Rome Italy

Rome is a vibrant historic city near the centre of the west coast of Italy with so much to see and do that you'll be exhausted after walking its cobbled streets to see the seemingly endless Roman sites and sights.

The main international airport near Rome is "Fiumicino",  half an hour by taxi or train into Rome, while many of the discount charter flights arrive and depart from "Ciampino Airport" near Rome, also half an hour near the Rome CBD.  A cab ride from Rome's airports is about 55 Euros and the train to Rome is 10 Euros each.

Roman Forum

Because Rome is so busy and crowded with tourists, pickpockets are everywhere and you need to be vigilant with your valuables, especially in crowded places like the metro train system.

Rome dates back to 753 BC, when twins Romulus and Remus founded the city, according to local legend.  The original settlement is believed to be around the Roman Forum, the remains of which can still be seen today amid the hustle and bustle of modern Roman life.

A good tip while in Rome is to get a good tour guide or pre-pay for your tours of Rome, rather than wasting valuable holiday time in long lines to see some of the famous sights such as St Peters Basilica.

Like London, the best way to get yourself orientated in the Eternal City is to take a two hour tour of Rome on one of the double decker buses where you can hop on and hop off as you like.  Regular buses and the metro underground train system are also a good way to get around Rome.

Buy a 7 day travel pass of Rome that will pay for itself after a few days with the added bonus of not having to queue all the time for tickets. 

 The Colosseum

Or try the 3 day Romepass which includes admission to a few attractions including the Roman Colosseum and Borghese Gallery.

But the best way to really taste a slice of Roman life is to walk everywhere, delighting in passing unexpected Roman ruins and historical sights every few minutes.

WHAT TO SEE IN ROME

The ancient Roman Colosseum is a spectacular sight in the middle of this city of 2.7 million, located near the Roman Forum and visible for kilometres because of the low-rise buildings right across Rome.

The Roman forum amphitheatre was built more than 1900 years ago. You can almost feel the ghosts of the past in the Forum when you envisage the gladiatorial fights to the death in front of a cheering crowd of 50,000 spectators.

St Peter's Square Vatican

For a much more uplifting experience, a visit to the Vatican including the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica is an absolute must.

Whether you're religious or not, you'll marvel at the Sistine Chapel artwork dedicated to God that took some of Europe's most famous artists years to complete.  Allow at least a couple of hours for this tour because of the crowds and room after room full of ornate artwork by artists including Raphael and Botticelli.

Sistine Chapel Rome
Photo above of the famous Sistine Chapel Rome

The climax at the end is the stunning Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.  His artwork including the "Last Judgement" on the Sistine Chapel wall is so extraordinary that there are frequent reminders to observe "silencio" because of the reaction the masterpiece creates.

St Peter's Basilica is nearby and is another stunning example of the dedication of Italy's finest artists.  This is the centre of the Catholic Church and where St Peter, known as the first Pope, is buried directly under the altar.  St Peter was crucified around 64 AD after the 12 Apostles scattered across the world to spread the word of Christianity.

The Trevi Fountain is another famous landmark in Rome, located at the end of an ancient aqueduct that provided water for Rome for hundreds of years.

photo Trevi Fountain Rome

Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you are assured of a return to Rome.  About 3,000 Euros a day are thrown into the fountain. From the Trevi Fountain you can start a walking tour that includes a number of famous sights.

An absolute classic is the ancient Pantheon, located in Piazza della Rotondo.  This piazza really captures the flavour of Rome and is the ideal place to stay near the centre of Rome, with cafes, shops and hotels all clustered around the square.

The best hotel near the Pantheon Rome is the Albergo del Senato Hotel where you'll find Rome's best hotel for location and value. This atmospheric square is dominated by the Pantheon temple, rebuilt around 125 AD during Hadrian's reign.

"Pantheon" is a Greek word meaning "Temple of all the gods" but it's been used as a Catholic church in Rome since the 7th century. The artwork inside the Pantheon is magnificent. As you look up, you can't help but marvel at the perfect domed roof structure built by brilliant Roman craftsmen nearly 2,000 years ago.

hotel accommodation near Pantheon Rome

Many believe the Pantheon is the best ancient preserved building in the world. Be wary though of the men outside dressed as gladiators who encourage you to take a photo with them then demand 10 Euros each.  Tell them no and delete the suddenly-unwanted picture in front of them.

The Spanish Steps are also within walking distance and famous as the longest and widest staircase in Europe, with 138 steep steps up to the Trinita dei Monti church at the top.

Nearby Campo de Fiori is one of many rectangular piazzas in Rome and the site of an ancient meadow, translated as "Field of Flowers."  You'll recognise it by the colourful flowers still sold today in this enjoyable piazza full of street traders and restaurants.

Piazza Navona is also well worth seeing because of its Baroque appearance, including sculptures such as the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or Fountain of the Four Rivers.  The ochre colours of the surrounding buildings are almost reminiscent of the Tuscan city of Siena.

ACCOMMODATION NEAR ROME'S LANDMARKS

The Albergo del Senato hotel Rome is an excellent establishment in a brilliant location overlooking the Pantheon.  This is a central place to stay on the Piazza della Rotondo, allowing you to walk in all directions to see the many landmarks in Rome.  European hotels are often basic and small compared with American or Asian hotels, and that is certainly often the case in Rome.
accommodation near Rome

The Albergo del Senato Hotel Rome is a gem of a find because the decor is beautiful, the rooms are generally spacious, the air conditioning works (vital for the Roman summer heat) and the outlook over this splendid square can't be beaten.  As you pull up to the hotel in your taxi, you'll marvel at the cobblestone square dominated by the perfectly preserved Pantheon right there in front of you.
Albergo del Senato hotel room
Photo of hotel room in Rome

Double hotel rooms at the Albergo del Senato range from 140 to 390 Euros, quad rooms from 175 to 440 Euros, including breakfast in a delightful dining area complete with its own typical Roman column.  The well dressed Albergo del Senato staff including Salvatore and Mauro at reception and Anne the manager are a delight to deal with.  As the sun goes down over the Eternal City, don't forget to go up to the hotel's rooftop bar that overlooks all of Rome and the Pantheon below.  Here, the patient barman Michele will pour you whatever you desire after a tiring day walking the fascinating streets of Rome.
photo of hotel bar near Pantheon

You can find cheaper accommodation in Rome, but be aware that you get what you pay for and Rome is often booked out in summer because of the crowds of tourists.  In other words, feel free to check the discount websites for a last minute deal, but there won't be much left in summer.

RESTAURANTS IN ROME

Restaurants in Rome are plentiful and good on so many squares and down so many narrow alleyways that it's hard to find a bad meal.

Recommended restaurants in Rome include Hostaria Costanza in Piazza Paradiso, or Virginiae, a simple family cafe which is only a 5 to 10 minute stroll from the Pantheon.

Also try La Pigna restaurant on Piazza del Pigne, or  the Grano Ristorante on Piazza Rondanini.

Across Rome's Tiber River in the charming Trastevere district, the Popi-Popi Ristorante on via delle fratte di Trastevere is superb.

Travel guides will tell you that Trastevere captures the traveller's heart.

The district has developed its own style across the river, and it still captures the atmosphere of days gone by.  As you walk the cobblestone streets, you'll notice houses are adorned with flower boxes and ivy in a local district that's almost Bohemian.

You'll need at least three days to truly enjoy the many charms of Rome.

Rome is a big city that's so intriguing you'll remember it long after your visit.  Rome is certainly one of the World's best Cities.