Rome trip planner

A guide to travel in Rome, Italy

Roman Forum
The Roman Forum. (Photo by Stefan Bauer.)

Rome is the Eternal City of piazze (squares) and your morning cappuccino in the local bar; of long, leisurely dinners and buzzing motor scooters; of cobblestoned streets, medieval quarters, fashionable evening strolls, Renaissance palaces, and splashing fountains.

Rome has also been the seat of two great empires.

The ruins of the Caesars

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blog: Adventures in Rome
Ancient Rome left the city richly strewn with ruins and sights such as the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Roman Forum, but ancient Rome pops up everywhere—in the odd ancient marble colonnade embedded in a church wall, a row of medieval buildings that still follows the curve of an ancient theater, and countless basements and wine cellars built into the remains of ancient Roman houses.

The era of Caesars and togas also cranked out tens of thousands of sculptures, of which the cream of the crop in the Vatican, Capitoline Museums, and Museo Nazionale Romano merely scratches the surface.

The glories of the popes

The early Christians also left Rome littered with well over 900 churches. Many of these seem less houses of worship than pretty, marble-clad walls on which to hang centuries' worth of art by Renaissance and baroque masters. Works by Michelangelo, Raphael, Pinturicchio, Bernini, Borromini, Botticelli, and Caravaggio abound.

One of these churches outdoes the rest. As the Capital of Christendom, Rome is home to the ludicrously huge Mother church of St. Peter's and the pope's personal pad, Vatican City.

The Vatican's museums are vast, but the crowds come primarily to crane their necks in awe at Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

How can I possibly see it all?

Someone once said it would take a lifetime to see all of Rome. I've had the great pleasure to live in Rome on and off since I was 11 years old, and I'd hazard that 100 lifetimes wouldn't be enough.

They also say Rome wasn't built in a day (it's at about 2,800 years and counting), and while you can't reasonably expect to see it in one day either, you can get at least a healthy taste for it in three days or four (see perfect itineraries).

Just be sure to toss that coin in the Trevi Fountain before you leave so you can be secure in the knowledge that, someday, you'll return to the Eternal City.

Don't know where to start the planning? Read my Rome FAQ to help you plan the perfect Roman holiday.

Sights by neighborhood

Downtown Ancient Rome (Forum/Colosseum)
Upper Tiber Bend (Pz. Navona/Pantheon)
Lower Tiber Bend (Campo de' Fiori)
Tridente (Spanish Steps/Pz. del Popolo)
Borgo (Vatican)
Via Veneto/Villa Borghese
• Outside the walls
• Sidetrips & excursions

Favorite Hotels

Hotel Colors [€–€€]
Hotel Des Artistes [€€]
• Hotel Marcus [€€–€€€]
• Hotel Smeraldo [€€–€€€]
• Hotel Abruzzi [€€–€€€€]
• Hotel Villa San Pio [€€–€€€€]
Hotel Aventino [€€–€€€€€]
Hotel Raphael [€€€€–€€€€€]
• Hotel Art by The Spanish Steps [€€€€–€€€€€]

Full story

For more info: Rome Map

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This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in May 2012. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 2008–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett