Rome’s major sights – the great icons of its ancient past – are concentrated in a tightly packed area in the central heart of the city: the Colosseum, Palatino, Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill with its celebrated museums are all here, within easy walking distance of each other. Northwest lies the centro storico (historic centre), an area made for unhurried meandering with its labyrinth of medieval lanes, animated piazzas and art-laden churches. A-Blockbuster sights in this equally tourist-busy neighbourhood are the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo de’ Fiori and the historic Jewish Ghetto. The other neighbourhood for major sights is Tridente, Trevi and Quirinale, immediately north of the Centro Storico, where tourists flock to admire the iconic Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, and shop in Rome’s most fashionable shopping district.
Across the Tiber River is the Vatican, crammed with more of Rome’s most popular attractions, namely the Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Basilica. To the south, on the same ‘other’ side of the river, is Trastevere, a quaint cobbled maze of a neighbourhood peppered with exquisite churches, Renaissance palazzi (mansions) and more photo opportunities than you can shake a selfie stick at (please note: selfie sticks are officially banned in Rome museums). North of Trastevere rise the hilly slopes of Gianicolo, a tranquil and leafy area with some of Rome's finest views, Rome’s botanical gardens and some beautiful architecture.
A couple of largely unsung art museums and churches are squirrelled away in Esquilino, the area around Rome's central train station, Termini: one of Rome’s finest patriarchal basilicas in Santa Maria Maggiore, Michelangelo's Moses at San Pietro in Vincoli, and two masterpiece-packed outposts of the Museo Nazionale Romano. To the southeast, the student district of San Lorenzo and bohemian Pigneto, south again, are street-art hot spots.