Rome, the Eternal City, is one of the most amazing cities in the world for good reason. There are so many incredible historic buildings and it’s easy to see cool sites without trying hard. While living there I compiled a list of some of the less famous, but sometimes more interesting places to go and things to do, as well as some tips on how to get the most out of your trip.
The legendary founding of Rome goes back to 753 B.C when it was founded by brother Romulus and Remus, but there is archeological evidence that humans have inhabited the 7 hills of Rome for 14,000 years. More recently 1, it was the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. In 1946 is became the capital of the Italian Republic.
Living in Rome
I’ve been to Rome many times, including twice living there for a couple of months to study Italian. I’ve gotten to know the city in a way most tourists don’t (but still have a lot more to discover). That’s one of the advantages of living in a city, rather than passing through on a whirlwind tour.
Every time I visit Rome, I learn something new about the city, it’s history and humankind. The sounds grandiose, but so much has happened in Rome, it’s hard not to think about the human condition, where we’ve come from, what drives us and where we stand in the world. For example, the first time I lived in Rome I lived a few blocks from the Milvian Bridge. 2Read about the famous battle here: Battle of the Milvian Bridge.
I had learned about the famous battle that took place on that bridge and how it changed the world, so standing on that bridge eating a gelato, I couldn’t help but think about what took place there and how the world, me and everything I know is different because of it. That’s what happens when you learn about Rome and it’s history. It’s not just about the ancient Romans. Or as the faux Roman Maximus said in “Gladiator,” what we do in life echoes in the eternities.
Below I’ve compiled a list of resources that will help you get the most out of Rome. If I’ve missed anything, please contact me and let me know.
Getting from the Airport
The airport is about an hour away from the city, so get a shuttle or pay more for a taxi or Uber.
Shuttle Service: Call Fabrizio (+39) 3126.96.36.1992
Da Tony - Hostaria Del Moro in Trastevere Vicolo Del Cinque, 35 Tel 06.580915 email@example.com Closed Mondays
Salvi a San Lorenzo – 58 Degli Equi Little restaurant near the Aurelian Walls. Great food. Order the Millefolie
Ginger – Very hip. Just off Via del Corso. Spanish Steps at end of street (or a couple streets north).
Via Borgognona 43/44 00187 Roma firstname.lastname@example.org
Matricianella – Via del Leone 4 Roma www.matricianella.it Try the chocolate mousse or the tartufo.
Personal tours given by an art historian. Excellent. She does tours of most everything in Rome, although is an art historian so things like the art and galleries of the city are her favorites.
Elizabeth Lev.. Email: email@example.com. She books far in advance.
Learn Some History
Best podcast of Roman history by far is the History of Rome or download on iTunes. If you have limited time listen to Episode #1, then skip to #39 (Julius Caesar), #80 (Trajan, not because it’s my namesake, but because the Empire was at the height of its power under this emperor, who is considered #2 or #3 best in Roman history behind Julius Caesar and maybe Constantine), #88 (daily life in Rome)
Episode #117 is about the Aurelian’s Walls. You’ll see these all over the city, so it’ll be more interesting to know their history. #132 and #133 (Constantine and the battle for the Milvian Bridge. A battle the changed the history of the Western world. You can easily visit the bridge in Rome.)
If you have more time: #22, #23 (War with Hannibal, who was general of the Empire’s nemesis Carthage and one of the most famous generals in history, known for crossing the Alps with Elephants to attack Rome (he stopped outside the city).
Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling – Best book I’ve read on the Sistine Chapel and 16th century. Highly recommend reading it before seeing the Chapel.
Rick Steve’s – A Helpful Resource for any European Trip
Guides, Video and Audio Tours and other helpful resources. Audio tours are great to download and listen to right before you go there. Rick is the best known expert on European travel for good reason. He really knows his stuff and we saw why firsthand.
We met Rick in a restaurant. We were eating and he walked from table to table asking people how they liked it and if they had any recommendations. My friend didn’t know who he was asked asked him if he was some sort of travel blogger.
Tip: Get 1 pass for Colosseum, Forum (cheaper).
Cool free stuff to see that people overlook:
● Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses
● Caravaggio’s in various churches, especially Santa Maria del Popolo: . He was a pioneer in the use of light in paintings and it’s obvious and incredible when viewed adjacent to other works.
● The Keyhole (go at dusk) - look through a keyhole that lines up with a view of St. Peters. Cool neighborhood too. Adjacent park, the Lemon Tree Park? has great view of Rome.
● The churches in this list are in order of priority, except I’d put St. Lazar at the top. Otherwise, if you have limited time, start at the top of the list (after you see St. Ignatius).
● However, besides St. Peter’s, many people say St. Ignatius (wiki) has the best ceiling in Rome and is a must see: It’s my favorite church, even more than St. Peters. The ceiling is incredible and the faux dome is like nothing I’ve ever seen. They couldn’t afford a dome, so they painted the ceiling to look like one instead.