Rome at a glance
It’s called the Eternal City for a reason. This is one of Europe’s most vibrant capitals, in a vast archaeological playground dating back more than 2,500 years.
La Città dell'Altra Economia, Rome’s former slaughterhouse, is now a space for vintage fairs, art shows and live music, as well as housing an organic supermarket and Michelin-starred restaurant.
You probably didn’t know
The Colosseum was originally known as the “Amphitheatrum Flavium” after the Flavian dynasty. Its nickname came about because of a colossal, gold-plated statue that used to stand next door.
Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome (Rachel Roddy, 2015)
- Population: 2.8 million
- Annual visitor numbers: 12 million
- January mean temperature: 12°C
- August mean temperature: 30°C
Things to do in Rome
Bir & Fud, Da Francesco and Porto Fluviale
Good pizza isn’t hard to find, but the best places get busy. Book a table at Bir & Fud in Trastevere, for Neapolitan-style deep-pan pizzas and great craft beers. Roman-style pizzas are thin-and-crispy, as found at Da Francesco by Piazza Navona or in the all-day industrial eatery Porto Fluviale near Testaccio.
Il Secchio e l’Olivaro
Il Secchio e l’Olivaro’s glorious oversized pizzas are also offered gluten-free. There are two venues, in Ostiense and in Garbatella.
Pizzarium, one of Rome’s most famous pizza-by-the-slice venues near the Vatican, is famed for unusual toppings, including scallop with tomato and chilli.
Da Enzo al 29 and Nonna Betta
Fine-dining restaurant Pierluigi near Campo de’ Fiori specialises in fish, although meat, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free food is also on the menu.
Freni e Frizioni and Bar del Fico
Freni e Frizioni, fashioned from a former garage, is a popular Trastevere spot. A hip crowd takes over the cobbled piazza in front. And Bar del Fico by Piazza Navona sports a well-dressed crowd sipping cocktails.
Speakeasies and secret clubs
Secret clubs and speakeasies are the latest trend in Rome. Hidden bars have popped up:
- Behind a freezer door in a sandwich shop in grungy Pigneto at Spirito.
- Through a wardrobe in a restaurant by the Pantheon at Club Derriere.
- Beyond a vintage telephone cabinet at The Corner Club on the Aventine. Here, dialling the right number gains you access.
For a more conventional nightclub experience, Shari Vari near the Pantheon has a swanky upstairs restaurant to boot.
In the summer, pop-up venues along the river such as Gasometro also let clubbers dance under the stars.
Ai Tre Scalini
On warm nights, Rome’s bars and cafes spill out onto the streets. Stand under the trailing ivy outside Ai Tre Scalini in trendy Monti with a glass of wine, or sit at the bar to enjoy excellent bites and a cold beer until late.
Via del Corso
Rome has something for all ages and budgets. Via del Corso, in the city’s heart, features almost a kilometre of international high-street brands and Italian labels.
Via dei Condotti and Via del Babuino
Peeling off from this, Via dei Condotti and Via del Babuino go up-market with home-grown brands including Valentino, Bottega Veneta, Gucci and Prada, as well as Hermes, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton.
Young designers in bohemian Monti fashion one-off pieces without the price-tag for the local hip crowd: check out Le Gallinelle.
Mercato Monti and Pifebo
Monti is also the place to find vintage. At the weekend there’s the Mercato Monti market, or Pifebo, where leather bags start at €15. If pre-loved is your thing, vintage stores proliferate along Via del Governo Vecchio.
Dedicated label-lovers might want to visit Castel Romano, a Designer Outlet Village on the outskirts of Rome. Shuttle buses run regularly from the city centre.
The sightseeing options in Rome can be overwhelming, so the €12 ticket for the Colosseum is a good place to start. It also grants you entry to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, and can be used over two days.
The Vatican Museums
A visit to the Vatican Museums, a compendium of Western art history, culminates in Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel. Visitors to St Peter’s cathedral can also climb up inside the dome to enjoy breathtaking views.
The Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Spanish Steps
Rome is, above all, an open-air museum, so many of its sights can be enjoyed while strolling with an ice-cream in hand. The Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Spanish Steps are all within a ten-minute walk of one other and flank one of Rome’s best shopping districts.
Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori
After visiting Bernini and Borromini masterpieces in Piazza Navona, nearby Campo de’ Fiori offers a colourful local market and popular bars. Cross the river to Trastevere for gold-encrusted churches, cute restaurants and views of washing strung over tiny cobbled streets.
Easter in Rome
Easter weekend in Rome kicks off with the Via Crucis ceremony on Good Friday, when the Pope leads a torchlit procession from the Colosseum to the Palatine, praying at the 14 Stations of the Cross along the way. The festival culminates with the great Easter Sunday service in St. Peter’s Square.
Events to look out for:
- RBS Six Nations Rugby (February–March)
- The Rome Marathon (March)
- Italian Open Tennis (May)
- Gay Pride (June)
- Luglio Suona Bene Music Festival at Auditorium Parco della Musica (July)
- Rome Film Festival (November)
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