The Eternal City is a magnet for international pilgrims and travellers, who bask in its glorious, often bloody history, visit its collection of museums and galleries, soak up the sun in its ancient piazzas and dine at some of Europe’s top restaurants.
The legacy of the Roman Empire has left a lasting impression on modern society, but nothing evokes the feeling of that ancient power than beholding Rome’s abundance of timeless ancient buildings and ruins first hand. Welcome to Rome!
It is to the centre of the old city (centro storico), where the majority of the medieval and Renaissance architecture can be found, that tourists flock. Edged by the meandering River Tiber, there is a never-ending collection of fountains, piazzas and churches, as well as plenty of excellent bars, cafés and restaurants.
At its heart sits the mighty Pantheon. Completed by Emperor Hadrian in around 126AD, it is one of Rome’s best preserved buildings and still functions as a Catholic church; it is also the last resting place of the artist Raphael.
From the Pantheon, cross the river and discover St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter’s Basilica is probably the world’s most famous work of Renaissance architecture and is where the Pope delivers his sermons to the masses.
The Vatican City is home to the Pope and a treasure trove of art, artefacts and architecture amassed over the millennia. The Vatican Museum, meanwhile, is one of the world’s most visited destinations and houses sculptures such as the Laocoön, a vast collection of Renaissance frescoes in the Raphael Rooms and, of course, the Sistine Chapel, celebrated for Michelangelo’s iconic ceiling.
Head south and find the Roman Forum ruins, where returning generals would hold their victory parades. From the Forum, it’s just a ten-minute walk to the Colosseum. Completed in 80AD, the mighty Colosseum is a true symbol of Imperial Rome and for centuries seated up to 80,000 Romans who bathed in the blood and gore of gladiator games, executions, re-enactments of famous battles and dramas.
For more peaceful beauty, visit the Trevi fountain. Designed by Salvi and completed in 1762, the fountain, which has featured in countless films, took 30 years to build and stands over 26m high.
With so much to see, guided tours are an excellent option; so why not check out the city’s official website for more details.
Stylish A List Cuisine
For the well-heeled gourmand, Rome offers an abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants serving international, Mediterranean and traditional Roman cuisines. Whatever you desire, stunning rooftop terraces, opulent historical buildings or chic modern venues, Rome will have it!
A favourite with international celebrities, the city’s only three-Michelin starred restaurant, La Pergola, is situated in the lavish Rome Cavalieri Hotel. With a backdrop of rare art and antiques, Heinz Beck serves up creative Mediterranean dishes backed by a 60,000 plus bottle wine cellar. Through the panoramic windows or from the candlelit terrace, the dome of St. Peter’s seems close enough to touch.
Michelin-starred Imàgo, at Hotel Hassler, is another A list restaurant offering superb Italian cuisine. Helmed by award-winning Francesco Apreda, who presents a sophisticated seasonal menu, Imàgo’s sixth floor location gives a spectacular rooftop panorama of ancient Rome.
Chef Fabio Ciervo, helms the sumptuous one-Michelin star all-day eatery La Terrazza dell’Eden situated on the top floor of The Dorchester Collection, Hotel Eden. With breathtaking views over the city, the restaurant offers a delicious menu focused on fresh, seasonal produce crammed with locally caught fish and seafood, plus Roman-style meats.
For those seeking traditional yet sophisticated Roman flavours and dishes, the Michelin-starred Agata e Romeo is the place to go.
But Rome’s gastro scene is not just about fine dining; the elegant Piazza Navona and Piazza del Popolo are legendary for café culture and coffee, while the city has a multitude of excellent family options.
For socialites, the place to see and be seen is the The Stravinskij Bar at the Hotel de Russie, one of Europe’s oldest cafés, where the espresso served with candied walnuts is as legendary as its patrons.