There are cities that are modern, fashionable, shiny or trendy, but there is only one that is Eternal. Founded on a majestic location, on the banks of the Tiber River and between seven hills it was a city all great leaders wanted as their crown seat. For centuries it was the capital of the Old World, and even after the fall of the Great Roman Empire it still retained the world’s attention by attracting many talented and world renowned artists. All those historical events left marks in Rome, and made it a city with the most diverse cultural heritage in the world. If you are visiting Rome for the first time this guide is for you!
What is Rome Like
Rome is located in central Italy, some 24 km from the sea on a flatland interrupted by several hills. Two rivers cross the city; the Tiber divides the city center on the east from the Vatican on the west, while the Aniene flows into the Tiber north of the center. The metropolitan area of Rome owes its immense size (1,285 km) to the low density of its disperse peripheral neighborhoods, built quite differently from the compact dense city center. Since many antique historical sites of great importance are located inside the center, urban planners cannot conceive any kind of infrastructure improvement. The urban grid is chaotic, streets are curvy and narrow and traffic jams are, logically, a common thing.
What to See in Rome
For those who like history Rome is the perfect place to explore. The City is crowded with architectural heritage from ancient monuments to renaissance and baroque temples. One of the main highlights of the city’s antique treasures is the grand Colosseum, the world’s largest roman amphitheater, which offers an insight of how ancient gladiator’s arenas used to look like. It’s a must on every Italian bucket list! Next to it a large archeological site of Trajan’s Market and Circus Maximus displays numerous roman ruins. West of the Colosseum in the area known as Old Rome beautiful renaissance buildings surround charming squares like Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori. Also worth a visit in this neighborhood is a well preserved Pantheon dating from the second century AD. Within walking distance several outstanding squares and monuments are not to be missed: the Piazza della Repubblica, the Fontana di Trevi and the Spanish Steps. Across the Tiber lies the Vatican, an independent country, and the seat of the Catholic Church, home to an outstanding art collection and of course the Grand Basilica of Saint Peter, one of the largest churches in the world.
Rome is a major tourist destination, a must see on any itinerary around Italy. and there are plenty of accommodation options. Most hotels close to the Old town are quite pricey, but are the best option if you are short of time. Many hotels are located around the Termini station, the largest ones being between the station and the Colosseum. Cheaper midrange hotels and guesthouses are mostly located in Esquilino – San Giovani and in the northern part of the Modern Center, not far from Termini. Generally speaking accommodation in Rome is considered expensive.
Rome’s landscape is mostly hilly, but not too difficult to be discovered by foot. Besides, in spite of the city’s extensive size, the majority of important landmarks are located in a relatively small radius of 4 km2. There is a heavy and chaotic traffic in the city center so be very careful when crossing the street. Riding a bicycle is not recommended, it may be dangerous. The other good way of moving around is by public transport. While the metro is the best option for its speed, trams and buses let you enjoy the beautiful views. Hiring a taxi is another yet expensive option.
The former capital of the world’s largest empire, center of the Baroque and the Renaissance art movement and the seat of the Catholic Church, Rome is an outstanding destination not only because of its history and vast heritage, but also because of its beautiful landscape and fascinating people. While strolling around the cobbled streets of Rome you will be surprised by astonishing views which change dramatically as you approach an important historical monument. Fantastic architecture and lush green hills together with a strong cultural identity give Rome a special magical atmosphere. Romans are friendly people who talk proudly about their famous hometown and will gladly help you get around. There is nothing more fun than watching the locals standing in open bars sipping coffee and chatting, with all their expressive mimics and gestures.
Also check out this post for free things to do in Rome.
Rome Travel Guide
- Stay near Vittorio Emanuele Square and Termini. Happy Frog recommends SuiteDreams Hotel
- The Grand Colosseum and Trajan’s Market;
- The Vatican including Saint Peter’s majestic church;
- The Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo;
- The antique Pantheon;
- The EUR district, outside of the city centre.
- Have dinner in I Vicini, near the Pantheon.
- Eat in Trastevere neighborhood.
- On foot, by metro, tram, bus and taxi.
- Spend a day at the beach in Santa Marinella.
DO NOT MISS:
- Wonder around the Old Town and discover its beautiful squares;
- Find hidden baroque and renaissance churches;
- Enjoy the views from Vittoriano;
- Take a walk from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza della Repubblica;
- Party in Testaccio.