The Bucket List: 10 Things to Do in Rome

best free museums in rome

The Italian capital has attracted travelers from all over the world for thousands of years. The city is still a magnet for tourists, even if not all roads lead to Rome these days. Rome has something to offer to lovers of ancient culture and contemporary art, connoisseurs of fine cuisine and high fashion, modern technology and fans of mobile casino games, fans of parties and romantics who prefer untouched paths and cozy streets.

1. Visit the Colosseum

About five million people visit the amphitheater every year. Although two-thirds of the Colosseum has not survived to this day, it is still amazing. To visit the arena of Roman gladiator fights, you have to buy a two-day ticket. The same ticket allows you to visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Avoid long lines to the Colosseum you can buy a ticket online (plus 2 € to the cost) or with a Roma Pass. Another way to save time: buy a ticket at the Forum ticket office, where there are almost no lines, and go to the Colosseum from there, avoiding the queues at the amphitheater.

Information about the Colosseum on the website of the Archaeological Heritage of Rome, opening hours: daily 8:30 – 19:00, ticket price: 12 €.

2. Cleanse Yourself of Your Sins in the Pantheon

The Pantheon, the former “temple of all the gods” and now a Christian church, is better preserved than its peer, the Colosseum. The Pantheon’s gigantic dome (the largest unreinforced dome in the world!) has not a single window. Light enters here through a single hole in the top of the dome, thus symbolizing the unity of all the gods. They say if you stand in the square just under the hole, the gods will absolve you of all your sins. It is said that if you stand in the square right in the hole, the gods will absolve you of all your sins.

3. Have a Coffee in Piazza Navona

If you have only an hour to see Rome, don’t hesitate to go to Piazza Navona. There’s something interesting going on in the square all year round – street musicians give concerts, artists draw cartoons, and live statues and clowns entertain the public. In hot weather, tourists and locals flock to the three fountains in Navona in search of coolness.

Sitting at a table in an outdoor cafe is the best way to watch the hilarious hustle and bustle. True, the prices here, like in other tourist spots, are high, and it’s better to limit yourself to a cup of coffee or homemade ice cream. The local shops and antique stores are worth a look purely out of curiosity, but you should not buy souvenirs in them – very expensive.

4. Toss a Coin Into the Trevi Fountain

Trevi is the famous fountain where Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg splashed in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. Tourists believe that if you throw one coin into the fountain – return to Rome, two – meet love, three – get married, four – expect to be rich. The last omen is true: everyday utilities fished out in Trevi about 3 thousand euros! Around the fountain are always a lot of holidaymakers, especially young people, and if you want to take beautiful pictures, come no later than 8 am.

5. Relax at the Villa Borghese

Borghese is a beautiful park complex in the north of Rome. It is worth a visit if you want to have a picnic, escape from the hustle and bustle of the Italian capital or admire the masterpieces of Rubens, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, and Monet in the museums of the villa. You should buy a ticket to the Galleria Borghese in advance – visitors are allowed in groups only once every two hours.

For children, the villa has an amusement park and a bio-park with elephants and pink flamingos, and in winter there is an ice rink. If you speak Italian, don’t miss the House of Cinema and the Globe, a Rome Shakespeare theater, for free. The famous Spanish Steps lead to the Villa Borghese, and sitting on its steps is another must for a walk in Rome.

6. Visit the Smallest Country in the World

Time to visit the Vatican is definitely worth carving out during the Roman vacations. After all, what other country can you just go to rather than drive or fly to? The tiny Vatican has a huge population density and an equally high concentration of monuments, museums, and attractions. And if you’re lucky, you might see or even get the blessing of Pope Francis himself.

The Vatican has dozens of interesting museums, including the Etruscan and Egyptian museums, the library with the oldest Gospel text, and the Pinacoteca with works by Titian and da Vinci. Don’t be lazy to climb to the top of the dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral, which offers a stunning view of the city. The cathedral has a strict dress code: hands and feet covered, no head covering for men, and no head covering for women.

7. Go shopping

A trip to Rome without visiting one of its boutiques is a crime against the capital of high fashion. High-end fashion houses like Gucci, D&G, Armani, and Valentino can be found in the Spanish Steps district. For younger brands, head to Campo de Fiori; for universal, trendy brands, head to Rome’s main shopping street, Via del Corso. From mid-January to the end of February and from mid-July to the end of the summer in Rome, it’s sale season, during which sales are up to 70% off.

8. Riding a Segway in Trastevere

The ivy-covered little houses in the narrow streets, the aromas of Italian food in small family-run restaurants, and the melodic songs of street musicians: the cozy Trastevere neighborhood south of the Vatican is an ideal place for romantics. This is where many escape, wishing to hide from the crowds of tourists in the central squares and streets of Rome.

Villa Farnesina deserves special attention, where you can stroll through the lemon garden and admire the frescoes by Raphael and his students. If your feet get tired of walking on the cobblestones, you can rent a segway and ride all the way to the top of Gianiculus Hill for a breathtaking view of the city.

9. Love the Italian food

Even an ordinary trip to a restaurant or coffee shop in Rome can turn into an exciting adventure. It’s no coincidence that Julia Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love” went to this very city to implement the first part of her plan. Combining a gastronomic tour and sightseeing in Rome is easy. Here, for example, is one of the thousands of itineraries. In the morning have a cappuccino in a cafe with a view of the Basilica of St. Mary. At noon, buy the tastiest gelato in Rome at the Old Bridge Gelateria by the Leonino Wall. Later, eat delicious truffle pasta at Osteria Barberini on the Spanish Steps. In the evening, dine on crispy pizza and homemade wine at La Prosciutteria gastropub by the Trevi Fountain.

10. Rome from Above

In a city built on seven hills, many try to embrace the entire capital of Italy at a glance. It’s always impossible. Each hill marks a different aspect of Rome: from the quiet rural setting atop the Pincio to the Roman Forum at night on the Capitol.

Rome’s highest vantage point is under the dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican. Picturesque panoramas of the Tiber and Trastevere open from the romantic site of the Castel Sant’Angelo. And from the top of the Vittoriano Monument, you can see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum like the palm of your hand.

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