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Things to Do in Rome: A Guide to Exploring the Eternal City’s Rich Heritage and Vibrant Life

Rome invites you to explore its rich history and lively culture through its ancient landmarks, charming neighborhoods, and serene parks. Experience everything from the historical grandeur of the Colosseum to the vibrant streets of Trastevere and the tranquil beauty of Villa Borghese.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
Rome is full of history, from the ancient Colosseum to the Vatican, offering a deep look into the past.
The city's neighborhoods, like Trastevere and Monti, are great for experiencing the local culture and food.
Rome's parks, such as Villa Borghese, provide a peaceful break from the busy city streets.

1. Visit Historical Landmarks in Rome

Rome, a historical city, offers visitors a remarkable journey through the ages with its iconic landmarks. The Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, and St. Peter’s Basilica stand as testaments to the city’s rich historical and cultural heritage.

Colosseum

The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, is an architectural marvel and a symbol of ancient Rome’s power and entertainment culture.

Constructed between 70-72 CE under Emperor Vespasian and completed in 80 CE by his son Titus, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as animal hunts, executions, and dramatic performances.

This grand amphitheater could accommodate around 50,000 spectators who were seated according to social status, reflecting the structured social hierarchy of the time.

The building’s design features an elliptical structure with a complex system of vaults and arches, which was innovative for its time.

It was primarily built with concrete, a testament to Roman engineering skills. It featured a sophisticated system for scenery changes and crowd management, including retractable awnings and organized entry and exit paths for different social classes.

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum was the nucleus of ancient Rome, serving as a multifunctional center where commerce, business, religion, and politics intermingled.

Positioned between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum houses the ruins of several important ancient government buildings.

It was the site of triumphal processions, elections, and public speeches and was considered the heart of Roman public life.

Pantheon

The Pantheon, a striking example of ancient Roman architecture, is renowned for its massive dome and oculus illuminating its interior.

Originally built around 126 CE by Emperor Hadrian, the Pantheon bridges traditional Roman temple architecture and the architectural innovations that defined the era.

It has been continuously used throughout history and today functions as a tomb for prominent figures like the artist Raphael.

St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City

St. Peter’s Basilica, located within Vatican City, is one of the largest churches in the world and a central site for the Catholic Church.

Tradition holds that it was built over the tomb of Saint Peter, one of Jesus’s twelve apostles. The current structure, completed in the 16th century, showcases Renaissance architecture designed by several renowned architects, including Michelangelo and Bernini.

Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world, is not only the spiritual center for Catholics but also houses priceless art and cultural artifacts in the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling.

2. Explore Museums and Art Galleries in Rome

Rome is filled with incredible art and history, shown off in its famous museums and galleries.

The Vatican Museums hold a vast collection of works, the Capitoline Museums display elegant pieces, and the smaller Galleria Borghese offers a more personal look at beautiful art.

Each place gives an extraordinary view into Rome’s rich cultural past.

Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums hold a large collection of art gathered by the popes, including some of the most famous works from Western art history.

The biggest attraction is the Sistine Chapel, known for Michelangelo’s painted ceiling and The Last Judgment, which show the best of the Renaissance.

Other key parts include the Raphael Rooms, famous for Raphael’s beautiful painted walls, and the Gallery of Maps, which has detailed painted maps of Italy on the walls.

The museum also has the Pio-Clementino Museum, where you can see classic sculptures like the Apollo Belvedere and Laocoön.

For something more modern, the Borgia Apartments provide a look into Renaissance life with wall paintings by Pinturicchio. These are special for their history but are often missed because of where they are located.

Capitoline Museums

Located on Capitoline Hill, these museums are some of the oldest in the world and are open to the public.

They have a big collection of art and old relics that show the history of Rome over time.

Highlights include famous statues like the Capitoline Wolf and the Dying Gaul, wall paintings, jewels, coins, and other items that tell the city’s rich history from the Roman Empire to the Renaissance.

Galleria Borghese

This gallery is set in the green Borghese gardens, and its collection is as beautiful as the place it’s in.

The Galleria Borghese is primarily known for its sculptures by Bernini, like the lively Apollo and Daphne, and paintings by Caravaggio, including his Young Bacchus and David with the Head of Goliath. The building is an architectural gem and makes an excellent setting for art.

3. Experience Local Cuisine in Rome

Rome is not just a feast for the eyes but also a paradise for food lovers, offering a rich tapestry of culinary experiences.

Here’s where you can enjoy the best of Roman cuisine, from classic pizzas and pasta to delightful gelato and traditional Roman coffee.

Pizza and Pasta

When visiting Rome, indulging in the city’s iconic pizza and pasta is a must.

For a truly Roman experience, head to Pizzeria da Remo in Testaccio, where you can enjoy authentic pizza Romana with a crispy, thin crust and vibrant toppings. This place is particularly popular, so arriving early will mean you won’t have to wait as long​.

For those who enjoy a more Neapolitan-style pizza, Sorbillo offers top-notch quality and is renowned for its delicious, simple pizzas, such as the classic marinara.

If you are in the mood to try a variety of pizza styles, Berberè offers innovative toppings on a sourdough base, which is perfect for those who appreciate organic, high-quality ingredients​.

Gelato

No trip to Rome is complete without gelato. For some of the best in town, Giolitti is a historic gelato shop near the Pantheon, known for its wide range of flavors made from natural ingredients.

Another great spot is Fatamorgana, where you can find unique combinations like basil, walnut, and honey.

Coffee Culture

To experience Rome’s coffee culture, start your day at Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè, located near Piazza Navona.

Known for its secret blend and traditional roasting methods, this café offers what many consider the best espresso in Rome.

Another excellent choice is Caffè Greco, a historic café on Via dei Condotti, which has been serving Romans and tourists alike since 1760​.

4. Walk Through Charming Neighborhoods in Rome

Walk through Rome’s beautiful neighborhoods to discover what life in the Eternal City is like. Each area has its special character and history, showing you how the people here live and what they value.

Wander down the lovely narrow streets of Trastevere, shop in Monti’s stylish stores, and taste Testaccio’s delicious food. These areas are perfect for anyone wanting to see Roman culture.

Trastevere

Trastevere is one of Rome’s most beloved neighborhoods, offering a picturesque experience with its narrow cobblestone streets lined with ancient buildings.

The area is vibrant day and night, serving as a cultural hub with numerous cafes, boutiques, and artisan shops.

The Piazza di Santa Maria is the heart of Trastevere, where locals and tourists gather, especially in the evening when the area becomes a nightlife hotspot.

Notable sights include the Basilica of Santa Maria, known for its stunning mosaics, and the secluded Orto Botanico, an ideal spot for a peaceful walk​.

Monti

Monti, a trendy yet traditional neighborhood, is known for its bohemian vibe and historical charm.

The area boasts a variety of vintage shops, local craft stores, and cozy cafes. The streets of Monti are ideal for a leisurely stroll, soaking in the ambiance of this fashionable district.

It’s also a great area to experience authentic Roman dining and vibrant street life, particularly around Via del Boschetto​​.

Testaccio

Known for its authentic Roman feel, Testaccio is the go-to district for culinary enthusiasts. This neighborhood is home to the famous Testaccio Market, a paradise for anyone discovering local flavors and fresh produce.

Testaccio is also celebrated for its nightlife and traditional Roman restaurants, making it a perfect blend of history and modern urban culture​.

5. Enjoy the Parks and Outdoor Spaces

Step away from the busy streets and into the calm and beauty of Rome’s parks and outdoor areas.

If you want to take a slow boat ride, walk, or watch the sunset, these green spaces offer a quiet break from the city’s hustle and bustle and a chance to enjoy nature in the middle of the town.

Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese is one of Rome’s largest public parks and offers a variety of activities.

You can rent bikes or boats, stroll along the shaded pathways, visit the Borghese Gallery, or simply relax by the beautiful lake.

It’s a wonderful escape from the city bustle, providing lush landscapes and ample recreational activities​​.

Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

The Appian Way is one of Rome’s ancient roads and is now a scenic walking and biking path. Its historical significance and natural beauty make it a popular spot for both tourists and locals.

Along the way, you’ll pass numerous ancient ruins, catacombs, and statues, all set against the backdrop of the Roman countryside​.

Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci)

For one of the best views of Rome, head to the Orange Garden on Aventine Hill.

This tranquil park is known for its beautifully manicured gardens and the spectacular panorama of the city from the terrace.

It’s a romantic spot, especially at sunset, and offers a sweeping view of landmarks like St. Peter’s Basilica​.

Discover Rome: A City of Endless Wonders

Rome is a city filled with stories, history, and peaceful spots. As you walk through the lovely areas of Trastevere, Monti, and Testaccio, you’ll get a real feel for the city’s culture, flavors, and traditions.

These places invite you to relax and enjoy their old-world charm, lively markets, and exciting nightlife.

After you’ve seen the busy city, the parks and green spaces are great places to wind down. These spots offer you a quiet break and a chance to connect with nature right in the middle of everything.

So, whether you love history, food, or just beautiful sights, Rome caters to all tastes, guaranteeing a rich and rewarding experience.

Take your time to deeply explore all the sights, engage with the locals, and let the Eternal City inspire you with its timeless charm.

Zoe Wallace

Zoe Wallace is the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) and contributing Travel Author of Culture.org. She is a leading expert in recruitment and a renowned travel influencer who journeys across the globe, capturing and sharing her extraordinary experiences. She uses her expertise to help people land jobs and advance their careers. Aside from that, her vibrant visuals and engaging storytelling immerse her followers in diverse cultures and breathtaking landscapes. Zoe's passion for exploration and commitment to responsible and sustainable traveling inspires many to embark on their own adventures and appreciate the world's myriad wonders.

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