City Orientation Walk I, Rome (Self Guided)

Legend has it that Rome was founded in 753 BC by twin brothers Romulus and Remus who were raised by a she-wolf. However, the pair argued about who had the support of the gods, and Romulus ended up killing Remus in a fight on what became Palatine Hill. Thus, Romulus named the city after himself and declared himself as king.

In a slightly less glorious account, Rome actually began as an Iron Age hut village, founded in the mid-8th century BC. For centuries it was a small and struggling city-state, but after times of poverty and war, Rome slowly won ground, and by 275 B.C. controlled all of Italy. By the 1st century A.D., Rome was the capital city of the Roman Empire, and the largest in the world, with a population over one million.

For the next five centuries, The Roman Empire dominated the entire Mediterranean region and its rule left lasting influences on every aspect of European culture, from language and government to medicine and sports. The Roman Empire was also known for its extravagant building projects, and as its capital city, Rome experienced an unprecedented building boom.

The city went into decline after the fall of Roman Empire in 476 AD, but it recovered spectacularly in the mid-15th century, and for over 200 years was embellished by the greatest artists of the Renaissance and the Baroque. Finally, in 1870, Rome became the capital of the newly unified Italy.

Given its rich history and numerous archaeological monuments, we compiled two self guided walks to showcase the most unique sights and architectures in Rome. City Orientation I features iconic vestiges of ancient times including Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Arch of Constantine, among others. To obtain directions to the sights in question, tap the sight's name below this introduction and then tap it on the map at the bottom of the sight's information screen. The GPS navigation function will guide you to the chosen destination.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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City Orientation Walk I Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk I
Guide Location: Italy » Rome (See other walking tours in Rome)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Author: clare

1) Colosseum (must see)

The Colosseum is one of the grandest monuments to stand the test of time and probably the most visited ruins in the world. The works on this colossal structure began in 72 AD and took 8 years to complete. The official opening was marked with gladiator fights lasting 100 days.

The amphitheater has four tiers that could hold up to 50,000 spectators. The lowest tier was for the emperor and royal families. The middle two tiers were for Roman citizens and city authorities. The highest was for plebs. Below-ground passages used to bring men and animals into the arena and a ditch was built to separate animals from spectators. The amphitheater was mainly used for three types of public spectacles: wild beast hunts, public executions and, of course, the famous gladiators. Spectacles in the Colosseum could last for days. Admission was free and the main sponsor was the Emperor. Although popular belief states that early Christians were martyred here, it is highly unlikely, as revealed by records.

At one point in the 18th century, the Colloseum was used as a fortress and then, later, served as a quarry, for other builders to take stones out of. Later visitors got into the habit of chipping pieces away to keep as souvenirs. Due to this stone theft and earthquakes, only the north side of the building now remains, as well as the underground passages. The arena floor is gone, and it is only possible to access the underground through pre-booked tours. Booking far in advance is the only way of seeing the subterranean as well as the 3rd floor. The only floors accessible without this special ticket, are the ground floor and the next level; on the other hand, the special ticket allows free entry to the close-by Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, so it's likely the best choice if you aren't pressed for time.

Inside the Colosseum, you will find an exhibition about its history along with changing exhibitions. You can walk all day around the building's many layers and take photos from every angle – whether it's the inside or the view from its many windows. Do not expect to have the site to yourself, but if you arrive and enter as soon as it opens you have a good chance of strolling around without getting uncomfortable.

Why You Should Visit:
There is so much more to this magnificent sight than meets the eye... It is great to see and try to imagine what happened there in years gone by.

Go early in the morning or late in the evening, as the queues are crazy in the middle of the day and it's usually too hot to be standing around anyway.
If you can't make it early but want to avoid the queues, then pay a little extra and take a guided tour – it will also get you in the Forum area.
Tickets can also be bought in advance (plenty options available) or at the Roman Forum (queues are much shorter there).
It's worth getting the audio guide to get more information about the layout and what happened where.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-4:30pm (Jan–Feb 15); 8:30am-5pm (Feb 16–Mar 15); 8:30am-5:30pm (Mar 16–last Sat of March); 8.30am-7:15pm (last Sun of March–Aug 31); 8:30am-7pm (Sep 1–30); 8:30am-6:30pm (Oct 1–last Sat of October)
In general, the Colosseum is open from 9am to one hour before sunset. You can access the monument until one hour before closing.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Arch of Constantine

2) Arch of Constantine (must see)

Arch of Constantine is the last triumphal arch to be erected in Rome, but also the largest and arguably most beautifully sculpted of all. It is named after the Roman Emperor Constantine who was best known for his political transformation of the Roman Empire and his support for Christianity.

The 3rd century AD was a turbulent time in Roman Empire's history as the empire splintered into several competing fractions. In 312 AD, Constantine took control over the Western Roman Empire by defeating his co-emperor Maxentius and later became the sole ruler of the empire. This brought much needed stability to Rome.

The arch was built to commemorate the victory of Constantine's army of over the numerically superior army of his rival Maxentius. The inscription on the arch refers to Maxentius as the tyrant and portrays Constantine as the rightful ruler of the Western Empire. The frieze shows the army of Constantine driving the troops of Maxentius into the River Tiber.

Constantine believed that his improbable victory over Maxentius was the result of the help of the Christian Messiah. As a result, during Constantine's reign persecution of Christians ended and Christianity became the official religion in the Roman Empire. Whether intended, or not, it was a brilliant political move, as Rome was already being overthrown by the Christian masses at that time.

Visiting the arch is free since it stands on a public road once called the Via Triumphalis – the way taken by the emperors when they entered the city in triumph. The structure is protected by a fence but you are free to see it from outside at any time of the day or night. Take the time to marvel at the carving details, or at least snap a photo to enjoy the details later.

Why You Should Visit:
Largest and arguably most beautifully sculpted of all triumphal arches in Rome. Remarkably well preserved, you can feel history just by looking at it.
Has three openings instead of just one, and depictions of some of the first Early Christian examples of sculpture.

Take the time to marvel at the carving details, or at least snap a photo to enjoy them later.
The arch is protected by a fence but you are free to see it from outside at any time of the day or night.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palatine Hill

3) Palatine Hill (must see)

Rome is said to sit on top of seven hills and Palatine Hill is the center-most of those, and also reputedly the one where Romulus and Remus were found in a cave. The twins grew up and eventually set out to build their own city. While Remus wanted to build on Aventine Hill, Romulus had set hit mind on Palatine Hill. They fought, and Romulus killed Remus, then went on to found the city of Rome, which it reigned as its first king.

Upper-class citizens built their palaces and villas there, not only for the myth and the prestige, but also for the magnificent views. In fact, the word “palace” comes from the proper name of Palatine Hill, and it has since been associated with power, affluence and extravagance.

In the Middle Ages some churches and convents were also established on the Hill and in the 17th century Cardinal Farnese had the first private botanical gardens in the world laid out there. Among the ruins on the Hill, you can see the remains of Septimus Severus’ palace, along with the Baths bearing his name. To the north of this are the remains of the two wings that formed Domitian’s palace and parts of a small private stadium. To the northwest are the ruins of the House of Livia (Augustus’ wife and Roman Empress). The surrounding architecture still gives a strong sense of the lavish lifestyle of the privileged of that era. Likewise, there is something about the layout of the ruins that can only be sensed and not described.

In 2007 a cave was discovered, believed to be the Lupercal Cave of Romulus and Remus, but more likely a “cave of the nymps”. The Palatine Museum on site is also worth a visit for the fine pottery, mosaics and other artifacts discovered in the ancient buildings.

When visiting the Palatine Hill, remember to bring a hat and sensible footwear, as the paths and steps can be steep or uneven. Take some water and snacks, too, as finding vending machines can be quite tricky and the hike up the main hill is exhausting on an empty stomach.

Why You Should Visit:
Huge area to roam and walk around levels and levels of impressive ruins, plus fantastic views over the city and Colosseum.

"Super" tickets allow access to many of the Hill's attractions (there is a choice on which special site to visit), as well as the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.
Grab water and snacks before entry as finding vending machines can be quite tricky and the hike up the main hill is exhausting on an empty stomach.
You might also want to consider bringing a hat, sunscreen and a pair of sensible footwear – the paths and steps can be steep or uneven.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-4:30pm (Jan 2–Feb 15); 8:30am-5pm (Feb 16–Mar 15); 8:30am-5:30pm (Mar 16–last Sat of March); 8:30am-7:15pm (last Sun of March–Aug 31); 8:30am-7pm (Sep 1–30); 8:30am-6:30pm (Oct 1–last Sat of Oct); 8:30am-4:30pm (last Sun of Oct–Dec 31)
Last admission always one hour before closing time. CLOSED: Dec 25, Jan 1.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Farnese Gardens

4) Farnese Gardens

On the north side of the mythical Palatine Hill you will find the Farnese Gardens. In the 16th century, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese bought this section of land containing the ruins of an imperial palace built by Roman Emperor Tiberius. The cardinal was a keen horticulturist and worked on transforming the area into a series of stunning botanical gardens. Such gardens were a novelty at that time, as they were mainly cultivated by a few universities. The lovely gardens soon became a favorite gathering place of Rome’s literati of the epoch.

Unfortunately, not much of the Cardinal's pavilions, terraces and groves remain. In 1860, the land fell into the hands of Napoleon III, who ordered extensive excavations on the site. The ruins of the palace of Tiberius were uncovered during this period and you can see them while wandering around.

Today, with help from the government and other donors, a nicely landscaped section of the gardens was restored and replanted to capture something of the spirit of the old days. Likewise, two precious marble sculptures were returned to their original location, and you can find comfort near the water fountains. From the terrace of the gardens, you'll enjoy commanding views of the Capitoline Hill and the Roman Forum's major buildings.

Why You Should Visit:
To enjoy a calming garden with plants, water fountains and drinking water, and even a cave to hide from the heat!
Moreover, the place gives a clear overview of the Roman Forum's major buildings, thus helping to put things in place.

Buy tickets online – you'll have less time to wait in queue.

Opening Hours:
Daily, from 8:30 until dusk
Sight description based on wikipedia
Imperial Fora

5) Imperial Fora (must see)

For lovers of Latin history and culture, the Imperial Fora are your destination. These fora form a series of monumental public squares, constructed in Rome over a period of one and half centuries, between 46 BC and 113 AD. They once were the center of politics, religion and economy in the ancient Roman Empire. The first such square was built by Julius Caesar as an extension to the Roman Forum and a Temple of Venus was placed there with an equestrian statue of Caesar in front of it to symbolise absolute power. It became a popular public square and just before Caesar’s murder, the Senate agreed to move there. Augustus founded the second monumental square with a temple dedicated to Mars the Avenger. According to myth, Rome herself was born from the god Mars through Romulus.

The biggest and greatest of all the monumental public squares was that of Trajan, built in 112 AD to commemorate the Roman victory over the Dacians. This is where the Basilica Ulpia was erected and also the large Temple of Trajan, built after the Roman emperor’s death.

During the 1930s, Mussolini restored the Imperial Fora as part of his campaign to evoke and emulate the past glories of Ancient Rome. But he also built the Via dei Fori Imperiali across the middle of the site, supposedly in order that he could see the Colosseum from his office window. All that remains of the magnificent squares and buildings are the ruins on each side of the avenue. For the last few years the avenue has been free of traffic, so with just a little imagination, walking on it will give you a sense of Ancient Rome's grandeur and scale.

Why You Should Visit:
For the last few years, traffic has been restricted on the Via dei Fiori Imperali, so with just a little imagination, walking down on it will give you a sense of Ancient Rome's grandeur and scale.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Roman Forum

6) Roman Forum (must see)

The Roman Forum has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world. It was for centuries the nerve center of Roman public life.

It is believed that people first began public meetings in the Forum around 500 BC. In the beginning, the Forum served as a marketplace for day-to-day shopping. Over the next several centuries, more activities were held in the area and the Forum grew to become a multi-purpose site that functioned as the heart of the city. Events in the Forum included: elections, public speeches, social gatherings, criminal trials, gladiator matches, religious ceremonies, and business transactions.

The ancient Romans were incredibly well organized and the placement of the sites in the Forum still makes sense to this day. The best-known structures in the Roman Forum are: the Senate House, the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus, the Temple of Vesta, the Rostra, the Temple of Castor and Pollus, the Via Sacra, and more. Visiting the Forum is a remarkable experience that one goes back in history to see how Romans lived their daily life.

Unlike the later Imperial Fora in Rome – which were modeled on the ancient Greek town square – the Roman Forum developed gradually and organically. It was reconstructed many times during its existence. Influence from different periods can be seen in the architectural design and construction of the buildings. Most of the ancient buildings and sites in the Forum were destroyed in the fifth century AD, around the time that the Roman Empire began its decline.

Today, the ruins are only crumbling relics yet they hold an incalculable historic value. Sitting in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline hills, this large complex of buildings, arches, streets and monuments now attracts 5 million yearly visitors.

Consider planning more time in your schedule, because once you arrive at the site you'll want to get a better sense of what there is from both the top and the ground level. It is also suggested that you wear sunscreen and comfortable footwear, and take a bottle as there are water fountains to refill inside.

***Movie "ROMAN HOLIDAY": Joe Encounters Ann***
The Roman Forum would be a convenient place for Princess Ann and Joe Bradley to meet: she, on the escape from the palace; he, from a poker game at Irving Radovich's apartment. As Ann feels the effects of a sleeping pill, she rests on a brick bench near the Temple of Saturn (4th century BC) and the Arch of Septimus Severus (203 AD). That's where Joe finds her, takes pity on her and tries to take her home. Never managing to get her address, he takes her to his place by taxi. The road seen in the film, close to the ancient arch no longer exists. There used to be a road running along the northwest edge of the Roman Forum, but it has been closed for quite some time, part of it remaining as a cul-de-sac. The Temple of Saturn and the Arch of Septimus Severus are parts of the Roman Forum, a complex of the oldest and most significant constructions of the ancient city.

Why You Should Visit:
A natural follow-on from a visit to the Colosseum; an amazing place to wander through and relive the glory that was Rome.

No secret tips needed here – it's all plain to see, although a guide is really helpful to explain the centuries of information involved.
It is also possible to hire an audioguide from a small booth just above the Arch of Titus near the Colosseum. The guide contains an audio jack meaning that two people can easily share one.
Plan more time in your schedule, because once you're on site you'll want to get a better sense of everything from both the top and the ground level.
Make sure to wear sunscreen and comfortable footwear, and take a bottle as there are water fountains to fill up.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-4:30pm (Jan 2–Feb 15); 8:30am-5pm (Feb 16–Mar 15); 8:30am-5:30pm (Mar 16–last Sat of March); 8:30am-7:15pm (last Sun of March–Aug 31); 8:30am-7pm (Sep 1–30); 8:30am-6:30pm (Oct 1–last Sat of Oct); 8:30am-4:30pm (last Sun of Oct–Dec 31)
Last admission always one hour before closing time. CLOSED: Dec 25, Jan 1.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Temple of Saturn

7) Temple of Saturn (must see)

The Temple of Saturn is without a doubt the most emblematic structure of the Roman Forum, with its monumental columns that became the postcard image of the legendary Roman ruins. It sits at the base of the Capitoline Hill next to the Arch of Septimius Severus.

The history of the temple dates back to the 5th century BC when it was built by Tarquinius, the final king of Rome city-state before the rebellion and the establishment of the Roman Republic. The structure was modified and restored several times over and the version you can see today is the result of a restoration in the 3rd century following a devastating fire. After serving as a temple for the god Saturn, it later housed a bank, something that is quite appropriate for the god of wealth and abundance. The eight ionic columns that remain are absolutely majestic and give a sense of the size and grandeur of Rome in its day. Standing in front of those columns, you feel like a tiny grain of sand in the ocean of time.

Since the earliest times, the Romans worshiped Saturn as their god of agriculture. Later, when they accepted the Greek pantheon, Saturn was identified with Kronos and became the highest ranking and most important god among the Roman deities, sharing that same prestige with Jupiter. Along with this worship, the winter solstice was highly regarded. A week-long winter festival called Saturnalia was celebrated by the Romans in honor of the re-appearance of the sun in the northern hemisphere. The final day of this festival fell on December 25, or the day of "the invincible sun." During these festivals there was much feasting, and even the exchanging of gifts, very similar to the manner in which Christmas is celebrated today.

Why You Should Visit:
Standing in front of these ruins, you feel like a tiny grain of sand in the ocean of time. An excellent psychological "shake-up", along with other Roman Forum sites.

Try and view reconstructed images to really appreciate how the temple must have been in ancient times.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-4:30pm (Jan 2–Feb 15); 8:30am-5pm (Feb 16–Mar 15); 8:30am-5:30pm (Mar 16–last Sat of March); 8:30am-7:15pm (last Sun of March–Aug 31); 8:30am-7pm (Sep 1–30); 8:30am-6:30pm (Oct 1–last Sat of Oct); 8:30am-4:30pm (last Sun of Oct–Dec 31)
Last admission always one hour before closing time. CLOSED: Dec 25, Jan 1.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Capitoline Museums: Palazzo dei Conservatori / Palazzo Nuovo

8) Capitoline Museums: Palazzo dei Conservatori / Palazzo Nuovo (must see)

Taken together, the Capitoline Museums can be defined as the world's oldest public museum complex. The historic seats of the museums are Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, facing on the highly photogenic Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo. The history of these museums can be traced to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV gifted the people of Rome a precious collection of ancient bronzes that became the first exhibits. Since then, the museums' collection has grown to include a large number of ancient Roman statues and artifacts; a collection of medieval and Renaissance art; as well as huge collections of coins, jewels, and other items. One would need a lot of time to see all these in their entirety.

What is more, the piazza outside the museums contains a copy of the only remaining ancient Roman bronze statue. The original, depicting Marcus Aurelius as a mounted rider is displayed inside the museum. Many Roman statues were destroyed on the orders of Christian Church authorities in the Middle Ages, but this statue was preserved in the erroneous belief that it depicted Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire.

Please note that to enter both palaces, you must first purchase a combined museum ticket at the booth inside the Palazzo dei Conservatori and use the entrance there. After exploring that side of the museum, you can access Palazzo Nuovo through an underground tunnel. Before heading to the Palazzo Nuovo in the underground passage, veer right and you'll find an amazing view of the Roman Forum with the Colosseum peaking in the background.

Most important on a summer day: there is air conditioning throughout. You can also walk up to the rooftop cafeteria for some excellent espresso and fantastic city views.

Why You Should Visit:
These museums hold a large number of the most historically precious sculptures in all of Rome: The Dying Gaul; Boy with Thorn, She-Wolf with Romulus and Remus. And that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Walk up to the roof-top cafeteria, Caffetteria Italia, for some excellent espresso and fantastic city views.
Most important on a summer day: there is air conditioning throughout.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-7:30pm; Dec 24/31: 9:30am-2pm
Last admission 1 hour before closing time
Sight description based on wikipedia
Capitoline Hill

9) Capitoline Hill (must see)

Capitoline Hill is widely considered the most sacred of Rome’s Seven Hills and no-one on holiday in the city should miss visiting it. This one particular hill was the bastion of the early Roman civilization. Many of the temples built on it were dedicated to Roman gods, such as the triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva; other temples were dedicated to Venus and Mars.

The hill had a great vantage point during battles, with the unassailable cliff to the south and the possibility of seeing armies arriving on the other sides. Today, the views of the city and the Roman Forum are no less amazing, particularly from the main museums' plaza or from the top of the Vittoriano monument. You might want to dedicate at least half a day visiting, as there a number of magnificent places throughout. This hill is one of the best fitted to enjoy ancient, medieval and Renaissance history, including Michelangelo's significant art and architectural contributions from the 16th century. Among these are the Piazza dei Campidoglio and the Palazzo dei Conservatori, built next to the 12th century Palazzo Senatorio. Those two palaces, along with Palazzo Nuovo, designed in the 17th century, are now the Capitoline Museums which should be a must-see on the list of all visitors. The 14th-century Santa Maria in Aracoeli basilica on the second summit of the hill can be reached by a flight of steep steps that links it to the ancient Roman Forum. Another, shallower flight of steps, called the Cordonata, from the Forum to the square was designed by Michelangelo himself so as to be wide enough but not too steep for horses to ascend. It was meant as a place for triumphal processions.

Why You Should Visit:
A place where you can enjoy ancient, medieval and Renaissance history, including Michelangelo's significant art and architectural contributions from the 1550s.

Amazing views of the city and the Roman Forum from both the museums' plaza and the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, especially from the top of the latter (via the elevator).
Keep in mind that you may want to dedicate at least half a day, as there a number of magnificent buildings and piazzas located behind the rear of the main building.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Theatre of Marcellus

10) Theatre of Marcellus (must see)

Unlike the mighty Colosseum, the Teatro di Marcello remains a bit hidden in the background, ready for those who choose to visit. The Colosseum may have been the biggest, but the Teatro di Marcello was the first in Rome, and actually served as the model for the Colosseum. Still well preserved, this theatre definitely adds charm to the Capitoline Hill area.

The theater once had a capacity for over 10,000 spectators and was also once the largest in the city. It was inaugurated by Emperor Augustus who named it after his nephew Marcellus, but it was actually Julius Caesar himself who ordered the construction before being murdered.

The building was used uniquely for mythological dramas in ancient Roman times. Its beautiful curving wall was built on three levels representing three classical orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

In the 12th century the theater became a fortress and then, in the 16th century was transformed into a palazzo. The upper part of the palazzo has more recently been transformed into highly sought-after condos; therefore, it's a great place to admire the mix between the old and the new. With some luck, you could even catch the small concerts that are held in the facilities from June through October. There are a number of bits and pieces of ruins scattered about this site, so be sure to check them out, too.

Why You Should Visit:
Well preserved ancient Roman structure. Definitely adds charm even to the Capitoline Hill area. You can walk through at leisure and it's free.

There are a number of bits and pieces of ruins scattered about this site, so be sure to check them out, also.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Trajan's Market

11) Trajan's Market

Trajan's Market is a large complex of ruins in the city of Rome, thought to be the world's oldest shopping mall. The surviving buildings and structures, that were built as part of Trajan's Forum, have many original parts remaining. Thus, they present not only a living model of daily business and social life in the ancient Roman capital, but also a glimpse at the continuing restoration in the city.

The arcades in this market are now believed by many to have been the administrative offices for Emperor Trajan himself. The shops and apartments were built in a multilevel structure, and it is still possible to visit several of the levels due to this ancient market being a cultural centre. Highlights include delicate marble floors, the remains of a library, but also Trajan's triumphal column. After the Colosseum, the column is perhaps the largest still standing ancient structure in Rome.

Trajan's Market was probably built around the year 100 AD by architect Apollodorus of Damascus, who always followed Trajan in his adventures. There are also some Medieval additions to the market, like floor levels, still visible today, and defensive elements such as the relatively tall "militia tower" which you can sometimes climb to see all the surrounding area. A convent, which was later built in this area, was demolished at the beginning of the 20th century to restore Trajan's Market to the city of Rome.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Il Vittoriano

12) Il Vittoriano

Il Vittoriano is a grand memorial to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of a unified Italy. It is located on the Piazza Venezia at the end of the Via del Corse and close to the Roman Forum. As soon as you enter the complex, you're greeted by two huge tri-color flags. The colossal monument is about 135m wide and 81m tall – including the chariots that adorn the towers on both sides.

When you climb the steps, there is a great equestrian statue of King Vittorio. To the right, there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of WWI with an eternal flame and two soldiers standing permanent guard. The monument offers exceptional views of Rome, a fact which makes the tiring climb even more worthwhile. Although it was very controversial in its day and has received all kinds of humorous and derogatory nicknames over time – one being "the wedding cake" – it is still one of the city's most-visited monuments after the Vatican and the Roman Ruins.

The base of the structure houses the museum of Italian Unification with a nice outside balcony, entry to which is free. In 2007, a panoramic lift was added to the structure, allowing visitors to ride up to the roof for a birds-eye view of Rome. You can board the elevator up the back side any day by paying a small fee.

Why You Should Visit:
Many Italians find it tacky, but there's something stunning to behold about a bit of triumphal architecture meant to rival the ancients.

Best seen at night!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 9:30am-7:30pm; Fri, Sat: 9:30am-10pm; Sun: 9:30am-8:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Venezia

13) Palazzo Venezia

Just opposite the Vittoriano stands this imposing building which houses a small museum, often overlooked by visitors to Rome – a real shame as it's a pretty good one. Inside you will find beautiful tapestries, ceramic statuettes, chests, paintings, weapons, and other artifacts from the early Christian to the Renaissance period.

The palace was built in the 15th century by Cardinal Pietro Barbo, who also integrated a medieval tower and an ancient church into the building. The cardinal went on to become Pope Paul II and the palace remained as a papal residence until the year 1564. In that year, Pope Pius IV, wanting to ingratiate himself with the Republic of Venice, gave over a large part of the palace for the Venetian embassy to the Holy See and the building was renamed the Palazzo Venezia.

When the Venetian Republic fell to Austria in the 18th century, the palace became the seat of the Austrian Ambassador to the Vatican. Many years later it notoriously became the headquarters of Mussolini, who used its balcony to passionately address the crowd. Today, it houses the National Museum of the Palazzo Venezia. Do take time to visit it as the collection of historical decorative arts is a particularly fine one. You could also try walking around to the entrance off via del Plebisctio just to be rewarded with the Palazzo's delightful garden.

Take the time to walk around to the entrance off Via del Plebiscito and be rewarded with the Palazzo's delightful garden.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 8:30am-7:30pm (last admission at 6:30pm)
Closed on Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th
Sight description based on wikipedia
Crypta Balbi

14) Crypta Balbi (must see)

Perhaps most intriguing of all branches of the National Museum of Rome is the Crypta Balbi, which stands on the remains of the 13th-century Theater of Balbus. The remains of the ancient theater, along with artifacts from the city's medieval occupation, were uncovered by excavations and there are now three floors of them to be explored. Starting in the basement is the best, as it has the theatre's old colums, which can be explored while walking down the dark passageways. You can also walk along part of a a depot where grain from the farm areas was stocked in ancient times.

In the Historical Section are several images that show how Rome looked, from its beginnings to the 20th century. These pictures are accompanied by interesting items from each epoque including pottery, fragments of glass objects, seals, ivory and bone. There is also a collection of coins and precious stones, all indicating that the area was heavily commercial. As well as frescoes from the Middle Ages, you will find the fascinating fragments from the “Forma Urbis Romae”, which was once an enormous marble slab depicting a map of Rome in the 3rd century. Indeed, the very map that was used as a guide to city visitors!

The museum's layout is somewhat confusing, but keep wandering from the basement and the earliest ruins up to the frescoes and 3D reproductions of what buildings in each of the ages looked like. It is worth the effort, especially if you like archaeology. Plus, you'll be delighted to find out that by purchasing one ticket, you'll gain entry into the other three National Museums locations; namely, Palazzo Massimo, the Baths of Diocletian, and Palazzo Altemps. The ticket is valid for three days and is great value for money.

Why You Should Visit:
An extremely interesting site for the story of the stratification of the city it tells.
You can see all of the layers of Rome's development history in cross-section.
An excellent relaxing way to get one's mind around life in ancient Rome.

Purchasing one ticket (valid for 3 days) you gain entry into all other National Museums locations: Palazzo Massimo, Baths of Diocletian, and Palazzo Altemps.
A visit here is only worthwhile if you go on the visits to the subterranean areas and Exedra. These leave hourly: one on the hour, the other on the :45.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-7:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

15) Palazzo Doria Pamphilj (must see)

The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj houses the Gallery of the same name and is among the largest private collections in Rome today – quite a feat in a city with such a large artistic heritage. The palace itself was constructed in 1505 by a Cardinal; it was then passed along a century later to another one, and it came into the Pamphilj family when that cardinal’s niece married Camillo Pamphilj, the nephew of Pope Innocent X.

The collection is exposed in the palace’s state rooms with their marvelously decorated vaulted ceilings and in four beautiful galleries around a central courtyard. Several other rooms in the palace have been converted to hold a superb collection of medieval and Byzantine art. In the 1st wing, you will find the Aldobrandini Gallery, filled with a mishmash of paintings and garden statues. In an adjoining chamber is a portrait of Pope Innocent X, painted by Velazquez. The Gallery of Mirrors was modeled after the namesake room in Versailles and will take your breath away. The mirrors were imported from France and when the light comes through from the outside, you really appreciate it. The frescoed ceiling depicts the Labours of Hercules, cunningly joined to the Pamphelji family tree, who claimed to be related to the legendary hero. In the Primitives Room, you can admire various paintings executed on wood panels. The Gallery has a delightful cafeteria and tea room where you can either have tea and cakes or a proper lunch. In the palace’s bookshop you will find postcards and prints of the masterpieces exposed in the Gallery.

You can tour this stunning place at your own pace – no need to spend money for a guided tour. The palazzo doesn't usually get too crowded, so a visit can serve you as a nice and calming respite after exploring more popular Rome attractions. Don't forget to ask for the free audio guide, which is highly informative and and adds a lot to the visit. Each room has a number you can punch into the listening device, but certain pieces of art are also numbered and you can listen about those too.

Why You Should Visit:
While the world-famous Vatican Museums are the most popular in the city, this impressive palace is one of the most interesting/rewarding visits you can make.
The palazzo doesn't usually get too crowded, so a visit can serve you as a nice and calming respite after exploring more popular (and thus more swarming) Rome attractions.

The audioguide is by the current head of the Pamphilj family and is both informative and personal. Get it!
The so-called 'Photo Pass' is available in the bookshop, for personal (and not commercial) use only.

Opening Hours:
[Gallery] Daily: 9am-7pm (last admission: 6pm)
[Villa] Daily: 10am-6pm (last admission: 5pm)
Sight description based on wikipedia
Trevi Fountain

16) Trevi Fountain (must see)

No visit to Rome is complete without seeing the marble wonder that is Trevi Fountain. It really has to be seen in person to be able to appreciate its size and beauty. At first glance, it seems as if they built it right in the very center of the city, but the reality is actually the opposite. All of the surrounding houses and palaces were intentionally built there to so that inhabitants could enjoy the fountain’s charms.

The monumental fountain that you may admire today was built in the 18th century by an obscure character named Nicola Salvi. It took 30 years to build and ended up ruining Salvi's health. He died unable to undertake other projects and without even seeing his beautiful fountain completed. One of the the Fountain's most outstanding features is the contrast between its overwhelming grandeur and its location amid narrow alleyways and tiny squares. It was intentionally designed to elicit a surprise from tourists, most of whom are no doubt deeply impressed when they come face to face to such a sight.

The main sculpture is a magnificent statue of Oceanus riding in an oyster-shell chariot led by two horses and guided by two tritons. One horse is calm, the other prancing – this symbolizes the two faces of the sea. On one side of Oceanus is a statue of Abundance holding an urn, while on his other side it Salubrity holding a cup for a snake to drink from. Over the statues is a bas-relief depicting the legend of how a young virgin led Roman technicians to the source of the spring that feeds the aqueduct.

A small fortune is thrown into the fountain every day; in fact, it is not unusual to find over 2000 Euros in the basin. Don’t forget to take some loose change with you, but remember to have your back to the fountain and toss the coins using the right hand over the left shoulder for luck. The area is policed to stop thieves pinching the money, which the municipality of Rome allegedly gives to charity.

Try seeing this fountain late at night, after 10pm, when you can enjoy gorgeous lighting and have the place virtually to yourself.

Why You Should Visit:
This marble wonder has to be seen in person to really appreciate its size and beauty.
Great walking distance from Piazza Navona, The Pantheon and, in reality, mostly everything.

Go late at night, after 10pm, when you can enjoy gorgeous lighting and have the place virtually to yourself.
Make a wish and throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder to guarantee your return to the fountain.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Rome, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Rome

Create Your Own Walk in Rome

Creating your own self-guided walk in Rome is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Monti and Celio Walking Tour

Monti and Celio Walking Tour

To stay close to the action in Rome but be able to mingle more with the locals, look no further than the districts of Monti and Celio. Although Monti – the city's oldest district – doesn't boast grand monuments, it more than makes up for that with its lively, friendly atmosphere. Sitting on the fountain steps at Piazza Madonna ai Monti and watching the world go by is as rewarding as...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km
Museums Walk

Museums Walk

As an ancient and cultural city, Rome is packed with museums which demonstrate its value in the world of culture and civilization. When it comes to art, Rome contains the most significant artifacts in the world, including sculptures, paintings, pottery, and porcelain; all hidden within the splendid palaces of the city. Take the following tour to better acquaint yourself with the splendors of Rome.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 km
Campo Marzio Shopping Walk

Campo Marzio Shopping Walk

It would be a pity to leave Rome without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs which are unique to Rome, and can be found in shops around the Campo Marzio district.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 km
"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour

"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour

"Roman Holiday" (1953) is a movie, filmed entirely in Rome and beloved by generations of people. Starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, the film won three Oscars, giving Hepburn a boost to her glorious film career. The main storyline centers around a day of freedom in the beautiful Italian capital for an otherwise duty-bound Princess Ann. Take the following tour to live the happiest...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.9 km
Trastevere Walking Tour

Trastevere Walking Tour

Take this tour to explore Trastevere, the 13th rione (district) of Rome, located on the west bank of the Tiber, south of Vatican City. Its name comes from the Latin "trans Tiberim", literally "beyond the Tiber". Although the rione was established during the times of ancient Rome, it grew and formed as a true part of the city in the Middle Ages, as a result it is characterized...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
Vatican Walking Tour

Vatican Walking Tour

Vatican City is a landlocked sovereign city-state consisting of an enclave within the city of Rome, it is the smallest recognized independent state in the world. The Vatican is one of the most sacred places in Christendom, it attests to a great history and a formidable spiritual venture. Although only 44 hectares in overall surface, the Vatican features several worthwhile places to see, such as...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

10 Best Food Markets in Rome Italy

10 Best Food Markets in Rome Italy

Of all the things Italy is most famous for (cars, music, fashion, movies, etc.), food is, undoubtedly, top of the list. Rome may well not be the whole Italy, but no Italy is whole without Rome... And the Romans, much as all their fellow-Italians, like it "fresco", hence the abundance of...
Souvenirs Shopping: 15 Authentic Italian Things To Buy in Rome

Souvenirs Shopping: 15 Authentic Italian Things To Buy in Rome

Rome is the Eternal City and, as such, the list of gift options available here is countless. Whether it's something edible, drinkable, wearable or pleasing to the eye that you want - you will find it all here in abundance. However, if time or budget is the factor, perhaps you might want to...
17 Best Gelaterias in Rome Italy

17 Best Gelaterias in Rome Italy

For ice cream lovers and dabblers this guide is a treasure chest of Rome’s best gelato shops. There are gelaterias everywhere. Many visitors to Rome only have a few days to explore the city. You owe it to yourself to make the most of your time and find the gelato locals eat. Often the authentic...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Rome for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Rome has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Rome's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Rome Tourist Card, OMNIA Card, Best of Rome Sightseeing Pass, or Omnia Vatican and Rome Pass.

A city pass combines all of or multiple Rome and Vatican City's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time. Some of them you don't even have to pick up but can scan straight on your phone at any of the city's major attractions/museums!

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Rome hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Corso 281 Luxury Suites, Hotel Cosmopolita, Hotel Piazza Venezia.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Rome, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Rome typically costs from around US$20 up to US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Rome and the Vatican City from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the route.

- Cruise along the river Tiber on a similar hop-on hop-off sightseeing boat to view Rome's top attractions from a different angle and be able to get on and off as often as you want at any of the stops along the Tiber riverbanks. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs) and may be upgraded to include a hop-on hop-off bus tour as well.

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts 3 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Rome on a 3-hour bike and food tour to visit the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the Eternal City from an informative group leader, plus savor some of the iconic food of the Italian capital.

- Come see all of Roman highlights at a great discount on the Rome Super Saver tour combining two best-selling guided tours for the price of one! Be guaranteed to skip the lines to all the major sights like Colosseum, Roman Forum, and more.

- Take a guided walk to explore Rome's renaissance after the demise of the Roman Empire, learn about the contribution of many popes towards the Eternal City's rise to its present glory. Along with viewing the iconic landmarks, on this tour you will also get a chance to taste Rome's famous gelato (ice-cream).

- Step back in time to the days of the Roman Empire on a 3-hour night tour of Rome to discover the city's top attractions in a different light. Experience Rome's nighttime ambiance amid the twilight and the evening lights adding a romantic touch to the famous sights.

- Explore the artistic trail of Caravaggio in the Italian capital on the Caravaggio walking tour of Rome paying tribute to the great artist's legacy manifested in numerous paintings throughout the city (churches and monuments). Ideal for those on a short visit to Rome and not sure where to start!

- Combine sightseeing with cooking on a 4-hour experience incorporating the “best of Rome” walking tour and the authentic pizza-making class led by a professional Italian pizza chef.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Rome, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like the chic island of Capri, ancient Ostia, Siena and San Gimignano, Assisi and Spoleto, Amalfi сoast, or the ancient city of Pompeii. For as little as US$70+ to US$170+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including gorgeous coastal scenery, historic seaport, charming medieval structures, birthplace of St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan religious order, ancient Roman ruins, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight at your hotel or a designated place in Rome, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned bus, boat or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.