When in Rome, do as the Romans do – but only if the Romans eat ice cream, go clubbing and visit football stadiums!
Rome is one of the most popular European cities in terms of tourism, attracting between seven and ten million visitors each year. Filled with iconic landmarks that reflect the captivating history and heritage of the city, along with a stylish and contemporary atmosphere, the ‘Eternal City’ is truly a place of high culture that will leave a lasting impression on its visitors. With so much to see and do, here are some essential ways to get the most out of your time in the Italian capital.
9am – Sightseeing at the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Vatican City
It seems almost too obvious to mention, but no trip to Rome would be complete without visiting some of the major landmarks of the city. Connect with your inner gladiator at the Flavian Amphitheatre (more commonly known as the Colosseum) as you take in the atmosphere of this awe-inspiring monument that dates back to 72 AD. Also famous as a fortress, showground, religious shrine and site of public execution, this is a landmark that is steeped in history despite being partially destroyed by fire and earthquakes.
Just a stone throw away is the Roman Forum where you can marvel at the remains of some of the government buildings from the ancient city. Take a tour and hear stories about Julius Ceasar and the twins Romulus and Remus – the characters of the myth that Rome’s foundations are built upon.
If you’re able to venture further North into the city, then a trip to the Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world, is essential. Wander through the Vatican museums where you can take in over 70,000 pieces of priceless artwork including the infamous Sistine Chapel. And if you visit on a Wednesday morning you might be able to catch a glimpse of the Pope as he gives mass in nearby St. Peter’s Square.
11am – Peep through the Magic Keyhole
One of Rome’s better kept secrets in terms of tourist attractions, the magic keyhole is slightly outside of the centre of the city but definitely worth seeing. By exiting the subway at Circa Massimo and taking a short walk up the curved Aventine hill towards Via di Santa Sabina you will find yourself on a narrow street filled with ancient buildings, monasteries at the 5th century basilica. At the end of the road is the headquarters of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and by peering through the keyhole in the green gates to their gardens you can witness a spectacular view. The garden path is lined with foliage that perfectly frames the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in the faraway distance. A truly magical sight, it leaves many visitors wondering if and how the keyhole was designed so intricately to create this beautiful scenery. You really have to see it to believe it.
1pm – Gelato at San Crispino
Italy is famous for its hearty, flavoursome food and in particular its ice cream – or gelato. The multi award winning San Crispino parlour on Via della Panetteria is generally regarded to produce the best gelato in Rome and is definitely worth a taste. With eclectic flavours that change with the seasons, the parlour is so proud of the quality of its gelato that it refuses to serve cones as they can distort and alter the taste.
4pm – Stadio Olimpico
A stadium of a more contemporary nature, Stadio Olimpico is a must see for any sports fans. As the home of football clubs A.S Roma and S.S Lazio it holds particular relevance for football fanatics but was also host to the 1960 Olympic Games. When Italy won the football world cup in 1990, the stadium had a major refurbishment that means it now has a seating capacity of 70,000 people – 20,000 more than its ancient predecessor, the Colosseum!
The stadium located in Northern Rome, approximately 4km from the Vatican City and although it isn’t accessible on the city’s well used metro route, it can be reached easily by tram.
10pm – Clubbing at Testaccio
By exiting the metro at Pyramide, you can wander to Via di Monte Testaccio. This working class area is off the beaten tourist track, but boasts a lively clubbing district known locally as Rome’s night-life row. Here there are a variety of clubs including Akab – an enormous, underground cave where revellers can dance the night away in this unique and atmospheric setting. There are also open gardens for the warmer months and live acts regularly performing.
Although Caribbean and Hawaii cruises that often visit different islands are much more well known, you can just as easily pick up a Mediterranean cruise that will take your around all of the hotspots of Europe. Rome is without a doubt one of these hotspots and a city that has something for everyone whether that’s history, sport, nightlife or culture. Say ciao today!
Mandy Barraclough is a 29 year old travel writer from London who covers everything from travel insurance to cruises for a range of women’s magazines. She loves to travel and play tennis and has even written a brochure on the best places to play tennis around the world, taking into account, locations, costs, surface types and club rules.