The ultimate guide to Rome’s historic centre
Every city has its historic center, but none can compare to Rome’s. Walking through the beloved centro storico – the Second Unesco World Heritage Site in Italy – is unlike any other stroll.
Rich in history and surprises, you’re walking distance from some of the most important sights in Rome; not to mention the abundant shopping options too.
Although the center is reachable in many different ways, the most iconic spot to start your stroll is at Piazza del Popolo. You’ll be welcomed by the famous Egyptian obelisk in the center of the piazza, followed by the popular twin churches (Santa Maria in Montesano on the left, and Santa Maria dei Miracoli on the right) that frame the entrance to the “tridente.”
The three streets that form the centro’s shopping area are known as the “trident”, tridente in Italian. The tridente begins in Piazza del Popolo, and is formed by Via di Ripetta, Via del Corso, and Via del Babuino, which parallel each other into resembling Poseidon’s sidekick.
The three streets are full of boutiques, popular name brand stores, and high-end shops. Each street will lead you down remarkable corners, and will leave you feeling like Audrey Hepburn and/or Gregory Peck!
For example, Via del Babuino leads you straight to the Spanish Steps, one of the main attractions in Rome. Although you may find the steps to be a bit more than you’d expected, the view from up top is truly worth the climb; watching the sunset from there is a must. And speaking of “musts”, visiting the cherished Trevi Fountain is also a definite must-see. Beautiful both at night and during the day, it’s no wonder people flock here to throw their coins.
And as you gaze out at a fountain that symbolizes the Roman dolce vita era, you may not know that you are at less than a 10-minute walk from the Pantheon, another Roman landmark. Yes, it’s really that close! As you round the corner into the piazza that is home to the ancient Roman temple, you will be amazed at how impactful the sight is. Surrounded by everyday shops, bars, and restaurants, the contrast between modern life and the thousand year old monument is spectacular.
Although each neighbourhood in Rome is special in its own way, the centro storico has you feeling like you’ve travelled back 1,000 years. Roaming through the cobblestone streets with a monument on every corner is an adventure that cannot easily be compared to any other. What’s more is that the centro storico is not only full of history, but also a great neighbourhood to pick up unique souvenirs, relax at a cozy bar, and enjoy the authentic Roman lifestyle.
The best restaurants and bars in Rome's historic centre
What to do at Rome's Centro Storico
Explore Rome's historic center on the back of a Vespa
Via in Selci, 58
Duration: 3 hours
Everyone’s obsessed with Vespas. And what better way to explore Rome than on a fun panoramic ride on the back of a vintage Vespa? Ride by the Colosseum, Vatican, the Temple of Venus and many more sights experiencing everything the Eternal City has to offer. Take amazing pictures from beautiful scenic viewpoints and taste a bit of Rome by stopping for gelato and Roman street food. All while getting insights and learning about the history of Rome from experienced Vespa drivers.
Learn to make pasta like the Italians with this cooking class
Via dei Crociferi, 25
Duration: 2 hours
No trip to Rome is complete without indulging in its food culture! And what better way to do as the Romans do than to learn to make pasta with a pasta-making class a stone’s throw away from the Trevi Fountain? The Chef will be there every step of the way, teaching you everything you need to know about ribbon pasta (tagliatelle, linguine, pappardelle and spaghetti). You will learn to make homemade pasta and sauces from scratch, as well as the original tiramisu. Afterwards, enjoy your food all together for lunch!
Aperitivo at Piazza di Pietra
Enjoying an aperitivo at Piazza di Pietra is the perfect start to your night out in Rome. Right off of Via del Corso, and on your way to the Pantheon, the piazza is an unexpected delight. With the imposing Temple of Hadrian to welcome you into the square, you’ll be reminded of just how special Rome is as a city. With different options to pick from for your aperitivo, Piazza di Pietra has a spot for everybody looking to have a drink away from the main streets.
Shopping in the Tridente
Rome’s fashion scene is known around the world thanks to the important designers that come from the Eternal City. With names like Fendi, Bulgari, Alberta Ferretti, and more, fashion holds an important spot on Rome’s long list of spectacles; reason to why many brands have their flagship stores in the Tridente area. With a sprawling choice of where to shop, what to buy, and stores for every style, the tridente guarantees a swell time.
Admire the Barcaccia
Piazza di Spagna
When visiting the Spanish Steps, make sure you take a moment to admire Bernini’s famous Barcaccia fountain. Unveiled in 1629, the Barcaccia is a fountain cherished by many. Legend has it that Bernini found inspiration for the sculpture after having witnessed a small boat float into the piazza after the Tiber river flooded the square in 1598. Whether that’s true or not, we’re just happy that Bernini created the masterpiece and left it to us.
View from the Pincio
A spot that lovebirds, families, friends, and actually everybody enjoys, the Pincio is an unparalleled view from up top. Overlooking Piazza del Popolo with Villa Borghese behind you, catching a glimpse of Rome from the Pincio is a picture-perfect moment. Although sunsets are a special moment to visit the Pincio, anytime of day is a great excuse to visit the “balcony.” Reachable both by foot and car, the Pincio is a treat to anybody in Rome, both visitors and locals alike.
Explore Rome by bike
Via Labicana, 49
Duration: 4 hours
Explore Rome on a guided bike tour. Easily cycle between ancient monuments and elegant shopping streets, Baroque squares and Renaissance palaces, and beautiful fountains and churches housing innumerable masterpieces. This tour provides the perfect introduction to your stay in Rome. This classic itinerary touches on Rome’s main attractions without omitting its smaller, local features: the alleys of the city’s popular districts, hidden squares, lesser-known sights, but no less connected to the city’s unique history and atmosphere.
Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain
Piazza di Trevi
When one thinks of Rome, especially romantic Rome, the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain) always comes to mind. And who could blame them? Picture cascades of an aquatic dream that flow heavenly into a basin tucked into a nook that adjoins three streets. The fountain went onto become a famous backdrop for the glorious Italian film La Dolce Vita and American blockbuster Three Coins in a Fountain.
Visit the Pantheon
Piazza della Rotonda
The Pantheon is a striking sight that will have you outside gazing up at it for quite some time, but don’t forget to go inside! Like no other, the Pantheon is still to this day the largest unsupported dome in the world. In the center of the dome lies the hole (the oculus) which is the only source of light in the Pantheon. It is said that the hole is what connected the Gods above to the temple, making it a special place to visit, both now and back during Ancient Rome.
Cocktail-class: learn to drink like Italians
Enjoy your mixology experience in Rome’s Centro Storico and learn to prepare the most famous Italian cocktails: Spritz and Negroni. Next to that, the bartender will explain how to pair these drinks with food. Want to learn more? Get your answers in a creative atmosphere at Il Marchese while sipping on your own handmade Negroni and enjoying an italian aperitivo.
See a Show at Teatro Quirino
Via delle Vergini, 7
Although visitors may not know about Rome’s theatre scene as much as they should, there are many different shows that are worth seeing while in Rome. Teatro Quirino, nestled close to the Trevi Fountain, is a great location for both theatre lovers and not, and definitely an original night out during your roman holidays. Teatro Quirino also includes its own bistro where you can lounge and enjoy a meal before or after the show.
Original Language Movies at Nuovo Olimpia
Via in Lucina, 16
While traveling, catching a movie isn’t really the first thing one thinks about doing. But what if the movie theatre is right around the corner from where you were shopping all day? Sounds like an irresistible plan you may want to consider while visiting Rome’s centro storico. Right off of Via del Corso, head to the Nuovo Olimpia cinema for the latest films in their original language, some popcorn, and a chance to go to the movies in a foreign country!
Ikono: The New Immersive Experience in Rome
Via del Seminario, 111
Abrand new attraction just arrived in Rome. Located in a historic venue in the heart of the capital, the new IKONO experience invites visitors of all ages to dive into exciting environments and highly interactive installations, to unleash their creativity, spark their senses and create unforgettable memories. The immersive journey, lasting about 1 hour on average, unfolds through a series of unique and breathtaking environments that replicate the thrill of traveling to different worlds, cultures and times without ever having to leave the city.
Admire Caravaggio Paintings
Santa Maria del Popolo Church
San Luigi dei Francesi Church
Caravaggio paintings can be found in churches and palaces across Rome’s historic centre. Santa Maria del Popolo church in Piazza del Popolo contains two Caravaggio paintings in the Cerasi chapel: The Crucifixion of St. Peter and the Conversion on the way to Damascus. The Contarelli Chapel inside the San Luigi dei Francesi Church contains a sequence of the life of St. Matthew: The Calling of Saint Matthew, The Inspiration of St. Matthew and The Martyrdom of St. Matthew.