For the best temperatures—not too hot and not too cold—visit Rome in October. You will also find that the crowds have gone from the summer high season. May is also a great time to go. Temperatures are similarly mild and you can see the blooming flowers at the Spanish Steps. Although spring is a great time for visiting Rome, watch out for Easter Week, when the city heaves with tourists. The high summer season begins in June and goes through August. Rome is quite humid during these hot months, making sightseeing on foot uncomfortable. In late summer many locals go away so you will find many shops and restaurants closed. If you decide to head to Rome in the off-season, be aware that late fall brings the most rain, making the chilly days unpleasant for long walks. Rome also sees crowds around Christmas and New Year; however, once January sets in—although temperatures are relatively low—you will have the city to yourself to enjoy. Colder temperatures stick around through March, so be prepared with layers if you choose to visit Rome in winter and early spring.
Rome is home to two of the world’s top tourist destinations: the Vatican and the Colosseum. Another world-class tourist sight is nearby Pompeii, which can be experienced in a day using express trains, but is probably better as a side trip. Rome’s top sights are relatively straightforward to find, fun for the whole family, and packed with lessons in history, architecture, and religion. Near the Colosseum you will find the ruins of Ancient Rome (don’t miss the Forum). Be sure to throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain—legend has it a coin thrown in the fountain will ensure a return visit. Step inside the Pantheon and marvel at the oldest and best-preserved building with a dome. Climb Palatine Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome, to catch a view of the Forum and the Circus Maximus. On your visit to the Vatican, be sure to stop inside the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece the Creation. You can also see the dome he designed at Saint Peter’s Basilica. Take time for all 138 of the Spanish Steps from the bottom to the top. Tour Villa Borghese Gardens, the large public park filled with museums, beautiful landscapes, and fountains. Buy flowers and vegetables at Piazza Campo dei Fiori, the “Field of Flowers,” or get a drink or a bite at one of the Piazza’s fine bars and restaurants.
Travel with Kids
The major Rome attractions are perfect educational tools for older children. If you have children who are lucky enough to be studying Ancient Rome, Art History, or even Architecture, getting to visit the wealth of Rome’s beauty and history is a priceless supplement to any curriculum. Younger children will probably best appreciate the yummy gelato and the exciting fountains. Kids will love throwing coins in the Trevi Fountain—although they will most likely love getting a gelato right across from the fountain even more! Piazza Navona is a great place to go on a warm evening. Kids will love watching street performers and there are plenty of cafés in and around the piazza to get dinner. When they need some downtime from sightseeing, take the kids on a walk from Piazza Campo dei Fiori along the Tiber River to Castel Sant’Angelo. You will find several parks and play areas in the city, including Piazza Celimontana, which has a playground with swings and structures to climb on. Off Via della Navicella is Parco Giochi (Parco Monte Celio), where children can play or take a miniature pony ride. If you are touring the Colosseum and need to find some shade, benches, or a picnic area, head to Via Domus Aurea north of Via Labicana. Plan to visit Borghese Gardens for a few hours with children. Here in Rome’s central public park, you can visit two art museums, ride on mini bumper cars, and generally run wild. Adults might want to take turns seeing the art inside the park’s Galleria Borghese. If you visit at the right time, go to Piazza del Popola for New Year’s Day, where clowns and other performers walk on stilts, make papier-mache masks, and eat fire. For dining options, keep in mind that Roman restaurants are generally kid-friendly. The pace of meals might be slow for impatient little ones, but children are accepted in restaurants and not viewed as a nuisance. Feel free to ask your server to see if the kitchen can make a plate of your child’s favorite meal—you will find that they will be very accommodating.
Many tourist destinations are close together in Rome and walking is sometimes the best way to get around. Some areas in the center of the city don’t allow cars, but the crowds can at times be very difficult to navigate, so you want to keep your wits about you at all times in Rome, especially during the crowded summer season. The best way to get from place to place without walking is the metro. Trains operate from early morning through midnight. You can buy individual tickets, day passes, or even weekly passes for convenience. In metro and train stations, be aware of aggressive tourist salespeople. Especially if you are not familiar with the city, your best bet is to simply ignore their offers, which are not always the best. Be on guard as well for pickpockets. It’s simple: do not EVER leave your bags or wallet unattended. Watch for people trying to distract you. Keep your belongings safe, secure, and if possible tucked under your clothes. Get taxis from official taxi stands—taxi drivers who solicit passengers often charge higher rates. Rome has bus and tram options operated by ATAC (Azienda Tramvie e Autobus del Comune di Roma). You can buy tickets in tabacchi (shops) or bus terminals—be sure to purchase a ticket before boarding. The tourist pass (biglietto giornaliero) can be used on buses, trams, and the metro. Be wary of rush hour travel however when crowds can be unmanageable for the uninitiated. If you do go by public transportation purchase a good map of the system to best navigate the city. If you go by bus: 1) be aware that bus routes change often and 2) watch out for pickpockets. Taxis are a good way to get around especially in the evening—it’s best to ask your hotel front desk or restaurant server to call you one. Car rental is not a great option in Rome for the obvious traffic, parking, and impossible navigation reasons. Other options for getting around the city are the tourist hop-on, hop-off buses and bicycle rental.
For a private and luxurious stay in Rome, book Casa Manni, a penthouse located just moments from the Spanish Steps and other arts, cultural, and architectural attractions. Offering a chic suite apartment for two, Casa Manni features a living room, bedroom, bathroom, full kitchen, and terrace. An on-call concierge is available to fulfill guests’ every need. In advance of check-in, guests can choose from an extensive wine list to fill a personal wine cellar. If you are not in the mood to cook in your full-sized kitchen or dine out on the town, the concierge can arrange personal chefs or take-out meals for to enjoy in the suite. Casa Manni Rome is owned by Armando Manni, an Italian film director and olive oil producer. Described as “The Ultimate Roman Lifestyle,” this penthouse apartment offers the comfort of a home, with an attentive concierge and unlimited amenities for you to enjoy during an extended Roman vacation, or a cultural weekend-getaway.
The Black Hotel is a 67-room, five-star, luxury boutique hotel located in Rome’s Aurelio neighborhood. Offering the perfect alternative to city center accommodation, the Black Hotel is only a few kilometers away from major Roman attractions such as Villa Doria Pamphili, Vatican Gardens, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Silent corridors lined with soft carpet lead you to the 67 rooms of the Black Hotel. The rooms sit next to one another with a beautiful park on one side and an elegant and tranquil residential neighborhood on the other. Rooms are characterized by dark oak flooring and large extruding windows that extend from the exterior of the structure. The interior of the luxurious rooms at the Black Hotel truly fuse technology and design. The same attention given to the materials of the furniture has also been reserved for the technological components, like the plasma-screen television, high-speed internet connection, automatic climate control, and digital safe box. The Superior rooms are on the second and third floors of the Black Hotel, and are spacious and comfortable. The Courtyard rooms are on the business floor of the Black Hotel and are complimented with a small courtyard, ideal for an evening drink in the beautiful Roman spring and summer evenings. On request there are also two rooms with Jacuzzi. Dining options at the Black Hotel include the wonderful Edon Restaurant. The Black Hotel is a perfect place for meetings, conferences, or trade shows. The modern meeting rooms, Andromeda and Orione, were conceived by the architects to be multi-functional. In spring and summer, if weather permits, events can be held poolside. The design of the Black Hotel and the tranquil environment, complemented by the services of Restaurant Edon, make the Black Hotel an ideal solution for efficient and successful meetings and conferences.
Hotel Pulitzer is a luxury boutique hotel strategically set in Rome’s EUR neighborhood, close to St. Paul Outside the Walls, Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, and the Museum of Roman Civilization. Hotel Pulitzer’s 83 rooms are beautifully decorated in wood, leather, and high quality natural textiles. Superior rooms have been designed as spaces dominated by an intellectual spirit of aesthetics and relaxation, with the intention of helping guests to forget they are sleeping in a hotel. At the Ristorante, you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, a wide selection of drinks and cocktails, and room service. The Hotel Pulitzer has two comfortable rooms for holding meetings and business events. The two meeting spaces cater for different needs: one is more functional, the other more informal. State-of-the-art soundproofing and air conditioning systems accompany all the technical equipment you will require such as wifi, videoconferencing facilities, DVD, overhead projector, and more. You will also be able to use the hotel’s own services for coffee breaks, business lunches, events, cocktails, and conventions. The concept of Hotel Pulitzer Roma is to provide maximum comfort with high quality personalized services and a welcoming family-style atmosphere presented in a contemporary fashion. This innovative formula makes the Pulitzer the ideal solution to the needs of tourists and business clients.
Hotel Lord Byron
The Lord Byron Hotel is a 32-room, 5-star, luxury boutique hotel in Rome, Italy. Once a patrician villa, Hotel Lord Byron provides the best of both worlds: vicinity to the bustling Eternal City’s main attractions and the opportunity to relax in a most placid private environment. The property is a longtime member of prestigious Leading Small Hotels of the World. Decorated in 1930s art-deco style, guestrooms and suites radiate warmth and intimacy. Rooms on the upper floors are marked by extreme attention to detail, vintage marble baths with views over stately villas and a pristine park. Each and every room is unique, containing appointments such as sweeping mirrors, sumptuous beds, spacious baths, and closet/dressing areas. The Sapori del Lord Byron restaurant is renowned for its esteemed cuisine and award-winning regional wine selection and is the perfect setting for a memorable dining experience. The hotel’s Il Salotto Lounge & Wine Bar is an interesting place for relaxing and entertaining, with the hotel’s natural light and interior lighting making for marvelous effects on the various hanging mirrors featured throughout.
Since its opening the Ripa Hotel Rome has strived to stand apart from the status quo of Roman hotels. This boutique hotel has always chosen to make a cultural and artistic statement by daring to use a modern minimalist style in a classical city. Breathtaking in its simplicity the hotel provides an atmosphere of functional luxury in the suggestive and picturesque Trastevere district. Rooms are elegantly decorated, many with private terraces. Amenities include: 24-hour front desk, air conditioning, baggage hold, continental breakfast, currency exchange, elevators, fitness center, luggage storage, daily maid service, porter/bellmen, safe deposit box, and wake up calls. Enjoy Mediterranean cuisine at Restaurant Riparte Café on the hotel’s ground floor. Book one of the hotel’s two conference rooms with a capacity for 300 delegates and three break-out rooms. Meeting services include: audio/visual equipment, business center, catering, cellular phone rental, computer rental, internet (wifi), printing, copy service, courier, exhibit services, fax service, notary public, pager rental, secretarial services, shipping, and video conferencing.
There is no need to convince anyone that they will find some of the best food they have ever tasted in Rome. Do be aware though that quick bites from some of the smaller outlets throughout city center and tourist areas have gone down in quality over recent years. Be sure to do some research to choose the best restaurants for your budget and taste. There is such a variety that even a small amount of study before you go to Rome or once you arrive will pay off. For a spacious and funky atmosphere and a decent wine list, try Primo, a good Trattoria with creative options such as soup of black cabbage, croutons, and mussels; baked anchovies with saucepan-tossed artichokes; or fine desserts like the semifreddo alla vaniglia with caramelised prickly pears and balsamic vinegar. Another creative take on Trattoria fare can be enjoyed at Trattoria Monti. Near Piazza Vittorio, Monti is a favorite with good service owned by a family from Le Marche. Try the tagliatelle in duck sauce, or salt cod baked in mustard. It’s on the more affordable side, but reservations are recommended (primoalpigneto.it). In the heart of the eclectic neighborhood of Trastevere is Freni e Frizioni near Piazza Trilussa, where you can dine on buffet fare amid a combination of vintage furniture with contemporary art and a laidback atmosphere. For a gourmet splurge dine at Baby, a satellite of the Amalfi Coast restaurant Don Alfonso. Chef Alfonso Iaccarino and his son Ernesto procure olive oil and vegetables from their own farm. The menu features Neapolitan flavors like ravioli filled with sheep’s cheese and marjoram in basil and cherry tomato sauce, or braised scorpion fish in a tangy tomato and caper sauce. Some other recommendations include: L’Archeologia, La Rosetta, Da I 2 Ciccioni, Felice a Testaccio, Casa Bleve, and Antico Forno Roscioli.
There are several major shopping areas in Rome, including Via Borgognona, with baroque and neoclassical storefronts selling luxury items. Near the Vatican is Via Cola Di Rienzo, where you’ll find all kinds of items along a busy street at decent prices. Along the bottom of the Spanish Steps runs Via Condotti, housing the big designer names and great for window-shopping. Climb the famous steps to Via Sistina, which leads to Piazza Barberini with stylish boutiques along the way. The younger crowd will want to head for Via Del Corso, especially near Piazza del Popolo. Another luxury shopping area is along Via Vittorio Veneto, where you will find shoes and leather goods next to fancy hotels and cafés. Around Rome you will find that fashion is nearly as important here as it is in Milan. Rome is the distribution center for Milan’s design center. You will find Italian design all over Rome, from clothes to kitchen cabinets, to furniture, and other household items. Other products sourced in Italy and worth consideration include wine, chocolate, olive oil, liqueur, porcelain, stoneware, tile, mosaics, lace, stationery, prints, engravings, fabrics, and religious objects. Keep in mind that pretty much anything can be shipped if you are willing to pay. Visitors leaving Italy are eligible for tax rebates on items over €155 so keep your receipts and follow instructions to get the proper stamp and you can get back 19-35% of your purchase price.
Rome has the museums—do you have the time? You could live in Rome for years and not get to every museum attraction that the greater Rome area has to offer. Considering that seeing the Vatican takes several days to conquer, be sure to think carefully about what most interests you in the Eternal City. Here is a list of many of Rome’s great museums:
Doria Pamphilj Gallery
Enrico Fermi Center
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna
Gallery of the Academy of Saint Luke
Geological Museum Rome
Keats-Shelley Memorial House
MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts
Mausoleum of Augustus
Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II
Museo dell’Alto Medioevo
Museo dell’Arte Classica
Museo d’Arte Contemporanea
Museo Atelier Canova Tadolini
Museo dei Bambini
Museo Barracco di Scultura Antica
Museo Carlo Bilotti
Museo Civico di Zoologia
Museo del Corso
Museo della Mura
Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia
Museo delle Origini
Museo Pietro Canonica
Museo del Risorgimento
Museo di Roma a Palazzo Braschi
Museo di Roma in Trastevere
Museo Storico della Liberazione
Museo del Vicino Oriente
Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome
Museum of Roman Civilization
National Etruscan Museum
National Museum of Oriental Art
National Museum of Pasta Foods
Museo Nazionale Romano
Baths of Diocletian
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography
Pontifical Museum of Christian Antiquities
Porta San Paolo
Villa di Massenzio
The Eternal City offers all sorts of options for the eternal evening. Different neighborhoods specialize in different entertainment and overall feeling in cafés, bars, and clubs. For music, the Testaccio or Ostiense areas are best. Near the Piazza Navona are several mellow and trendy bars. Tourists flock to the Trastevere neighborhood, where you will find lots of English speakers. In general, Roman nightlife is diverse and heterogenous—you’ll find all kinds, all ages, all tastes out and often together in cafés, bars, and clubs. Socializing is the key during the long nights out in Rome, more than drinking. For some people watching, head for Bar del Fico; for more beautiful people in a warm, private-club atmosphere go to Bar della Pace; check out the bright white at Fake; relax on the sofas at Freni e Frizioni; slum it at the hip club Goa; get to the top of the guest list at La Maison; hang out with the study abroad crowd at La Vineria; go underground at the Micca Club; taste designer beers at Open Baladin; peruse a book at Salotto 42.
Start the year off right in Rome, where New Year’s Eve is a big deal, especially in the Piazza del Popola. The Rome Independent Film Festival arrives later in winter, showcasing over 40 artists from 25 or more countries. Purim is a Roman Jewish holiday celebrated late winter or early spring when Rome’s Temple is lit up. March brings Eurochocolate, a week dedicated to the stuff, including 500 stands, a Chocobookshop, a Chocofarm, and 3,000 pure chocolate eggs adorning the famed Trinita dei Monti staircase. Easter is a major event in Rome, beginning with the Good Friday Procession, which moves from the Colosseum and up the Monte Palatino, re-enacting the 14 station of the cross from the death of Jesus to placement of his body in the tomb. Rome celebrates May Day (May 1) with a world-class music festival in Piazza San Giovanni. Tattoo lovers will love May’s X Tattoo Expo, which brings over 250 tattoo artists from all over the world to Rome to display and perform their work amid live bands, burlesque shows, clothing, and curio booths at the Hotel Egife Palace, Via Aurelia. Other spring events include the Dolce Vita Jazz Festival and the FotoGraphia contemporary photography festival. Enjoy music throughout the summer during the Estate Romana Festival. Latin music is featured during July’s Festival of Latin-American Music & Culture. Visit the Testaccio during summer’s Gay Village, with music, comedy, theatre, and dining all inside a “village” where tolerance is key. Rome also has festivities on saints’ days, including Festa de’Noantri, Festa del Carmelo, Celebration of St. Francis. Theatre festivals include the International Urban Theatre Festival, White Night, and the RomaEuropa Festival. Rome has several markets that open throughout the year, including the monthly La Soffitta Sotto I Portici, a bargain market with collectibles, memorabilia, and more; the Spring Antiques Market; the Great Autumn Market; and the Piaza Navona Christmas Market.