Rome is nearly as old as civilization itself. Indeed, it has earned the nickname “The Eternal City.” Founded more than 2,600 years ago, it was ruled by kings in its early centuries. With time, the people ousted the royal lineage and established a republic ruled by a senate and a yearly elected consul. This form of government endured for nearly 500 years and laid the foundations for today’s democracies.
The ancient Roman Empire once spanned from Britain to Egypt. From the first emperor, Augustus Caesar, to the last, Romulus Augustulus, Rome’s leaders had a penchant for conquest, and each new territory added to the empire’s vast wealth.
However, the great European migrations that spanned several hundred years after the 1st century AD – and the armies they generated – were eventually too imposing for the Roman army to overcome. The Visigoths overtook Rome in 476.
Today, Rome is one of the most engaging and historically significant cities in the world. The capital of Italy, it is a bustling city of nearly 3 million people where the ancient world seamlessly mingles with the modern, and where vestiges of empire appear around every corner.
Rome Lifestyle and Culture
Most casual visitors think of Rome as ancient. And while it’s certainly true that some of Rome’s most prominent attractions are its historic landmarks, today’s Rome is vibrant with activity. It enjoys a lively theater scene and plenty of opportunities to catch live music. In its galleries, you’ll find artwork that pays homage to the area’s rich and storied history, but you’ll also come across works that diverge sharply from tradition, capturing a vital and inspired spirito all their own.
Rome has always been a stylish place. The city’s innovative designers rival those in Milan for their ability to raise Italian fashion to a whole new level.
When in Rome, be sure to see all the popular attractions, but get to know the real Rome, as well. Exploration off the beaten path leads to richly rewarding experiences and unexpected moments that you won’t find in a postcard shop.
Rome Sights and Landmarks
There are countless sights to explore in Rome. Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura is the third-largest church in the world, and its grand ornate majesty has few rivals in Italy’s capital. It may not be as popular as St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, but the lines are much shorter and visitors say it is every bit as grand.
The Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola is worth a visit. Its ceiling paintings are lush and so richly rendered that they appear three-dimensional, seeming to stretch up to the heavens.
The Coliseum, one of Rome’s greatest architectural feats, is still the largest amphitheater in the world. During its heyday, it was capable of hosting more than 60,000 spectators who came to see spectacles both dazzling and macabre. Today, you won’t see mock sea battles or mythological dramas, but you can almost hear the cheering throngs.
The Pantheon is one of the most impressive extant monuments of ancient Rome and one of the best preserved, from the sheen of its marble work to its impressive interior dome. Pick up a gelato from one of the many nearby street vendors to keep you cool as you wait to get inside.
Rome Entertainment and Activities
There are nearly as many ways to experience Rome as there are places to see. You can rent an electric bike from Pedego Roma and pedal your way through the winding streets on your own or with a guide. Take a walking tour or see the city by limousine. If you’re feeling adventurous, see the sights in a rented Ferrari from RomaINFerrari, or experience Rome’s underwater world with Big Blue Divers.
If you want to experience Rome by night, visit Gregory’s for classy cocktails and smooth jazz. To sample some of Italy’s best wines, stop by Il Piccolo, a wine bar whose extensive list includes the finest vino around.
Tour the Vatican with Avventure Bellissime Rome. Their guides are among the most knowledgeable and friendly, and travelers say they come away with a whole new appreciation for the area’s history.
Rome Restaurants and Shopping
The culinary scene in Rome leaves nothing to be desired. Many locals and travelers swear by Likeat, calling it the best sandwich shop in all of Rome with great prices. The bread is homemade, the meat is cooked to perfection, and the staff is friendly.
Competition for the hearts of Rome’s pizza lovers is fierce. Pinsere Roma, Zizzi Pizza, Io e Valter Pizzeria Le Torri and Ristoro La Dispensa all make delicious pies that are both traditional and creative.
If you’d like an American burger, try Fonzie Burger House. Here, you can get a kosher traditional burger and fries, or try adventurous toppings and combinations.
Rome offers irresistible shopping opportunities. Early in the morning, head to the Trionfale Market, a residential market with dazzling displays of fruits, vegetables and locally produced clothing and souvenirs. For an authentic Roman market experience, check out Paciotti Salumeria, the gold standard for Roman food products.
Around Piazza di Spagna, in the shadow of the famed Spanish Steps, you’ll find flagship stores of the very best Italian design houses, including Versace, Prada, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana. For good values on mementos for friends and family back home, Via Nazionale is a collection of shops offering everything from Italian coffee ware to antiques.
View Cruises to Rome