The ultimate guide to Rome’s historic center
Every city has its historic center, but none can compare to Rome’s. Walking through the beloved centro storico 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 from 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 a 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.
EXPERIENCE the CENTRO STORICO
Explore the 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
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
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 mostly 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.
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.
Visit Keats Shelley House
Piazza di Spagna, 26
Mon-Sat 10am-1pm, 2pm-6pm
Rome has always been a fascinating city to all, 18th century Romantic poets included. Poets and authors like Lord Byron, John Keats, Mary Shelley, P.B Shelley, and more, you’ll have the chance of visiting the home these poets and authors stayed in while in Rome. Overlooking the Spanish Steps, the home was turned into a museum that tells the story of their visits, their roman vacations, and the work they did while here.
Visit the Pantheon
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.
Original Language Movie 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!
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.
EAT in the CENTRO STORICO
Da Gino al Parlamento
Vicolo Rosini, 4
Mon-Sat 1pm-3pm, 8pm-11pm
If you’re looking for a cozy dinner spot, Gino’s is the place for you. Right off of Via del Corso, Gino is a characteristic family-run trattoria offering its customers a range of authentic Roman plates. Start your meal with one of the fantastic appetizers, and follow that up with one of their delicious pasta dishes. Do keep in mind that a reservation is highly recommended, and so worth it!
Osteria delle Coppelle
Piazza delle Coppelle, 55/56/57
Daily 12.30pm-4pm, 7pm-2am
Often times when a restaurant takes its name from the square they are in, it’s likely that they are the ones to beat in that particular piazza. No wonder that’s the case when it comes to Osteria delle Coppelle. Good vibes and a fun attitude go hand in hand with a delicious menu at this osteria. Whether you decide to drop by for lunch or dinner, keep in mind that this osteria is in the centro storico and a great solution when asking “where are we eating tonight?”
Piazza delle Coppelle, 44
Daily 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm – 1.30am
Right across from “osteria delle coppelle” you will find this hidden gem. Named after the familiar pasta style known all around the world, Maccheroni is your typical Roman restaurant with a diverse selection of dishes to choose from. With an outside seating area as well, you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.
Via delle Muratte, 23
A combination that not many can boast, having a delicious restaurant like Baccano to eat at after you’ve seen the Trevi Fountain is quite something. Offering a Mediterranean menu and a rich selection of wines to go with your dish, Baccano is worthy of its location. Highly recommended is one of their fish dishes! My guess is that you’ll be throwing your coin into the Trevi Fountain to come back to Rome, AND Baccano.
Via in Lucina, 16L
With a funny name that calls attention to itself and its cuisine, “Da Coso” is a humorous play on a sentence Romans usually use to refer to something they don’t know the name of. In fact, “coso” means “thing”, which translated means “at thing’s.” Used in an actual sentence: “I’m absolutely craving that cacio and pepe dish and the delicious dessert menu at thing’s, let’s go please?”
Ginger Sapori e Salute
Via Borgognona 43-46
A favorite place among locals of all ages, Ginger is a healthy option that you can rely on when in Rome. Located between the Spanish Steps and Via del Corso, Ginger Sapori e Salute has been a solid eatery option while cruising the centro storico. Especially great vegetarian and vegan options, this is a location you’ll want to try if you’re looking for big salads, rich soups, and healthy beverages to accompany your meal.
Armando al Pantheon
Salita dei Crescenzi, 31
Mon-Sat 12.30pm-2.45pm; Mon – Fri 7pm-11pm
The name may give this restaurant’s location away, but seeing how it’s been there since 1961 and it doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon, safe to say the name was well chosen. With a slow food menu catered to following the Roman tradition, you will wine and dine in a cozy restaurant that guarantees a good time. Run by the Gargioli family, you will feel right at home as you read over the menu and try to make up your mind on what to order first.
Via del Lavatore, 91
Translating into “little hole” you may realize that Piccolo Buco may not be the biggest eatery in Rome, but that it definitely does not shy away from its bigger neighbours. With a special focus on their pizza menu, Piccolo Buco will give you a hard time when choosing what pizza to order. From the classic pizza options to other gourmet ones, having pizza here is a must. However, in case your meal partner isn’t big on pizza, fear not! There are plenty of other options that will have you leaving the restaurant happy. Right around the corner from the Trevi Fountain, booking a table is recommended!
Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 30
Tue-Sun 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7.30pm-11.30pm; Mon 7.30pm-11.30pm
The name “alfredo” is popular overseas when it comes to Italian cuisine. This is because of the famous “alfredo pasta” that has made its way across the ocean and in several Italian restaurants abroad. At Alfredo in Rome, you will in fact be eating at the location that created the alfredo pasta dish that everybody seems to love. Right off of Via del Corso, towards Piazza del Popolo, when eating here you will be envied by many. It goes without saying that trying the original pasta alfredo is a must!
Via Margutta, 1b
Tue-Sun 1pm-3pm, 7pm-10.30pm
In an elegant setting close to the upscale Via del Babuino, you will find Babette. A charming restaurant that fits the street it is on, Babette offers a variety of Mediterranean dishes along with typical roman options. With a classic design inside and its close proximity to the Spanish Steps, Babette is a safe go-to when it comes to lunch and/or dinner. With a menu that is always changing, you might want to consider visiting Babette more than once.
Piazza di Spagna, 23
After a long day of touring Rome, sitting down for a cup of tea will end your day on the right note. At Babingtons, you will be able to explore the wide variety of teas and biscuits that make for the perfect pit-stop during a day out and about. With a colorful interior and different rooms, Babingtons is much more than just your average tea room. Once you finish sipping your tea, make sure to check out all the gift options for tea-lovers back home.
Largo della Fontanella di Borghese, 86/A
Mon-Thur 12.30pm-3.30pm, 6.30pm-1am; Fri 12pm-3pm, 6.30pm-2am; Sat 12.30pm-3.30pm, 6.30pm-2am; Sun 12.30pm-3.30pm, 6.30pm-1am
A popular trend that has recently spread around Rome is the art of fusion cooking. By fusion, one can expect original dishes on the menu that combine different cultures and delicacies. At Le Asiatique, you will be surprised at how well some flavours mix. Focused mostly on the Asian culinary scene, this eatery is perfect for those that cannot resist an Asian-based meal. Also offering sushi, Le Asiatique will leave you wondering why you didn’t try fusion cooking sooner.
DRINK in the CENTRO STORICO
Via della Fontanella di Borghese, 48
Sun-Thurs 6pm – 1am; Fri – Sat 6pm – 2am
Behold one of the most scenic locations for your cocktail hour. Located on top of Rome’s dear Fendi building, Zuma is known throughout the whole city. With a sprawling terrace and a menu that will have you flipping a coin on what to order, Zuma is a Japanese corner in the heart of Rome. Take a seat in the trendy bar lounge as you delight on one of the original concoctions the bar has carefully created for its guests.
Via di Ripetta, 162
Mon-Fri 12pm-2am; Sat-Sun 11am-2am
Located on the scenic Via di Ripetta, il Marchese has a rich selection of different liquors and drinks to choose from. With the first ever “amaro bar” in Europe, Il Marchese sets itself apart from the rest thanks to the careful selection in choosing their drink menu. With an ongoing dedication towards only offering the best to their visitors, Il Marchese will have you feeling like you’ve just entered a top secret gentlemen’s club.
Piazza delle Coppelle, 55/56/57
Could you ever imagine that behind a popular restaurant, in this case Osteria delle Coppelle, lies a hidden speakeasy club? If you hadn’t until now, Club Derriere will prove that it’s possible! With its entrance being a white closet door that you may not notice at first, getting in requires a secret password that you will discover as you make your way through. With delicious cocktails and music to sway to, Club Derriere is a fun and unique experience you’ll be talking about for a while!
Piazza di Pietra, 42
One of the main bars in Piazza di Pietra, Salotto 42 grows in popularity each year that goes by. One of the most frequented bars when it comes to grabbing a drink in the centro storico, Salotto 42 does not disappoint. Clean-cut, cosy, and modern, Salotto 42 offers original cocktails that keep people coming back to its doors. Booking a table is recommended, as well as trying one of their sophisticated original creations.
Via del Babuino, 9
A star-studded location that will catapult you in a world of glam and glitz, the Stravinskij Bar is the cocktail location you’ll want to visit to celebrate an important event. Nestled in the internal garden at the De Russie Hotel, Stravinskij Bar is an unbelievable setting that will have you smiling the whole time. The cocktail menu goes along with the incredible location, and the result is one that is hardly comparable to others.
Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia
Sun-Thur 10am-1am / Fri-Sat 10am-2am
Located on the Tiber river, Baja is unique in its setting and vibe. Its motto is “the river experience” which is fitting seeing how you will be sipping your drink while on a boat! Great for a drink either before or after dinner, Baja is the place you want to be if you’re looking for good music, fresh produce to nibble on, and a cocktail to seal the deal. Make your way to Baja directly from Piazza del Popolo, perhaps after you’ve enjoyed the sunset from the Pincio!
Via del Collegio Romano, 6
Finding a good Irish Pub is not as easy as it may sound, but when in Rome, Trinity Pub is where you want to grab your next pint. Head here if you want to watch a sports game, make new friends, or just simply relax with a good drink after you’ve explored Rome all day. Located directly off of Via del Corso, enjoying a break here will help you recuperate your energies for your next roman adventure.
Piazza di S. Lorenzo in Lucina, 29
Sun-Tue 8.30am-10pm; Fri-Sat 8.30am-11pm
With three different spots, all located in the centro storico, Ciampini is a renowned name all over Rome. Thanks to its outside seating area, and rich menu, you will be able to sit back and enjoy the moment while at Ciampini. Two of the three locations are close to the Fendi building, whereas the third is located close to the top of the Spanish Steps. Therefore you can either choose to visit only one Ciampini, or which is more likely, visit all three.