Capital of Faith and Culture, Rome is the birthplace of western civilization, where past and present join together in perfect harmony. The “Eternal City” provides the most spectacular backdrop for history and passion in the entire world.
By the numbers
Population: 2,877,215 million (city); 4,356,403 million (metropolitan)
Elevation: 21 meters / 69 feet
Time Zone: GMT +1 (GMT +0 Daylight Savings Time); Central European Time (CET)
Average Annual Precipitation: 73.4 centimeters / 28.90 inches
Average Annual Rainfall: 84 centimeters / 33 inches
Average January Temperature: 7 °C / 44 °F
Average July Temperature: 25 °C / 75 °F
Did you know?
About EUR3000 is thrown into the Trevi Fountain every day. The coins are collected at night and used to fund a supermarket for needy citizens.
No wonder Italy heads international fashion; Rome had professional barbers as far back as 300 BCE.
There were once nearly 250,000 seats at Circus Maximus, the ancient chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue.
The subject of an endless number of historic plays and movies, the stories surrounding Rome have permeated the depths of Western culture. From The Vatican to the Colosseum, Rome’s deep history and cultural significance is evidenced by every monument and palazzo. Seeing Rome as it is today, it may be hard to imagine that this sprawling metropolis began with a small settlement of shepherds and farmers near the Tiber River on the Palatine Hill, the same site where Augustus, the first Emperor, built his home. The old city occupied six other hills (Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, Aventine and Capitoline), though the modern city extends far beyond those confines.
Old Rome & Colosseo
When most people think of Rome, the first thing that comes to mind is the ancient empire and the remains of that era. The historic center of Old Rome only takes up a small amount of this now modern city, but the whole area should not be missed by visitors to the Eternal City. Undoubtedly the most iconic symbol of ancient Rome is the huge Colosseum, once the city’s main source of public entertainment. Just next to the Colosseum is the ancient center of daily life, the Roman Forum. It was here that the main marketplace was located, as well as main government buildings. Today the remains provide a breathtaking addition to a trip into Rome’s past, with ancient foundations standing alongside triumphant arches. Sitting right next to these sites is the Palatine Hill, with the Domus Augusti (Augustus’ house) and Palace of Domitian looking down on the forum from the hilltop. Legend has it that this hill is the location that the eventual founder of the city, Romulus, and his brother Remus, were nursed by a she-wolf as infants.
Another of Rome’s original hills is also located within Old Rome- the Capitoline Hill. On top of this hill, visitors will find the world-famous Capitoline Museums, largely designed by Michelangelo. These archaeological museums’ collections are made up of a mind-blowing number of relics of Rome’s vast empire, from ancient Greek statues to Egyptian sarcophagi, ancient coins and more. A bit farther away from this concentrated ancient center is the grand Pantheon. Once a temple, then a church, today this landmark with its Corinthian columns and coffered dome is one of the most visited in the city. Just steps away is the Piazza Navona, lined with charming restaurants and hosting street performers almost any day of the week. Also close by is the ever popular Campo de’ Fiori, home to a lively daily produce market that has been going strong since 1869.
Rome’s Modern Center is situated just northeast of Old Rome and the area around the Colosseum, and on the western edge of Termini Station. This whole area is always bustling, with plenty of nightlife, shopping and accommodations to go around. One of the area’s grandest attractions is the Palazzo Barberini, formerly the stately home of Pope Urban VIII. Today the palazzo houses the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, with its collection of fine arts by Renaissance masters. Across the street, sitting on top of ancient Rome’s highest hill, is the monumental Quirinal Palace, one of Italy’s three official presidential residences. Just around the corner is the beautiful Baroque Trevi Fountain- make sure you toss in a coin over your left shoulder to ensure that you will return to Rome one day! Also located in the Modern Center are the National Roman Museum, in the historic Baths of Diocletian.
Across the Tiber River from the historic center of Rome sits a tiny (44 hectare/110 acre) country and the center of the Catholic faith worldwide, Vatican City. This small nation consists of the extensive Vatican Museums, which contains some of the most priceless treasures in the world, the sprawling Saint Peter’s Square and Basilica, the famously decorated Sistine Chapel, and the Apostolic Palace, among other official church buildings. Visitors to Vatican City enjoy buying postcards and special stamps from the gift shops and sending them out from the smallest country in the world. A large portion of Vatican City is actually made up of gardens, parkland and semi-private structures, some of which can be visited with prior arrangement. Although not actually in Vatican City, the round Castel Sant’Angelo has historically been a residence of Popes and is actually connected to Saint Peter’s Basilica by a private passage called the Passetto di Borgo.
Rome’s North Center is one of Rome’s larger districts. The Piazza di Spagna’s iconic Spanish Steps, with the Trinità dei Monti church at the top are some of the most popular sites in the area. Practically next door to the piazza is the Villa Medici, once home to the Medici family and now the French Academy in Rome. The villa’s gardens practically fuse with the larger Borghese Gardens, attached to the Galleria Borghese, which displays works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Rubens, Titian and others. On the other end of the gardens from the museum is the ever popular Piazza del Popolo with its towering Egyptian obelisk. Just down the Via di Ripetta is the Mausoleum of Augustus, an ancient tomb that once held the remains of the Imperial Family.
On the west bank of the Tiber is the hip and trendy district of Trastevere. The main thoroughfare between Trastevere and Old Rome is the Ponte Garibaldi, a popular spot for selfies. Perhaps due to its two universities Trastevere is always lively, with a large number of bars and restaurants throughout its cobblestone streets. The Santa Maria in Trastevere church in the Piazza di Santa Maria is one of the oldest in the city and contains stunning 13th-century gold mosaics. This district is also where you will find the Orto Botanico di Roma botanical garden, with over 3,000 species of flora in its various themed gardens and sections. The Tempietto tomb in Trastevere’s San Pietro in Montorio church is said to mark the spot where Saint Peter himself was martyred, though this is disputed.
Aventino is named for the Aventine Hill, one of Rome’s original seven, located just the other side of the Circus Maximus from the Colosseum. The top of the hill is adorned with the Parco Savello, next to the Santa Sabina Basilica, which provides incredible views of domes and rooftops of the city, with an especially great view of Saint Peter’s Basilica. At Santa Maria in Cosmedin, stick your hand in the Bocca della Veritá (Mouth of Truth), but make sure you don’t tell a lie or legend says it will bite your hand off. The Terme di Caracalla is also located in this area, a large public bath during the Roman Empire. Today these ruins host several cultural events a year, including operas in the summer. The adjoining area of Testaccio is known for nightlife, being the home to many nightclubs and traditional restaurants.
Just south of Termini and the Modern Center, sandwiched between Ancient Rome and Nomentano is Esquilino (another of the original seven hills) and the area of San Giovanni. This is a less touristy area of Rome, but still has a number of interesting sights to see. Perhaps the most prominent landmark of Esquilino is the 9th-century Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, with its gleaming golden mosaics. San Giovanni is named for the San Giovanni in Laterano Basilica, which is the oldest Papal Basilica in Rome and the Roman Catholic mother church. The basilica contains the tombs of six former popes as well as the Scala Santa, the staircase which Jesus is said to have walked during his Passion, which were moved from Jerusalem to Rome in the late 16th Century. The basilica is a major pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics. At the Piazza di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, visit the collection of the National Museum of Musical Instruments, which displays portions at a time of its collection of thousands of instruments.
Just east of Termini and the center, and outside the ancient walls, is the fairly large district of Nomentano, which encompasses the smaller area of San Lorenzo. This is a great area for people who still want to be close to the action of Rome, but also want somewhere more removed to escape to when it’s time to retire for the evening. The area is largely residential, so it’s a great place to mix with the locals and get some authentic Roman flavor. Nomentano is also home to the church of Sant’Agnese fuori le mura, which houses the remains of Saint Agnes, as well as to the Villa Torlonia and its gardens, once home to Mussolini. San Lorenzo is a trendy area, and very popular for nightlife, from lively sidewalk restaurants to pubs and hipster bars.
Rome extends outside the city proper, with outskirts stretching in practically all directions. To the southeast of central Rome, close to the airport, is the neighbourhood of Ostia, known fondly as the “Roman Riviera” due to its shoreline. Ostia is Rome’s tourist port, as well as the main beach. Another interesting destination in Ostia is the ancient city of Ostia Antica. Often overshadowed by the ruins of Pompeii, Ostia Antica was a major port of the Roman Empire under Claudius and Trajan. After its desertion, the town was covered with sand and mud from the river, preserving it much like Pompeii was preserved by the ashes of Vesuvius.
To the southeast is the Via Appia, or Appian Way, the famous ancient Roman road used by the military to go between Rome and southeastern Italy. The road is lined with historic attractions, including several tombs and catacombs, churches and archaeological sites like the Villa dei Quintili, the Circus of Maxentius and Caffarella Park. The area also has some museums like the San Paolo fuori le Mura. A popular day trip involves biking down the Via Appia to stop at all the incredible sites around the way.
To the north of central Rome and Vatican City are many of the city’s suburban areas. One of this area’s biggest landmarks is Monte Mario, the biggest hill in Rome, although not one of the original seven. The vast views from Monte Mario are a true sight to be seen. On the northwestern shore of the Tiber is the Foro Italico and Stadio Olimpico, the center piece of Rome’s 1960 Summer Olympic Games. Today the complex and stadium still host events, from major soccer matches and tournaments to big name concerts like Elton John, U2, Madonna, The Rolling Stones and many more.
Rome is so steeped in history and culture it would be almost impossible to experience everything the city has to offer, but with so much to be seen, it’s certainly fun to try!
Dining and drinking
There is a wide, varied selection as far as gastronomy is concerned in Rome; choices range from exclusive high-level cuisine, developed by some of the most famous chefs on the international scene to traditional, hearty Romanesca fare in all its manifold variations. There’s also Jewish cuisine, testaccina recipes, specialties of Lazio and ethnic dishes, which can be sampled in the plethora of restaurants that offer delights from all over the world.
The only way to really understand the heart and soul of Rome is by tasting its culinary splendours. Romans, like all Italians, love to eat, and so when in Rome, you should do as the Romans do and sit yourself down in a popular trattoria or osteria. This allows you to steep yourself in Roman culture while you discover the tastes and flavours of traditional cooking through the ages.
Delicious Roman cuisine stems from a time when people were unable to afford a meal made with meat, and therefore had to use offal (entrails), which at that time was considered less “prestigious” but definitely more affordable. Over the centuries, traditional dishes like coda alla vaccinara (oxtail cooked with wine, tomatoes and peppers), la pajata, (veal’s offal cooked in a tomato sauce), l’abbacchio alla scottadito (lamb) and la trippa alla romana (tripe), have come to be considered as delicacies.
Centro Storico (Historic Center)
If in search of high-class food, Rome offers a great choice of quality restaurants. There are elegant places in the more exclusive hotels, such as La Pergola dell’Hotel Hilton or La Veranda dell’Hotel Majestic. You can also try the delights of creative gourmet cuisine at Quinzi & Gabrieli. Tucked away down a small alley, the exclusive Il Convivio Troiani can be hard to find, but if you are looking for Italian alta cucina this is your place. Romolo nel Giardino della Fornarina in Trastevere is the perfect setting for a romantic evening; dine outside in the low-lit courtyard where Raphael is said to have courted his lady La Fornarina. Nino is a cozy option, offering classic Roman and Tuscan cuisine in a warm environment. Or, if you are looking for pizza in the center, try Da Baffetto, which has been serving up some of best pizza pies around since the 1960s.
Inspired by the popular film Babette’s Feast, Ristorante Babette has the feel of a 1920s French bistro. Gusto 28 also has a chic early 20th-century feel, and is especially known for its seafood dishes and variety of vegetarian plates. Ancient meets modern at L’Acino Brillo, where creative cuisine and contemporary decor blend delightfully in this hip restaurant and wine bar.
Rosati is also in the center and offers great views with their coffee. A celebrity hot spot during the 1960s and 1970s, they also have a dining room if your espresso leaves you wanting more.
A relaxing way to enjoy a snack or evening coffee is at one of Rome’s many cafés, usually serving coffee, gelato, panini and snacks. The elegant Ciampini is located atop the Spanish Steps, and offers amazing views of the city. The famed Antico Caffè Greco is one of Rome’s oldest (open since the 1760), and is definitely one of its most exclusive.
Pizzerias and trattorie are definitely the most popular places to dine in Rome, being informal, economical and fast. Roman pizzerias are home to pizza alla romana, pizzas with a thin crust and a crispy edge, as opposed to the soft raised crusts of the Neapolitan pizza. However, if you are craving a taste of bella Napoli, you can’t do any better than Da Vittorio. You will find pizzerias in every corner of the city, but Trastevere offers an especially wide choice of pizza restaurants with wood burning ovens, which give the pizza a more intense flavor. Panattoni, Ivo, Dar Poeta, Roma Sparita, Arco di San Calisto, are just some of the high quality pizza parlors. Remo, in the heart of Testaccio, offers outdoor seating and a hip younger crowd. In addition to pizza, don’t miss other delicious Roman offerings found at pizzerie and trattorie, such as Supplì al telefono, fried rice balls filled with mozzarella, potato croquettes, fried cod fillets, fried pumpkin flowers, and bruschette, (slices of toasted bread with tomato or oil and garlic).
Est! Est!! Est!!! has been around since the early 1900s, and serves thick-crusted pan pizzas as opposed to traditional Roman thin-crusted pies. This is a great option if you are in the center of the city and don’t feel like heading over to the many pizzerie over in the Trastevere. Experience the magic of handmade chocolates at Said dal 1923, which also serves dinner and lunch at its location near Termini station. Trattoria Monti, a highly-lauded restaurant famous for its beautiful ambiance and splendid food must be visited for a heavenly dining experience. Other celebrated eateries in the area include Er Buchetto, the equal parts bakery and pizzeria Forno Roscioli Pietro, and Ristorante da Dino for more Italian delights.
If your belly is rumbling after enduring the lines and crowds at the Sistine Chapel, head over to Osteria dell’Angelo for delicious and traditional cuisine. On the historic Borgo Pio, Arlu has regaled visitors with its culinary offerings since 1959. At Tre Pupazzi, another precious find on the same street, enjoy spectacular regional dishes like the saltimbocca, or head to the Trattoria Vaticano Giggi. The Angrypig Birretta e Porchetta, a Porchetta specialist located just a little outside Vatican City is one of the most highly rated restaurants here.
Rome’s beauty is accessible both day and night, and the same can be said for its vast range of entertainment, including theatre, cinemas, opera, discos, museums; the list is (almost) endless.
The theatrical season lasts from October to May and it can often continue through the summer months. Most theatres offer a range of plays and productions, but there is one special exception; Teatro Sistina is the undisputed home of musicals. There are numerous private, experimental and avant-garde theatres often hosting young artists and offering stimulating, thought-provoking works. The Abraxa Teatro, is home to an innovative company who seek to express themselves and their ideas by using their bodies rather than speech. If your tastes are a little more traditional, historic theatres such as Teatro Argentina, one of the oldest in the city, the Teatro Nazionale offers operas and performances by famous actors and theatre companies. The Teatro della Cometa and the Teatro Flaiano offer drama, comedy and other performing arts.
There are a large number of venues in Rome offering live music by international artists from all over the world. Many high-quality performances by internationally recognized musicians take place at Auditorium Parco della Musica. The Trastevere quarter is the home of the historic Big Mama blues club. If you enjoy jazz music, the municipal Casa del Jazz and Alexanderplatz jazz club in Trionfale are recommended. More successful live venues and clubs are concentrated in certain areas such as the Testaccio quarter, including places like Akab and Radio Londra.
Classical music lovers will be pleased with Rome’s varied concert season. There is chamber music at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia and L’Oratorio del Gonfalone organizes delightful baroque music concerts featuring its beautiful organ. The elegantly furnished and imposing Teatro dell’Opera offers the most important operatic season in the city, and in summer performances are held outdoors in the enchanting Terme di Caracalla, and some of their shows are held in the Teatro Nazionale. Il Tempietto also offers concerts throughout the year.
Rome is one of the most historic cities in the world, and the birthplace of many famous artists and artistic styles, so it should be no surprise that some of the finest museums in the world can be found in the Eternal City. One of the most incredible collections of art, from paintings to sculpture, as well as Michelangelo’s masterpiece ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, can be found in the Vatican Museums’ hundreds of rooms. View works of masters like Caravaggio, Bernini and Raphael at the opulent Galleria Borghese. Many consider the Capitoline Museums to be the oldest public museum in the world, and today its collection includes ancient Roman statues and Renaissance art. Not everything in Rome is ancient, however. At the National Gallery of Modern Art, visitors can admire works by Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock and many modern Italian artists. Maxxi displays even more recent art, being focused on works created in the 21st Century.
Monuments & Landmarks
Housing centuries of history and culture in its many spectacular sights, Rome is an easy city to enjoy on foot, and visitors will discover monuments and landmarks around almost every corner. Some of the most obvious attractions in the Eternal City are the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, and Pantheon. With easy access to Vatican City, you can also uncover such wonders as the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Fans of the ancient world will have more than enough to keep them busy by touring the various ruins found in Rome. For the best in architectural remains, add the Theatre of Marcellus, Imperial Fora, Palatine Hill, and Arch of Constantine to your list of must-see sights.
The city of Rome contains so many historical jewels and interesting places to visit that it can even be difficult to see all the really famous sites. It may seem that on every block there is a breathtaking monument or fountain or stone ruins dating back to the Roman Empire. Despite the city’s size and its many important destinations, most of Rome’s major sites of interest are within walking distance, especially if you take breaks for espresso and gelato.
Colosseum & The Forum
The Palatine is the oldest part of the city and home to the many of the ancient sites. Heading the list of Rome’s ancient monuments is, of course, the Colosseum. Constructed between 70 and 80 BCE, it is still the symbol of Rome and draws visitors from all over the world. Even if the lines are long, a tour of this archeological wonder is well worth it. If you get a chance to see it, the Colosseum and Constantine’s Arch are lit magnificently at night. To the North of the Palatine hill are the vast remains of the Roman Forum, once the social, political, and economic center of the city. A classic with the “Dolce Vita” crowd of the 1950s, stop in at nearby Angelino ai Fori for fresh pasta, plenty of house wine and seafood delivered daily.
Pantheon, Trevi & Navona
The Pantheon, with its circular interior and open ceiling, was constructed by Marcus Agripps around 27 BCE and later rebuilt circa 125 CE. Colonna Traiana (Trajan’s Column) can be easily missed, but stop to take a look at the intricately carved scenes that wind up the pillar; they tell incredible tales of battles and empire that have been studied by art history scholars for centuries. The restored Teatro di Marcello at one time had space for 20,000 people, and today a variety of concerts are organized here, (but the only way to get a peek inside is to attend a show).
Another one of Rome’s famous landmarks is the Trevi Fountain, immortalized in Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita. Although you are not allowed to wade through the fountain as Sylvia did, legend has it that throwing a coin in ensures a return trip to Rome. Nearby is the large, oval shaped Piazza Navona, which was once a Roman circus (hence its shape), but designated as a square in the 15th Century. Bernini’s famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is located here, along with Fontana del Nettuno.
Piazza Campo de’ Fiori is also close by. By day, the square hosts one of the most famous street markets in Italy, and is a popular meeting place for tourists as well as local youth during evening hours. The Spanish Steps or Scalinata Trinità dei Monti are another of Italy’s most famous meeting places. They ascend steeply to Trinità dei Monti, a 16th-century church, and at their base is Piazza Spagna.
The center of the city offers several places to stop for a meal or a treat, like Il Giggetto, which serves traditional Roman Jewish fare (lots of artichokes!) or La Carbonara for delicious Roman dishes. Or, if you are looking for a snack, pick up a gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino where you can try some of the best flavours in all of Rome.
Many of the works that were uncovered during the original excavations can now be seen in the Palazzo Farnese and Vatican Museums. During the month of August, the ruins set the scene for a series of opera performances. Piazza San Pietro is one of the most visited places on Earth. People come from all over the world to see Saint Peter’s Basilica and receive the Pope’s blessing, traditionally given Sundays at noon. Leave plenty of time to tour the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums), which house numerous masterpieces, including Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and Rapahel’s School of Athens.
Just east of the Vatican on the Tiber River is Castel Sant’Angelo. Originally constructed as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian in 139 CE, the fortress was used as a castle during the 10th Century and eventually as a papal residence. The last act of Puccini’s masterwork Tosca took place here, and today the building has been turned into a museum. The Ponte Sant’Angelo stretches over the Tiber and was also constructed by Hadrian, intended to link the tomb with the center of Rome. Further down the river, Isola Tiberana features an interesting mishmash of historical architecture. The site of an ancient Greek temple dedicated to the god of medicine, the island is still considered a place of healing as it is home to a modern hospital. There are plenty of restaurants and cafés in the vicinity of the Vatican, but one particular spot to try is Osteria dell’Angelo, which serves traditional Roman cuisine or Tre Pupazzi for traditional, family-style Abruzzese fare.
Archeobus (+39 06 6840901/ http://www.trambusopen.com/)
Sight Jogging (+39 347 335 3185/ http://www.sightjogging.it/ )
Time Elevator Experience (+39 06 9774 6243/ http://www.timeelevator.it/)
Cruiser Bike Tours (+39 055 2398855/ http://www.italycruiserbiketours.com)
The glorious Roman civilization had its origins in small groups of farmers and shepherds who settled along the banks of the Tiber, on the Palatine hills and the surrounding areas.
The most famous myth regarding Rome’s origins recounts the Trojans’ escape from their ruined city of Troy. With Aeneas as their guide, they reached Lazio, settled there and intermarried with the Latin people. Ascanius, son of Aeneas, founded Albalonga. His ancestor, Amulius took the throne from his older brother, Numitore and forced his daughter Rhea Silvia to become a vestal virgin. However, Silvia was loved by the god Mars and bore him twin sons, Romulus and Remus, who were thrown into the Tiber. The twins survived and were washed up close to the Palatine hills. A she-wolf raised the newborn babies, who were later found and adopted by a shepherd and his wife. An argument between the two brothers over who was the founder of the city was decided when Romulus murdered his brother, and Rome is said to have been established in 753 BCE.
The Roman republic was characterized by internal struggles that eventually led to the success of the plebeians (lower class Romans) and a new order of ruling class. The city expanded, and gradually, the whole of Lazio, the Italic peninsula and the Mediterranean basin were conquered. For almost four centuries, Rome concentrated her energies on building a strong, solid empire. Mighty conquests came thick and fast: from Sannitic and Tarantine wars, to clashes with Carthage and Syracuse. Rome expanded over land and sea to rule a huge area stretching from present-day Britain to present-day Iraq.
In the first two centuries of the Empire, Rome reached the height of its power, but the first signs of its downfall were already apparent towards the end of the second century. The imperial age opened with a long period of peace, and the unity of the empire was secure during the period between Emperors Octavian and Caracallus. However, this unity became increasingly unstable and eventually dissolved.
The fall of the Roman Empire is dated at 476 BCE. The causes of Rome’s decline are numerous. The empire was unable to control its many subjects, and social and economic changes created instability as did the forceful arrival of the Barbarians. Christianity also began to spread and emperors tried to unite the empire using religion. Emperors wanted to have their titles sanctified and became Holy Roman Emperors. Emperor Constantine sanctioned the freedom and tolerance of Christians in his edict of 313 CE but he unwisely decided to move the capital of the empire to Constantinople undermining the Empire’s power. The pontificate was re-established in Rome with Gregory XI in 1377. The power of the Popes increased as they were able to assign public offices, which led to serious corruption, nepotism, clashes and schisms. The centralization of the papacy and the church’s power made a cultural impact on the city of seven hills. Rome became the center of artistic life. The face of the city changed, as palaces, villas, piazzas and churches were built. New streets were created and the Basilica of Saint Peter was restored. The sack of Rome occurred in 1527, and although the effects were disastrous, (all the artists abandoned the city), the wounds were soon healed and a new spirit of rebirth and development enveloped the city. More new districts and streets were created and the population began to move back to the city.
In the 17th Century, Rome went through a period of expansion and beautification, largely due to the work of two major artists, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini. Clashes continued between the nobility and the populace. Rome’s fortune waxed and waned under Napoleonic rule; the church’s estates were confiscated and divided amongst French officials and shrewd Italians. The city was subject to French rule until the fall of Napoleon III and the annexation of Rome to the Kingdom of Italy in 1870.
Rome became the capital of Italy in 1870 and the city received a huge influx of immigrants, which led to the rapid, and disordered creation of new dwellings. The situation did not improve with the advent of fascism. During World War II, the city was bombarded heavily by the United States, causing major damage, particularly in the areas of Verano and Porta Maggiore. The city was attacked during the period of German occupation until the end of the war. Following Mussolini’s execution, Italy chose to get rid of its monarchy and become a republic, and Rome was chosen as the capital.
Getting there and getting around
From the Airport
Fiumicino/Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport
Train: One of the easiest ways to reach the city from the airport is by train, as long as you are not lugging along serious baggage. Follow signs for “Stazione FS/Railway Station,” located on the second floor. The Leonardo Express runs directly from the airport to the main rail terminal, Roma Termini. Trains depart every 30 minutes from 6:35a-11:35p and the trip takes about half an hour. (From Termini to the airport, trains run every half hour between 5:50a-10:50p). Tickets can be purchased either from a window or automated machines; (just be sure to validate at one of the validation machines located on the platforms before you board). Children under 12 accompanied by an adult ride free. The other rail option, the Metropolitan FM1 Train, is cheaper and more frequent (leaves every 15 minutes during the week and Saturdays, every 30 minutes on Sundays), but slogs along, stopping often, including a pause at the Tiburtina Station.
Bus: Terravison (http://www.terravision.eu/rome_fiumicino.html) operates a shuttle service to Roma Termini, with several stops between. The trip takes around 70 minutes, and requires a valid boarding pass or ticket from one of their airlines (see website for details).
Taxi: Rome’s official taxis are white with black identity codes on the door. A ride from the airport to the city center should cost around EUR48, with additional fees for large pieces of luggage. There are taxi lines at each of the arrival areas of the airport and it is best to wait for an official taxi rather than be persuaded out of line by non-licensed drivers.
Bus: SITbusshuttle (+39 06 591 7844 / http://www.sitbusshuttle.it/) has service to Roma Termini and Tiburtina Railway stations. A one way fare is EUR6, and tickets can be purchased on board.
The COTRAL bus costs EUR1 (http://www.cotralspa.it/) and operates bus service between the airport and the Anagnina metro stop, located on line A.
Terravision (http://www.terravision.eu/rome_ciampino.html) also operates a frequent shuttle service to Roma Termini, but requires a valid boarding pass from one of the airlines they work with, (see website for detailed list), as well as a Terravision voucher. Vouchers can be purchased for EUR8 (one-way) at the Terravission office on Via Marsala at Roma Termini, or at the airport. They can also be purchased at various airports in other parts of Europe, including London Stansted and Frankfurt Hahn airports. Taxi: The taxi line is located outside the arrivals hall. From Ciampino to the city center should cost around EUR35. Rome’s official taxis are white with an identification number on the door, and it is advisable to use only authorized (metered and regulated) taxis.
From Ciampino to Fiumicino:
Schiaffini Travel S.p.A. (http://www.schiaffini.com/) provides a transfer service between Ciampino and Fiumicino airports. Tickets are EUR5 and can be purchased on board.
Train: There is no rail service connecting the airport to Rome, but you can take a taxi to the Ciampino train station, not far away, and then take a regional (not fast) train into Rome’s Termini Station.
Although the major hub for European train travel in the country is Milan, Rome has its fair share of long-haul international services and is part of a far-reaching domestic rail network. It is managed and maintained by the Italian State Railway (http://www.trenitalia.com/) and offers a variety of options for roving across Europe or just traveling throughout Italy. EuroStar Italia has several high speed lines throughout the country and its major cities. Most of the trains arrive and depart at Rome’s Termini Station, including all InterCity, regional and national trains. A few international trains also stream into Ostiense and Tiburtina stations. Train routes include the EuroCity Michelangelo between Rome and Munich, the E368/369 Express Train between Rome and Nice and the EuroNight train connecting Rome, Basel and Geneva. Artesia has overnight service between Rome and Paris.
Roma Termini is the main transport hub of the city. Both lines of the metro system converge here. Just outside the station you will find a number of bus stops, and many airport shuttle services drop off here as well.
Stazione Tiburtina is a smaller rail station, located northeast of the city center. Most intercity and international buses are based here.
Stazione Tiburtina (http://www.romatiburtina.it/) is located northeast of the city center and is the base for most intercity buses. The bus terminal where you can purchase tickets is located adjacent to the rail station. Euroline (http://www.eurolines.it/) services bus lines that run internationally.
It’s true what they say: all roads lead to Rome. The A1, Italy’s famed superhighway running from Milan in the north and to Naples in the south, has a spur to Rome. The A24 spans east and the SS1 Aurelia coastal route splits the A12/E80 between Genoa and Rome. All converge with Rome’s circular road, the Grande Raccordo Anulare (GRA). With gas prices paid by the liter and toll roads littering the motorways, driving can be quite expensive. Check out the Autostrade website (http://www.autostrade.it/) for toll information throughout the country.
Rome Metropolitana or metro has two lines (A and B) recognizable by large red signs marked “”M””. The lines criss-cross through the city, intersecting only at Stazione Termini. Tickets can be purchased at newsstands, tabaccherie, or from machines located in the subway stations. Trains run from 5:30a-11:30p everyday, and until 12:30a on Saturdays.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around is by bus. They run 24 hours a day throughout the entire city, and a single ticket is good for 75 minutes on any means of transit. An all day (BIG) ticket is valid until midnight the day it is stamped. The BTI tourist ticket can be used any time for three days after the date of validation. Children under ten years ride free. For information about other special tickets, visit http://www.atac.roma.it/ (Italian only site).
Rome’s official taxis are white or yellow and have a black identification number on the door. It is advisable to use only these authorized taxis, as they are metered and regulated. Normal starting fare (between 7a-10p) is EUR2.50; night fares (10p-7a) are higher at EUR5. Remember that Sunday and holiday fares also apply between 7a-10p, and that the rate per mile increases if you travel outside the city limits. Be sure to bring plenty of small bills as Roman taxi drivers are notorious for not having change! Taxi Companies include:
Cooperativa Radiotaxi Samarcanda
Driving in Italy can be a harrowing experience, but driving in Rome can be worse. Much of the historical center is a restricted driving zone (Zona Trafica Limitata – abbreviated ZTL), and non-resident vehicles are prohibited Monday to Friday 8a-6p and Sa 8a-1p. This is strictly enforced and violations can result in major fines. Free public spaces are indicated by white lines. Paid parking spaces are marked by blue lines, and can be found in semi-central areas such as Termini and the Vatican, although finding a space (especially during tourist season) can be more hassle than it’s worth. Parking Termini is located in front of the main train station and is open from 6a-1a. ParkSi and Parking Ludovisi are located near the Villa Borghese and have slightly cheaper rates. Another option are the parcheggi di scampio lots, located farther outside the city center usually near metro stops. This is a very economical, but riskier option as lots are unattended.