A few euros for gelato here, a museum ticket there... What doesn't cost money in Rome? While Rome isn't exactly the most expensive capital city in Europe, it's true that while you’re travelling that expense can add up quickly. However, fret not, as I’ve asked my fellow Roman locals as well as my Italian host family (from when I spent summers lost in these cobblestone streets) on the best free things to do in Rome. Italy’s capital city offers a plethora of free attractions and activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the city's rich history, culture, and beauty without breaking the bank.
In this roundup, I’ll take you on a journey through the Eternal City, showcasing the best free things to do in Rome. From iconic ancient landmarks to hidden gems tucked away in charming neighbourhoods, Rome has something to offer every budget-conscious traveller. So, put your wallet away and get ready to embark on an adventure that will allow you to discover the wonders of the Eternal City without spending a single euro. Curious? Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more adventures!
Gaze up inside the Pantheon
The Pantheon, one of Rome's most iconic landmarks, is a testament to the architectural brilliance of the ancient Romans… And yep, it’s all free to enter! Built nearly 2,000 years ago, this majestic structure has stood the test of time and remains remarkably intact. Originally constructed as a temple dedicated to all the Roman gods, the Pantheon showcases a blend of Greek and Roman architectural styles. Its most distinctive feature is the massive dome, which was the largest dome in the world until modern times. I usually go on a sunny day so I can see a stream of light flickering down through the dome.
But for me, what makes the Pantheon even more remarkable is the fact that it was built without the use of any structural steel or concrete! The dome is composed of lightweight volcanic stone and is punctuated by a central oculus, an open circular aperture that allows natural light to stream into the interior. This design element creates a captivating play of light and shadows within the vast rotunda (sorry, my inner photography and architecture nerd comes out here).
Take a step back in time at the Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is an archaeological marvel that served as the centre of political, religious, and commercial life in ancient Rome. As you stand above it, staring down - it’s mindblowing to imagine how its history spans over 2,000 years. This sprawling complex of ruins offers a captivating glimpse into the grandeur and power of the Roman Empire.
As you explore the Forum, you'll discover fascinating insights into ancient Roman life. You can stand in the footsteps of great orators at the Rostra, the speaker's platform, and imagine the political debates that once echoed through the square. Fun fact: The Forum was also home to the ancient Roman marketplace, where merchants and traders from across the empire would gather to exchange goods and ideas. Be sure to mark your calendars for the first Sunday of each month. On this day, the Forum, along with many other historical sites and museums in Rome, offers free admission!
Uncover the Jewish Ghetto
The Jewish Ghetto in Rome holds a significant place in the city's history and is a fascinating area to explore. Established in 1555, it became home to the Jewish community, who were confined to this walled district for centuries. Despite the restrictions imposed on them, the Jewish Ghetto thrived, fostering a vibrant culture that still resonates today. Its architecture reflects a blend of different eras, from medieval buildings to Renaissance palaces.
Wandering through the narrow streets of the Jewish Ghetto, you'll discover ancient synagogues, such as the Great Synagogue of Rome, with its striking dome and beautiful interiors. The area also offers delectable culinary delights, including traditional Roman-Jewish cuisine, with delicious dishes like fried artichokes and Jewish-style pizza known as "pizza ebraica."
Visiting the Jewish Ghetto provides an opportunity to delve into the history and culture of Rome's Jewish community, offering a deeper understanding of their resilience and contributions to the city. It is a place where ancient traditions coexist with modern life, providing a unique and enriching experience for all who venture there.
Escape into the quietness of Cimitero Acattolico
The Cimitero Acattolico, also known as the Non-Catholic Cemetery, is a captivating and unique destination where you can escape the constant loudness and hustle of Rome. Steeped in history, this picturesque burial ground has served as the final resting place for non-Catholic foreigners since the early 18th century. As you wander through its serene pathways, you'll encounter an architectural tapestry of diverse styles, ranging from grand mausoleums to simple tombstones, all set against the backdrop of lush greenery.
One of the cemetery's notable features is the Pyramid of Cestius, an ancient Roman pyramid that stands majestically within its grounds, blending the ancient with the modern. The cemetery is also the burial site of famous individuals, including renowned poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose tombstones have become pilgrimage spots for literature enthusiasts!
Look over Rome on top of Janiculum Hill
Climb to the top of Janiculum Hill and enjoy panoramic views of Rome's skyline. Perched above the historic city centre of Rome, the Janiculum Hill stands as a testament to the Eternal City's rich history and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the sprawling metropolis. Often referred to as the "eighth hill of Rome," despite not being one of the original seven, Janiculum Hill holds great significance and charm. Historically, it served as a strategic vantage point for military purposes, allowing for a comprehensive view of the city's defenses. Today, you can stroll along its tree-lined paths and explore its captivating architecture and landmarks, immersing themselves in the hill's intriguing past.
One of the notable structures atop Janiculum Hill is the imposing Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, a majestic Baroque fountain that dates back to the 17th century. Its grand design and cascading waters create a serene ambiance, enticing visitors to pause and appreciate its beauty. Another architectural gem is the imposing statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian general and national hero, proudly positioned on his horse at the summit of the hill. Be sure not to miss visiting this spot at noon, as each day around 12pm a cannon fires from the hilltop - rain or shine. It’s a tradition that originated in the 19th century to help locals synchronise their clocks. This ceremonial act adds a touch of spectacle and can be heard echoing throughout the city, creating a unique experience for anyone to Janiculum Hill.
Climb up Complesso del Vittoriano
It’s hard not to notce this gleaming white building and wonder what it is in Rome. The Complesso del Vittoriano, also known as Il Vittoriano or the Altare della Patria, is a monumental complex. Constructed between 1885 and 1911, it serves as a tribute to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of unified Italy, and symbolises Italian unity and nationalism. The architecture of the complex combines Neoclassical and eclectic styles, featuring the towering Altare della Patria as its centrepiece. This massive white marble monument, adorned with allegorical sculptures and reliefs, showcases the strength and achievements of Italy. Its nickname, "The Wedding Cake," reflects the monument's grandeur and distinctive appearance against Rome's skyline.
Visiting the Complesso del Vittoriano is free of charge, allowing you to explore its exterior and enjoy panoramic views of Rome from its terraces! Strolling around the complex's expansive Piazza Venezia, you can marvel at the architectural splendour and capture memorable photographs. While there is an elevator available for a fee to reach the top of the monument, you can still appreciate its historical significance and beauty without spending any money. The Complesso del Vittoriano offers a captivating experience, inviting you to immerse yourself in Italy's rich heritage and admire the grandeur of this remarkable tribute to the nation's past.
Take on the Spanish Steps up to the Trinità dei Monti church
Climb the famous Spanish Steps and enjoy a panoramic view of the city from the top!
The Spanish Steps, or Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti in Italian, is a beloved landmark in Rome. Constructed in the early 18th century, the grand staircase connects the Piazza di Spagna at its base to the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. The steps were designed by the architect Francesco de Sanctis and are a remarkable example of Roman Baroque architecture, characterised by its sweeping curves, dramatic design, and lavish ornamentation. The elegant staircase comprises 135 steps and is adorned with beautiful azalea flowers during the spring, creating a breathtaking sight. At the base of the steps, you'll find the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat), an exquisite work of art designed by Pietro Bernini, the father of the renowned sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Apart from its architectural splendour, the Spanish Steps also have some fascinating historical and cultural significance. The name "Spanish Steps" originates from the nearby Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, which was established during the 17th century. The steps have been a hub for artists, writers, and visitors for centuries, serving as a meeting place and source of inspiration. Today, it remains a popular gathering spot, where locals and visitors alike gather to relax, people-watch, and enjoy the lively atmosphere of one of Rome's most iconic landmarks.
Have a Lizzie McGuire moment at the Trevi Fountain
Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain like that memorable scene in the Lizzie McGuire Movie to ensure your return to Rome! The Trevi Fountain, an iconic symbol of Rome, stands as a testament to the city's grandeur and artistic mastery. Built in the 18th century, this magnificent Baroque masterpiece is the largest and most famous fountain in Rome. Designed by architect Nicola Salvi, the fountain depicts a grand scene of Neptune, the god of the sea, standing triumphantly in a shell-shaped chariot, surrounded by tritons and sea creatures. Its intricate architecture and detailed sculptures create a spectacle that leaves visitors in awe.
The Trevi Fountain is not just a work of art; it is also steeped in history and legends. According to tradition, tossing a coin over your shoulder into the fountain ensures your return to Rome. This act has become a popular ritual, with thousands of visitors participating each day, making it a fascinating sight to behold. Another interesting fact is that the fountain's water comes from an ancient Roman aqueduct called Aqua Virgo, which still supplies water to the city to this day.
See the Pope in person at the Papal Audience
If you're in Rome on a Wednesday morning, you can attend the Papal Audience in St. Peter's Square and see Pope Francis! The Papal Audience in Rome is a fascinating and historical event that allows visitors to witness the spiritual presence of the Pope firsthand. Dating back centuries, this tradition has its roots in the early Christian Church when believers would gather to receive blessings and teachings from the Pope. Today, Pope Francis continues this practice, holding the audience in St. Peter's Square or, in the case of inclement weather, in the Paul VI Audience Hall. It is a unique opportunity to see the Pope, listen to his words of wisdom, and participate in a spiritual gathering with people from around the world.
Attending the Pope's Audience requires some planning. It is held most Wednesdays at 10:30 am, and tickets are free but must be reserved in advance through the Prefecture of the Papal Household. Once you have your tickets, arrive early to secure a good spot. St. Peter's Square can accommodate thousands of attendees, so finding a spot shouldn't be too challenging. Remember to dress modestly and be respectful of the religious nature of the event. Fun fact: During the audience, the Pope often circulates through the crowd, greeting and blessing attendees, creating a memorable experience for those in attendance. So, seize the opportunity to witness this extraordinary event and be a part of a cherished tradition that continues to unite people in faith and spirituality.
Walk like an Ancient Roman, the Appian Way
Take a walk along the ancient Appian Way, an important Roman road, and explore its ancient tombs and ruins. The Appian Way, known as the "Queen of Roads," is an ancient Roman road that stretches from Rome to the southern city of Brindisi. Built in 312 BC, it was one of the most important and strategically significant roads of the Roman Empire. The architecture of the Appian Way is a testament to Roman engineering prowess, featuring a durable construction of large stone blocks and a meticulously planned trajectory that allowed for efficient transportation and military movements.
This historic road played a pivotal role in connecting Rome to its vast empire, serving as a trade route for goods, an avenue for military expeditions, and a path for the wealthy to retreat to their countryside villas. Along the Appian Way, you'll encounter fascinating remnants of the past, including ancient tombs, ruins of Roman villas, and catacombs where early Christians were buried. To explore the Appian Way, you can start your journey at the Porta San Sebastiano, one of the gates of ancient Rome located near the city centre. This gate also serves as a museum, the Museo delle Mura, where you can learn about the history of Rome's walls and the Appian Way itself. From there, you can follow the route of the Appian Way as it stretches southeast from Rome.
As you walk along the road, you'll encounter various points of interest. One notable site is the Circus of Maxentius, an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium. You can explore its ruins and imagine the excitement of the games that once took place there. Another highlight is the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, a well-preserved mausoleum that stands as a symbol of Roman funerary architecture.Further along the Appian Way, you can visit the Catacombs of San Callisto, one of the largest and most important Christian catacombs in Rome. These underground burial chambers provide a fascinating insight into the early Christian era. Keep in mind that while the Appian Way itself is free to explore, some specific sites and attractions may have entry fees!
Put your hand into the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità)
If you haven’t watched Roman Holiday, the classic Audrey Hepburn film set in Rome - go do it and then visit this spot! The Mouth of Truth, or Bocca della Verità in Italian, is a captivating ancient marble mask that has become a must-visit attraction in Rome. Located in the portico of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, this mysterious mask has a fascinating history and unique architecture. Believed to be a drain cover from an ancient Roman building, the Mouth of Truth is known for its distinctive oval shape with an open mouth and carved facial features.
In Roman Holiday, Gregory Peck’s character pretended his hand was chomped from putting it into the mask’s hole, spooking Audrey Hepburn. You can try this out yourself for free! This comes from the legend has it that if you tell a lie while placing your hand inside the mouth, it will snap shut, severing the hand of the dishonest person. While this legend adds a touch of mystery and thrill to the visit, don't worry—the mask is fixed and won't bite! Nonetheless, it's still a fun activity to play along and have your picture taken pretending to be surprised or frightened by the potential consequences.
Be in the beating heart of Rome at Campo de’ Fiori
Wander through the charming streets and piazzas of Rome's historic centre, such as Campo de' Fiori. Campo de' Fiori has a rustic and bohemian ambience beloved by locals. Historically a vibrant marketplace, this square has been a centre of commerce and social gathering since the Middle Ages. Today, it hosts a bustling daily market where you can find fresh produce, flowers, and local delicacies.
Dominated by the statue of Giordano Bruno, an Italian philosopher who was executed for heresy, Campo de' Fiori is also a popular meeting place in the evenings, drawing crowds to its numerous bars and restaurants. This square is a testament to the evolving nature of Rome, seamlessly blending its historical significance with a contemporary lifestyle.
Admire the mastery of St Peter's Basilica
Now this is a landmark you cannot miss out on (and one I’ve always returned to). St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is an architectural marvel and one of the most significant religious sites in the world. Steeped in rich history, this iconic basilica stands on the site where it is believed that Saint Peter, one of Jesus' apostles, was buried. Designed by renowned architects including Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the basilica showcases a stunning fusion of Renaissance and Baroque styles.
With its awe-inspiring dome reaching a height of 136 meters, St. Peter's Basilica dominates the skyline of Rome. Its grandeur is reflected in the lavish interior adorned with intricate mosaics, marble sculptures, and breathtaking works of art. Notably, Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Pietà, can be admired within the basilica. The colossal bronze baldachin, a canopy over the papal altar, created by Bernini, is another notable feature. The main entrance to St. Peter's Basilica is usually free for visitors. You can access the basilica and explore its stunning interior without purchasing a ticket. Also, not many people know but the Vatican Grottoes, located beneath the basilica, house the tombs of many popes. Access to the grottoes is also free.
Gaze at legendary relics in the Capitoline Museums
Did you know that the Capitoline Museums, located on Rome's Capitoline Hill, hold a prestigious place as the world's oldest public museums? Founded in 1471 by Pope Sixtus IV, the museums boast a rich history and an extraordinary collection of ancient Roman art and artefacts. Designed by renowned architect Michelangelo (yep, the one and only), the museums' architecture is a testament to Renaissance grandeur, featuring magnificent courtyards and galleries that showcase masterpieces such as the iconic equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius.
Fun fact: The Capitoline Museums are home to the famous sculpture of the Capitoline Wolf, depicting the mythical she-wolf that nursed the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. Another interesting fact is that the museums also house the Tabularium, an ancient Roman archive with breathtaking views of the Roman Forum.
As for visiting the Capitoline Museums for free, admission is typically charged, but on the first Sunday of every month, visitors can enjoy free entry. So mark your calendar and plan your visit accordingly to make the most of this unique chance to explore the treasures of the Capitoline Museums without spending a dime!
A can’t miss out on: the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums in Rome are a treasure trove of art, history, and culture. Established in the early 16th century, these museums are housed within the Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world. The Vatican Museums boast an extensive collection of masterpieces, including ancient Roman and Greek sculptures, Renaissance paintings, and priceless artefacts from various civilisations. The highlight of the museums is undoubtedly the Sistine Chapel, with its breathtaking ceiling frescoes painted by Michelangelo.
The architecture of the Vatican Museums is a blend of Renaissance and Baroque styles, reflecting the grandeur and opulence associated with the Vatican City. Intricate details, majestic halls, and stunning courtyards greet visitors at every turn. While the Vatican Museums usually have an admission fee, there are select days when entry is free. Typically, the last Sunday of every month offers free entry to the Vatican Museums, allowing visitors to explore the vast collection without paying a fee. It's worth noting that these days can be quite crowded, so arriving early is advisable to make the most of your visit.
Visit the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi
Here, you can admire Caravaggio's famous paintings for free at this beautiful church near Piazza Navona. The Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, built in the late 16th century, serves as the national church of France in Rome and is dedicated to St. Louis, the French king and saint. The church's façade may appear relatively simple, but its interior showcases the grandeur of the Baroque style, with ornate decorations, elegant frescoes, and intricate marble works.
One of the main draws of San Luigi dei Francesi is its extraordinary collection of artwork by the renowned painter Caravaggio. The church houses three of his masterpieces: "The Calling of St. Matthew," "The Inspiration of Saint Matthew," and "The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew." These stunning paintings are known for their dramatic lighting, powerful emotions, and Caravaggio's exceptional skill in capturing human expression. The church offers a unique opportunity to admire these iconic works free of charge, making it a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
Stroll with the Romans along the Tiber River
The Tiber River holds a special place in the hearts of Romans, and locals engage in various activities along its banks throughout the year. One popular pastime is taking leisurely walks or cycling along the Tiber's pedestrian paths, enjoying the fresh air and scenic views of the Eternal City. During the summer months, temporary riverside bars and restaurants known as "chioschi" pop up, creating a vibrant social scene where people gather to relax, enjoy a drink, and savour delicious Roman street food. These charming establishments provide an opportunity to unwind and soak up the laid-back atmosphere of the Tiber River.
One little story I’ve always remembered from the Tiber River is how it has played a significant role in Rome's history and mythology. According to legend, the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were abandoned and left to drift in a basket on the river's waters. They were then rescued by a she-wolf, which nurtured and raised them. This mythological tale highlights the deep connection between the river and the city's origins.
The Tiber River is also the third-longest river in Italy, stretching approximately 405 kilometres (252 miles). It has witnessed the rise and fall of civilisations, witnessed historic battles, and served as a vital artery for trade and transportation throughout Rome's history.
Explore the Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo is a captivating square that boasts a rich history, stunning architecture, and intriguing tales. Originally designed as a grand entrance to the city for travellers arriving from the north, the square's name, "Piazza of the People," reflects its purpose as a gathering place for the citizens of Rome. Its impressive architectural ensemble features an Egyptian obelisk at the centre, surrounded by twin Baroque churches, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto. The square's harmonious layout was the work of renowned architects, including Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Beyond its architectural charm, Piazza del Popolo holds fascinating historical significance. In ancient times, it served as a site for public executions and chariot races. Today, you can take delight in its wide open space, adorned with beautiful fountains and lush greenery. The square also offers captivating views, with a direct line of sight leading to the famous dome of St. Peter's Basilica in the distance.
Visit the Church of Santa Maria del Popol
Enter this church to see stunning Renaissance artwork by famous artists like Caravaggio and Raphael… All for free! The Church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome is a fascinating architectural gem with a rich history that dates back to the 13th century. Situated near the northern entrance of the city, this Renaissance-style church is renowned for its impressive art collection and captivating design. Originally built on the site where Emperor Nero was buried, the church was later rebuilt in the 15th century, with contributions from famous artists and architects such as Bramante, Raphael, and Bernini.
The exterior of Santa Maria del Popolo may appear modest compared to other grand churches in Rome, but step inside, and you'll be greeted by a magnificent display of Renaissance and Baroque art. The chapel dedicated to the Della Rovere family showcases stunning frescoes by Pinturicchio, while the Chigi Chapel houses magnificent mosaics designed by Raphael himself. One of the highlights is the Cerasi Chapel, where you can marvel at two powerful masterpieces by Caravaggio, "The Conversion of Saint Paul" and "The Crucifixion of Saint Peter." These artworks beautifully illustrate Caravaggio's mastery of light and shadow, capturing dramatic moments with incredible realism.
Fun fact: Legend has it that Santa Maria del Popolo was believed to be haunted by evil spirits due to its connection to Emperor Nero…. Creepy right? It doesn’t help that this superstition was popularised even more by novelist Dan Brown in his bestselling novel "Angels & Demons." Despite the eerie tales, the church stands as a testament to Rome's artistic and religious heritage, inviting visitors to appreciate its architectural beauty and artistic treasures.
Go where the locals go: Trastevere
Cross the Tiber River and wander through the picturesque neighbourhood of Trastevere with its narrow streets and lively atmosphere. This is a district that captures the essence of old-world Rome. Steeped in history, Trastevere dates back to ancient times and boasts a charming blend of medieval architecture and narrow, winding streets that exude a bohemian atmosphere. With its picturesque alleys adorned with colourful facades and blooming ivy, Trastevere offers a delightful escape from the bustling city centre.
Historically, Trastevere was known as the district where working-class Romans and immigrants settled, giving it a distinct character and sense of community. Today, it has evolved into a trendy area buzzing with artisan workshops, quirky boutiques, and lively bars and restaurants that spill out onto the cobblestone streets. As you explore Trastevere, you'll encounter notable landmarks like the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, a stunning church adorned with intricate mosaics, and the Villa Farnesina, a Renaissance villa housing exquisite frescoes by Raphael.
In addition to its architectural beauty, Trastevere is also known for its vibrant nightlife and lively events. From street performers entertaining crowds in Piazza di Santa Maria to the bustling outdoor markets, there is always something happening in this spirited neighbourhood. Trastevere truly comes alive at night, with its vibrant bars and cosy wine bars that beckon locals and visitors alike to enjoy an evening of music, laughter, and good company.
Seek the secret garden within the Basilica of San Clemente
Descend into the depths of this basilica to explore its underground levels, which reveal layers of Rome's history. The Basilica of San Clemente in Rome is a captivating architectural marvel that takes visitors on a journey through time. This hidden gem is a layered masterpiece, with each level revealing a different era of history. The current basilica, built in the 12th century, stands atop a 4th-century church, which itself was constructed upon a 2nd-century pagan temple. This unique layering provides a fascinating glimpse into Rome's past and the continuous evolution of religious worship.
The basilica's architecture is a blend of different styles, showcasing elements from various periods. The upper church boasts stunning medieval frescoes and intricate mosaics, while the lower levels reveal ancient Roman structures, including an underground pagan cult temple and a well-preserved 1st-century Roman street. It's an architectural delight that seamlessly blends different historical periods within one site. Why I find myself revisiting the Basilica of San Clemente time and again is because of the beautiful courtyard and peaceful garden that not many people (even locals!) know about.
Soak up the view from the Gianicolo Hill
Perched high above the banks of the Tiber River, Gianicolo Hill stands as a panoramic vantage point offering breathtaking views of the timeless city of Rome. It’s truly one of the best free spots to get great skyline views of Rome! With a history dating back to ancient times, this historic hill has witnessed the rise and fall of empires. Its significance stems from being a strategic military location during battles fought for control of the city. Now, you can ascend the gentle slopes of Gianicolo Hill and be rewarded with sweeping vistas of Rome's iconic landmarks, including St. Peter's Basilica and the Colosseum.
Aside from its historical importance, Gianicolo Hill boasts an impressive array of architectural gems. The centrepiece is the imposing Monument to Garibaldi, dedicated to the Italian patriot and leader of the Risorgimento, Giuseppe Garibaldi. Its grand statue, surrounded by magnificent columns and friezes, pays tribute to the unification of Italy. Another notable feature is the charming Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, an elegant Baroque fountain that adds a touch of splendour to the hilltop setting.
Take a passeggiata through Piazza Navona
In Italy, a passeggiata is a beloved cultural tradition that involves taking a leisurely stroll or walk, typically in the early evening. It is a social activity where people, often in groups or with family and friends, gather to enjoy the outdoors, connect with their community, and engage in conversation. The passeggiata is a time for relaxation, people-watching, and taking in the ambience of the surroundings.
What better way to take part in this tradition than at Piazza Navona? Built on the site of the ancient Stadium of Domitian, this piazza showcases an impressive Baroque architectural ensemble. Its elongated shape is reminiscent of the stadium's original form, and the square is adorned with magnificent fountains, including the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This bustling square is a hub of activity, with artists, street performers, and outdoor cafés creating a lively atmosphere that attracts both locals and travellers alike.
Relax in Villa Borghese Gardens
Escape the hustle and bustle of Italy’s capital city and unwind in the peaceful Villa Borghese Gardens, an expansive park with beautiful landscapes. Nestled in the heart of Rome, Villa Borghese Gardens is an enchanting oasis that offers respite from the bustling city streets. Originally a vineyard and garden belonging to the Borghese family, the park was transformed into its current form in the 17th century. In the present day, it stands as one of the largest public parks in Rome, spanning over 80 hectares and captivating visitors with its lush landscapes, architectural marvels, and a myriad of activities to enjoy.
The park's architecture seamlessly blends nature and art, boasting elegant statues, fountains, and meticulously manicured gardens. One of its highlights is the Galleria Borghese, an art gallery that houses an impressive collection of sculptures and paintings by renowned artists such as Bernini, Caravaggio, and Raphael (even though entry isn’t free here). From strolling along the tree-lined pathways to renting a paddleboat on the picturesque lake, Villa Borghese Gardens offers a range of recreational activities for visitors of all ages. Whether you're picnicking on the grassy lawns, admiring the stunning views of the city from Pincio Terrace, or exploring the various museums and attractions within its boundaries, a visit to Villa Borghese Gardens promises a delightful experience that encapsulates the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Rome.
Dive into the artistic legacy of Rome at Tempietto del Bramante
This is a place that’s free to visit, even if it would’ve been worth every cent! The Tempietto del Bramante, nestled within the serene courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio, stands as a testament to the genius of Renaissance architecture. Designed by the renowned architect Donato Bramante in the early 16th century, this small circular temple holds immense historical significance. Commissioned by Queen Isabella of Castile to mark the spot where St. Peter was believed to have been crucified, the Tempietto is considered a masterpiece of harmonious proportions and classical design.
The Tempietto's architecture reflects Bramante's innovative vision, combining elements of ancient Roman temples with Renaissance ideals. Its elegant Corinthian columns, graceful arches, and domed roof create a harmonious symphony of geometric perfection. As you step inside, you'll be enchanted by the play of light and shadow that dances through the temple's intricate details, emphasising its spiritual aura.
Be enchanted by Piazza del Campidoglio
Located atop the Capitoline Hill, the Piazza del Campidoglio stands as a majestic symbol of Rome's rich history and architectural grandeur. Designed by Michelangelo in the 16th century, this iconic square embodies the Renaissance ideals of balance, harmony, and classical beauty. Its history dates back even further, as the site was originally the ancient Roman Capitoline Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome and the spiritual and political centre of the ancient city.
The architecture of the Piazza del Campidoglio is truly awe-inspiring. Its centrepiece is the magnificent Palazzo Senatorio, the seat of Rome's city government. Flanked by two symmetrical buildings, the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo, the square exudes an aura of elegance and grandeur. The facades of these buildings feature stunning classical elements, including Corinthian columns, intricately carved statues, and impressive staircases. As you ascend the grand staircase, you'll be greeted by the famous equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, a bronze masterpiece that pays homage to the ancient Roman empire. Visiting the Piazza del Campidoglio is a must for any traveller in Rome, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the Roman Forum and the city below.
Free entry to the Colosseum? Si signore!
When you think of Rome, the first image that probably pops into your mind is The Colosseum. Standing as an iconic symbol of ancient Rome, this is a testament to the grandeur and engineering prowess of the Roman Empire. Constructed between 70 and 80 AD, this amphitheatre was a magnificent architectural feat. The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, was primarily used for gladiatorial contests, mock sea battles, animal hunts, and other spectacles that entertained the ancient Roman citizens. With a towering height of 48 meters, its elliptical shape allowed for a seating capacity of approximately 50,000 spectators, who could easily enter and exit through a network of entrances and passageways. The Colosseum's architectural marvels include its series of arches, tiers of seating, and a complex system of underground tunnels and chambers.
While there is an admission fee to enter the Colosseum, it is possible to catch a glimpse of this magnificent structure without paying. To do so, you can take advantage of the fact that the Colosseum is located in a public space and can be viewed from outside the fenced areas. Head to the nearby Colle Oppio Park, which offers a fantastic vantage point to admire the Colosseum's exterior and take stunning photographs. Additionally, walking along Via dei Fori Imperiali, the road that runs from Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum, will provide you with captivating views of the monument. Otherwise, to enter for free, come here on the first Sunday of the month. Though first you have to get your free ticket at the ticket office in Piazza del Colosseo, located near the Temple of Venus and Rome.
Budget Stays in Rome
Looking for nice accommodations in Rome on a shoestring budget? Don’t worry, we gotcha! We’ve rounded up the best-rated cheap stays for your time in Rome. Check out our list here.