Welcome to the Eternal City: Rome is one of those rare places pretty much every visitor wants to return again and again to. And with all roads famously leading there, that seems pretty fortunate. We have come up with a selection of brilliant things to do that will help you pin down la dolce vita on your next trip to the Italian capital.
Let’s start with the obvious, because in Rome, there are loads of truly unmissable (and world-renowned) sights. Travel back in time with a mooch around the Colosseum, the former setting for gladiatorial combat in the Roman capital. Then try visiting the Vatican and get to know one of the world’s smallest states, plus St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Oh, and not to mention the Trevi Fountain, where you can throw in a coin to make a wish come true (and a second to ensure you’ll be coming back to Rome again, to see everything you didn’t take in first time).
And then there’s the art. So much goddamn art. You’ll find one of the world’s biggest private art collections at the Galleria Borghese, founded by cardinal and artists’ patron Scipione Borghese. He patronised all sorts of now-mythical geniuses like Caravaggio and Bernini, who counted on his support to develop their extravagant, baroque works of art. And it’s also to the same churchman that we owe the vast park within the Villa Borghese: the perfect spot to while away a couple of hours after a day’s sightseeing.
Rome is often depicted as a ‘museum-city’, a sort of old-world, open-air Disneyland. But to call it that would be an injustice. Just take a look at the architecture of MAXXI, the city’s primary modern art museum. Designed by Zaha Hadid, this building will dismantle all your prejudices with its lush curves and leaning interior walls (no doubt a knowing wink to a certain tower in Pisa).
To see another side of Rome you didn’t necessarily know, we’d also recommend checking out the seaside Lido di Ostia neighbourhood. Right at the mouth of the Tiber, facing the Tyrrhenian Sea, this relatively undiscovered corner of the capital holds a number of beautiful beaches (and loads and loads of Romans, who flock here in droves to lap up the sea air, largely in the absence of tourists). It’s a brilliant spot to fill up on serotonin and gaze out at the sun setting over the sea.
In Ostia, like anywhere in Rome, it will always feel like a good time to succumb to temptation and sample some classic Italian food. At basically any hour of the day, there’s good reason to discover the city’s famed culinary delights: perhaps a duo of cappuccino-cornetto at San Calisto for breakfast, lunch at an institution of cucina romana like Epiro, a refreshing gelato in the middle of the afternoon and, to round off your gourmet day, aperitivi in the Travestere neighbourhood – ideally just as the sun starts to redden the skyline.
You could also bring the foodie fun back to your place by filling up on fresh local produce. This city’s markets, like the mythical sprawl of stalls on the Campo de’ Fiori square, will never fail to deliver when it comes to excellent-quality wine, olive oil and charcuterie. You could also take in the heady smells at Beppe e i suoi formaggi, which was recently voted one of the best cheese shops in the world. Beats your local supermarket, eh?