Altare della Patria (Vittoriano Complex) – Built in honor of King Vittorio Emanuele II of Italy, this monument features stairways, Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian sculpture of the King, and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas. The structure is imposing, measuring 135m wide and 70m high, and features the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, built under the statue of goddess Roma. It is also an exhibition site, as well as a permanent collection on the Italian Risorgimento. An elevator to the rooftop terrace provides one of the best views in the city. Open daily, 9:30am–5:30pm. Piazza Venezia. €7, €3.50 reduced. ilvittoriano.com
Appia Antica – The Appia Antica, known in the past as the Regina Viarum (the queen of all roads), was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads. It connected Rome to Brindisi, and in its first section near Rome today, boasts the remains of important monuments such as the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, the Circus of Maxentius, the catacombs, and the churches of St. Sebastian Outside the Walls and Domine Quo Vadis. Tel 065126314. Free. viaappiaantica.com
Ara Pacis – The imposing altar devoted to peace by Emperor Augustus in 9 BC is housed in Richard Meier’s museum, the first work of contemporary architecture in the historic center since the Fascist Era. Open daily, 9:30am–7:30pm. Lungotevere in Augusta. €10.50, €8.50 reduced. arapacis.it
Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano – One of the most archaeologically interesting churches of Rome, the structure is a three-tiered complex, belonging respectively to the Roman, Early and Late Medieval periods, providing a perfect vision of the city’s artistic evolution. Via Labicana, 95. Tel 06774002. basilicasanclemente.com
Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – The oldest of the four Papal major basilicas, this structure was also the former residence of the popes until the papacy was transferred to Avignon in 1309. Facing the church, you can admire the red granite Lateran Obelisk, the tallest of all Roman obelisks. On the opposite side of the piazza stands the building containing the Scala Santa, thought to be the same flight of steps which Jesus ascended in the house of Pontius Pilate (brought to Rome by the Empress Helena), and the splendid Sancta Sanctorum, called “The Sistine of the Medieval Age.” Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano, 4. Tel 0669886433
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore – The fourth largest church in Rome and the largest dedicated to the Virgin Mary, this is the only basilica to retain its original shape, except for some decorations. According to legend, in August of 356, the Virgin appeared to Pope Liberius in a dream and ordered him to build a church on the site where it would snow the following day. The legend of the summer snow is represented in the medieval mosaics in the loggia of the portico. Piazza di S. Maria Maggiore, 42. Tel 0669886800
Baths of Caracalla – This monumental 3rd-century bath complex, once the center of Roman civic, social, and political life, was built by Emperor Caracalla. Learn the ancient techniques for heating water and imagine how it looked before it was stripped of its marble and mosaics. During the summer season, the Terme di Caracalla provide an impressive setting for operas. Open Tue–Sat, 9am–6:15pm; Mon, 9am–1pm. Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 52. €6, € 3 reduced. Tel 0639967700
Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) – This marble mask stands against the left wall of the portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. As a lie-detector from another time, it attracts thousands of visitors who audaciously stick their hand in the mouth. According to legend, a liar who puts his hand in the mouth will have it bitten off. Photograph fee required: €2. You can also visit the nearby round temple of Hercules Victor and the Temple of Portunus, one of the best preserved of all Roman monuments. Open daily, 9:30am–6pm. Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18.
Campidoglio (Capitoline hill) – One of the seven hills of Rome, the Capitoline Hill features Medieval and Renaissance palaces, which surround a Michelangelo-designed piazza with a bronze copy of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in the middle. Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli is located on the highest summit of the Campidoglio, reachable by a steep staircase counting 124 steps. Piazza del Campidoglio. Free.
Castel Sant’Angelo – Emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum, transformed into a majestic fortress centuries later, is now a museum. It is joined to the Vatican by the famous Passetto, a passageway which runs atop the wall that encircles the Vatican and used to be a secret escape for the popes. For the kids, there’s also an ancient weapon section. Open Tue–Sun, 9am–7:30pm. Lungotevere Castello, 50. €10, €5 reduced. Tel 39066896003. castelsantangelo.com
Catacombs – Miles of underground tunnels contain the remains and the graves of martyrs, saints, and citizens, buried in the early Christian era. The Christian catacombs are extremely important for the history of Early Christian Art, as they preserve the great majority of fresco, sculptures, and artifacts from before 400 AD. The Jewish catacombs, from the same period, are also significant. Open Thu–Tue, 9am–12noon, 2–5pm. Via Appia Antica, 110/126. Prices vary. Tel 065130151. catacombe.roma.it
Circus Maximus – The Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills. It was the first and largest stadium in Ancient Rome and its later Empire. Measuring 621 m in length and 118 m in width, it could accommodate over 150K spectators. In its fully developed form, it became the model for circuses throughout the Roman Empire. The site is now a public park and venue for big concerts. Via del Circo Massimo, 00186. Free.
Colosseum – Built in 70 AD, the Colosseum is the most iconic monument of Ancient Rome and the largest amphitheater ever built, with seating for 50k and a sail-like roof covering. It was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, wild animal hunts, executions, reenactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. Open daily, 8:30am–7:15pm. Piazza del Colosseo. €12, €7.50 reduced, inclu. admission to Palatine Hill/Roman Forum. Tel 0639967700
Pantheon – The city’s only architecturally intact monument from classical times was constructed by Agrippa in 27 BC and rebuilt by Hadrian in 117–125 AD. In 608 AD, it was transformed into a Christian church. The interior measures 43.4 m in width and height. Light and air (and even rain) enter through the opening at the top. It contains the tombs of King Vittorio Emanuele and Raphael. Open daily, 9am–7:30pm, Sun until 6pm. Piazza della Rotonda. Free. Tel 0668300230
Piazza Colonna – This monumental piazza owes its name to the triumphal column of Marcus Aurelius, a marble doric column featuring an elaborated spiral relief. It was built in honor of emperor Marcus Aurelius, and modeled on Trajan’s column, to celebrate the victory of the Roman armies over the Marcomanni in the year 176 DC. Its north side is taken up by the imposing Palazzo Chigi, seat of the Italian government.
Piazza del Popolo – This enormous, architecturally superb, and perfectly symmetrical square is dominated by an Egyptian obelisk and features the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, which boasts masterpieces by Caravaggio and Pinturicchio.
Piazza Navona – One of the most beautiful squares in Rome, this jewel of the Roman baroque boasts Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, which encompasses an Egyptian obelisk and a sculpture of four river gods. Two other magnificent fountains decorate the piazza: the fountain of the Moor, designed by Giacomo Della Porta with tritons, dolphins, and aquatic creatures, and the Fountain of the Neptune, also created by Giacomo Della Porta, which is dominated by the God of the Sea and marine elements.
Pyramid of Cestius – Built as a tomb for Gaio Cestio Epulone, a magistrate of ancient Rome who was fond of Egypt’s culture and art, this structure of brick-faced concrete and slabs of white marble stands on a travertine foundation. The pyramid measures 29.6 m square at the base and stands 37 m high. Due to its incorporation into the city’s fortifications, and also to the recent restoration, it is one of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome. Visits by appointment only. Open Mon–Fri, 9am–1pm and 2pm–5pm; Saturday, 9am–2pm. Via Raffaele Persichetti. €7.50. Tel 0639967700
Quirinal Palace – The immense Palace of Italian President, once residence of popes and kings, is open to visitors by appointment. See Cappella Paolina, Sala dei Corazzieri, and works by Borromini, Reni, da Cortona, da Forlì, and more. Open Tue, Wed, Fri–Sun, 9:30am–4pm. Piazza del Quirinale. Free. Guided tour: €10, €5 reduced. Tel 0646991
Piazza Barberini – One of the most elegant and airy piazza of the city centre, gateway to Via Veneto, is embellished by the famous Bernini’s Fountain of the Triton (1643) and diagonally across by the graceful Fountain of the Bees, erected in honor of the aristocratic Barberini family.
Roman Forum/Palatine Hill – The heart of Ancient Rome holds the Arch of Titus, the Temple of Saturn, the House of the Vestal Virgins, and more. Climb the Palatine Hill to find the Domus Flavia and the Museo Palatino. A 1st-century ramp that leads from the Roman Forum up the Palatine Hill is now officially open to the public following a long restoration project. Open daily, 9am–sunset. House of Augustus: Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun, 8:30am–1:30pm. €12 incl. admission to Colosseum, European kids under 18 free.
Spanish Steps – The most famous staircase in the world, with its sinuous flight of steps (1772), is finally open again after renovations. Climb the stairs for a fantastic view of the city and visit the stunning Trinità dei Monti church at the very top. At its feet is the graceful Fountain of the Barcaccia by Bernini, from which begins Via Condotti, the most exclusive shopping street in Rome. Piazza di Spagna.
St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican – The greatest church in the world, this popular attraction houses artistic masterpieces, such as Michelangelo’s Pietà and Bernini’s Baldacchino. Michelangelo’s mighty silver-blue dome dominates the grandiose scene, while Bernini’s Colonnade forms the solemn entrance to the Vatican and the Christendom. Open daily, 7am–6pm. Free. Tel 066982 .The Vatican houses the most important museum of Rome, with an incomparable collection of Egyptian, Etruscan, Roman, Renaissance, and baroque art. It includes works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Canova, and many more. The Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo is regarded as one of the major artistic accomplishments of human civilization. Open Mon–Sat, 8:30am–6pm, last entrance 4pm. Viale del Vaticano. €16, €8 reduced. Free last Sun of each month, 9am–12:30pm. Tel 0669884676. museivaticani.va
San Pietro in Vincoli – The church, located in the Esquiline neighborhood, houses the chains used by Herod to hold Peter and the statue of Moses by Michelangelo, one of the absolute masterpieces of all times. One well known legend states that, when finishing the Moses, Michelangelo violently hit the knee of the statue with a hammer, shouting, “Why don’t you speak to me?” St. Peter’s Square in Vincoli, 4/a. Tel 0697844952
Theater of Marcellus – Conceived by Julius Caesar, this open-air theater was a popular spot for Romans to watch performances of drama and songs. The building was the largest and most important theater in Ancient Rome; it could originally hold between 11K and 20K spectators. Nowadays, the upper floors are divided into multiple apartments, and its surroundings are used as a venue for summer concerts. The Portico d’Ottavia lies to the north west leading to the Roman Ghetto and the Tiber lies to the south west. Via del Teatro di Marcello
Trajan’s Markets and Trajan’s Forum – The semicircular market was ancient Rome’s mall and an office building. The shops and apartments were built in a multi-level structure and it is still possible to visit several of the tiers. The site also houses an archaeology museum, and occasional contemporary installations. The nearby Trajan’s Forum holds the triumphal Trajan’s Column, famous for its spiral bas relief, which artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and the Dacians. Open daily, 9:30am–7:30pm. Via IV Novembre, 94. €14, €12 reduced
Trevi Fountain – Architect Nicola Salvi’s iconic fountain, celebrating the triumph of waters with the imperious statue of Oceano dominating the scene, is newly restored and finally reopened to the public. Make sure to toss a coin or two into its famous waters to assure your return to Rome. Piazza di Trevi. Free.
Museums and main exhibition spaces
Capitoline museums – The oldest public museum in the world houses Roman antiquities and works by Bernini, Cavalier d’Arpino, Guercino, Caravaggio, and more. Open daily, 9:30am–7:30pm. Piazza del Campidoglio, 1. €15, €13 reduced. museicapitolini.org
Centrale Montemartini – Over 400 ancient sculptures, as well as sarcophagi, mosaics, and other artifacts, are displayed in one of Rome’s first power plants. Dozens of previously archived works are now part of the permanent collection. Open Tue–Sun, 9am–7pm. Viale Ostiense, 106. €7.50, €6.50 reduced. centralemontemartini.org
Chiostro del Bramante – This exhibition space is housed in Bramante’s cloister of Santa Maria della Pace church. It hosts temporary exhibits by important international artists. Open daily, 10am–8pm; Sun until 9pm. Via della Pace. €13, €11 reduced. Tel 0668809035. chiostrodelbramante.it
Galleria Borghese – Arguably the most beautiful museum in the city, this space includes works by Bernini, Correggio, Titian, Canova, Raphael, and Caravaggio. Open Tue–Sun, 8:30am–7:30pm. Piazzale S. Borghese, 5. €8.50, €5.25 reduced. Tel 068413979. galleriaborghese.beniculturali.it
Galleria Doria Pamphilj – This rich collection includes works by major Italian artists such as Titian, Raphael, Correggio, Caravaggio, Guercino, Reni, and Bernini. Open daily, 9am–7pm. Via del Corso, 305. €12, €8 reduced. Tel 066797323. doriapamphilj.it
MACRO – This contemporary art museum is located in former Peroni beer factory and is the seat of important art exhibitions. Open Tue–Sun, 10:30am–7:30pm. Via Nizza, 138. €10, €8 reduced. museomacro.org
MACRO Testaccio – Macro’s Future branch is located in a former slaughterhouse. Open Tue–Sun, 4pm–10pm. Piazza Orazio Giustiniani, 4. €6, €5 reduced. museomacro.org
MAXXI – This Museum of 21st-century art showcases the latest trends in art and architecture. Open Tue–Sun, 11am–7pm, (Thu until 10pm). Via Guido Reni, 4a. €12, €7 reduced, kids under 14 free. Tel 063201954. maxxi.art
Museum of Rome at Palazzo Braschi – Paintings, drawings, and photographs tell the evolution of Rome from the Middle Ages to today. Open Tue–Sun, 10am–7pm. Via di San Pantaleo, 10. €9, €7 reduced. museodiroma.it
Museum of Rome in Trastevere – A former convent accommodates Rome’s folklore museum, with permanent collections on the history of Trastevere and photography exhibits. Open Tue–Sun, 10am–8pm. Piazza Sant’Egidio, 1b. €7.50, €6.50 reduced. museodiromaintrastevere.it
Museums of Villa Torlonia – Set in a lush park, three museums, Casino Nobile, Casino dei Principe, and Casina delle Civette showcase a variety of works from ancient sculptures to art glass. Open Tue–Sun, 9am–7pm. Via Nomentana, 70. €10, €8 reduced. museivillatorlonia.it
National Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia – Explore Etruscan art at a spectacular villa near Villa Borghese. Open Tue–Sun, 8:30am–7:30pm. Piazzale di Villa Giulia, 9. €8, €4 reduced. Tel 063226571. villagiulia.beniculturali.it
National Gallery of Ancient Art at Palazzo Barberini – This baroque palace hosts one of Rome’s most important collections, including Raphael’s Fornarina and works by Holbein, Bronzino, Caravaggio, and more. Open Tue–Sun, 8:30am–7pm. Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13. €10, €5 reduced. Tel 064814591. galleriabarberini.beniculturali.it
National Gallery of Ancient Art at Palazzo Corsini – This building houses part of the national art collection, and is decorated with frescoes and trompe l’oeils. The collection includes works of Guercino, Carracci, Rubens, and Fra Angelico. Open Wed–Mon, 8:30am–7:30pm. Via della Lungara, 10. €10, €5 reduced. Tel 0668802323. barberinicorsini.org
National Gallery of Modern Art (GNAM) – The largest collection of Italian art from the 19th and 20th centuries features works by Boccioni, De Chirico, Modigliani, Van Gogh, Klimt, Klee, and Mirò. Open Tue–Sun, 8:30am–7:30pm. Viale delle Belle Arti, 131. €10, €5 reduced. Tel 06322981. lagallerianazionale.com
National Roman Museum at Palazzo Altemps – This Renaissance palace houses collections of ancient Roman statues that once belonged to great Roman families. Open Tue–Sun, 9am–7:45pm. Piazza Sant’Apollinare, 46/48. €11, €7.50 reduced. Tel 0639967700
National Roman Museum at Palazzo Massimo – This ancient art collection consists of Imperial busts, Roman statues,mosaics, sarcophagi, and breathtaking frescoes. Open Tue–Sun, 9am–7:45pm. Largo di Villa Peretti, 1. €11, €7.50 reduced. Tel 0639967700
Rome’s Gallery of Modern Art – Italian and international works by 20th-century artists make up this museum, which features sculptures, paintings, and applied art by Manzù, Donghi, Tato, Capogrossi, De Chirico, Guttuso, and Scipione. Open Tue–Sun, 10am–6pm. Via Francesco Crispi, 24. €6.50, €5.50 reduced. Tel 6322981. lagallerianazionale.com
Scuderie del Quirinale – The former stables of the Quirinale Palace are now a space for major art and history exhibits. Open daily, 10am–8pm; Fri, Sat, 10am–10:30pm. Via XXIV Maggio, 16. €12, €9.50 reduced. Tel 0639967500. scuderiequirinale.it
Vatican Museums – The Vatican houses the most important museum of Rome, with an incomparable collection of Egyptian, Etruscan, Roman, Renaissance, and baroque art. It includes works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Canova, and many more. The Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo is regarded as one of the major artistic accomplishments of human civilization. Open Mon–Sat, 8:30am–6pm, last entrance 4pm. Viale del Vaticano. €16, €8 reduced. Free last Sun of each month, 9am–12:30pm. Tel 0669884676. museivaticani.va
Villa Farnesina – This Renaissance villa was designed by Baldassarre Peruzzi and Giulio Sangallo with frescoes by Raphael and his atelier. Open Mon–Sat, 9am–2pm. Guided visits in English: Sat, 10am. Via della Lungara, 230. €6, €5 reduced. Tel 0668027268. villafarnesina.it
Once you’ve got a grasp of Rome’s distinct neighborhoods, you’ll be able to navigate the city like a local.
> Historic Center
The heart of Rome, here you’ll find the top tourist attractions like Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona.
> Via Veneto
Rome’s most glamorous neighborhood, this is the site of la dolce vita and the Roman high life of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Sip a cocktail in one of the famous sidewalk “living rooms” or at the bar of a grand hotel.
Rome’s oldest neighborhood, Monti is a sloping area wedged in between the Quirinal and Esquiline Hills. There may not be an excess of sights here, but it exudes picturesque charm and has some of the best eats in the city.
A patch of medieval criss-crossing streets just south of the Vatican, this cozy neighborhood offers hidden boutiques and teashops, the perfect respite after a long day of sightseeing.
Once a working-class neighborhood, Trastevere is the “heart of Rome”, where popular traditions are still alive. Take a stroll an get lost down its winding cobblestone streets, where one can get the authentic sense of the old city and find a typical restaurant as well.
> Jewish Ghetto
This quaint neighborhood is one of Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish communities, and was a walled-in ghetto from 1555 to 1888. Its many restaurants serve traditional Jewish-Roman cuisine and its towering synagogue is also a rich museum. In the vicinity you can find Campo de’ Fiori square, one of the most lively and colorful corner of the city
> Esquiline Hill
Rome’s most international neighborhood is home to the colorful Piazza Vittorio Market. Find produce from around the world at the market, or sample authentic Asian cuisine from one of the area’s casual eateries.
> Aventine Hill
This neighborhood is leafy, quiet, and surprising residential considering its position just steps from the most important ancient sites of the city. Peek through the legendary Keyhole of the Knights of Malta and tour its medieval churches.
The area around is worth the exploration. Go visit lesser-known sites like Basilica San Clemente or Nero’s Golden Palace and following with a meal at a small osteria hidden down a side street.
Prati was planned and built at the turn of the last century, and with its broad grid-patterned streets, it can sometimes seem more like Paris or Madrid than Rome. It’s the ideal place for an afternoon of shopping after a long morning at the Vatican.
A paradise for lovers of traditional Roman cuisine, this neighborhood possesses some of the most authentic osterie in town. At night Via del Monte di Testaccio comes alive with dozens of nightclubs lining the entire street.
Rome’s most elegant and exclusive residential area, just north of the center of town, Parioli is only a few steps from Villa Borghese park and offers genteel shopping and chic dining options.
> San Giovanni
This surprisingly low-tourist-traffic area is home to San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome’s cathedral. Visit the massive church then climb the Holy Staircase next door for a chance to ogle the Sancta Sanctorum, one of the city’s true hidden gems.
> San Lorenzo
Former working class neighborhood and the only area of Rome to be bombed during WWII, San Lorenzo is now popular with students due to its proximity to La Sapienza University, and is home to numerous bars and nightclubs.
This stark white neighborhood was entirely designed in the Fascist style for the 1942 World’s Fair that never happened. The design of the project was inspired by Roman Empire architecture with modern elements which came from Italian rationalism. Visit the Planetarium or the brand new Nuvola Congress centre and marvel at the Square Colosseum—the iconic symbol of EUR.
The easiest way to dive into Rome’s lush greenery is to visit one of the city’s many “lungs”, the marvelous villas.
Villa Ada is the city’s wildest green space, and the perfect spot to find tranquillity and isolation.
The most celebrated and easily accessible villa is Villa Borghese on the Pincian hill. Take a walk through its intricate gardens or go rowing at the romantic Giardino del Lago.
Near the Colosseum, for a combination of nature and archeology, this beautiful villa is littered with Roman ruins, including sarcophagi, sculptures, and even an obelisk.
Situated on the Janiculum Hill, it is Rome’s largest landscaped park at over 450 acres, and a favorite with runners and picnickers alike.
In Monteverde, Villa Sciarra may be small, but it’s overflowing with vine-covered grottoes, luxuriant fountains, and secluded corners.
Don’t miss the manicured grounds of Villa Torlonia designed by neoclassical architect Giuseppe Valadier and home to the Art Nouveau Casina delle Civette, with its fantastical stained-glass windows