City guide Rome

What to say about the city that’s everything been told about so far? There’s nothing left except buying a ticket and going there to see for yourself why all roads lead to Rome… This fascinating place has been inspiring people to visit it for centuries, with its magnificent monuments and buildings, breathtaking art, charming atmosphere and world famous cuisine. If you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip to Italian capital anytime soon, check out our guide and see what you can expect while exploring this unique city!

Sights

Just one thing – it was super hard to choose only few best attractions in a city like Rome. However, these are most known and you cannot leave without discovering the most important parts of European cradle of culture.

Colosseum – Definitely the most thrilling of the city’s sights, Rome’s majestic gladiatorial arena Colosseum, also known as Flavian Amphitheatre, was inaugurated in AD 80 offering 50 000 seats to viewers who wanted to see gladiators fighting animals or each other. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was abandoned, and it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that it became a fortress occupied by the Frangipani family. Recently, the Colosseum has gone through a major makeover, the first one in its 2000-year history. Visits require advance booking and cost €9 per person.

Vatican City – The world’s smallest country occupies only 2 square miles and is entirely surrounded by the city of Rome. Vatican City serves mainly as a spiritual center for millions of Roman Catholics worldwide, but its second role is the one of a tourist magnet, thanks to the many attractions, such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums which boast one of the most impressive art collections in the world. The ‘Holy See’, built over the tomb of St. Peter, also hosts the restored Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and Vatican Gardens, a lovely place to rest both physically and mentally.

Trevi Fountain – Rome’s most beautiful and spectacular fountain is one of the first spots tourists visit when they come to the capital. Millions of people stop by and make a wish in this fountain dating back to the year 19 B.C. However, the final appearance of the Trevi Fountain dates from 1762, when it was finalized by Giuseppe Pannini. The legend (originated in 1954 from the movie ‘Three Coins in the Fountain’) says, throw one coin and you’ll return to Rome, throw two and you’ll fall in love with an attractive Italian, and throw three if you want to marry the person you met.

Roman Forum – The impressive, yet confusing sprawl of ruins known as the Roman Forum was ancient Rome’s showpiece centre, a majestic quarter of temples, squares and churches. The site, primarily used as an Etruscan cemetery, was developed in the 7th century BC, and with time it grew into the social, political and commercial center of the Roman empire. However, despite its former construction and design, it wasn’t until the 18th- and 19th-century excavations that the Forum was discovered under a thick layer of dirt and rubble.

Pantheon – The Roman Pantheon is the most preserved building of ancient Rome. This temple dedicated to all the gods of pagan Rome was built between AD 118 and 125. The first thing you’ll notice when approaching the front of the site is the inscription in Latin, saying (in English)‘Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius, having been consul three times made it’. Still, not many people know that it was actually the emperor Hadrian who built it and contributed to most to the this marvelous building, but he never inscribed his name anywhere except to the temple of his father Trajan.

Castel Sant’ Angelo – Also called Hadrianeum and Sepulcrum Antoninorum, the Castel San’t Angelo from AD 135 was originally the mausoleum of the aforementioned emperor Hadrian. It stands on the right bank of the Tiber River and guards the Ponte Sant’ Angelo, one of the main ancient Roman bridges. In the 13th century an 800-metre fortified corridor was built to connect the castle with the Vatican City, so that the Pope could escape in the event of any danger. The Castel is split into five floors and offers amazing panoramic views of Rome.

Spanish Steps – The Spanish Steps are one of Rome’s most popular tourist sites. Why, you ask? There are exactly 135 steps (don’t miscount, if you found 136 of them that is because people often mistake the drainage system for the first step) and they are the widest stairway in the entire Europe, therefore a perfect place for get together. But, be careful, according to the Roman urban regulations it is strictly prohibited eating anything on the steps in order to keep them pristine. This rule has been even more reinforced since the latest restoration.

Public transportation

Public transportation in Rome consists of buses, trams, metro and trains connecting every corner of the city. The service is operated by the Atac company and despite many routes and connections, the traffic is heavy, especially in the early morning or in the evening, so avoid if possible.

  • Metro: Rome’s metro has 2 lines: line A (red) and line B (blue) which intersect at Termini station.
  • Train: Termini is also city’s main train station. As capital of Italy, Rome has direct train services to all the principal cities of the country. You can also use Tiburtina station.
  • Tram: Tram lines are only few and don’t go to the city centre. Look for lines 2, 3, 5, 8, 14 and 19 if you wish for a more romantic tour of Rome.
  • Bus: More than 20 bus lines depart from Roma Termini and take you to all parts of the city.  

Day trips

We don’t think it’s possible to get bored of Rome, but here are some suggestions if you have some extra time to travel around the region and make a few day trips from Italian capital.

Tivoli – A former summer resort of ancient Romans and Renaissance aristocrats today is a home to two UNESCO sites, Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este. Tivoli is also interesting for its mosaics, bath, fountains, Maritime Theater, etc.

  • The journey to Tivoli takes 45 minutes.

Naples – One of Italy’s most artistic cities is also a UNESCO site and probably the gastronomic center of the country. Enjoy breathtaking views, art, food combined with fantastic Italians and discover why people say that ‘you can die after visiting Naples’.

  • The journey to Naples takes 3 hours.

Florence – The home to the mighty Medici family and great artists like Michelangelo and Brunelleschi, Florence will win you over in a second. Check out what the world-famous Duomo and Ponte Vecchio look like from up close.

  • The journey to Florence takes 4 hours.

Tarquinia – This charming medieval town is known for its Etruscan tombs and amazing Etruscan Museum. Another Italy’s UNESCO heritage site comprises more than 6 000 tombs that are definitely worthwhile visiting.

  • The journey to Tarquinia takes 1 hour.

Ostia Antica – The ancient Roman port sits by the Tiber River and offers a wide range of old streets, shops and houses from old times. Visit Terme di Nettuno, the amphitheatre and the Thermopolium.

  • The journey to Ostia Antica takes 25 minutes.

Outdoor activities

Electric bike tour – Bike tours are the best way to see Rome, as the city is huge and the traffic is pretty chaotic, so don’t depend on buses, metro and trams, rent an electric bike and explore the Eternal City at your own pace. The prices go from 25€ to €50 per day and there are rental shops on almost every corner in the city centre.

Janiculum hill – Despite not being counted as one of the Seven Hills of Rome, it was nicknamed the ‘8th hill’. It is one of the most charming places in Rome, a balcony with breathtaking views over churches, piazzas and monuments, which descends to another famous Roman quarter Trastevere on the east.

Bioparco  – This is a fantastic activity if you’re visiting the Italian capital with children. More than 200 animal species, which include mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians from 5 continents, wait for you inside the oldest and largest zoo park in Italy (which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011!)

Exchange money

The currency used in Rome is euro. However, Italy is known to have low currency exchange rates. The best way to get euro in Rome is to withdraw them at ATM machines, known as bancomat in Italian, as most banks only provide currency exchange to customers who have accounts with them. If you still want to convert currency in local exchange offices, the best places to do so are near Roma Termini station and Vatican, as well as Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and Piazza di Spagna. One advice: always ask for the final amount you should receive before giving the money as the rates posted in the shop may not include commission fees.

Parking

As you probably already know, driving in Rome is not such a good idea. If you absolutely need to go by your own car or you’re planning to rent one, brace yourselves as you probably won’t be able to handle Italian traffic laws and norms. Traffic on the side, there is no street parking in the historic center, so everything you want to see is accessible on foot or by public transportation. As Rome is quite expensive, if you’re looking for a cheap or (occasionally) free parking spot, make sure to find one of white, blue, yellow and pink areas.

  • Blue – paid parking with hourly rates (and reduced rates for short-term parking), free on Sundays and public holidays
  • White – free parking regulated with disc and a maximum of 3 hours
  • Yellow – free parking for disabled or invalid people
  • Pink –  free parking for pregnant women and mothers with small children

Nightlife

Rome is an excellent place to spend a crazy, adventurous night in. The one thing you should know is that the night never begins before midnight (or earlier if you’re up for an aperitivo in the center), but it offers so much for all tastes and all ages, from walking the streets of Trastevere with a drink or ice cream in your hand and bars overlooking Campo de Fiori to the wine bars in the district of San Lorenzo where student population gathers throughout the year and nightclubs and risto-bars (where you can eat, drink and dance) in the Testaccio quarter and Via Ostiense. Romans know how to have a good time, so make sure to ‘do as the Romans do’ while staying in this magnificent city. We can’t just single out only few of them, so it’s better if you strolled along the aforementioned places and check them out on your own.  

Shopping

Fendi, Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Armani… Italy is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to fashion, so the capital cannot lack boutiques and malls for a good shopping. Via Condotti is Rome’s main street for ‘haute couture’ and window shopping, while you can find more high fashion boutiques in Via Borgognona, Via Frattina and Via Sistina. However, if you’re on a budget, Via del Corso is the most obvious shopping area. This street runs from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo has numerous shoe stores, popular fashion brands and department stores. If you’re don’t like big crowds, try Via Cola di Rienzo. There are several good outdoor markets, flea markets and antique shops as well. Porta Portese is the most popular in Italy and one of the largest flea markets in Europe, where you can find everything, from second-hand clothing to furniture.

Getting to Rome

Thanks to its popularity, Rome has developed an easy access by all means of transport.

  • Plane: Rome has two airport, the Fiumicino airport which is the busiest airport in the country, and the smaller Ciampino airport used by the low-fare air carriers. Both of them have great connections to the city center.
  • Bus: Rome is well-connected to all major European and most Italian cities. Find your connection on GetByBus.
  • Train: TrenItalia takes you anywhere across the country and has excellent connections with Rome.
Airport Ciampino in Rome
Airport Express

Useful contacts

Emergency

Common EU emergency number: +39 112

Emergency ambulance: +39 118

Hospital

International Medical Center: +39 064882371

Salvator Mundi International Hospital: +39 06588961

Police

Municipal police: +39 06 4686

Emergency police: +39 112

Tourist Information Center

PIT Minghetti, Via Marco Minghetti, Angolo Via del Corso

PIT Termini, F, Via Giovanni Giolitti, 34

PIT Fori Imperiali, Via dei Fori Imperiali, 1

PIT Castel Sant’Angelo, Piazza Pia

Info Roma, Via di Capo le Case, 3A

altare della patria with italian flags

  1 Comment

  1. Susan Fraser   •  

    Wonderful post, I’m visiting Rome for 5 days in January and needed some guide so I can visit all the interesting things and not miss something.

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