Rome, where history, art, and culture intertwine to create a captivating and unforgettable experience. We truly think that every traveller should make their way to this Eternal City and experience a stamp in time for themselves. The history of Rome is an epic tale of triumphs, conquests, and cultural brilliance. Founded in 753 BCE, Rome began as a small village along the banks of the Tiber River and grew into a mighty empire that spanned across continents. As we know from textbooks and legends, the city witnessed the rise and fall of great leaders, the construction of magnificent monuments, and the spread of Roman law and culture. From the majestic Colosseum to the opulence of the Roman Forum, remnants of this remarkable past still stand as testaments to Rome's enduring legacy.
But Rome is not just about its glorious past. It's a vibrant city where you can witness the merge of past and present, as ancient ruins blend seamlessly with bustling neighbourhoods, vibrant markets, and trendy cafes. Its charm lies in its ability to transport you through time. As you wander through its narrow alleys, you'll stumble upon hidden gems and unexpected surprises. From the romantic Spanish Steps to the picturesque Trevi Fountain, each corner reveals a story waiting to be told. Curious? Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more adventures!
Know Before You Go
Rome has two major international airports: Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO) and Ciampino-G.B. Pastine International Airport (CIA). Fiumicino Airport is the main airport, located about 30 kilometres southwest of the city centre, while Ciampino Airport is smaller and located approximately 15 kilometres southeast of the city centre.
Metro: Rome has a metro system consisting of three lines: Line A (orange), Line B (blue), and Line C (green). The metro is an efficient way to travel across the city and reach major attractions. Trains generally run from 5:30 am to 11:30 pm, with extended hours on weekends.
Bus: Rome has an extensive bus network that covers the entire city, including the outskirts. Buses are a convenient option for reaching destinations not served by the metro. They operate from early morning until midnight, and some routes offer night buses known as "night lines" or "N lines."
Tram: Rome has several tram lines that serve various parts of the city. Trams are especially useful for reaching areas with heavy traffic or for scenic routes. Like buses, trams operate from early morning until midnight.
The weather in Rome can vary depending on the time of year you visit.
Spring in Rome is generally mild and pleasant. Temperatures gradually rise throughout the season, starting around 10-15°C in March and reaching 20-25°C in May. It's definitely my preferred time to visit the Eternal City, with its blossoming flowers and longer daylight hours.
That said, summers in Rome are often too hot and too humid. Average temperatures range from 25-30°C with occasional heatwaves pushing temperatures even higher into the 40s. It's a busy time for tourism, and don’t forget - Italians celebrate farragosto in August, so a lot of restaurants and establishments are closed for weeks on end.
By September, the temperatures is still hot, around 25-28°C, while October and November gradually cool down to 15-20°C. It's another beautiful time to visit and one that I always plan my trips for. Then with winters in Rome, they are generally mild, but can occasionally experience cold spells. Average temperatures range from 8-15°C, but you still get sunshine that other parts of Europe lack in this season.
Day 1 - Ancient Rome
In the timeless embrace of Rome, the classic sites stand as enduring testaments to the city's rich history. The Colosseum, an immense amphitheatre, embodies the majestic essence of ancient Rome. Adjacent to it, the Roman Forum unveils the remnants of an ancient marketplace and political centre. Beyond lies the iconic Pantheon, an architectural marvel that showcases the mastery of Roman engineering and the celestial elegance of its domed interior. These classic sites of Rome are living witnesses to the city's legacy.
The Colosseum stands as a timeless symbol of ancient Rome's cultural legacy. This colossal amphitheatre was constructed during the first century AD. With its elliptical shape and towering facade, the Colosseum exudes a majestic aura. Within the walls of the Colosseum, a complex system of corridors, chambers, and trapdoors facilitated the elaborate spectacles that enthralled the Roman populace. Make sure to get guided tour tickets here so you don’t miss out on this must-see spot!
Once hosting spectacular spectacles and gladiatorial contests, the Colosseum could accommodate an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. Its tiers of seating provided views of the brutal clashes between gladiators, wild animal hunts, and even naval battles, which were reenacted within its vast arena. Despite the wear of time and countless historical events, the Colosseum still stands proudly, showcasing its intricate architecture and awe-inspiring scale. Today, visitors can explore the Colosseum's lower levels, where they can witness the remains of the hypogeum, an underground network of rooms and tunnels that housed the gladiators and animals. Climbing to the upper levels of the amphitheatre, visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding city.
The Roman Forum
The heart of Rome today was still the heart of Rome back then with the Roman Forum. Located in the heart of ancient Rome, The Roman Fourm the political, religious, and commercial centre of the city. Spanning over 600 years of history, the Forum was a bustling hub of activity where important civic events took place and the Roman Empire's destiny was shaped. Today, the Forum stands as a captivating archaeological site that offers a glimpse into the grandeur and power of the Roman civilisation.
Walking through the Roman Forum, visitors can imagine the vibrant marketplace filled with merchants, politicians, and citizens going about their daily lives. The ruins of once magnificent buildings, scattered columns, and fragments of statues evoke a sense of awe and wonder. The Roman Forum stands as a testament to the grandeur and significance of ancient Rome. Its ruins tell the story of a thriving civilisation, showcasing the architectural achievements, political power, and religious devotion of the Roman Empire. You can easily get an entrance ticket for both the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, which makes for a grand adventure during your time here.
Palatine Hill is a place that radiates joy and awe-inspiring beauty. As you ascend this legendary hill,the panoramic views of the Eternal City from the top are simply breathtaking, offering a feast for the eyes and a reason to celebrate. Bathed in golden sunlight, the ancient ruins and sprawling gardens create a cheerful mosaic that whispers stories of a glorious past. The vibrant energy and lively ambience of Palatine Hill make it a haven for both history enthusiasts and those seeking a cheerful escape.
Walking among the ruins of palaces and villas on Palatine Hill feels like stepping into a time machine of joy. The remnants of opulent structures, adorned with colourful frescoes and intricate mosaics, transport you to a world of grandeur and prosperity. The serene gardens that dot the hill's slopes add a touch of tranquillity to the cheerful atmosphere, offering a perfect setting for leisurely strolls and peaceful picnics. The symphony of birdsong and the fragrance of blooming flowers further enhance the joyful ambience, making Palatine Hill a true paradise for the senses.
The Domus Aurea, also known as the "Golden House," is a magnificent architectural masterpiece that leaves anyone awestruck with its grandeur. When I first visited this ancient Roman palace, built during the reign of Emperor Nero, its opulence and extravagance of the era truly took me by force. Walking through its halls and corridors, I was greeted by breathtaking frescoes, intricate mosaics, and stunning vaulted ceilings that transported me back in time - and now this gem is something I always recommend to anyone visiting Rome.
The Domus Aurea is not just a testament to the architectural prowess of ancient Rome; it is a testament to the rich cultural and artistic heritage of the time. The intricate frescoes and mosaics adorning the walls and ceilings depict mythological scenes, epic battles, and everyday life, bringing history to life with vibrant colours and intricate details. Each room holds its own story, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the past and marvel at the incredible craftsmanship that has stood the test of time.
Basilica of San Clemente
Since this is right in the heart of all the classic sites, the Basilica of San Clemente is a hidden gem that’s easy to miss out on! While you’re by the Colosseum, you should definitely check this basilica out. The Basilica of San Clemente, a stunning medieval church, is a true marvel that captivates visitors with its intricate frescoes and ornate mosaics. Descending into the lower levels of the basilica reveals an even more astonishing surprise: a hidden underground complex featuring ancient Roman buildings and even a fourth-century Christian basilica. The sense of awe and delight that accompanies exploring these ancient wonders is simply unparalleled, adding a layer of cheerful excitement to your visit.
Capitoline Museums and the Capitoline Hills
Okay, I know Rome the city is an actual museum itself - I mean, just walking around you already would get its great sense of history without any archaeological digging needed. So why even go to a museum when you’re here? But that’s the thing - the Capitoline Museums, located atop Capitoline Hill in Rome, are a treasure trove of ancient art and artefacts that showcase the rich history and culture of Rome. It really shows you the best of the best of what it meant to be Roman. Also fun fact - it was founded in 1471, making the institution among the oldest public museums in the world. The complex consists of several buildings, including the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo, connected by a grand staircase designed by Michelangelo. Yep, the Michelangelo himself. No wonder why the Capitoline Museums house an impressive collection of sculptures, paintings, and archaeological finds that span from ancient Rome to the Renaissance period.
One of the highlights of the Capitoline Museums that you can’t miss out on is the iconic statue of the Capitoline Wolf, a symbol of the city of Rome. The bronze statue depicts a she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. It is a powerful and enduring symbol of the city's origins and the Roman Empire. The museums also house numerous renowned sculptures, including the colossal statue of Emperor Constantine, the Dying Gaul, and the famous Capitoline Venus, a masterpiece of ancient Roman sculpture. Make sure you book your entry ticket here in advance so you don’t have to worry about lining up later.
Then after exploring the Capitole Museum, head out to the hills that it sits on. From the Capitoline Hill, you can enjoy panoramic views of Rome's historic centre. The vantage point allows you to appreciate iconic landmarks such as the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and the rooftops of the city. It's an excellent spot for capturing memorable photos and getting a sense of Rome's grandeur.
Where to Stay
Budget - Palladini Hostel Rome
A vibrant and budget-friendly accommodation option in the heart of Rome, Italy. The hostel offers a variety of dormitory-style rooms, providing affordable lodging for travellers.
Mid Range - Suite Opera Rooms
This stylish and modern hotel has rooms that are elegantly designed and offer a comfortable and luxurious stay for guests.
Luxury - Domus Flaviae
With its contemporary design and comfortable rooms, guests can enjoy a pleasant and convenient stay just steps away from the Colosseum.
Day 2 - Centro Storico
Outside of “Ancient Rome”, the heart of the city is a patchwork is pedestrian walking-friendly streets that open up to palazzos that have seen the test of men through time. I often just go without a map, going wherever these cobblestone streets lead me to in Italy’s capital city. But that’s the thing - when you’re in the heart of this city, there’s always something to see, something to do, and you’re never that far away from one great landmark to the next.
Part of our free things to do in Rome recommendations, did you know that you can go into the Pantheon for absolutely no cent at all? This is a remarkable architectural marvel that has stood the test of time for over two thousand years. Built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, it is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings in the world. The Pantheon's grandeur lies in its perfect symmetry and innovative design, making it a symbol of architectural excellence and a testament to the ingenuity of the Roman Empire. For lovers of history and architecture, I highly recommend getting a ticket for a guided tour with audio here - which will serve as an excellent tour of such an iconic place.
When you step inside, you’ll find that the most striking feature of the Pantheon is its massive dome, which remains the largest unreinforced concrete dome in existence. The dome's brilliant design incorporates a series of decreasing concrete rings, lightening the load as it ascends towards the oculus at the top, allowing for an optimal distribution of weight. Originally built as a temple to honour all the gods of Ancient Rome, the Pantheon has undergone various transformations throughout history. In the 7th century, it was converted into a Christian church, which played a significant role in preserving its structure. The interior of the Pantheon houses the tombs of notable figures, including the artist Raphael, further adding to its historical and cultural significance.
Campo de fiori Market
You can’t come to Italy and forget about going to the local markets! The grand jewel of them all? …The Campo de Fiori Market is a vibrant and lively open-air market that delights the senses and captures the essence of Italian culture. As you wander through the bustling square, you'll be greeted by a kaleidoscope of colours and fragrances from stalls brimming with fresh produce, aromatic spices, and beautiful flowers. The cheerful atmosphere is contagious, with friendly vendors showcasing their wares and engaging in lively conversations with locals and visitors alike.
The market is a food lover's paradise, offering a delectable array of Italian delicacies. From plump tomatoes and juicy fruits to artisanal cheeses and cured meats, the market is a treasure trove of culinary delights. Indulge in the heavenly aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries, and savour the authentic flavors of Italy as you sample local specialties. My favourite is getting some prosciutto for a picnic in Villa Borghese Gardens. The market also serves as a meeting place where locals gather to socialize, exchange stories, and celebrate the spirit of Italian conviviality. Musicians and street performers add a festive touch to the ambiance, serenading shoppers with lively tunes that create an atmosphere of pure joy and merriment. It's a place where strangers become friends and where the vibrant pulse of Roman life comes alive.
Any Lizzie McGuire fans out there? Remember that scene in the movie where she makes a wish by throwing a coin into this grand fountain? Well, look no further for the real thing - The Trevi Fountain is one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy and a true masterpiece of Baroque architecture. The fountain depicts Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, surrounded by tritons and other mythical figures. The sculpture is a marvel of intricate details and skillful craftsmanship, showcasing the mastery of Baroque art. Water gushes from various spouts, cascading down into a large basin, creating a mesmerising spectacle.
This is where you can be Lizzie and live the movie yourself - as legend has it that if you toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain with your right hand over your left shoulder, you ensure your return to Rome. This tradition has made the fountain a popular spot for travellers and locals alike, and an estimated 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain every day. Yep, don’t be shy about doing it, as you’ll see other Italians from all over the country participating too. A fun fact, the collected coins are donated to various charitable organisations, making the Trevi Fountain not only a symbol of beauty but also of goodwill.
This can be an often overlooked area of Italy’s capital city - which means you’ll be amongst more locals than tourists. Yes, that makes the Jewish Ghetto in Rome definitely worth visiting! It holds significant historical and cultural importance and offers a unique perspective on the city's past. Established in 1555, the Jewish Ghetto was a segregated area where the Jewish community was forced to live for centuries.
Today, it’s a vibrant neighbourhood that still maintains its distinct character and atmosphere. As you wander through its narrow streets and alleys, you'll encounter historic buildings, ancient Roman ruins, synagogues, and kosher restaurants. The Jewish Ghetto is also a testament to the resilience of the Jewish community in Rome. Despite the hardships they faced, the community has persevered, and their presence is felt in the area's synagogues, Jewish bakeries, and kosher eateries.
To delve deeper into the history and heritage of the Jewish Ghetto, you can visit the Jewish Museum of Rome, located within the complex of the Great Synagogue. The museum houses a collection of artefacts, documents, and artworks that provide insights into the rich history and traditions of the Roman Jewish community.
Arco degli acetari
Arco degli Acetari, also known as the Arch of the Vinegar Makers, is a charming and cheerful landmark tucked away in the picturesque streets of Rome. While this isn’t a typical spot that many travellers, especially first timers, see when they visit Italy’s capital city - I think it’s a unique hidden gem that adds a bit of a local flair to your time here. The arch's rustic and weathered appearance adds to its charm, evoking a feeling of nostalgia and transporting you to a bygone era. Covered in vibrant green vines, the arch exudes a whimsical and cheerful aura, capturing the imagination and inviting you to explore its secrets - it really reminds me of all of the stories I hear about aristocrats travelling in Rome during their grand tour.
Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Arco degli Acetari holds a rich history that adds to its cheerful allure. The arch gets its name from the vinegar makers who once inhabited the area, lending a sense of uniqueness and character to the surroundings. The arch's location within the historic neighbourhood of Campo de' Fiori further enhances its cheerful atmosphere.
You’ll for sure cross Piazza Navona during your time in Rome. This lively square radiates the vibrant spirit of Rome as soon as you step into it, fueled by the infectious energy of street performers, lively cafes, and bustling crowds. The grand Baroque architecture that surrounds the piazza, including the iconic Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers), is a testament to Rome's rich history and artistic prowess. The cheerful sounds of laughter, music, and animated conversations fill the air, creating a festive atmosphere that is both invigorating and heartwarming.
One of the most delightful aspects of Piazza Navona is its lively street market, and my recommendation to go if you want a slice of local life. Basically, there are rows of vibrant stalls that display a colourful array of local handicrafts, artwork, and souvenirs, inviting visitors to explore and indulge in the joyful shopping experience. From handmade jewellery to whimsical artworks, there is a treasure for every taste and preference. The cheerful vendors, with their friendly banter and warm smiles, add to the overall atmosphere of merriment and make each interaction a memorable one. No matter the season - as the sun bathes the piazza in golden rays, locals and travellers alike gather at outdoor tables, sipping espresso or enjoying delicious gelato. The jovial conversations and clinking of glasses create a convivial atmosphere that invites you to join in the celebration of life and good company. Whether indulging in a traditional Roman dish (yes, that includes the classic carbonara!!) or simply people-watching, the cheerful ambience of the piazza makes every culinary experience in Piazza Navona a joyful one.
Where to Stay
Budget - Vittorio ll house
This abode offers a blend of modern comforts and traditional Italian charm while situated near major attractions, it provides comfortable rooms with amenities like air conditioning and Wi-Fi access!
Mid Range - Hotel Emmaus
A welcoming and charming establishment with cosy and well-appointed rooms.
Luxury - Domus Helena
A contemporary and inviting hotel that offers comfortable and well-designed rooms, providing a modern and sleek retreat for guests.
Day 3 - Campo Marzio
Campo Marzio takes its name from the Campus Martius, a vast field in ancient Rome used for military training and various public activities. In ancient times, it was an important area for political and social gatherings. Today however, it's where Rome's it girls and high society congregate, since Campo Marzio is renowned for its upscale shopping scene. Via dei Condotti, a street that leads to the Spanish Steps, is famous for its luxury fashion boutiques, including international brands like Gucci, Prada, and Bulgari. In addition to shopping, Campo Marzio is home to several notable landmarks and attractions. The area houses the iconic Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo (a large square with an Egyptian obelisk), and the magnificent Villa Borghese gardens, which provide a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city.
Where Valentino has hosted an unforgettable fashion show, and arguably the most famous stairwell in the whole Western world - The Spanish Steps, is a famous gathering spot and a picturesque landmark that exudes charm and elegance. The steps consist of 135 individual steps that rise in a sweeping fashion, connecting the Piazza di Spagna at the base with the Trinità dei Monti Church at the top. Constructed in the 18th century, the Spanish Steps have become an iconic symbol of Rome's architectural and cultural heritage.
The Spanish Steps have long been a hub of social activity and a favourite meeting place for local Romans for centuries. The elegant design, adorned with beautiful flowers and sculptures, creates a romantic and inviting atmosphere. The area surrounding the Spanish Steps is also known for its luxury shopping and boutiques, attracting fashion enthusiasts from around the world. Via dei Condotti, the street leading up to the steps, is lined with high-end designer stores and renowned fashion houses. Amongst the jetset crowd, The Spanish Steps have become a fashion destination in their own right, with the intersection of fashion, art, and architecture.
Villa Borghese gardens
My favourite hangout in the city happens to also be the backyard garden for many Roman residents. I’m talking about the Villa Borghese gardens of course! The gardens offer a delightful and picturesque escape from the bustling city - especially in the summer (oh… Roman summers). Vast and well-maintained, featuring lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and manicured lawns - the park is dotted with charming fountains, statues, and picturesque ponds, adding to its enchanting atmosphere. Walking through the gardens, you'll come across tree-lined pathways, hidden pathways, and scenic viewpoints that offer stunning panoramic views of the city.
In addition to the natural beauty, Villa Borghese is home to several notable attractions. The park houses several museums and cultural institutions, including the Galleria Borghese, which displays a remarkable collection of art masterpieces, and the Bioparco, Rome's zoo. While entrance to the museums and attractions within the park is not free, simply wandering through the gardens and enjoying the ambience comes at no cost and is part of our free things to do in Rome recommendations.
Castel Sant’ Angelo
Fans of Dan Brown’s Angel & Demons will recognise Castel Sant'Angelo right away. Also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, this is a prominent fortress and landmark located on the banks of the Tiber River in Rome. Originally built as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, it later served various purposes throughout history, including a papal residence and a military fortress. Today, Castel Sant'Angelo stands as a testament to the rich history and architectural grandeur of Rome.
The cylindrical structure is adorned with statues and reliefs, including the famous Angel statue crowning the top, which is a symbol of the castle. Inside, you can explore the castle's various levels and chambers, including the papal apartments, prison cells, and the rooftop terrace with panoramic views of Rome. One of the main highlights of Castel Sant'Angelo is the Passetto di Borgo, a fortified passage that connects the castle to Vatican City. This secret passageway served as an escape route for popes during times of danger, and it played a significant role in history.
Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II
The Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II is a magnificent tribute to one of Italy's most revered historical figures. Rising proudly in the heart of the city, this grand structure stands as a symbol of unity, strength, and the nation's enduring spirit. The monument's vibrant white marble facade, adorned with intricate sculptures and ornate reliefs, exudes a sense of grandeur and elegance that captivates visitors from around the world. You’ll often hear locals casually referring to this place as the “wedding cake”.
As you approach the monument, you are greeted by a majestic staircase leading to a colossal statue of Vittorio Emanuele II atop his horse. The statue, crafted with remarkable attention to detail, captures the essence of the renowned Italian leader, depicting him in a commanding pose that evokes a sense of authority and determination. Beyond its striking appearance, the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II holds deep historical significance. It serves as a reminder of Italy's unification in the 19th century, under the leadership of Vittorio Emanuele II, who played a pivotal role in the country's journey towards unity and independence. It stands as a tribute to the resilience and determination of the Italian people, celebrating their rich heritage and cultural identity.
Where to Stay
Budget - Grappoli di Sole
A charming boutique hotel provideing personalised service with a delightful experience for guests looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding nature.
Mid Range - Vecchia Roma Resort
A captivating and idyllic retreat, this boutique resort offers a blend of traditional and modern aesthetics, providing guests with a unique and authentic Roman experience.
Luxury - Hotel Labelle
A well-appointed and inviting hotel located in a prime location. With friendly staff and a range of amenities, Hotel Labelle also boasts being only a 5-minute walk from the Colosseum.
Day 4 - Trastevere
This little pocket of Rome adds to what makes this city so captivating to me and truly worth exploring. Trastevere is known for its bohemian charm and lively atmosphere, characterized by its narrow, winding streets, cobblestone alleys, and colourful buildings adorned with ivy and flowers. In a word: perfecto. As you stroll through the neighbourhood, you'll discover charming squares, such as Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, where you can sit at a café and soak in the local ambience.
One of the highlights of Trastevere is its nightlife flocekd by local Romans. As the sun sets, the neighbourhood comes alive with bustling restaurants, bars, and clubs. You can enjoy traditional Roman cuisine at authentic trattorias, savour delicious gelato from local gelaterias, or grab a drink and experience the lively atmosphere of the bars.
Trastevere is also home to several notable landmarks, including the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, a stunning church known for its beautiful mosaics and vibrant interior. The neighbourhood's narrow streets and hidden corners offer plenty of opportunities for exploration and discovery.
Overlooking the sun-drenched buildings of Travestere is Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome. This is a serene and picturesque enclave that makes for a charming escape from the sometimes too chaotic capital. This delightful hilltop retreat is known for its verdant gardens, enchanting views, and a sense of tranquility that permeates the air. As you stroll along its peaceful pathways, you'll discover hidden gems such as the stunning Orange Garden, where vibrant citrus trees and fragrant blossoms create a vibrant and uplifting atmosphere. It’s also part of my recommendations for hidden gems in Rome that you should definitely click to read for more juicy places.
The beauty of Aventine Hill extends beyond its lush greenery. It is home to several architectural marvels, including the Basilica of Santa Sabina, a magnificent fifth-century church with its original wooden doors still intact. The basilica's elegant interior, adorned with beautiful mosaics and intricate carvings, exudes a sense of serenity and spirituality. A visit to this sacred place is sure to fill your heart with joy and peace.
The Aventine Keyhole
While you’re up on Aventine Hill, One of the most beloved features herel is the famous keyhole view. The Aventine Keyhole, is a fascinating hidden gem that never fails to fill anyone who visits it with a sense of wonder and delight. As you approach the famous keyhole, framed by an unassuming green door, anticipation builds, and you can't help but feel a spark of curiosity. Peering through the keyhole, a breathtaking sight awaits you. The perfectly aligned keyhole offers a mesmerising view of the enchanting St. Peter's Basilica, nestled within the beautifully manicured gardens of the Knights of Malta. It's as if a magical portal has opened up, revealing a picturesque scene straight out of a fairytale.
Gazing through the Aventine Keyhole is an experience that ignites the imagination and stirs the soul. The convergence of history, art, and nature in this small frame is nothing short of extraordinary. It's a delightful secret that not many people know about, adding to its allure.
Janiculum Hill, also known as Gianicolo, is a haven of cheerfulness and tranquility in the city. It’s a hidden gem in Rome that I’ve recommended as part of the off-the-beaten-path list here. As you ascend this panoramic hill, the cityscape unfolds before your eyes, offering breathtaking views that fill your heart with joy. The gentle breeze rustling through the trees and the melodious chirping of birds create a serene ambience that immediately lifts your spirits. The sprawling green spaces and well-manicured gardens invite you to relax, unwind, and soak in the blissful atmosphere.
Local’s tip: Come to Janiculum Hill at noon for the cannon fire. Every day at noon, a cannon is fired, echoing across the city and marking the time with a resounding boom. This tradition is a source of delight for both locals and passerbys, adding a touch of whimsy and excitement to the hill.
Also spotted on this hill is the larger-than-life statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, a revered Italian hero, stands proudly at the summit, inspiring a sense of patriotism and unity. The playful Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, with its cascading water and intricate details, adds a touch of enchantment to the landscape. Each sculpture and landmark on Janiculum Hill tells a story of triumph, beauty, or whimsy, igniting the imagination and filling the surroundings with a joyful and lively atmosphere.
The Porta Portese
Rome has an abundance of markets, but one that shouldn’t be missed is Porta Portese. Every Sunday, this iconic flea market comes alive, drawing locals from various neighbourhoods with its array of colourful stalls and lively atmosphere. Walking through Porta Portese is like stepping into a treasure trove of hidden gems, where you can find everything from vintage clothing and antique furniture to unique souvenirs and delicious street food. Whether you're searching for a unique piece of jewelry, a vintage vinyl record, or simply looking to soak up the vibrant atmosphere, Porta Portese is a place where you can embrace the joy of discovery and immerse yourself in the local culture.
To many Romans, Porta Portese is not just a market… it's a celebration of life, culture, and the joy of shared experiences. It's a place where Romans from all walks of life come together to browse, haggle, and discover the beauty of the unexpected.
Where to Stay
Budget - SUNSHINE HOSTEL
Located in a convenient location, the hostel offers comfortable and affordable rooms for guests to rest with a range of communal spaces.
Mid Range - Hotel Patria
With its elegant decor, friendly staff, and well-appointed rooms, the hotel provides a welcoming atmosphere for travellers.
Luxury - St. Moritz
Set within a beautiful 19th-century building, the hotel is found in the centre of the Eternal City. The hotel boasts comfort in a warm atmosphere in its ever-so-elegant decor.
Day 4 - Southern Rome
Head out of the city centre and further down south in Rome. After all, Italy’s capital city has a lot more to offer than just what most people who come to Rome often see. Down south is not only easy to reach with Rome’s public transit system, but also is a nice breather from the packed streets of the centre.
They say all roads lead to Rome - and the Appian Way, or Via Appia Antica in Italian, is one of the most famous ancient Roman roads and a remarkable testament to the engineering and architectural skills of the Roman Empire. Constructed in 312 BC, the Appian Way originally served as a crucial military and trade route connecting Rome to the southern regions of Italy. Stretching over 500 kilometres, it played a vital role in Rome's expansion and control over its vast empire.
Walking along the Appian Way today is like stepping back in time. The road is lined with ancient ruins, tombs, and monuments that provide a glimpse into the grandeur of the past. You can explore well-preserved sections of the road, paved with massive stones that have withstood the test of time. The Appian Way also boasts numerous archaeological sites, including the Circus of Maxentius, the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, and the Villa of the Quintilii, showcasing the wealth and opulence of ancient Rome.
I bet you weren’t thinking of the dead when you were thinking of what to do in Rome. But the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, is one of the most significant and extensive catacombs in the city. Dating back to the 2nd century AD, these underground burial chambers served as the final resting place for early Christians, including several popes and martyrs. The catacombs span over a whooping 15 kilometres and consist of intricate labyrinthine tunnels, galleries, and crypts, making them a fascinating historical and religious site.
Exploring the Catacombs of St. Callixtus offers a unique glimpse into the early Christian era and the underground burial practices of the time. The walls of the catacombs are adorned with ancient frescoes, inscriptions, and symbols, providing insight into the beliefs and customs of the early Christian community. Visitors can witness the intricate and symbolic artwork that adorns the tombs and learn about the rich history and religious significance of this sacred burial site. The catacombs are named after St. Callixtus, who was a deacon in Rome and later became Pope. He was instrumental in the organisation and expansion of the catacombs, and his tomb is one of the notable highlights of the site.
Where to Stay
Budget - Bed and Breakfast Evelina
For travellers seeking a personalised and intimate experience look no further than this B&B.
Mid Range - Antica Corte dei Principi
A historic and enchanting hotel situated in a captivating setting. with its beautifully decorated rooms, impeccable service, and a rich sense of history, Antica Corte dei Principi provides a truly memorable and regal experience for guests seeking a refined stay in a charming environment.
Luxury - La Bohème
Inspired by the artistic spirit of the city, the hotel offers a contemporary and eclectic design that reflects the bohemian atmosphere. With its comfortable and well-appointed rooms, personalised service, and a central location, La Bohème Hotel Rome provides a unique and vibrant stay for guests looking to immerse themselves in the artistic charm and cultural richness of the Eternal City.
Day 5 - Vatican City
To truly understand Rome is to immerse oneself in its history, art, and culture. And that goes for the Vatican City too, an independent state within Rome, which showcases the pinnacle of religious art and architecture. Adding to it, the Vatican City is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, making it a centre of religious and cultural significance. It houses some of the world's most renowned artworks, including Michelangelo's masterpiece, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and the breathtaking frescoes in the Raphael Rooms. The Vatican Museums also display an extensive collection of art and artifacts from different periods of history.
But definitely, be warned - the Vatican City can be crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons in the summer. To make the most of your visit, it is recommended to book tickets in advance, arrive early, and consider taking guided tours to gain deeper insights into the art, history, and significance of the Vatican.
St. Peter's Basilica
First thing’s first with the Vatican - St. Peter's Basilica is like the bread and butter of the Papal State. Right away, you can tell that St. Peter's Basilica is a masterpiece of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Its immense size, majestic dome, and intricately designed interior will leave you in awe. The grandeur and attention to detail in every corner of the basilica are truly remarkable. As the centerpiece of the Vatican City and one of the holiest sites in Christianity, St. Peter's Basilica carries immense historical and religious importance. It is believed to be built upon the burial site of Saint Peter, one of Jesus' apostles, making it a pilgrimage site for millions of Catholics around the world.
The basilica is adorned with countless works of art, including sculptures, mosaics, and paintings by some of the most renowned artists in history, such as Michelangelo, Bernini, and Raphael. The sheer artistic beauty found within St. Peter's Basilica is a feast for the eyes and a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Rome.
For those who don't mind heights, climbing to the top of St. Peter's Basilica's dome offers breathtaking panoramic views of Rome. You can see the Vatican Gardens, the city's rooftops, and even the distant hills surrounding the capital.
St. Peter's Square
In addition to the basilica itself, the vast St. Peter's Square, with its iconic colonnades and Egyptian obelisk, is a sight to behold. The square serves as a gathering place for important religious ceremonies and can accommodate thousands of people. On hot summer days you’ll see a lot of people taking shade under the colonnades. Otherwise, be sure to catch the Pope’s speech as part of the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square. To find out more about it, check out our free things to do in Rome recommendations.
The Vatican Museums, a treasure trove of artistic and cultural riches, are an essential destination for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Located within Vatican City, these museums house an extraordinary collection spanning thousands of years of human civilisation.
The Vatican Museums showcase an extraordinary assortment of masterpieces from renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci. I mean, they’re not the Ninja Turtles, but they will do, right?
The museums offer a vast array of galleries and exhibition spaces showcasing ancient Roman sculptures, Egyptian artefacts, Renaissance paintings, and countless other treasures. From the Gallery of Maps, featuring intricately crafted maps of Italy, to the Raphael Rooms, adorned with frescoes by Raphael and his workshop, each section of the museum offers a captivating journey through time and artistic expression.
Ah, the Sistine Chapel. Do words even exist to describe the immense beauty of this place? One of the world's most renowned artistic treasures, it was built-in the 15th century and celebrated for its breathtaking frescoes, particularly the iconic ceiling painted by Michelangelo. The vast ceiling fresco depicts scenes from the Book of Genesis, including the renowned "Creation of Adam," where the outstretched fingers of God and Adam nearly touch, representing the divine spark of life. The intricate details, vibrant colors, and skillful brushwork of Michelangelo's masterpiece are a testament to his artistic genius and have solidified the Sistine Chapel as a symbol of unparalleled artistic achievement.
Beyond the ceiling, the chapel's walls are adorned with frescoes by various artists, depicting biblical stories and significant religious figures. The Last Judgment, another masterpiece by Michelangelo, covers the entire altar wall of the chapel. This monumental fresco portrays the second coming of Christ and the final judgment of humanity, showcasing Michelangelo's unparalleled ability to capture human emotion and drama. The Sistine Chapel's artwork serves as a visual narrative of biblical stories and religious teachings, inviting visitors to contemplate and immerse themselves in the profound spiritual atmosphere of the space.