Rome is affectionately known as the Eternal City, and the name is quite fitting since you would need at least a lifetime to experience everything this timeless metropolis has to offer. No other city can match the magical combination of ancient and modern that Rome seems to capture so effortlessly.
Rome is not only the capital of Italy but is also the fourth largest city in Europe. The city is located along the shores of the Tiber River in central western Italy. Founded in 753 B.C., Rome was built on seven hills, which provide visitors beautiful panoramic views of the many districts that make up the city.
There are four distinct seasons in Rome. Spring brings mild temperatures and light rains. Roman summers can get hot, but by September comes a welcome cool down. November is typically the wettest month, and winter brings light snow and cold temperatures.
Rome is mainly served by two airports: Rome Fiumicino – Leonardo da Vinci International Airport (IATA: FCO, ICAO: LIRF) and Rome Ciampino – G.B. Pastine International Airport (IATA: CIA, ICAO: LIRA). Rome Urbe Airport (IATA: none, ICAO: LIRU) is a small general aviation airfield. Peak season for Rome is during the summer, but the best time to visit Rome is September and October while temperatures are still pleasant, and the city is not so crowded.
Its innumerable ancient and historic sites, world-class museums and gardens, and superior shopping and entertainment venues are sure to tempt the traveler no matter what their desire may be. There are many districts in Rome, each with a personality and charm all their own.
With so much to see, I find that setting out on foot is the best way to experience Rome. If you start off with a basic itinerary and work your way around the city, you will be able to take in all the museums and historic sites you like without missing the real charm of the city which lies in its people and its cuisine. While there is plenty of history and art to be appreciated, hopefully you will have enough time on the ground to experience the Roman tradition of “la dolce far niente” (translates to: the sweetness of doing nothing).
Strolling through the Esquilino-Monti district, you will encounter Ancient Roman sites, such as the Coliseum and the Forum, and get a sense of what the city was like in the days of the Roman Empire. Make your way to the Piazza della Rotonda to visit The Pantheon, a Roman temple. It is the largest and best-preserved monument from this time. Afterward, stop at L’Antica Salumeria just outside the Pantheon steps and pick up a picnic lunch from their extensive selection of prosciuttos, cheeses and Panini or have a light lunch at one of the many trattorias that are in the piazza.
The Trevi Fountain is a widely-known attraction, so you will find that it is usually crowded with tourists. For a less crowded setting, wander over to the Piazza Navona, known as “Rome’s living room.” It has three beautiful fountains; the most famous of these is the central fountain: Bernini’s 17th-century Fountain of the Four Rivers. There are always various street performers and art displays in progress making it an enjoyable spot for people watching. The piazza is ringed by many small hotels, restaurants and cafes. Be sure to stop in at Bar Tre Scalini and sample their famous “tartufo al cioccolato” (chocolate-truffle ice cream) on a warm day.
If shopping is on your agenda, Via del Corso and the surrounding area, is the most popular destination. This mile-long street runs from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo and has a great variety of shops and department stores. The Via Condotti is Rome’s main street for haute couture. Valentino, Fendi and Bulgari have their flagship stores there as well as boutiques of many other Italian designers. It is located just across from the Spanish Steps, one of the Eternal City’s top meeting spots. If you are more interested in unique finds, visit the outdoor markets, flea markets and antique shops. These typically only open on certain days of the week, so be sure to check their schedule or ask your hotel concierge.
Rome is especially busy during the Lenten/Easter season in the spring, and there are many events during the summer months. Like the rest of Italy, the majority of Rome’s residents are Roman Catholic so you will find that many shops, restaurants and attractions close for religious holidays. Be mindful of holidays when ordering in-flight catering in Rome.
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