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Rome – the Eternal City – is often said to be the world’s greatest open-air museum, boasting hundreds of historic sights around every corner and in every square. There’s so much to see and do that you’d need a month to take it all in, but a week or less is enough to give you a taste of Italy’s incredible capital.
With more than 3,000 years under its belt, Rome has long been one of the world’s leading centres of culture. There are masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel, numerous wine-fuelled feasts to partake in, and a raft of iconic sights, including the world’s largest amphitheatre – the Colosseum.
Best of all, the majority of Rome’s attractions are within walking distance of each other, so you’ll be able to soak up the Roman way of life as you walk to the Pantheon or Trevi Fountain. Maybe you’ll discover a hidden church with beautiful frescoes or a secret trattoria serving excellent wine from the Lazio hills. (See our small-group food tour.) That’s when the phrase ‘when in Rome’ really comes in handy...
Rome is one of the most-visited cities in the world, reeling in over seven million international travellers a year. There’s a whole list of must-see sights to check off, from world-famous landmarks like the Colosseum to backstreet gelaterie that are among the best in Italy.
Palatine Hill is the best place to start. This vast archaeological dig reveals the powerful Roman heart of the city – from king-sized gladiator stadiums to the pristine Arch of Titus. Pop over to neighbouring Capitoline Hill, which comes topped with a museum-lined square by Michelangelo.
Like Florence and Pisa, the whole of Rome is an art gallery. The Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps give lessons in baroque architecture, while the Vatican Museums offer a glimpse into the secretive city-state at the centre of Rome.
Escape the lively city streets by spending an afternoon at Villa Borghese. The gardens are just as impressive as the mansion, serving up artful flowerbeds and a boating lake that wouldn’t look out of place in London.
Most international flights arrive into Rome Fiumicino airport (FCO), which is about 45 minutes from the centre of Rome. Direct flights to Fiumicino travel from from Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, Leeds, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle. The flight time comes in at about 2 hours 30 minutes.
Some direct flights also head to Rome Ciampino airport (CIA); it's approximately 30 minutes away from the city centre. These flights jet off from London Stansted, Edinburgh, Manchester, East Midlands and Glasgow, taking around 2 hours 30 minutes.
You can visit Rome at any time of the year. The city can be crowded and the weather can get hot in July and August, but you can often find some good hotel offers during this time. Spring and autumn are popular months for visitors. The warm weather makes it one of the best times to wander through Rome's piazzas (via the gelato shops, of course). But winter also has its charms – read our 10 reasons to visit Rome in winter blog post to find out why we love it.
When it comes to cuisine, Rome doesn’t disappoint. Although Roman recipes are technically simple, the plates are generous and the dishes flavour-rich. Eating out can be as simple as picking up a cup of pistachio gelato, to marathon dinners that start with aperitivo and end with a cappuccino five hours later. You can also choose from Michelin-starred ristorantes and homespun trattorias.
Don’t leave Rome without trying pizza bianca, a focaccia-style pizza that stocks bakeries city-wide. Typical pasta dishes include cacio e pepe. It sounds simple – cheese and black pepper – but that just brings out the salty kick of the local pecorino Romano cheese. Artichokes pop up all over Roman menus, too, both cooked into pasta and pizza, and deep-fried as a starter (the Roman-Jewish carciofi alla giudia).
Few cities in the world are steeped in myth and history quite like Rome – there are around 2,500 years to account for, after all. Considered one of the birthplaces of Western civilisation, Rome was the capital of the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire.
The city was one of the centres of the Renaissance from around the 14th century, seeing both baroque and neoclassicism flourish. Much of this period gave Rome the breathtaking sights and art that bring millions of visitors every year, from Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio to the Trevi Fountain. Finally, in the 20th century, it settled as the capital of the Italian Republic and earned its place on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
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