With a history of thousands of years, Rome never gets outdated in our bucket lists. There’s something incredibly charming about this ancient empire, which incorporates present values in its glorious past. The Eternal City always has a special place in the hearts of those who have visited it. And for those who haven’t had the chance yet, here’s a primer on why you need to visit Rome at the first opportunity.
World-famous historic sights
We cannot talk about Rome without mentioning architectural wonders such as the Pantheon, the Colosseum, and the Fontana di Trevi. The Pantheon (Temple to Gods) is the best-preserved monument of the ancient Roman empire. But the structure is mostly admired for its unsupported dome with a diameter of 43.3 m — the largest in the world. What impressed us though is the natural light that only comes through the top oculus. In spite of the Colosseum’s barbaric connotations of slavery and fighting, the amphitheatre is one of the most visited sites in Rome.
You don’t have to be romantic to appreciate the beauty and legends surrounding the Fontana di Trevi in the Quirinale district. In 2013, the Fendi fashion house spent $2.2 million for the restoration of the fountain, which now sparkles. The Italian charity Caritas collects the coins that visitors throw into the water over their shoulders. Fitting all of Rome’s sights into your trip can be a challenge. To save time and money, consider purchasing one of the Rome visitors’ passes. Some of them even authorize you to “skip-the-line.”
High fashion and style
You’d be hard-pressed to wander around Rome without being drawn by sophisticated boutiques, one-named designers, and stylish individuals. Rome’s culture and vibrancy have inspired fashion titans such as Valentino, Bulgari, and Fendi to establish their fashion houses in the city. If you want to experience firsthand the thrill of a fashion show, keep an eye on Accademia Costume & Moda’s seasonal events. Also, Alta Roma supports emerging local designers and promotes the “made in Italy” quality with exhibitions, round the table discussions, and fashion shows of course.
However, for a holistic fashion experience, stroll down Via Condotti street, starting at Piazza di Spagna in front of the Spanish Steps. On Via Condotti, you will come across the biggest fashion names — Prada, Furla, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Max Mara, Zegna. Don’t fret if you can’t afford to buy anything. The windows are art of statement that you will be glad you didn’t miss. Plus, you can enjoy your gelato while looking from outside at the artistically displayed items.
Art is everywhere in Rome; not only in museums and galleries but also in churches and public spaces. It is not possible to see every single masterpiece Rome has to offer. However, the works of the Renaissance and Baroque eras are a good start. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling in the Vatican City is by far the highlight of a visit to Rome. Also, in St. Peter’s Basilica interior you can find sculptures by Michelangelo, including Pietà — his only signed work. In the city center, the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli is home to Michelangelo’s two-meter tall marble sculpture of Moses.
Caravaggio may have been criticized for his rebellious life, but undeniably he has produced some of the most exemplary Baroque paintings. In the Church of St. Louis of the French you can admire at Caravaggio’s dramatic representation of the Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. For more profound Roman art, visit the Musei Capitolini, the collections of which have primarily originated in Rome.
Many songs, scripts, and books are dedicated to the concept of dolce vita, the sweet life. Regardless of where we come from, we are all keen on leading a carefree lifestyle, which bears the characteristics of an endless vacation. But in reality, it’s not as easy as it may sound. However, a visit in Rome and some interactions with the locals will give you tips on how to enjoy the simple things in life. Work, traffic, responsibilities will always be there with or without you stressing about them. The best you can do is take the time to appreciate the moment and feel happy in it.
When ancient Romans were spending their leisure time in the Baths of Caracalla, one of the most outstanding ancient thermal complexes, little did they know about dolce vita. But they were living it by exercising, strolling through the gardens, and reading in the library. When in Rome, schedule a visit to the Baths of Caracalla to soak yourself in the ancient Roman lifestyle. For a contemporary understanding of the everyday Roman life, enjoy a cappuccino and people-watch from a piazza café. Other favorite spots to observe the Roman social life are the Spanish Steps and the Promenade and Terrace of Pincio.
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Italian food is aromatic and flavorsome, with different textures, but it’s never heavy. You may ask: “How is that possible with so much pasta and pizza on the menu?” It’s all about the right balance. A typical Italian meal starts with vegetable and meat antipasti. It continues with a small portion of pasta, which is followed by a simply-cooked meat dish. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and Parmigiano-Reggiano are the main ingredients of Italian gastronomy.
In Rome, it may be hard to pinpoint the authentic origins of the recipes, but you can never go wrong with pasta alla carbonara or thin-crust pizza Margherita. Arancini rice balls, fried artichokes, baked anchovies, and thin-sliced prosciutto are all must-try when in Rome. Hands down, Armando al Pantheon family-run restaurant is the most recommended by locals for traditional food and a wide selection of Italian wine. A meal wouldn’t be complete without the coffee-flavored Italian tiramisu dessert or a couple of gelato scoops.
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