City Guide: Rome – A Modern Metropolis Steeped in Ancient History

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Rome is the kind of city where people return over and over without managing to discover everything it has to offer. With over 2,000 years of history, some of the world’s most renowned art, stunning architecture, and amazing cuisine, Rome is a city with something for everyone.

The best way to get around the city is definitely on foot, as it lets you soak in the amazing atmosphere, enjoy the beautiful streets, and avoid the notoriously unreliable public transport.

Saint Peters Basilica - Vatican in Rome, Italy

Rome is the kind of city where you constantly stumble across unexpected delights, be it a local craftsman creating beautiful handmade sandals or a bakery you’ll never find again with the best pastries you’ve ever tasted. Cramming everything into one trip can seem a bit overwhelming in a city with so much going on, so we’ve picked some of the city’s highlights to get you started.

What to See

People say that the best museum in Rome is Rome itself and there’s definitely plenty of amazing things that you must see during your visit.

Roman Forum

To really dive into the history of Rome you can’t beat a stroll around the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum. It’s easy to imagine, as you walk down the cobblestoned streets, the citizens of Ancient Rome who trod there first in their sweeping togas and sandals. The site dates back to around 500 BC, although it was enlarged by Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Domitian, and Trajan at various times. This is somewhere that it is well worth taking a guided tour, as not only are there no signs saying what’s what, but the stories of this ancient city are essential for bringing the ruins to life.

Colosseum

Colosseum at sunrise, Rome, Italy

One of the most recognised landmarks of Rome, you can’t visit the city without taking a trip to the colosseum. This symbol of Rome has a bloody history as the venue of gladiatorial combats and animal fights. As the largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire, it is believed that as many as 50,000 people would be packed inside. It’s a very popular tourist destination so you’re likely to find yourself in a long ticket line if you aren’t prepared. Buy your tickets in advance to skip the queues – you can get a combined ticket for here, the Forum and Palatine Hill if you’re planning to do all three.

The Pope

There’s no need to be Catholic to enjoy seeing the Pope and it is well worth trying to see him if he’s in the city during your trip. On a Sunday, the Pope speaks from his window overlooking St Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer. There is also a weekly general audience with him on Wednesday mornings, either in the square or inside the Pope Paul VI auditorium. You will need advance tickets for the weekly audience, although the Swiss Guard at the Vatican’s Bronze Door Entrance may be able to slide you some if you visit him at around 9am.

What to Do

You’ll never run out of things to do in Rome, but these are some of the of the things you can’t miss during your trip.

Marvel at the Pantheon

Rome - Pantheon

Built between 118 and 128 AD on the site of an older temple, the Pantheon is the burial place of Rome’s rulers and other important figures. It’s an impressive structure and, unlike other remains of Imperial Rome, remains wonderfully intact. Until the modern era, the dome was the largest ever built and the architecture of the whole building is breath-taking. Wander inside and look up the oculus in the dome, which has been letting sunlight and rain filter in since ancient times.

 Explore the Vatican Museums

The Vatican and its museums are home to some of the world’s most renowned works of art. You could easily spend all day here, there’s just so much to see in the 1,400-room palace that makes up the museum. Old Master paintings and antique sculptures adorn every corner and the Raphael Rooms are unmissable. Once you’ve seen the museums, take look around the Vatican, making sure to stop off at St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

Wander Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona, Fontana del Moro, 1654, Roma

Piazza Navona is one of the most popular public spaces in Rome and is lined with restaurants, gelaterias, and beautiful Baroque art. It is the perfect place to stop for a coffee, people watch, and soak up how gorgeous Rome is. Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi can be found here, featuring four exquisitely carved figures who represent the world’s four great rivers. It’s well worth exploring the piazza and surrounding streets, making sure to stop for a gelato on the way.

What to Eat

You can’t visit Rome without indulging in beautiful Italian food and these are some of the best things to try.

Carciofi in the Jewish Quarter

carciofi alla giudia

The Jewish Quarter is a gorgeous area of Rome, steeped in history and full of amazing Jewish restaurants, shops, and bakeries. It’s the only place to try carciofi alla giudia, which are delicious artichokes fried whole. Ristorante Piperno is both the oldest and the best place to get your hands on this Roman delicacy.

Pizza al Taglio

You can’t go to Rome without having pizza and the best way to eat it is by the slice and in the street. When ordering pizza al taglio you can usually just point at which toppings you want through the glass, nod your approval for the size of the slice, and then dig in as soon as possible. As well as the standard margherita, most pizzerie will also make amazing potato or zucchini pizza.

Gelato

gelato on display in rome

You can’t visit Rome without eating your own body weight in gelato and, like pizza al taglio, you’ll find that there’s a stall selling it around every corner. The best in town is usually said to be from Giolitti, which makes for the perfect rest stop between the Pantheon and the Italian Parliament. You can ask for up to three flavours on a medium cone, so heap it up with bacio, pistachio and nocciola for a proper, creamy, nutty taste of the city.

If this guide to Rome has made you want to explore this beautiful city for yourself, why not book a place on one of Cruise1st’s amazing cruises that stop there? Browse the full collection online or call our friendly sales team to book your place today on 0808 274 6235.

 

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City Guide: Rome
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City Guide: Rome
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With more than 14,000 years of civilisation, Rome is a hotbed of living history. As home to one of the world’s great marauding civilisations, the Ancient Romans, Rome has so much significant history that it is impossible to dig up any free land without stumbling upon a slice of the past.
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Claire Wilde

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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