What are the five best things to see and do in Rome?

From major monuments to quiet back streets, Rome is filled with can’t-miss sites and activities. The number of things to see and do can be overwhelming. We love to challenge our Forbes Travel Guide editors to pick five things. Here’s their list of the five best things to see and do in the Eternal City:  

1. Wander through the Roman forum. For more than a millennium, Rome was the capital of one of the grandest and most influential empires — and the Roman forum was the center of it all. This is where the senators debated bills, and the Vestal Virgins guarded their sacred flame; where Julius Caesar’s body was burned in a funeral pyre, and where Romans met to shop, worship and gossip. Our advice: buy a ticket to view the Colosseum’s tunnels and enter the forum through there, then take a tour or pick up an audio guide to see everything. There’s lots of information you don’t want to miss.
 
2. Visit the Sistine Chapel. No visit to Rome is complete without a visit to the Sistine Chapel, the famous landmark inside Vatican City. Look up to see Michelangelo’s frescoes — considered the pinnacle of Renaissance art — but be sure to look around you, too. The gorgeous frescoes on the sidewalls were done by Renaissance greats like Sandro Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio, who was Michelangelo’s mentor.
 
3. You must see Rome’s most famous monuments, and we suggest doing so at night. Many of Rome’s most famous sites, including the Trevi Fountain and the Victor Emmanuel II monument, are lit up at night — making them even more dramatic and inspiring than they are in the daytime when the sun is beating down.
 
4. See some of the best art in Europe at the Borghese Gallery. Located in a beautiful villa on the edge of the city, the Borghese Gallery houses the fine art collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V. It’s about 350 years later, but it’s still a pleasure to explore. Among its masterpieces are lifelike statues by Bernini, some of the most famous paintings by Caravaggio, and works by Raphael, Perugino and Canova.
 
5. Explore Rome’s back streets. Rome’s major tourist sites can get crowded, particularly in the high season (from April to October). Avoid the masses by walking on one of Rome’s many cobblestoned streets, where you’ll see grandmothers poring over produce at market stalls and artisans working in their shops. We especially like the back streets around Campo dei Fiori and Piazza Farnese, and across the river in Trastevere.

  • On July 30, 2013
    Angela Corrias answered the question: Angela Corrias

    What are the best stores for designer clothes in Rome?

    Anywhere in Rome you can find lovely boutiques and clothing stores, but if you are looking for designers' creations, world renowned brands and haute couture, you should definitely head to Via dei Condotti, right after visiting the must-see attraction of Piazza di Spagna and attached Trinità dei Monti (the famous Spanish Steps).

    While Via dei Condotti is the true mecca for demanding fashion lovers, the streets right around, such as Via Frattina, Via Borgognona and Via del Corso, are equally important.

    In Via dei Condotti you can find the gorgeous collections of names of the likes of Valentino at the number 15, selling its beautiful dresses and expensive handbags, Dolce & Gabbana, Trussardi, Gucci, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Giorgio Armani, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Max Mara and Alberta Ferretti.

    In Via Borgognona are important Italian names such as Fendi, Ferré, Laura Biagiotti and Gai Mattiolo, while if you want to find a Versace boutique, you need to head to 26 Via Bocca di Leone.

    Opening hours are for all stores in the area are usually from about 9-9,30am to 1pm and 4pm to 7,30pm.
  • On July 30, 2013
    Angela Corrias answered the question: Angela Corrias

    What are the most romantic restaurants in Rome?

    If you are looking at organizing a romantic evening during your trip to Rome, you will have plenty of options to ponder.

    In the city center is Aroma, very luxurious rooftop restaurant at Manfredi Hotel, (Palazzo Manfredi, 125 Via Labicana) with the delicious creations of chef Giuseppe Di Iorio and a truly unique view on the Colosseum to the extent that you will have the impression of being dining right inside the world famous ancient amphitheater.

    If your idea of romantic dinner inevitably involves a great view, you will certainly like also the Zodiaco restaurant (88/92 Viale del Parco Mellini) in Monte Mario natural reserve, with a terrace offering a gorgeous view on the city. They serve Italian cuisine with a special devotion to Roman dishes and there are often cabaret and live music performances.

    Another restaurant where you can have a romantic dinner is Il Picchio Rosso (101 Via Italo Piccagli), located in a quiet area that almost seems the countryside. Here too you can enjoy excellent fine seafood dishes listening to live music.

    If you want to spend the rest of your romantic evening in Trastevere, you can have your romantic dinner in this same neighborhood in 24 Via del Moro at Bisque, specialized in fish and seafood courses but serving also meat-based dishes.
  • On July 30, 2013
    Angela Corrias answered the question: Angela Corrias

    What are the best concert venues in Rome?

    In Rome there are many great concert venues, and depending on what your favorite music genre is you will head to a different location.

    For jazz concerts among the best venues is the Auditorium Parco della Musica. The place has many halls, each of them ideal for different types of music, be it jazz, orchestra concerts, electronic music and even theater plays.

    Summer time, a great location for jazz concerts are also the public parks of Villa Ada and Villa Celimontana, where every year it's hosted also the Jazz Festival. In Villa Ada concerts take place in the little island of the lake Laghetto di Villa Ada, possible to reach from Via di Ponte Salario.

    When it comes to rock concerts, the most popular venues are the Ippodromo Capannelle (55 Viale Europa), Rome's hippodrome, where Italian and international rock bands perform, and where recently there was Bruce Springsteen concert, and the Stadio Olimpico, the city's stadium, with a capacity of seating more than 70,000 people.

    Sometimes Rome also has free concerts, often for charity, where the most famous Italian and international artists are invited to perform, and usually they take place either at the Circus Maximus, where I've seen a great Alicia Keys and Carlos Santana, and at Piazzale Flaminio, where I listened to Alanis Morissette.

    Finally, every year for May 1st Piazza San Giovanni, near San Giovanni metro station on line A, hosts a free concert all day long, where artists such as Erykah Badu and the Cranberries have performed.
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  • On July 30, 2013
    Angela Corrias answered the question: Angela Corrias

    What are the best wedding venues in Rome?

    Photo by Angela Corrias Getting married in Rome is not only romantic but also a truly suggestive experience, to the extent that if you wish to say your “I do” at one of the most popular churches you need to book even one year in advance.

    Among Romans' favorite worship places for their big day is the beautiful Santa Sabina, early Christian church on top of the Aventino Hill, one of the most exclusive areas in the city center. The church lies just beside the Garden of the Oranges, lovely little park where you can enjoy a gorgeous view on the Tiber River and the city center with the scent of oranges permeating the air all along.

    Another church where couples really need to book in advance is Santa Maria in Trastevere, located in what many consider the heart of Rome, Trastevere neighborhood, very touristy yet able to retain much of its original charm and authentic spirit.

    If great views are what your wedding photographer is suggesting, he will be really pleased with San Pietro in Montorio church, from where you can stare at the stunning scenery from the Gianicolo Hill, or the Santi Giovanni e Paolo Basilica, near the beautiful park Villa Celimontana on the Celian Hill.

    Apart from the church for your wedding ceremony, Rome offers also a huge choice of venues where to hold your wedding lunch, dinner, party and gathering, such as the beautiful Clivo dei Cavalieri (105 Via Mario Carucci), historic mansion formerly belonging to the Order of Knights Templar and the Vatican, located in a huge ranch with a stunning view on the Castelli Romani, Villa Flaminia, beautiful two-story manor finely decorated in traditional Roman style also boasting a huge garden, and Tor de' Sordi, castle built in the 17th century around a medieval tower.
  • On July 30, 2013
    Angela Corrias answered the question: Angela Corrias

    What are the best wedding venues in Rome?

    Photo by Angela Corrias Getting married in Rome is not only romantic but also a truly suggestive experience, to the extent that if you wish to say your “I do” at one of the most popular churches you need to book even one year in advance.

    Among Romans' favorite worship places for their big day is the beautiful Santa Sabina, early Christian church on top of the Aventino Hill, one of the most exclusive areas in the city center. The church lies just beside the Garden of the Oranges, lovely little park where you can enjoy a gorgeous view on the Tiber River and the city center with the scent of oranges permeating the air all along.

    Another church where couples really need to book in advance is Santa Maria in Trastevere, located in what many consider the heart of Rome, Trastevere neighborhood, very touristy yet able to retain much of its original charm and authentic spirit.

    If great views are what your wedding photographer is suggesting, he will be really pleased with San Pietro in Montorio church, from where you can stare at the stunning scenery from the Gianicolo Hill, or the Santi Giovanni e Paolo Basilica, near the beautiful park Villa Celimontana on the Celian Hill.

    Apart from the church for your wedding ceremony, Rome offers also a huge choice of venues where to hold your wedding lunch, dinner, party and gathering, such as the beautiful Clivo dei Cavalieri (105 Via Mario Carucci), historic mansion formerly belonging to the Order of Knights Templar and the Vatican, located in a huge ranch with a stunning view on the Castelli Romani, Villa Flaminia, beautiful two-story manor finely decorated in traditional Roman style also boasting a huge garden, and Tor de' Sordi, castle built in the 17th century around a medieval tower.
  • On July 30, 2013
    Angela Corrias answered the question: Angela Corrias

    What are the best tours of Rome?

    Photo by Angela Corrias As Rome offers different angles and places to enjoy, there are also many different tours that can be booked. Among the several companies providing walking tours around the city, a great and popular one is Roma Sparita (Vanished Rome), association leading fascinating tours around both the most popular attractions and the lesser known aspects of the Eternal City. Even when visiting famous sights, their guides like to focus on the very local and mostly unknown angles of the city, the kind of traditions that are getting lost with modernity.

    Another company providing great tours is Context Travel, whose guides are either Italians, English or US experts, docents, chefs or historians, depending on what topic the tour focuses on, from Ancient Rome to modern history to local cuisine. Being Rome the Italian capital, it's only normal that there are many tours around our culinary habits, such as Eating Italy food Tours, organizing tours in Testaccio neighborhood in the morning to have a hint of how Romans start their day, from breakfast to busy rush hour, and Trastevere in the evening to enjoy the chill-out time after a day at work. Another great tour company focusing purely on food traditions is Tavole Romane Food Tours, organized by two Romans, Silvia and Gabriele, with a passion for eating out and a great ability for sharing Rome's best-kept secrets food-wise.

    With such ancient origins, stormy past and complex society, it's only natural that in Rome you can also find many specific themed tours. The non-profit organization Viaggi Solidali organizes a tour called Roma Migranda around the lively and multicultural Esquilino neighborhood to delve into the international communities settled in Rome yet mentioning also some key places of the area belonging to Roman history, such as Maecenas villa.

    Finally some tours I can't wait to do myself are those focusing on Underground Rome and those unearthing the mysterious side of Rome with different itineraries, starting from the symbols of Roman myths and legends, visiting the places considered magic in the Middle Ages, up to a “Dan Brown”-themed itinerary to discover the esoteric meanings of ancient worship places.
  • On July 30, 2013
    Angela Corrias answered the question: Angela Corrias

    What are the best tours of Rome?

    Photo by Angela Corrias As Rome offers different angles and places to enjoy, there are also many different tours that can be booked. Among the several companies providing walking tours around the city, a great and popular one is Roma Sparita (Vanished Rome), association leading fascinating tours around both the most popular attractions and the lesser known aspects of the Eternal City. Even when visiting famous sights, their guides like to focus on the very local and mostly unknown angles of the city, the kind of traditions that are getting lost with modernity.

    Another company providing great tours is Context Travel, whose guides are either Italians, English or US experts, docents, chefs or historians, depending on what topic the tour focuses on, from Ancient Rome to modern history to local cuisine. Being Rome the Italian capital, it's only normal that there are many tours around our culinary habits, such as Eating Italy food Tours, organizing tours in Testaccio neighborhood in the morning to have a hint of how Romans start their day, from breakfast to busy rush hour, and Trastevere in the evening to enjoy the chill-out time after a day at work. Another great tour company focusing purely on food traditions is Tavole Romane Food Tours, organized by two Romans, Silvia and Gabriele, with a passion for eating out and a great ability for sharing Rome's best-kept secrets food-wise.

    With such ancient origins, stormy past and complex society, it's only natural that in Rome you can also find many specific themed tours. The non-profit organization Viaggi Solidali organizes a tour called Roma Migranda around the lively and multicultural Esquilino neighborhood to delve into the international communities settled in Rome yet mentioning also some key places of the area belonging to Roman history, such as Maecenas villa.

    Finally some tours I can't wait to do myself are those focusing on Underground Rome and those unearthing the mysterious side of Rome with different itineraries, starting from the symbols of Roman myths and legends, visiting the places considered magic in the Middle Ages, up to a “Dan Brown”-themed itinerary to discover the esoteric meanings of ancient worship places.
  • On July 29, 2013
    Angela Corrias answered the question: Angela Corrias

    What is the weather like right now in Rome?

    Like every summer, at the end of July and for all August, Rome is hit by a blazing heat. Usually the hot weather starts in June, but this year it has arrived quite late, with heavy rain and almost daily storms all throughout July. While beach resorts have faced the inevitable downside of it, such as not having as many customers as they predicted, the other people did enjoy Rome without sweating, especially at night, when the temperatures were cool and very pleasant.

    Now that July is close to the end and August approaching, temperatures have become being very hot. For the first half of August weather forecasts have announced sporadic showers, while the last two weeks and very likely also September the weather will be enjoyable, with the day certainly quite hot and the night more pleasant.

    Even with some shower from time to time, if you come to Rome in summer you can easily bring only light summer clothes including maybe a jacket for the evening just in case.
  • On July 28, 2013
    Angela Corrias answered the question: Angela Corrias

    What are the best beaches near Rome?

    Near Rome there are many beaches, as the region boasts a long coastline. Some of the most popular, probably because they are the nearest ones to the city, are Ostia Lido and Fregene, all easy to reach by train and bus. However, even though packed with both locals and tourists, they are hardly the best in the area.

    A great place to enjoy a sandy beach and crystal waters is Anzio, where history lovers will have the chance to visit som important archaeological sites and Roman ruins of the area, such as Nero's luxurious residence. Among the beaches in Anzio, three are definitely worth a stop: Spiaggia delle Grotte di Nerone (Nero's Caves Beach), where is Nero's villa, Spiaggia Lido del Giglio and Spiaggia Tor Caldara, both boasting sandy dunes and lapped by crystal waters, giving visitors the chance to see local flora and fauna and even ancient remains on the seabed.

    Not very close to Rome but still in the region are other beaches famous for being truly beautiful, such as Sperlonga, where however most beaches are private so it's necessary to pay a fee to enter the resort, and Sabaudia, where apart from a great beach tourists can visit the lovely city, the lakes nearby and spend some day out exploring the Circeo Park, headland where you can have a full immersion in nature and history.
  • On July 28, 2013
    Angela Corrias answered the question: Angela Corrias

    What are the best places to spot celebrities in Rome?

    Photo by Angela Corrias In Rome you can spot celebrities in many places and neighborhoods. Obviously, most of the times they are Italian celebrities, but it's not uncommon to see also international actors and singers hanging around, especially when movies are being shot in Rome, usually at Cinecittà, the city's movie set production, but also at the main attractions such as Piazza Navona.

    I often met Italian celebrities strolling in Trastevere in the evening, shopping in Via Cola di Rienzo, Prati area, and pushing their baby's buggy in Viale Giulio Cesare, near the Vatican, but probably the easiest place where to spot celebrities on a daily basis is around Piazza Mazzini, near the historic palaces of the RAI, national Italian broadcasting station. Here you have a great chance to see Italian TV celebrities possibly every day.

    Finally, if you are into politics, the best places to spot some Italian politicians are from Corso Rinascimento, near Piazza Navona, to Piazza Colonna, near Via del Corso, area where lie the buildings of the Parliament.
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