History, human genius and the hot midday sun have conspired to make Rome one of the world’s most seductive and thrilling cities.
With an artistic heritage dating back to Etruscan times, Rome is one of the world’s great art cities. Throughout history, it has played a starring role in the major upheavals of Western art and the results are there for all to see – amazing classical statues, stunning Renaissance frescoes, breathtaking baroque churches. Walk around the centre and even without trying you’ll come across masterpieces by the greats of the artistic pantheon – sculptures by Michelangelo, paintings by Caravaggio, frescoes by Raphael, fountains by Bernini. In Rome, art is not locked away from view, it’s quite literally all around you.
For much of its history Rome has been at the centre of world events, first, as caput mundi (capital of the world), the fearsome hub of the Roman Empire, then for centuries as the seat of papal power. It was a city that counted and this is writ large on its historic streets - martial ruins recall ancient glories, stately palazzi evoke Renaissance intrigue, towering basilicas testify to artistic genius and papal ambition. Elsewhere, underground temples, buried houses and maddonelle (roadside shrines) tell of past lives and local beliefs.
A trip to Rome is as much about lapping up the lifestyle as it is gorging on art and historic sights. And there’s no better way of getting into the local spirit of things than by eating and drinking well. Food and wine are central to Roman social life and the hundreds of pizzerias, trattorias, restaurants and gelaterie that crowd the city centre do as much business catering to locals as to tourists and out-of-towners. Do as the Romans do, says the proverb, and there’s nothing more Roman than enjoying a tasty wood-fired pizza in a packed pizzeria or dining al fresco on a glorious city-centre piazza.
But there’s more to Rome than history, fine art and great food. Rome is Italy’s capital and largest city, and while history reverberates all around, modern life is lived to the full. Rome is Italy’s political and religious heartbeat and the twin presence of government and Church dominates the city. Many city-centre palazzi house government offices while over in the Vatican the dome of St Peter’s Basilica serves to remind everyone of the pope’s presence. Political intrigue is thick in the air and as tourists tuck into their pasta politicians hunker down to hatch plots over spaghetti and wine.
Why I Love Rome
By Duncan Garwood, Author
Even after more than a decade of living in Rome, the city continues to amaze me. I still get a buzz every time I see the Colosseum and I still find it thrilling to visit places I read about as a school kid. But as much as the history, what I love is the way the city embraces the present, the way designer bars occupy 15th-century palazzi and neighbourhood markets take over beautiful historic piazzas. I also enjoy a good meal in a Roman trattoria, especially if accompanied by a bit of political banter and a bottle of local wine.
Best places to stay in Rome
Rome city guide
Rome's exhilarating streets are a sight all by themselves. You can lose yourself for hours exploring their hidden depths, discovering iconic monuments and awe-inspiring art at every turn.
Off the beaten track in Rome
From the Colosseum to the Sistine Chapel, Rome's headline acts need no introduction. But away from these historic crowd-pleasers, there are a host of lesser-known sights and neighbourhoods waiting to be discovered. Here's a selection of our favourites...
An epic, monumental city, Rome gets under your skin fast. Even on a short break, you’ll be smitten by its artistic masterpieces and iconic monuments, operatic piazzas and haunting ruins. Life is lived to the full here, and the city teems with...
Top things to do in Rome
Few cities evoke the sheer wonder and amazement of Rome. Ancient history, outstanding art and religious icons are around every corner and when it all gets too much you can just join the locals in sipping espresso in one of the city's many squares. With so much to see and do, the real test will be trying to fit it all in...
Best places to eat in Rome
Discover Rome travel guide
Rome is a seductive, thrilling city, created through the alchemy of history, genius and the hot Mediterranean sun.
Skip the Line: Ancient Rome and Colosseum Half-Day Walking Tour
Leave the crowds behind and head straight inside the Colosseum with your skip-the-line entrance ticket! In a group of no more than 25 people, explore the first and second tiers of this A-list attraction with a guide, learning about the gladiators who competed in the Colosseum’s gory gladiatorial games.
Pompeii and Amalfi Coast Small Group Day Trip from Rome
Take this incredible Rome day trip to the Amalfi Coast, and discover the dreamy coastal scenery that typifies this stunning area of southern Italy. Spend time at leisure in the picture-perfect towns of Amalfi and Positano, and then head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pompeii –the ancient town that was blanketed beneath a sea of Mount Vesuvius’ volcanic ash for centuries.
A perfect day in Trastevere, Rome's favourite neighbourhood
You’ve thrown coins into the Trevi Fountain and marvelled at the Colosseum – what next? Take a trip beyond the Tiber to Trastevere, a charming medieval neighbourhood with a fiery temperament...
Rome - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Rome starts here. You'll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on finding and enjoying Rome’s jaw-dropping artistic masterpieces.