What to see in Rome

Rome museums, ruins, monuments, churches, and other top attractions

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The Arch of Septimus Severus flanked by the three columns of the Temple of Vespasian and Titus on the left, and the eight columns of the Temple of Saturn on the right. Just to the right of the arch are the Umbilicus Urbus and the broken, curving bits of stone marking the Rostra. (Behind the arch: the brick cube of the Curia; that dome and facade are the Santi Lucia e Martina church designed by Pietro da Cortona, just outside the Forum) (Photo by Bert Kaufmann)
Roman Forum
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

Downtown Ancient Rome: The Roman Forum (Foro Romano), Palatine Hill, temple of the Vestal Virgins, Roman Senate, and Triumphal Arches of Titus and Septimius Severus

 
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The Colosseum at sunrise (Photo by picmasta)
The Colosseum
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

Rome's Colosseo still ranks as the world's most famous sports arena, site of gladiator combat and the wholesale slaughter of wild beasts to amuse the public

 
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Inside the Pantheon (Photo by Rodney Campbell)
Free
The Pantheon
Rome: Tiber Bend

The glorious Pantheon is Rome's only intact ancient Roman temple

 
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The Spanish Steps (Photo by Martin Furtschegger)
Free
Spanish Steps
Rome: Tridente

The Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti—by whatever name you call it, this is one of Rome's prime outdoor living rooms, an elegant gathering place for locals and tourists alike

 
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The spiral staircase (Photo © Reid Bramblett)
Vatican Museums
Rome: Vatican

Rome's Vatican Museums encompass some of the greatest art in the world, from Roman and Egyptian antiquities to paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, to the Sistine Chapel with its amazing ceiling frescoed by Michelangelo

 
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The Baldacchino over the altar of St. Peter's (Photo by Jorge Royan)
Free
St. Peter's
Rome: Vatican

St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) in Rome: Motherchurch of Christendom

 
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Piazza Navona at sunrise (Photo by Giuseppe Moscato)
Free
Piazza Navona
Rome: Tiber Bend

Bernini fountains, caffés, street performers, artists, and a carnival of life crowd Rome's famous Piazza Navona

 
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The Imperial Room, with Bernini's Rape of Persephone (Photo by Damian Entwistle)
Galleria Borghese
Rome: Via Veneto & Villa Borghese

Rome's Borghese Gallery is packed with amazing works by Bernini, Caravaggio, and Raphael, and ranks as one of my top three small museums in the world

 
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A tunnel in the Catacomb of San Callisto

Rome's Via Appia Antica is lined by vast systems of underground tunnels where ancient Christians would bury their dead

 
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The crowds at the Trevi (Photo by Oleg Brovko)
Free
Trevi Fountain
Rome: Tridente

The Fontana di Trevi just may be the world's most famous wishing well—certainly one of the most lucrative, what with every tourist tossing "three coins in a fountain"

 
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The Stadium of the Palace of Domitian garden on the eastern side of the Domus Augustana (Photo by Markus L)
Palatine Hill
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

The birthplace of palaces is the Palatine Hill above the Roman Forum

 
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The Cerasi Chapel, with paintings by Annibale Carracci (center) and Caravaggio (left and right) (Photo by Frederick Fenyvessy)
Free

Rome's church of Santa Maria del Popolo is like a primer on the development of art and architecture from the early Renaissance through the baroque

 
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 (Photo by gula08)
Free
Trastevere
Rome: Trastevere

The popular Trastevere district (Rome's 'left bank') is a postcard neighborhood of narrow, cobblestone streets, fantastic restaurants, and overflowing bars and clubs

 
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The Mithraeum at the lowest level of San Clemente (Photo by Allie Caulfield)
Free
San Clemente
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

A few blocks from the Colosseum is the best place in Rome to see the layer-cake effect of its history in action: church piled atop church piled atop pagan temple

 
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Sarcophagus with battle scene between Romans and Germans (AD 180–190) (Photo by Jastrow)
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
Rome: Termini train station

Rome's Palazzo Massimo alle Terme houses the best collection of the Museo Nazionale Romano, a treasure trove of ancient sculptures, frescoes, and mosaics

 
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 (Photo by Ben Cremin)
Castel Sant'Angelo
Rome: Vatican

The Pope's private castle and personal stronghold in times of trouble, and a museum of arms and armor in times of peace

 
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AD 2C equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (Photo by schizoform)
Capitoline Museums
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

These museums atop Rome's Campidoglio connected by the Tabularium house iconic ancient statues (she-wolf, colossal statue of Constantine, Lo Spinario, Dying Gaul, etc.) and great art by Caravaggio, Titian, and Rubens

 
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The Sala delle Prospettive frescoed by Peruzzi (Photo by Combusken)
Villa Farnesina
Rome: Trastevere

The Villa Farnesina is a gorgeously frescoed private Renaissance villa belonging to a famous 16th-century banker

 
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 (Photo by Carlat82)
Free
Campo de' Fiori
Rome: Tiber Bend

Rome's Campo dei Fiori is an outdoor market by morning, party central by night

 
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The Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth) in the church portico (Photo by nekotank)
Free
Santa Maria in Cosmedin
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

It's a shame that so many who stop to see the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) on the porch don't take the time to go inside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin itself

 
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Activities, walks, & excursions links
Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).