Eternal Rome is the capital of Italy. It sits on the Tiber River in the Lazio region, and is the country’s largest and most populous city. The history of Rome spans a fascinating two and a half thousand years and has left an imprint on many a modern day culture. The Roman Empire dominated the whole of Western Europe and the Mediterranean including North Africa for more than seven hundred years from the 1st century BC until the 7th century AD. Rome’s Vatican City is the most important site for Catholics all over the world and the city has been home to the Pope since the 1stcentury AD.
Rome has always been one of the world’s greatest attractions and in 2007, it was 11th in the list of most visited places and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. The iconic sight of the Colosseum, and the Vatican Museums are amongst the world's 50 most visited tourist attractions.
Rome enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild spring and autumn seasons. Summer lasts about six months between May and October. August can be hot with the maximum temperature often exceeding 30 °C (86 °F) and October is known for being sunny and warm. The average high temperature in January is about 12.9 °C (55.2 °F), but there are warm spells when it climbs higher and subzero lows are not uncommon. Snowfalls occur rarely in winter.
Best Time to Travel
Until recently, most businesses in Rome closed during August, but with the rise of tourism attractions and restaurants remain open all year round. However it’s worth remembering that it can get very hot in high summer, and its labyrinth of ancient streets and attractions can become extremely crowded in high season. October is one of the best months to visit.
Rome is served by direct flights from across the world and hundreds of European connections. Once you’re in the city, there’s a comprehensive public transport system which makes getting around pretty simple. You’ll see more and experience the city at its best if you take the time to walk.
The Vatican City
A city within a city, this is the home of the Papal Residence, the magnificent St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and much, much more. You’ll have to queue for a long time, but it’s an experience never to be forgotten. This needs a full day.
Rome is one big, glorious gallery of treasures. In every church, chapel or square, you’ll find historic masterpieces that will take your breath away. Open doors and go in for half an hour.
The Spanish Steps
Byron and Shelley hung out here, and you can see where they lived, throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and spend an hour acting like you’re in the movies.
Take the bus
Ideally find an open-top bus which will give you a complete view of the city while also affording you views of the skyline to the hills beyond. Most trips take about an hour unless you choose to stop off.
Where to be
All the top names are here, check out via Condotti and via Borgognona at the foot of the Spanish Steps for designer, or just wander and brose for fabulous leather, vintage and jewellery.
Bars and Night Life
The Goa Club has a soft ethnic décor with a distinct chill-out vibe and a underground/tribal/hiphop soundtrack. The club is often closed for private parties, so ring ahead to check.
The St Regis Grand has been refurbished and now is one of the most sumptuous and dramatic bars in town. This is the place to chillax sitting in a comfy chair surveying proceedings through the bottom of a glass. Try a house special Negroni cocktail, made of vermouth, Campari and gin.
The Micca Club is a stylish new nightspot near Piazza Vittorio. DJs and live acts soffer a mix of jazz, funk and soul in a cavernous cellar. Open Thursday to Sunday.
Where to Stay
There are beautiful hotels all over the City, including the extravagant Hotel Eden and the fabulous Hotel Russie but for a taste of real Roman hospitality, take advantage of one of the myriad of boutique guesthouses and mini-hotels which are opening up all over the City.
Buonanotte Garibaldi in bar-and-restaurant-packed Trastevere. Is owned by artist Luisa Longo and has three rooms, each decorated with her own hand-painted fabrics, while Casa Montani in Piazzale Flaminio is one of the best of a recently opened guesthouses, mixing contemporary classic style and attention to detail with family-style accommodation.
What to Eat
Bar della Pace is a hang-out for local residents and Roman cinema and TV personalities who wait to be recognized. The best time for celebrity spotting is after dinner.
At Gelato di San Crispino, the Alongi brothers make and serve the best gelato in the City using seasonal fruit and time-honoured recipes.
Augustarello Testaccio consists of two simplistic rooms and a small summer garden. It’s in the heart of the community, and is proud of its uber-traditional Roman fare. It’s authenticity draws Romans from distant suburbs to eat here.
For a truly up-to date Roman experience, it has to be Da Gino. No frills is the name of the game here and you can enjoy steaming plates of spaghetti all'amatricana and rabbit stew washed down with a carafe of honest (i.e. rough) house wine. Don’t forget to try the Tiramisu.
For gourmet versions of Italy's famous pizza, head to La Gatta Mangiona, where they use extra-virgin olive oil, smoked mackerel and edible flowers among other ingredients.
For light healthy cuisine, the Tree Bar is a hangout for creative types. You’ll find it under the birch trees in a small park near the tramlines. There’s a popular DJ set on Mondays.
From classical concerts to chamber music, jazz to salsa and rock, the streets of Rome are alive day and night with musical recitals and performances.
The Teatro della Roma is home to some of the most fabulous operatic and ballet performances in the world.
Off the Beaten Track
Take a ferry along the Tiber. It’s cheap, practical and distinctly untouristy, rub shoulders with the locals and see the City from a new angle. An hour should do it.
Check out the Porta Portese flea market in Trastavere on Sundays. Pop in or spend all day.
Get a bus to the top of any one of Rome’s seven hills, and look down over the City. Stay until the evening and see the sun go down for real Roman magic.
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