“Yes, I have finally arrived to this Capital of the World! I now see all the dreams of my youth coming to life… Only in Rome is it possible to understand Rome.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italian Journey (1816)
No country has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than Italy. Of Italy’s 51 WH sites, the Historic Center of Rome is perhaps the most rich. Founded by Romulus in 753 BCE, Rome developed from a small village atop the Palatine Hill, to the center of the massive Roman Empire to then the center of the Catholic world. Remnants of each of these eras are apparent and intertwined as the history of Rome comes alive for visitors.
Standard arrival in Rome is by Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) airport or Termini train station. Transfer from the airport to Rome is easy by train, bus, or taxi. The trains and busses are affordable, and usually arrive at Termini, the transportation hub of Rome. If you choose to take a cab from the airport, don’t pay more than you should. The taxis of Rome, by law, have a fixed rate from the airport to the city center. If you are considering driving into Rome…just don’t. John once drove to Rome from France. After a day of madness driving in Rome, he simply decided to park his car outside of Rome for the duration of his stay.
If you’re still trying to decide how to get to Rome from the airport, check out our blog post about it here.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN ROME
1. Roman Forum:
Your trip to Rome must include a visit to the Roman Forum. Sure, you’ve seen pictures and read history books; you know what Ancient Rome was like. But actually walking through it is a whole different story.
Don’t forget, there’s more to the Colosseum than cool pictures and acting out scenes from Gladiator with your friends. Remember that this was the site of a cruel blood sport—no place embodies the best and the worst of Rome so perfectly. More tips here.
3. Capitoline Museums
Soak in the beauty of Classical Roman art by making a visit to the Capitoline Museums, the oldest museum in the world. Bonus: you’ll see some amazing Baroque art as well.
This is the perfect architectural building, and an obligatory stop during your visit to Rome. It’s your chance to see the best-preserved interior of a Roman temple. Read more here.
5. National Museum of Rome
Two important masterpieces are a must in the National Museum of Rome: the frescoes from the Villa of Livia and the Greek original, The Pugilist. Trust us, they’re worth it.
6. Spanish Steps La Passeggiata
Naturally, the best museum in Rome is Rome itself. Be Roman for a day and take part in the Italian tradition of the Paseggiata. In the late afternoon, take a walk down Via del Corso and finish up at the famous Spanish Steps.
7. Piazza Navona
This historic plaza has seen a lot. Originally the site of a Classical Roman stadium, it is now the home of Bernini’s phenomenal Four Rivers Fountain. More info here.
8. Trevi Fountain
Yes, embrace your tourist self and toss a coin into the beautiful Trevi Fountain. But remember, it’s more than just a pretty monument; it is a reflection of centuries of Roman culture.
9. Villa and Galleria Borghese
Escape the bustle of the city for a while and rent a bike or a boat to explore the expansive Villa Borghese gardens. While you’re there, make sure to stop by the Galleria Borghese and see its world-class collection with works by Bernini and Caravaggio.
10. Appia Antica
Complement your time in urban Rome with a day trip to the green Regional Park, Appia Antica/Appian Way. It is of great significance to Romans, Christian, and all historians. Our recommendation—explore it by bike. More info here.
11. Capuchin Crypt
Add this to your itinerary if you’re looking for something completely out of the ordinary. You’ve probably never seen anything like it. Disturbing, beautiful, shocking, moving—this is a super alternative place to visit. Read more about it here.
12. Day Trip to Tivoli
Leave the chaos of central Rome, and take a day trip to Tivoli. Lying just Northeast of Rome, Tivoli is a small town overlooking the expansive Italian landscape. Not only is the town of Tivoli worth visiting, but the villas surrounding it, including Villa Adriana, Villa d’Este, and Villa Gregoriana, are a must-see.
Rome is unlike any other place. Its rich history allows this city to tell a story that spans thousands of years and combines many different traditions. For us, the story is one of permanence, adaptability, and wonder. A walk through the streets of Rome is enough to actually see the city’s historical development, from the Roman Empire to the present day. It is impossible not to be awestruck the first time you see the Roman forum, or not be tempted by the allure of making a wish at the Trevi Fountain. It is a city of beautiful contrasts and of in-your-face history, we dare you not to fall in love with it.
AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE
Stephanie Sepulveda and John William Bailly, 09 January 2016
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