210
    Opening Hours: 10am-2am
    Address: Via del Politeanna 4, Trastevere
    Transportation Type: bus
    Details
    : Piazza Trilussa
    Email: info@freniefrizioni.com
    Website: www.freniefrizioni.com

    Rashomon

    Rashomon is sweaty, not posey, and where to head when you want to dance your ass off. Shake it to a music-lovers’ feast of electro-rock, electronica, indie and new wave, plus occasional live acts.

    Latitude: 41.8646000000000 / Longitude: 12.4811500000000
    Type: Night
    Sub-Type: Club
    Telephone Number: +390 393 966 1321
    Opening Hours: 11pm-4.30am Tue-Sun Oct-May
    Pricing: admission free-€10
    Address: Via degli Argonauti 20
    Transportation
    Type: underground rail
    Details
    : Garbatella

    Events Overview

    Rome’s calendar bursts with events, ranging from colourful traditional celebrations with a religious and/or historical flavour to festivals of the performing arts – including opera, music and theatre – particularly from June to September, when there are loads of outdoor events, such as cinema under the stars and riverside gigs. Check local tourist information sources for further details.

    January

    New Year

    A candlelit procession in the catacombs.

    March & April

    Festa di San Giuseppe

    (Feast of St Joseph; 19 Mar) Celebrated in the Trionfale neighbourhood, between the Vatican and Monte Mario. Little stalls are set up to serve fritelle (fried pastries) and there's usually a special market set up near the church of San Giuseppe.

    Settimana dei Beni Culturale

    Public museums and galleries open free of charge during culture week.

    Procession of the Cross (Easter)

    A candlelit procession to the Colosseum on Good Friday evening is led by the pope. At noon on Easter Sunday he gives his traditional blessing from the balcony in St Peter's Square.

    Mostra delle Azalee

    (Exhibition of Azaleas; late Mar/Apr) The Spanish Steps are decorated with masses of pink azaleas.

    Rome's Birthday

    (21 Apr) To celebrate its birthday, the City of Rome provides processions, fireworks and free entry to lots of museums.

    May

    Primo Maggio

    Rome’s May Day rock festival attracts huge crowds and international performers to an open-air concert outside the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano.

    Festa di Primavera

    (end May-Jun) A festival of art, sport, music and theatre; for more information, check out www.provincia.roma.it

    June

    Feast of San Pietro e Paolo

    (Feast of Sts Peter & Paul; 29 Jun) This feast, for the patron saints of the city, includes major celebrations at St Peter’s.

    Birth of John the Baptist

    (23-24 Jun) Many celebrate the birth of St John the Baptist, particularly around the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, where special market stalls are set up, and there's lots of lovely porchetta (pork roasted with herbs) to eat.

    Estate Romana

    (Jun-Oct) The big event in summer, this is a series of outdoor cultural events and activities for the few people who have remained in the capital – see www.romeguide.it/estate_romana for more info.

    July

    Festa de’Noantri

    (3rd week in Jul) The festival ‘of we others’ in Trastevere is a traditional working-class festival celebrating the district’s otherness, with food, wine and dancing.

    August

    Festa della Madonna della Neve

    (5 Aug) To celebrate the legendary snowfall that fell on 5 August 352, rose petals are showered on celebrants in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

    September

    RomaEuropa

    (5 Aug) To celebrate the legendary snowfall that fell on 5 August 352, rose petals are showered on celebrants in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.


    December

    Christmas Market

    (1st Dec-6th Jan) Christmas time in Rome sees a toy fair, with lots of handmade presepi (nativity scenes), buskers, bright lights and fun in Piazza Navona.

    Feast of San Silvestro

    (31 Dec) The pope visits the Chiesa del Gesù and sings the Te Deum, while the mayor presents a chalice to the presiding priest.

    Capodanno

    (31 Dec) Open-air concerts and fireworks mark the New Year.