The ancient city of Rome, Italy’s capital has played an influential part in Western Europe, from the Roman invasions to the literature, art and architecture. The city captivates its visitor’s imaginations with a wealth of treasures; ancient ruins, and Renaissance architecture found sitting next to modern Rome’s striking pieces including the bold MAXXI Museum and the Ara Pacis Museum. From enjoying an espresso at the Piazza Navona to exploring the ruins, museums and pieces of art, Rome has plenty to see and do.
The Roman Empire’s most iconic ruin from 80AD, it hosted gladiator battles and entertainment.
Home to the Pope and St Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church filled with art and treasures including the Michaelangelo dome.
The most famous of Rome’s many fountains, throw a coin into the Baroque fountain to ensure your return to Rome.
Rome has a huge wealth of archaeological sites to satisfy even the most ardent enthusiast. The Colosseum was Rome’s main stadium, The Pantheon is a temple to celebrate all the gods, The Roman Forum is a collection of buildings which were the business centre of Ancient Rome and Palatine Hill was the home of the Roman Emperors. Roman baths were an important part of the culture in Rome, with almost 900 baths in the city at its peak, the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla and Baths of Diocletia can be visited today.
After visiting the ruins head to the museums and art galleries of Rome. A short walk from the Colosseum and the Roman Forum is The Capitoline Museum, founded in 1471 it is the oldest museum in the world and has collections of Ancient Roman sculptures and paintings. The National Roman Museum, Museum of Rome and the Museum of Roman Civilization are all recommended if you wish to discover more of Rome’s history.
Many of Rome’s attractions focus on the history, however there are still a few modern attractions which offer something a little different. There’s the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, and the MAXXI Museum which is one of Rome’s vibrant modern pieces of architecture designed by Zaha Hadid, it explores contemporary architecture and the arts in the city. There’s also Sala Uno, located in a former basilica at Piazza de Porta San Giovanni, this is a contemporary art gallery showcasing experimental art exhibitions.
For breath-taking views of Rome head up to the top of Gianicolo Hill (The Janiculum), on route you will see the San Pietro in Montorio Church, Acqua Paola fountain, a puppet show and over 80 statues. Continuing with the outdoors the Orto Botanico a 30 acre botanical garden, is a world away from the busy tourist crowds. Here you will find over 3000 species of plants, a Japanese garden, historic greenhouses and fountains.
As home to the Pope, and the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church you can expect to find a number of religious places of interest in Rome. These include the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum and St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, ancient basilicas such as Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls and the Capuchin Crypt.
Theatre and opera have always been an important part of Rome’s culture; outdoor musical performances on squares and at the ruins are a regular occurrence during summer, and 17th century opera houses such as Teatro dell’Opera di Roma host regular indoor shows.
For some of the best shopping opportunities in Rome head to Monti and the Mercato Monti, an urban market with an array of boutique fashion brands from local designers, and quirky, vintage and hip stalls.
Read more: Top things to do in Rome – a local’s guide
One of the best things about visiting Rome is sampling the Roman cuisine where simple yet memorable dishes are created with seasonal produce by passionate chefs. Freshly made pasta (spaghetti is the most popular) is the basis of most meals served in a variety of sauces, the local carbonara is a must. Staple ingredients which you can expect to see in many Roman dishes includes offal, seafood, anchovies, artichokes and zucchini.
There are countless small pizzerias dotted around the city, some of the best are those off the tourist track including Da Remo in Testaccio and La Gatta Mangiona in Monteverde. Pizzas in Rome have a thin crust, often charred at the edges, with a wide selection of toppings from prosciutto to aubergine and mozzarella.
House wines served with dinner in Rome restaurants are typically those grown from the Lazio region. The vineyards here produce white grapes, Frascati Wine, is a dry or sweet wine and the signature wine of the city.
Italians take their coffee seriously; a cappuccino is considered to be breakfast and most will refuse to serve one after 11am, if you ask for a coffee in a bar, or coffee shop you will be served an espresso.
As a city with an incredible foodie culture, there are a number of foodie walking tours around Rome available where you will get to learn more about the cuisine you’re sampling.
Rome has a Mediterranean climate and enjoys hot summers, though winters are cool and wet. Summer temperatures average at 25°c, and winters around 10°c. December is Rome’s wettest month with 10 days of rainfall on average, you can expect very little rain in July and August.
Rome’s hot summers attract significant crowds, however with temperatures reaching 30-32°c, July and August can be too hot for some. The best time to visit Rome is April to June and September to October where temperatures average 18°c and with some of the highest numbers of daily hours of sunshine al fresco dining is possible.
If you don’t mind the cooler weather, and potential snow Rome in winter can be a perfect city break with fewer crowds, cheaper hotels and boutiques for Christmas shopping.