Once the center of the vast Roman Empire, the Eternal City’s historical heritage remains front and center. Rome is full of ancient treasures—sculptures by Michelangelo, ruins of the famed Colosseum and Pantheon, and frescoes and fountains at every turn. Beyond the history, visitors will find Rome to be a modern capital city with busy streets, a vibrant nightlife and a culinary scene not soon to be forgotten.
Rome is a major financial, cultural and business center within the European Union. It’s dominated by service industries—telecommunications, IT and banking. Tourism, fashion and cinema are all chief drivers of the economy.
Getting to and from the airport
Rome’s Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Internaitonal Airport is 19 miles southwest of the city center. The easiest way to get into town is by train. The Leonardo Express departs every 30 minutes between 6:38 a.m. and 11:38 p.m. The journey to Stazione Termini in downtown Rome takes 30 minutes. The fare is €14 (US$15.37 using the exchange rate US$1 = €0.91) . SIT buses regularly depart Fiumicino for Stazione Termini from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tickets are available on the bus for €6 (US$6.59). The one-way trip takes an hour. Taxis to the city center carry a flat rate of €48 (US$52.70). Depending on traffic, the journey can take from 45 minutes to over an hour.
Getting around Rome
The city center is well suited to exploring on foot. Most of the famous attractions are walking distance from one another, and much of central Rome is traffic-free. If you need to venture further afield, try the metro. It runs from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and stays open until 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. A single fare is €1.50 (US$1.64) and can be purchased from convenience stores and vending machines at all stations.
It can be difficult to hail a taxi on busy roadways, so try to have your hotel or restaurant call one for you. Taxis are metered and start at €3 (US$3.29). A small tip for your driver is fine, but not necessary.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for luxury, full service accommodation, consider Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese (Via Lombardi 47, Rome 00187; Ph: +39-06-478021 or Hotel Indigo Rome St. George (Via Giulia 62, Rome 00186; Ph: +39-06-686611). Two upscale options are Worldhotel Ripa Roma (Via Degli Orti Di Trastevere 3, Rome 00153; Ph: +39-06-58611 and NH Roma Midas (Via Aurelia 800, Rome 00165; Ph: +39-06-663961). For midscale options, try Holiday Inn Rome (Via Aurelia Km 8400, Rome 00163; Ph: +39-06-66411200) or IBIS Styles Roma Eur (Viale Egeo 133, Rome00144; Ph: +39-06-94442000).
Things to see and do
The Vatican Museums are must-sees. The museums display some of the most iconic and important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. Originally just a small collection of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II, the museum has grown to over 65 galleries, including the stunning Sistine Chapel. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is €16 (US$17.55).
Soak up over 2,000 years of history with a walk through the ruins of the Colosseum. The landmark is easily the most distinguishable of Rome’s classical buildings. It was the first permanent amphitheater to be built in Rome. The Colosseum is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to one hour before sunset. Admission is €12 (US$13.16) and includes access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Don’t leave Rome without a stop at the Trevi Fountain. The scene of carved mythical figures and wild horses dominates Trevi square in the Quirinale district. Tradition has it that tossing a coin into the fountain ensures you’ll return to Rome. Whether you believe the legend or not, it’s comforting to know that all the coins tossed in the fountain go to charity. A restoration project was completed in 2015, so now the fountain shines brighter than it has in years.
The Villa Borghese Gardens are well worth exploring. Originally a humble vineyard, this large public park now contains a lake, botanical garden, amphitheater, fountains and the Villa Borghese Gallery. The park is the perfect place to find respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s open 24 hours a day, and admission is free.
Rome’s acclaimed opera company at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma performs classics and recent works. The venue also houses ballet performances and classical orchestra concerts. Tickets can be purchased for as low as €17 (US$18.64).
Where to eat
When in Rome, do as the Romans do and eat well. Whether you’re craving pizza, pasta or gelato, you’ll find delicious cuisine at hole-in-the-wall favorites, busy trattorias and fine-dining establishments.
The dishes from Aroma’s kitchen are a perfect blend of traditional Roman and Mediterranean flavors. On the rooftop of the Palazzo Manfredi hotel, the elegantly decorated restaurant offers breathtaking views of the Colosseum. Find it at Palazzo Manfredi, Via Labicana 125, 00184 Rome; Ph: +39 06 8535 4363.
In the heart of Rome, you’ll find the charming Ristorante Baccano and its diverse, seasonal menu ranging from oysters to burgers to pastas and antipasti. Locals and visitors to Rome praise the food, as well as the restaurant’s excellent service and friendly atmosphere. Find it at Via delle Muratte, 23; Ph: +39 06 69941166.
La Pergola, with three Michelin stars, offers an expertly prepared Mediterranean menu and an elegant dining space furnished with antiques and artwork. Enormous windows allow diners a view of the ancient wonders of Rome. Another wonder: La Pergola’s cellar contains 53,000 bottles of wine. It’s at Rome Cavalieri, Via Alberto Cadlolo 101, 00136 Rome; Ph +39 06 3509 2152.
After a busy day of sightseeing, Pizzarium is a great place to refuel. The famous pizza-by-the-slice joint sells scissor-cut squares by weight. Choose from a wide array of toppings to achieve your perfect combination. The non-assuming establishment can get pretty packed during lunch. Arrive before 12:30 p.m. or after 2:30 p.m. to avoid the crowds. Find it at Via della Meloria 43; Ph: +39 06 3974 5416.