Rome – The Eternal City
Rome is the capital of Italy and one of the most populous cities of the country. Rome is the home of the highest office of the Catholic church. And these alone are reasons enough for tourists to flock to modern Rome, and why you need this Rome travel guide!
However, with a history of being one of the continuously occupied cities of Europe, Rome has a well-preserved past and a plethora of historical sights for the modern-day tourist to take delight in. Eons ago, literary figures wrote in praise of the nucleus of the Roman Empire and called it the Eternal City, and that’s just what it turned out to be.
One of Roman Mythology’s favorite stories about Rome attributes the city’s origin to Romulus. According to the myth, Romulus & Remus were sons of Mars who were abandoned beside the Tiber River. The story goes on to say that they were found and fed by a she-wolf. Later, a shepherd is said to have taken care of them. And when the duo were grown up and planning to found a city, dispute broke out and Romulus did off with Remus and set up Rome, naming the city after himself.
However, excavations of ancient Rome say otherwise. Archaeological finds say Rome was older than the 8th century when Romulus is said to have set up the city. They seem to suggest that life existed there earlier than that and that there were a few villages around present-day Palantine Hill, which might have gradually grown to become a big city.
Anyway, with several tens of centuries behind it, Rome has seen the birth of a civilization, the growth of a kingdom, the development of a republic & the creation and deterioration of an empire. This rich history has left behind a land of intriguing ruins, awe-inspiring architecture and exquisite art.
What to see and do in Rome
A pretty intact historical Rome can be seen at the Colosseum (the largest amphitheater), the Pantheon, several churches, public squares, palaces and fountains within the city, along with the aqueducts just outside it. There’s even a complex of ruins called the Roman Forum that you might want to take a look at.
Most of these places are still in use and open to the public. Some of these areas have even become places were locals and visitors unwind at.
Then there’s the Vatican, a sovereign state that exists within the boundaries of the city of Rome. And the Vatican has its own share of monuments and landmarks to attract you into it. A visit to Rome almost always includes a trip to the Vatican to see St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peters Square, Sistine Chapel, and Castel Sant’Angelo.
Visit the detailed post on Top 10 Things to do in Rome.
What to eat
An important part of this Rome travel guide is food! When in Rome, you are going to be eating a lot of pizza and pasta and that is just fine. While you look for your favorite Italian dishes, you might also want to look for the Roman twists that have been added to several of them.
As for the pastas, the ones you must try in Rome are the ones in Carbonara and Amatriciana sauce. And when it comes to the Pizza, an absolute must-have is the Pizza al taglio. This is Roman-style, thick-crusted and made in long rectangular trays with different kinds of toppings and sold in pieces, also rectangular and charged according to weight.
After you’ve checked off Roman Pizza, you could go looking for Neapolitan Pizza, also found easily in Rome. My list of Best Restaurants in Rome also has a couple of places that serve these fluffy-crusted pizzas.
Another must-eat in Rome is its suppli. These are rice balls cooked in tomato sauce and deep-fried along with small bits of meat and cheese. You’ll find them in most Pizzerias. Then there’s Trapazzino or stuffed pizza wedges. This Roman invention has now become a popular street food, along with several fried items you might find.
And make sure to pick up some Gelato to treat yourself with something sweet!
Big time shoppers love Rome for being a high-fashion destination. You’ll find that several well-known big brands have a presence here. Looking for clothes, jewelry & shoes should top your shopping lists. And Via dei Condotti is the place to go to for your upscale shopping!
If you’re a mall-goer and would like to check out a mall in the capital of Italy, make your way to EuroRoma2. For outlet shopping, the place is Castel Romano Outlet.
As for gifts and souvenirs, Rome has options galore. You can look for miniature structures of Rome’s popular structures, religious art, ancient coins, painted ceramics, marble plaques, and reproduction of well-known masterpieces. Leather products are also Rome-specials.
When in the Vatican, you might want to pick up rosaries, rosary beads, miniature statues, and things of the sort.
And then there’s always the option of Italian wine & cheese & chocolate.
A Rome travel guide isn’t complete without knowing what all is included in Rome! Rome lies in the middle of the Italian peninsula and towards the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Alps to the north of Italy and the Apennines to the East of Rome provided natural protection to ancient life in the area, helping it stay powerful.
Rome came to be developed around 7 hills by the Tiber River. Palatine, Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, and Aventine are the hills, with Palatine being the one in the middle. These hills provide sweeping views of Rome if you can make it to the top of one or a few.
Being a top travel destination, Rome has all the options you can think of in terms of accommodation. There are five-star hotels & hotels graded with lesser stars. There are Bed & Breakfasts, hostels, and campsites by the Tiber River, too.
If you’re in Rome for the very first time, you might want to look for an accommodation of your choice situated in the historical center, ancient Rome or near the Vatican. It’d also be a good idea to look for something near pubic transport to allow you to easily get to the tourist hotspots.
To get around Rome, you could take the Metro or taxis. There are private rentals, trains, and trams to take you around, too. Other recommendations would be to buy a Roma Pass or ATAC tickets that allow you to use the public transport system multiple times. However, they do not include your airport transfers.
As for getting into Rome, there are 2 international airports — the bigger state of art Fiumicino International airport (also known as Leonardo da Vinci airport) and the Ciampino International Airport. Ciampino is smaller and farther out of the city and caters to budget airlines.
Best time to visit
Rome is characterized by a Mediterranean climate with rain in the winter & spring months and hot dry summers. May might be the best month to visit Rome, in terms of the weather. It’s warm in May. From June to August, Rome is at its hottest and in August you might find that a lot of locals themselves get away from the Eternal City.
If you prefer cooler temperatures and don’t mind the showers, go sometime between September and November or April. And it’d be less crowded around these times of the year.
There’s plenty to do in Rome. So much so that you’ll want to throw coins into Trevi Fountain wishing to return to the capital city over and over. But even though this is a Rome travel guide, just in case you have some time to see more of Italy or you would like to fit in another destination or two into your Rome trip, there are a lot of places you can consider.
Florence and Pisa are a few hours away from Rome. Also doable are trips to Pompeii, Naples & Sorrento to the south. And if you’d like to pack in an island holiday, consider Capri or Ischia.