Rome Holiday Planning Guide
Aptly nicknamed the Eternal City, Rome is the birthplace of the Roman Empire, one of the world's great ancient civilizations. Today, this bustling metropolis is a center of power, finance, art, culture, and religion. It continues to exert a powerful influence over the world in many ways. A truly global city, Rome boasts not only a historic town center listed as a World Heritage Site, but also numerous other attractions like palaces, thousand-year-old churches, ruins, magnificent monuments and statues, vibrant piazzas, and sculptural fountains. It is an international capital for both fashion and food, offering plenty of places to visit during your holiday. A city of immensely rich historic heritage and a cosmopolitan atmosphere, this is one of Europe's--and the world's--most visited, beloved, and beautiful capitals.
Best Neighborhoods to Visit in RomePiazza Venezia
: The central hub of the Eternal City, Piazza Venezia is the spot where many of Rome's main streets meet. The square is surrounded by a cluster of historical attractions that make it a necessary addition to every Rome itinerary.Trastevere
: Artistic, historical, and bohemian, this area on the western shore of the Tiber hides a lot of character behind its slightly rundown facades. Alongside its architectural sights, Trastevere is known for its lively nightlife.Campo de' Fiori
: From browsing the market stalls in the morning to enjoying restaurants and live music in the evening, Campo de' Fiori lets you experience the full spectrum of daily life in Rome in a single small neighborhood. The highlight of the area is the statue of Giordano Bruno on the spot where he was burned at the stake in 1600.Ghetto Ebraico
: Rome's ancient Jewish community was restricted to living in this small area back in the 16th century, and was forced to stay walled in until the 19th century when the ghetto was abolished. Today, the neighborhood is renowned for its historical heritage and vibrant multicultural atmosphere.Quartiere Coppede
: One of the city's hidden gems, this small area displays the creativity of the architect Gino Coppede through a mishmash of historical styles that come together harmoniously. The Eternal City's answer to Gaudi's works in Barcelona, the area is one of the prime places to see in Rome for architecture enthusiasts.Testaccio
: Still largely undiscovered by tourists, this once simple working-class neighborhood is the home of a quickly emerging cultural scene. The neighborhood's history is reflected in the large number of family-owned restaurants; after dark, the area turns into a magnet for partygoers.Parioli
: One of Rome's most exclusive residential areas is famous for its parks, peaceful atmosphere, and some of the city's finest restaurants. Parioli might be a bit farther away from the city center, but this shouldn't discourage you from visiting and enjoying the scenery.Colle Aventino
: The southernmost of Rome's legendary seven hills, Aventine now offers perfect surroundings for a peaceful stroll and sightseeing just a short walk away from the city's bustling center.Esquilino
: Ancient and modern Rome merge at this hill that in the old days housed the residences of the wealthiest Romans. Today, crowds of modern Romans and visitors from all over the world come together on the wide boulevards dotted with ancient monuments and medieval churches.
Things to Do in Rome
Popular Rome Tourist AttractionsColosseum
: Probably the most famous structure in the city, this ancient arena is one of the main tourist attractions in Rome. Well-preserved architecture and displays of ancient artifacts will quickly transport you to the glory days of the Empire.Pantheon
: The Pantheon is not only one of the best known and best preserved Roman temples in the world, it's also a true marvel of Roman architecture. Below its impressive dome you can admire a series of Renaissance frescoes and sculptures and see the tombs of two Italian kings, as well as that of the painter and architect Raphael.Trevi Fountain
: If you enjoyed Rome, the best way to ensure you'll come back to the city is to throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain. At least that's what the legend says--in any case, the elaborate fountain is a must-see.Piazza Navona
: Rome is a city of squares, but few are as beautiful and as lively as Piazza Navona, crowned by the Fountain of Four Rivers. Numerous cafes, hundreds of locals and tourists, and street vendors and performers make the atmosphere on the piazza especially colorful.Borghese Gallery
: Housed inside a lavish 17th-century villa, this is one of the world's greatest private collections of art. Don't miss the works of masters such as Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, and Bernini.Palatine Hill
: The very heart of ancient Rome, this is where the history of the Eternal City began. Take a stroll among the triumphal arches and remains of ancient structures and experience the city's glorious past.Spanish Steps
: Thanks in part to their role in the film “Roman Holiday,” this is one of the most famous and romantic spots in Rome. Right next to the steps, literature enthusiasts can visit the house where John Keats lived and died.Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
: Rome's largest church dedicated to Virgin Mary dates back to the 5th century CE. The current structure is the result of numerous renovations that turned the church into one of the most impressive in the city.Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano
: A key stop on any tour of Rome's churches, this basilica is known as the oldest Christian church in the West and one of the most important in the Catholic faith.Altare Della Patria
: The largest of Rome's monuments, this towering structure built in honor of King Victor Emmanuel II is clearly visible from almost every spot in the center of the city and represents a united Italy.
While in Rome you also shouldn't miss the chance to visit Vatican City, technically an entirely separate country right in the center of the city. The seat of the Roman Catholic papacy, Vatican City is home to attractions such as St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro)
with its famous colonnade, imposing St. Peter's Basilica
, and Vatican Museums
, with wonders like the Sistine Chapel
Planning a Rome Vacation with Kids
Things to Do in Rome with Kids
Rome's history is one of its major attractions, and your kids are certain to find sights like the Colosseum
very exciting. To give the kids an even more involved experience of Roman history, you can combine visits to ancient sites with activities like Gladiator School Rome - 'Gruppo Storico Romano '
that provide fun for the whole family. If your young ones get bored with the riches of Rome's most famous museums, stop by Explora
and let them enjoy the world of games and exploration. In addition to savoring the specialties of Italian cuisine, you can take your kids to a cooking class, such as Spaghetti in the Family - Day Classes
, and learn the tricks of Roman chefs. And of course, don't miss the chance to make your kids' trip to Rome even sweeter with some gelato on one of the city's numerous scenic piazzas.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Rome
The center of Rome is made for walking, so renting a car can be more of a hindrance than a help. The streets are often packed and children can easily grow impatient while you crawl your way from one traffic light to the next. Luckily, the city provides plenty of interesting stops where the kids can take a rest from walking. Some of the cobbled streets might be tricky to navigate with a stroller, but you should have no problem finding an alternate route. The city's public transportation network can also be of great assistance during your tour of Rome. For families with older children, try a cycling tour such as Italy Cruiser Bike Tours - Roma
If you're visiting during the busiest periods of the year, such as major holidays, make sure to always keep a close eye on your kids: they can easily get lost in the crowds, especially around the most popular attractions, or in the network of narrow streets. Also make sure to book accommodations in time--even though there are many family-friendly hotels in Rome, they tend to fill up quickly at the peak of the tourist season.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Rome
Cuisine of Rome
Rome's local cuisine is definitely one of its great attractions. Wherever in the city you are, you won't have to look far for a place to taste Roman specialties. Like many other Italian recipes, these are often simple but irresistibly tasty. Homemade pizza and gelato are Rome's most famous street foods, and you can find them all over the city's historic center. If you're looking for more than a quick snack, you can choose from an endless selection of restaurants that serve specialties like bruschetta, pasta, and various traditional meat dishes. The area of Testaccio
, once the home of the city's butchers, is the best place to go for authentic Roman cooking. However, modern Rome is a multicultural hub where you can find food from all over the world. Feel free to explore the city's culinary scene at your own pace, or go on a tasting tour like Eating Italy Food Tours
, where the local guides will help you gain in-depth knowledge of Rome's gastronomic and cultural traditions.
An indispensable part of the Roman culinary experience is wine, especially the white wines that the city is famous for. Educational programs hosted by experienced sommeliers such as those of Vino Roma
are a real treat for visiting wine lovers.
Shopping in Rome
A bustling European capital, a center of fashion, and a city of incredible culture, Rome is the perfect shopping destination for all tastes and budgets. Those looking for the world's biggest design names will find an abundance of shops at the foot of Spanish Steps
as well as along the whole length of Via del Corso
and the surrounding streets, such as Via Condotti
. Rome also has a huge selection of secondhand shops and outlet stores where you can find great bargains. Another place to visit in Rome for bargain hunters is the massive flea market that's set up every Sunday morning at Porta Portese
. For art lovers and collectors there are numerous galleries and antique shops that are usually not cheap but offer real treasures. On almost every corner in the center of the city you'll be able to find gifts and souvenirs to remind you of your trip to Rome.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Rome
History of Rome
The center of one of the world's greatest empires, the seat of the Catholic faith, the heart of artistic movements, and the capital of the modern Italian state, Rome is a place of unmatched history. According to legend, the city was founded in 753 BCE on Palatine Hill
by Romulus. Today you can see one of the most famous depictions of Rome's earliest history, a statue of a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, at Capitoline Museums
. Romulus established a senate from members of the area's most prominent families and ruled the city as king. Rome was a kingdom until the year 509 BCE, when the title was abolished after the tyrannical rule of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and the Republic was founded.
Strongly culturally influenced by the Greek cities of southern Italy, the newly founded Roman Republic broke free from Etruscan supremacy and started to expand its rule over Italy. This expansion brought Rome into conflict with many powers of the Mediterranean world, such as the Gauls, Greeks, and Carthaginians. Triumphant in all its wars, by the 1st century BCE the Roman Republic became the dominant force of the ancient world. A series of civil wars in the 1st century BCE, first between Sulla and Marius, then Caesar and Pompey, and finally Octavian and Mark Anthony, brought the end of the Republic and gave birth to the Roman Empire.
Imperial Rome was the cultural and economic epicenter of a vast realm and in many senses the first modern metropolis. The wealth of the Empire and its superior building techniques created Rome's attractions, such as the Colosseum
, Terme di Caracalla
, and Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo
. The Empire reached its peak during the reign of Trajan, whose exploits you can see on Colonna Traiana
, right in the center of the city.
With the fall of the Roman Empire and subsequent raids, the city lost much of its grandeur. However, as the seat of the papacy it retained a prominent position throughout the medieval era. During the Renaissance, the popes were determined to restore the city to its full glory by providing patronage for artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Botticelli, and funding projects like Piazza del Campidoglio
. Many of Rome's monuments date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, when papal power was at its maximum, but soon afterward that power started declining as calls for a united Italy increased.
After almost a century of struggles, Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy in 1871 and then the Republic of Italy in 1946. Today, the monuments of this eventful past are proudly displayed throughout the city, often just a couple minutes' walk away from one another. Therefore, every history buff on a holiday in Rome is bound to have an unforgettable experience.
Holidays & Festivals in Rome
Rome's lively and laid-back atmosphere is amplified during the numerous festivals and holidays that take place in the city throughout the year. Each New Year in Rome starts with a party at Piazza del Popolo
. In the springtime, Rome becomes the preferred destination for tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world who come here to celebrate Easter. During the Holy Week many of the city's famous sights, such as the Spanish Steps, are decorated with fresh spring flowers. If you want to dedicate your vacation in Rome to browsing the city's museums, the best time to visit is during the Culture Festival that takes place every spring. For one week during the festival, many museums open their doors in celebration of Roman history. Every summer, Rome hosts a selection of cultural events, including music, film, and theater festivals. Republic Day, the biggest national holiday in Italy, is celebrated every June 2nd with a military parade that starts at Altare Della Patria
. Christmas is definitely one of the most colorful times of year in Rome, with thousands of locals and tourists flocking to the street fair at Piazza Navona
that starts in mid-December and culminates with the Epiphany celebration on January 6th.
Rome Travel Tips
Climate of Rome
Of all Europe's capitals, Rome is blessed with one of the finest climates--there is no bad time of year to visit the Eternal City. All the best Roman vacations include a lot of walking around and sightseeing, so it's great that the city enjoys limited precipitation throughout the year. Even in the winter you can expect long stretches of dry days with just occasional snow that makes the city even more romantic. Spring and fall in Rome are warm and pleasant and are perhaps the best times to visit. Summers are warm and sunny with average temperatures around 25 °C (77 °F). Occasional rain showers cool down the streets and make tours of Rome even more pleasurable.
Transportation in Rome
Italy's capital and main political, tourist, and economic hub, Rome is covered by an extensive transportation network. Rome is served by subways, trams, buses, and trolley-bus lines that provide easy access to all areas of the city. The city is also the home of Italy's largest international airport, Leonardo Da Vinci, and the country's largest train station, Roma Termini. The center of the city is crisscrossed with narrow roads which are notorious for traffic jams. Considering that many notable places to visit in Rome are located in pedestrian areas, a car is far from a necessity for exploring the city.