‘The Eternal City’ can sometimes feel like a vast open-air museum, except for the presence of style-conscious young Italians, lounging in coffee bars and speeding past on Vespas.
For a taste of the baroque you can climb the Spanish Steps, stroll through the Piazza Navona or visit the Trevi Fountain, where you are advised to simply toss in a coin and make a wish rather than re-enact Anita Ekberg’s escapades in La Dolce Vita.
Renaissance splendour is in full effect at the Vatican, the Pope's residence. Located on one of the seven hills of Ancient Rome, the walled enclave is awe-inspiring in its lavish splendour. Here you will find Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Tracing Rome’s history further back will take you to the Castel Sant’Angelo, an unmistakable icon in Rome’s skyline. It was first built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, but has since been repurposed many times and is now home to a highly recommended museum.
Keep time-travelling and you will reach the early Christian Basilicas, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Pantheon.
The Forum is one of the oldest continuously occupied spots in the city, and was once the religious, cultural, and political epicentre of the Roman Empire. Today’s archaeological site is home to numerous temples and even the ruins of the Senate – a monumental building where all major political decisions took place during the time of the Republic.
The Colosseum is surely the most iconic Roman ruin. Built in the first century AD, the great amphitheatre had the capacity to seat the thousands who gathered to watch the distinctly unequal battles between gladiators, lions, slaves and criminals.
Eating out is a far more civilised pleasure on offer in contemporary Rome. There are three main types of restaurant: osterias are an informal choice, trattorias offer more languid, bistro-style dining, whilst at a ristorante you can expect white table-cloths, silver cutlery and a selection of fine wines.
Nightlife in Rome is relatively laid-back, given the pace of the day. Locals like to sit in street side cafés and restaurants, taking time over their meals, or to wander with a gelato and a loved one through the city.
There are many wine bars and cafés near Campo de' Fiori, Piazza Navona and Via della Pace – or you can party with the rich and famous at Gilda, close to Piazza di Spagna.
The Teatro dell'Opera is renowned as one of the world’s finest opera houses, but if you are visiting in summer opera is also performed al fresco in July and August in the atmospheric ruins of the Baths of Caracalla.
In summer the weather in Rome can get uncomfortably hot, with temperatures sometimes exceeding 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). As a result, many businesses close during August while staff holiday in cooler spots. The average summer temperature across June, July and August is over 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit).
Winters are relatively mild, with the temperature in December averaging 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit).
The best time to travel to Rome is spring, when skies are blue and the weather warm.
Italian is the lingua franca, but English is widely spoken.
Italy is a member of the European Union. You may need a Schengen visa (short stay visa) to stay in the country for more than 90 days. Please check rules around visa requirements before you travel, as they may change regularly.
Crime levels are generally low in Italy but bag snatching and pick-pocketing is relatively prevalent in the big cities such as Rome. Be aware that thieves can use a variety of methods to distract you, and take all the usual precautions such as keeping your valuables out of sight. Take care on public transport and in crowded areas in city centres, particularly in and around Termini station.
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