An Extensive Guide to Rome


Travel Guide to Rome, Italy, Colosseum, Gladiators

Rome is one of the most iconic European cities to visit, with its rich history, charming Italian culture, and magnificent Baroque architecture. Visiting this ancient city is like taking a step back in time.  Rome is an enchanting region where you'll discover a romantic blend of culture and ancient world history spiced up with delicious Italian cuisine and exceptional wines.

Rome, as they say, was not built in a day. Nor can travelers really experience the Eternal City in just a few days. After more than 2,000 years in existence, there are enough things to do, see, and explore to keep you busy for years, with decadent pasta, gelato, and pizza to indulge in, archeological sites, Baroque churches, villas-turned-museums, and enough art to overload your senses. Italy's capital is one of the most romantic and historic places in the world.


TOP ATTRACTIONS IN ROME


The Colosseum

The Colosseum is the main symbol of Rome. It is an imposing construction that, with almost 2,000 years of history, will bring you back in time to discover the way of life in the Roman Empire.

The construction of the Colosseum began in the year 72 under the empire of Vespasian and was finished in the year 80 during the rule of the emperor Titus. After completion, the Colosseum became the greatest Roman amphitheater, hosting exhibitions of exotic animals, executions of prisoners, recreations of battles and gladiator fights kept the Roman people entertained for years.

The Colosseum remained active for over 500 years. The last recorded games in history were celebrated in the 6th century.


Colosseum Underground Tour

Stand in the Colosseum and experience the power of the once great Ancient Roman Empire for yourself. Nowhere on earth takes you closer to the might and brutality of this civilization that once aspired to rule the world.

Your Colosseum Underground tour begins in the Roman Forum. Here, you’ll see all the beauty of the Ancient Roman Empire, in the ruins of the magnificent temples and law courts that once defined this area. Your expert guide will paint such a picture of life as it was here, over 2,000 years ago, that the ruins will be reconstructed in your mind’s eye.


Next, to the top of the Palatine Hill, where Rome’s mythological founder Romulus, and his ill-fated brother Remus, were born – if mythology is to be believed. From here, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the modern city of Rome and all the magnificent ancient buildings within it.

Then, you’ll leave the Roman Forum behind, and walk past the Arch of Constantine to your Colosseum Underground tours awaits. Once there, you’ll follow your guide under the Colosseum floor to stand where men and animals would have waited before they were lifted to the arena floor and forced to fight in the gladiatorial battles. This tour of the Colosseum Underground takes you to the heart of Ancient Roman life – it’s not to be missed.


4 hours - Maximum of 12 people in a group.

Colosseum, Underground Level - Hypogeum, Third Tier, Arena Floor, Roman Forum House of the Vestals, The Roman Senate, Septimius Severus's Arch, The Palatine Hill, The Arch of Constantine, The Via Nova, the Via Sacra, and more.


Vatican City | Vatican Museum | Sistine Chapel

Vatican City is an independent city state located in the heart of Rome, ruled by the Pope (Bishop of Rome). It is the centre of authority over the Roman Catholic Church. Within the Vatican there are numerous interesting attractions to visit, but the best are the following: St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, where the Sistine chapel is located.


St Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest temples for Christendom and one of the largest churches in the world. Besides, it is where the Pope presides many liturgies all year round. Several renowned architects designed the temple, highlighting the works of Bramante, Michelangelo and Carlo Maderno.

The basilica was called St Peter’s after one of Jesus’s twelve disciples known as Saint Peter, who became one of the founders of the Catholic Church and was executed in Rome and buried where the Basilica now stands.


One of the most impressive parts of the Basilica is its incredible dome. Its design was started by Michelangelo and continued by Giacomo Della Porta. Carlo Maderno finished the dome in 1614. It has served as inspiration for many other cathedrals and buildings,


Visiting St Peter’s Basilica is an unforgettable experience when staying in Rome. Visitors mustn’t miss out on climbing to the top of the dome, where a stunning view of St Peter’s Square, and if the day is clear of most of the city, awaits them.

Purchase tickets in advance here (extremely long lines form early to purchase tickets onsite.)


Vatican Museums

The origins of these museums go back to 1503, the year in which the recently named Pope Julius II donated his private collection. Since that moment private families and other popes have enlarged the collection of the museums to the point where it has become one of the largest in the world.



What museums are there in the interior?

  • Pio-Clementino Museum: Created thanks to the popes Clement XIV and Pius VI, this museum holds the most important Greek works in the Vatican.

  • Apartment of Pius V: The work of Pope Pius V, this museum contains Flemish tapestries from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a collection of medieval ceramics and another of medieval miniature mosaics.

  • Gallery of the Chandeliers: Roman replicas of Greek originals and enormous chandeliers from the second century A.D. decorate this elegant gallery.

  • Ethnological Missionary Museum: This museum contains works of art from all the papal missions of the world, among which there are objects originating from Tibet, Indonesia, India, the Far East, Africa and America.

  • Gallery of Maps: Carried out between the years 1580 and 1585, the beautiful maps painted in fresco on the walls of this gallery represent the Italian regions and the possessions of the Church.


  • Historical Museum - Carriage Pavilion: In this section you will find coaches, saddles, cars, and even the Vatican City's first locomotive.

  • Gallery of Tapestries: Exhibition of Flemish tapestries created between 1523 and 1534.

  • Pio-Christian Museum: The collection of Christian antiquities is composed of statues, sarcophagi and archaeological ruins from the sixth century.

  • Pinacoteca: The eighteen rooms in the Pinacoteca building contain pictorial works dating from the Middle Ages until 1800.

  • Sobieski Room and the Room of the Immaculate: In both rooms you will find paintings originating in the Italian "Ottocento".

  • Egyptian Museum: Among other pieces acquired by the popes you can find some impressive Egyptian sculptures, besides the prized sarcophagi from the third century B.C. There are also some black basalt statues originating from the Villa Adriana, which are replicas of Egyptian models.

  • Etruscan Museum: This part of the museum contains elements of ceramic, bronze and gold belonging to the Etruscan civilization.

  • Chiaramonti Museum: Created thanks to Pius VII Chiaramonti, this gallery holds thousands of sculptures including portraits of emperors, images of the gods and some funeral monuments.

  • Gregorian Profane Museum: Its rooms hold Greek and Roman sculptures from the first to third centuries A.D.

  • Borgia Apartment: The apartments that belonged to Pope Alexander VI Borgia today serve as exhibition rooms for the Collection of Modern Religious Art.

  • Raphael Rooms: Rafael and his assistants decorated the apartments of Pope Julius II with unparalleled taste.

  • Sala Della Biga: A monumental figure of marble of a chariot drawn by two horses carried out in the first century A.D. fills the space and gives the room its name.


Skip the lines

The lines to enter the Vatican Museums are probably the longest in Rome. To avoid them it is advisable not to go on the last Sunday of each month (when the admission is free) or during Holy Week. It is also advisable to avoid weekends, above all in high season.

The best time to go is on weekdays at 1:00 pm. Most people tend to come first thing in the morning to avoid the lines, so this is often the time you will wait for the longest.

The other way to avoid the lines is to book an English-speaking guided tour of the Vatican. This way you'll see the most interesting landmarks and learn about the fascinating history of the Vatican City, as you follow your guide straight in without having to queue.


Trevi Fountain

No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Fontana di Trevi. The Trevi Fountain is known as one of the most stunning fountains in the world. The legend holds that a coin thrown into the fountain will ensure a return to Rome. If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian and If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you are with. To achieve the desired effect, you should throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.


Roughly €3,000 is thrown into the fountain every day as people follow the tradition of throwing coins over their shoulders. Since 2007 this money has been used to support an Italian charity called Caritas. Caritas, in turn, uses the money for a supermarket program giving rechargeable cards to Rome’s needy to help them get groceries.


Galleria Sciarra

If you’re looking for a stunning hidden gem in Rome that’s both easy and free to visit, look no further than the Galleria Sciarra. Built between 1885 and 1888, the Galleria Sciarra is merely a courtyard in the center of an office building–but it is one that is undoubtedly beautiful to admire.


The gallery is covered in frescoes painted by Giuseppe Cellini in 1887 celebrating the “Glorification of Women”. The paintings are designed to symbolize what the artist saw as various female virtues: faithfulness, strength, patience, mercifulness, and justice, among others.


Since the Galleria Sciarra, today is used as a pedestrian walkway and is housed in a functioning office building, it is open to visitors Monday through Friday during business hours. It's only a 2-minute walk from the Trevi Fountain, with entrances on Via Marco Minghetti and Piazza dell' Oratorio.


Pantheon

The Pantheon of Agrippa, also known as the Roman Pantheon, is one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian capital. It is the best-preserved building from ancient Rome. The spectacular design, proportions, elegance, and harmony are a striking reminder of the architecture of the great Roman Empire. When Michelangelo saw this wonder for the first time he said that it looks more like the work of angels, not humans.



San Silvestro in Capite

San Silvestro in Capite is located in Piazza San Silvestro, which is a five-minute walk northeast of the Trevi Fountain. Piazza San Silvestro is underwhelming on the exterior but step inside to view the magnificent interior.


Basilica di San Clemente

Step inside San Clemente's humble doors and you'll be dazzled by an ornate 12th-century Catholic church, with a gold mosaicked apse, gilded and frescoed ceilings, and inlaid marble floors. Then descend downstairs, to a 4th-century church containing some of the earliest Christian wall paintings in Rome.


San Luigi dei Francesi

Less than 1,000 feet from the Pantheon, San Luigi dei Francesi is both the seat of the Parisian cardinal in Rome and the nucleus of the city’s French community. It's a little-known spot to see three Caravaggio masterpieces in its Contarelli Chapel.


Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is easily found on Via del Corso and you would not believe the sheer beauty and tranquillity that is hidden behind the door. The palace is grand, elegant, and majestic. Owned by the Pamphilj family, the palace exhibits some of the most magnificent pieces of artwork, sculptures, and décor (from Caravaggio to Bernini, from Velàzquez to Tiziano, from Raffaello to Memling and many others). The palace was home to princes and princesses from the second half of the seventeenth century, and it still houses some of the family’s descendants to this day.


The courtyard of the palace, with its tranquil water fountain, is lovely to wander around. It boasts incredible Renaissance arches and connects the two halls of the palace. After strolling through the courtyard, enter the palace and enjoy what the gallery has to offer.


Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese is housed in the Villa Borghese, a beautiful and elegant mansion. It is one of the most renowned art museums in the world. The building’s gardens are stunning and the third largest park in Rome.


The exhibitions are found on the mansion’s bottom and top floor. The first floor houses works of art by renowned artists such as Tiziano, Raphael, Caravaggio, Rubens, and Botticelli.


The ground floor is dedicated to classic antiquities from the first to the third centuries AD. This part of the museum is the most surprising with fascinating mosaics and impressive sculptures, as well as impeccably preserved frescoes that decorate the mansion’s walls and ceilings.


The sculptures by Bernini and Canovas found in each hall make the visit to this museum even more special. The Galleria Borghese is one of the best museums in the world. It will marvel visitors of all ages and making space in your itinerary to visit it is a definite must. Since this museum is extremely popular, booking in advance is mandatory and only those with a pre-paid admissions ticket will be let in. Reserving a ticket can be done online HERE.

Villa Farnesina

Located close to the Tiber between Vatican City and Trastevere, the Villa Farnesina is one of those places that you step inside and immediately wonder how on Earth there aren’t more people there. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also home to some incredible frescoes by Raphael!


Spanish Steps 

With its irregular butterfly design, the beautiful “Scalina Spagna”, or Spanish Steps are just one of these must-see places when in Rome and a great example of Roman Baroque Style. It’s a great place to just sit down and enjoy the atmosphere and views of the Eternal City. They connect the lower Piazza di Spagna with the upper piazza Trinita dei Monti, with its beautiful twin tower church dominating the skyline.


Santa Maria della Vittoria

Santa Maria della Vittoria, or "Our Lady of Victory," is a basilica dating from the seventeenth century. It was built to commemorate Emperor Ferdinand II's victory at the Battle of White Mountain. The basilica has become extremely popular since it appeared in the movie Angels & Demons.


Sant’Antonio dei Portoghesi

Sant’Antonio serves as a hub for the Portuguese community in Rome. Originally built in the seventeenth century, its interior is a Baroque masterpiece. The church's walls are decorated with patterns of different colored marble: pinks, blues, greys, and greens intersect to create an opulent display.


Sant’Antonio dei Portoghesi is perhaps best-known for its Great Symphonic Organ with 3,150 pipes. You can listen to the beautiful sounds by attending mass, or by checking the website for special events.


San Pietro San Pietro in Vincoli

San Pietro in Vincoli translates to “Saint Peter in Chains” because the church was initially built to house relics of the chains worn by Saint Peter during his imprisonment in Jerusalem. It's known as one of the only churches in Rome to contain a sculpture by Michelangelo (the others being St. Peter’s and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva). Michelangelo’s massive sculpture of Moses, designed between 1505 and 1515, is a mausoleum that covers the tomb of Pope Julius II.


San Pietro in Vincoli is free to visit. However, the mausoleum (and thus Michelangelo’s Moses) is dimly lit until a visitor donates to turn on the lights. The church is open every day from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM and again from 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM.


Santa Maria della Pace

Santa Maria della Pace is both an architectural and artistic masterpiece that lies fewer than 200 feet from Piazza Navona. This church’s spectacular Baroque facade was constructed between 1556 and 1557. Inside the church on the right-hand wall, is a fresco painted by Renaissance master Raphael. This fresco, titled Sibyls, is largely inspired by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. In fact, Michelangelo painted five Sibyls, or prophetesses, throughout the ceiling of his Sistine Chapel. Painted around 1514, Raphael’s Sibyls depicts four women receiving guidance from angels.


Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano

For a thousand years, this monumental cathedral was the most important church in Christendom. It is known as St John Lateran Archbasilica, as is it considered the mother church of the Roman Catholic faithful.



MOST SCENIC NEIGHBORHOODS OF ROME


Quartiere Coppedè

Rome’s smallest district, Quartiere Coppedè, is a fairytale-like neighborhood. It’s one of those secret places in Rome that is completely off the beaten path, with hardly any tourists. Start exploring this spectacular view by entering at the corner of Via Dora and Via Tagliamento.


Prati

In Prati, you’ll immerse yourself in Rome’s more upscale neighborhood. Stride down its spacious tree-lined avenues, marvel at its elegant buildings which include the breathtaking Palace of Justice, choose between its array of high-end bars and restaurants and explore its selection of designer stores. Live the high life in this beautiful upscale neighborhood and indulge in retail therapy while you’re at it!

Foodies would be well advised to check out Castroni – a traditional Italian specialty store on Via Cola di Rienzo. Enjoy a caffeine fix in the much-loved food store before opting to stroll the neighborhood’s vast streets or browse the boutiques.


Trastevere

A stroll around Trastevere will take you away from the crowds to the hidden corners of Rome. Trastevere is one of the prettiest neighborhoods in Rome with its narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings dripping with ivy, and balconies enlivened with majestic greenery.



BEAUTIFUL ROMAN SQUARES TO VISIT


Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is one of the largest and most beautiful piazza squares in Rome with three impressive fountains, including la Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi with its large obelisk at the center. The baroque church of Sant'Agnese in Agone provides an impressive backdrop. Surrounding the square are restaurants and street artists, painters, and musicians who add a lively atmosphere to the scene.


Piazza della Repubblica

Designed during the urban redevelopment undertaken after Rome was declared the capital of Italy, it’s one of the most important squares of the city and extremely striking.


Piazza del Quirinale

Found on the tallest of the seven hills of Rome, Quirinal Hill, the Piazza del Quirinale offers breath-taking views of the city. Magnificent buildings surround three sides of the square.


Piazza del Campidoglio

One of the most beautiful squares in Rome designed in the sixteenth century by Michelangelo.


Piazza Barberini

Named after the Barberini family, Piazza Barberini is renowned for its centerpiece, the Fontana del Tritone, which was designed by the sculptor Bernini.


The Campo de’ Fiori

The Campo de’ Fiori (Field of Flowers) is one of the main squares of Rome. Since 1869, every morning from Monday through Saturday it houses a market well-known for its flowers and fruit and vegetable. After the sunsets, the area becomes one of the best meeting places in Rome thanks to its wide variety of restaurants, cocktail bars, and terraces.



BEST PLACES TO EAT IN ROME


Roman cuisine is loved for being exceedingly flavorful, simple and satisfying. Continuing centuries of old-school traditions, dishes often prepared using few ingredients in creative ways, constituting a cuisine that is full of character and pays homage to the local delicacies in the Lazio region.


Ciacco&Bacco

Inspired by the small Tuscan shops, Ciacco & Bacco was created from the idea of ​​serving tasty and genuine salads, meat & cheese platters and sandwiches, freshly prepared with the best Italian regional products, combining quality, goodness, and freshness, all accompanied by a selection of excellent wines. Don't miss their fantastic desserts prepared daily.


Pinsere

Top-rated pizza specializing in the "pinsa," an ancient oval-shaped pizza, prepared according to tradition. The secret of Pinsa is made of three magic touches: the taste and lightness of natural ingredients, time, patience and digestibility, and fresh seasonings.


PanDivino

An amazing local gem! Freshly made paninis and delicious homemade tiramisu.


Pizzeria Loffredo

Taste unique Neapolitan pizzas, made with traditional techniques and quality products shipped from Campania daily.

Place your order at the counter and revel in a delicious pizza with its bulging crust, fresh tomatoes, and delicious cheese. Don't leave without having a Nutella turnover.


I Pizzicaroli

Speciality Cured Meat & Cheese Platters, paired with Italian wine! Perfect for sharing, the classic platter includes a variety of cheeses, meats, fresh fruits, bruschetta, porcini mushrooms, olive oil, honey, and bread.


Pinsa “Mpo

Pinsa is the result of over 100 years of Roman artisan baking experience, creativity, and expertise.

Pinsa comes from the Latin “pinsere’ or “push the dough by hands” Pinsa traces back to the Roman Empire. It was considered so good that the ancient priests used to offer it to the gods.

Pinsa is amazingly digestible! The dough is made of NON-GMO wheat, rice flour, and soy flour. It's won many international Pizza competitions for its incredible taste, texture, and presentation. Due to the high quality of their flour, their unique 72-hour process of cold fermentation, Pinsa is more wholesome, digestible, low-calorie and lower fat than the classic pizza.


Pane e Salame

This top-rated Italian restaurant serves amazing sandwiches and wines.


Pasticceria Regoli

Best coffee and pastries in Rome, following the most classic recipes of Italian tradition and selecting healthy and genuine ingredients.



BEST GELATO IN ROME


Giolitti

When in Rome Giolitti gelato are the two words you need to remember. Giolitti has been in business since 1900, a long time to master the art of making the perfect gelato! In fact, three generations have been passing along the secrets to a successful ice cream cone and there is no sign of stopping the goodness. At Giolitti, you can sample some of the finest gelato in Rome. The ancient ice cream parlor has preserved an elegant, classic decor with marble counters and lovely decorative details that take you back in time.


La Gelateria Frigidarium

If you want the best gelato in Rome this is the place to visit! La Gelateria Frigidarium is not only popular among tourists, but the locals love it as well, so do not be surprised if you need to stand in a long line to get your ice cream at popular times of the day. Be aware that the portions are big and that is also what makes this place so popular. With flavors like Bacio, Nutella, Stracciatella, Dulce de Leche, Cannella, Melone, Limone and many more, there is something for everyone.



ROME SUPERMARKETS

When visiting Rome, can certainly save some money by buying food at the local neighborhood supermercato. If you have access to a kitchen during your stay, you can save big on meals.


The supermarkets you will find in the center of Rome are fairly small and can be well hidden in a larger department store or signed only by a small door. Look out for CONAD, PAM, CARREFOUR, DESPAR, and SMA.


NaturaSì - If you are missing your organic-health food store back home, you can find organically produced products at NaturaSì. Bread, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, supplements, even organic wines and more.


You will find that even the smallest supermarket, however, has an impressively stocked deli counter full of delicious cheeses, hams, and products sotto olio (delicious things preserved “under oil”). Most supermarkets will also have a range of fresh fruits and vegetables.


Before venturing into the supermarket, however, I’ll let you in on a few cultural tips to help your shopping experience go more smoothly. Here are five rules to follow:


  1. Put on the protective glove- When it comes to picking out your fruits and vegetables, Italians don’t want your grimy hands touching every peach, pear, and pineapple. After all, no one knows where your hands have been. That’s why you’ll notice little plastic gloves hanging right beside the produce bags.

  2. Weigh and label your fruit- In Italy, it’s your job (not the cashier’s) to we