City Orientation Walk I (Self Guided), Rome

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.

Getting to Sight #1. The first tour stop (Colosseum) can be reached by Bus: 51, 81, 87; Train: FC2, R ; Metro: line B; Tram: 3 and 8.
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 or 2.9 Miles
Author: clare
1
Colosseum

1) Colosseum (must see)

The Colosseum is one of the grandest monuments to have stood 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 of the venue was marked with gladiator games that lasted 100 days.

The Colosseum amphitheater comprised four tiers that could hold up to 50,000 spectators. The lowest tier was for the emperor and the royal family; the two middle ones were for Roman citizens and members of government, while the highest tier was for the plebs. Below-ground passages were used for bringing men and animals into the arena that was separated from the audience by a ditch. The amphitheater mainly hosted three types of shows: wild animal fights, public executions and, of course, gladiator battles. Spectacles at the Colosseum could last for days. Admission was free and the main sponsor was the Emperor himself. Despite popular belief that the early Christians were martyred here in numbers, records reveal that it was very unlikely so.

At some point, during the 18th century, the Colosseum served as a fortress and then simply became a stone quarry for other construction projects. Passers-by habitually chipped off pieces of the Colosseum for souvenirs which, together with some natural causes like earthquakes, led to its partial destruction. Today, only the north side of the building remains, as well as the underground passages. The arena floor is totally gone, and it is possible to access the subterranean part of the Colosseum, as well as its 3rd floor, on pre-booked tours only. The floors open to visitors without a special ticket, are the ground and first floors. On the other hand, the Colosseum ticket also allows entry to the neighboring Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, so it's probably the best option for those visitors not pressed for time.

Inside the Colosseum, there's a historical exhibition with both permanent and changing displays. Exploring in and outside the Colosseum may take a whole day. Those who arrive in time for the opening may stand a pretty good chance of having the whole place to themselves, as it's not so crowded in the early hours.

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.

Tip:
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.
2
Arch of Constantine

2) Arch of Constantine (must see)

The Arch of Constantine is the last triumphal arch erected in Rome, but also the largest and, arguably, the most beautiful of them all. It is named after the Roman Emperor Constantine, best known for his political transformation of the Roman Empire and support for Christianity.

The 3rd century AD was a turbulent period in Roman history, seeing the empire split into several belligerent fractions. In 312 AD, Constantine took over the western part of the empire by defeating his rival Maxentius and eventually established himself as the supreme ruler, thus bringing the much-needed stability to Rome.
The arch was built in memory of Constantine's victory, portrayed back then as the rightful ruler, over the largely outnumbering his army troops of Maxentius, presented as the tyrant. The latter ended up driven into the Tiber River, the moment of which is depicted in the arch frieze.

Constantine believed that this improbable victory resulted mainly from the help of the Christian Messiah. Subsequently, under Constantine's reign, no persecution of Christians continued and Christianity itself eventually became the official religion of Rome. Whether intentional or not, this was a brilliant political move as, by that time, Rome was already being overthrown by Christian masses.

The arch is free to access – standing amid the public road, once known as Via Triumphalis – the former triumphant passage into the city taken by emperors. Although fenced off, the arch is well visible from the outside, any time, day or night.

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.

Tip:
Take the time to marvel at the carving details, or at least snap a photo to enjoy them later.
3
Palatine Hill

3) Palatine Hill (must see)

The city of Rome sits on seven hills and the Palatine Hill is the center-most of them. Reputedly, it is also place where Romulus and Remus were found in a cave. In 2007, the spot closely resembling the Lupercal Cave of Romulus and Remus was finally discovered. When they grew up, the twins set out to build a city of their own. While Remus wanted to build it on Aventine Hill, Romulus had his mind set firmly on Palatine Hill. The brothers argued fiercely and during the fight Romulus killed Remus. He went on to build the city eventually, calling it Rome, and reigned there as a king.

As time went by, the hill proved popular with the upper-class citizens who built here palaces and villas, not only for the prestige, but also for the magnificent views it provided. In fact, the word “palace”, nowadays closely associated with power, affluence and extravagance, originates from the Palatine Hill.

During the Middle Ages, churches and convents found place here as well. In the 17th century, Cardinal Farnese established here the world's first private botanical gardens. Among the ruins found today on the hill, one can see the remains of Septimus Severus’s palace and baths. To the north of them are the remnants of the two wings of what was once Domitian’s palace and a small private stadium. Further northwest is the ruins of the House of Livia, wife of Emperor Augustus. All these ruins, complete with the ancient artifacts discovered on the site and exhibited at the Palatine Museum, such as fine pottery, mosaics and others, illustrate the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by the privileged class of the Roman Empire back in the day.

When visiting the Palatine Hill, one should make sure to wear a hat and comfortable shoes, as the paths and steps here can be quite steep and uneven. Also, bringing along some water and snacks is strongly recommended since finding vending machines can be quite tricky and the hike up the Palatine Hill may prove 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.

Tip:
"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.
4
Farnese Gardens

4) Farnese Gardens

Sprawled over the north side of the Palatine Hill is the Farnese Gardens. Back in the 16th century, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, a keen horticulturist as he was, bought a piece of land holding ruins of the palace of Emperor Tiberius, in a bid to transform this area into a picturesque botanical garden. The latter was quite a novelty in those days, as the gardens were cultivated mainly by a handful of universities. Soon, the lovely Farnese gardens proved to be the favorite meeting spot of the local literati of the period.

Sadly, not much of the original pavilions, terraces and groves have survived. In 1860, the land was captured by Napoleon III, who ordered extensive excavations on the site, during which the ruins of the palace of Tiberius were uncovered. This is something you can see today, wandering around.

Fortunately, with the government and donor support, a nicely landscaped section of the gardens has been restored, capturing, in part, the spirit of its good old days. Likewise, two precious marble sculptures were returned to their original place. Complete with these man-made beauties, the gardens terrace also commands a lovely view over the Capitoline Hill and the Roman Forum.

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.

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

Opening Hours:
Daily, from 8:30 until dusk
5
Imperial Fora

5) Imperial Fora (must see)

For lovers of Latin history and culture, the Imperial Fora – center of politics, religion and economy of the ancient Roman Empire – is just the right place to visit. This site comprises a number of monumental squares built in Rome over the course of one and half centuries, between 46 BC and 113 AD. The first square is the one created as an extension to the Roman Forum under Julius Caesar and features the Temple of Venus. It was a popular public square and, just before Caesar’s murder, the Senate had agreed to move here. The second square, featuring the temple of Mars the Avenger, was built under Emperor Augustus. According to a myth, the city of Rome was born, through Romulus, by the will of god Mars.

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 in an effort to evoke and emulate the past glories of Ancient Rome. He also built Via dei Fori Imperiali which crosses through the site, supposedly in a bid to make the Colosseum visible from his office window.

Why You Should Visit:
Lined with remnants of the once magnificent ancient buildings, the last few years the avenue has been made traffic-free, so walking on it, with just a little imagination, will give one a pretty good sense of Ancient Rome's grandeur and magnitude.
6
Roman Forum

6) Roman Forum (must see)

Perhaps one of, if not *the* most celebrated meeting spot in the world of all times, the Roman Forum, for centuries, had been the nerve center of ancient Rome's public life.

It is believed that people first gathered here around 500 BC, initially for day-to-day trading at a marketplace. Over the next few centuries, as more activities started to take place here, such as voting, public speaking, social gatherings, criminal trials, gladiator matches, religious ceremonies and business deals, this small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline hills gradually turned into a multi-purpose hub filled with buildings, arches, streets and monuments.

The ancient Romans were incredibly well organized and the placement of sites within the Forum still makes a lot of sense even today. The best-known sights here include the Senate House, the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus, the Temple of Vesta, the Rostra, the Temple of Castor and Pollus, Via Sacra, and others.

Unlike the Imperial Fora modeled on an ancient Greek town square, the Roman Forum developed gradually and organically. It was reconstructed many times throughout the existence, attesting to which are the traces of influence of different architectural styles from different periods. Most of the ancient Forum was destroyed in the 5th century AD, around the time when the Roman Empire fell into decline.

Even though now reduced to crumbling ruins, the Forum still remains a historic relic of incalculable value attracting annually some 5 million visitors.

Allow yourself sufficient time to explore this location, as you may find it captivating and be eager to see more of it as you go. It is also recommended to wear sunscreen and comfortable shoes, plus to carry a bottle of water.

***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.

Tip:
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.

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.
7
Temple of Saturn

7) Temple of Saturn (must see)

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

The history of the temple starts in the 5th century BC when it was built by Tarquinius, the last king of the city-state of Rome prior to the rebellion that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. The structure endured several modifications since and what we see today is the latest restoration following the devastating fire that took place in the 3rd century BC.

After serving as a temple of Saturn, it then housed, at some point, a bank, which is only logical given that Saturn was the god of wealth and abundance. The Romans also worshiped him as the god of agriculture. Later, as they embraced the Greek pantheon of gods, Saturn was identified with Kronos and became the highest ranking of the Roman deities, at par with Jupiter. With the winter solstice also being in high regard by the Romans, the week-long winter festival they celebrated, marking the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere, was called Saturnalia. The final day of the festival, known as the day of "the invincible sun", fell upon December 25. The festival involved lavish feasting and exchange of gifts, quite similar to the contemporary Christmas tradition.

The last standing eight majestic Ionic columns of the temple produce the impression of grandeur that is usually associated with Rome. Facing them up close, one can truly feel like a tiny speck of sand in the endless ocean of time...

Why You Should Visit:
An excellent psychological "shake-up", along with other Roman Forum sites.

Tip:
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.
8
Capitoline Museums: Palazzo dei Conservatori / Palazzo Nuovo

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

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.

Widely known as Capitoline Museums, the Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo are the world's oldest public museum body established courtesy of Pope Sixtus IV who gifted Rome with a collection of precious ancient bronze back in 1471. Among the presented items was the mounted statue of Marcus Aurelius, a bronze replica of which adorns the picturesque Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo, outside the museum. The original copy is held inside and is one of the few authentic Roman statues preserved. Many of them were destroyed in the Middle Ages, on orders by Christian authorities, but the one of Marcus Aurelius survived, ironically, because they thought, mistakenly, that it was the statue of Emperor Constantine who made Christianity the official religion of Rome.

Along with the ancient statues, the museums also hold a rich collection of Medieval and Renaissance artifacts including coins, jewels, and more.

Both palaces are open to visitors on a single ticket that can be bought at Palazzo dei Conservatori. The two museums are linked with an underground tunnel. Prior to leaving the museums, do give yourself a treat to the rooftop cafeteria for some excellent espresso and the matching view of the Roman Forum with the Colosseum peaking in the background. Quite a sight!

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.

Tip:
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
9
Capitoline Hill

9) Capitoline Hill (must see)

Capitoline Hill is widely regarded to be the most sacred of Rome’s Seven Hills and the one definitely not to be missed when visiting the city. The pillar of Roman civilization, this hill is the site of many temples dedicated to Roman gods, such as Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Venus and Mars.

Back in the day, it was also a great vantage point to observe battles, especially the unassailable cliff to the south, allowing to view armies marching in every direction.

The views over Rome and the Roman Forum opening from up here are truly dramatic. As a matter of fact, one can easily spend at least half a day exploring numerous attractions of the ancient, Medieval and Renaissance periods on Capitoline Hill. Among them, for example, the 12th century Palazzo Senatorio, 16th century Palazzo dei Conservatori architected by Michelangelo which, together with the 17th century Palazzo Nuovo, make up the Capitoline Museum complex, plus the 14th-century Santa Maria in Aracoeli basilica on the second summit of the hill linked to the ancient Roman Forum by a steep flight of stairs. Another flight, not so steep but wide enough for horses to ascend during triumphal processions, called Cordonata, runs from the Forum down to Piazza dei Campidoglio that was also designed by Michelangelo himself.

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.

Tip:
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.
10
Theatre of Marcellus

10) Theatre of Marcellus (must see)

Unlike the imposing Colosseum that dominates the area, Teatro di Marcello keeps it “low profile”, waiting to be discovered by genuine history or architecture buffs. The Colosseum may have been the biggest, but Teatro di Marcello is the first arena ever built in Rome, and was actually a model on which the Colosseum was designed later on. Unlike the Colosseum, this venue never saw bloodshed and was used solely for staging mythological dramas widely popular in ancient Rome.

Capable of seating up to 20,000 spectators, this was once the largest arena in the city. The theater was inaugurated by Emperor Augustus who named it after his nephew Marcellus, but it was actually Julius Caesar himself who laid down the foundation, but was murdered before the construction even started. A typical sample of classical ancient architecture, the building reflects three dominant styles of the era – Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders – spread across the three levels.

Centuries on, the theater is still very much intact and adds a great deal of charm to the Capitoline Hill. This is even more remarkable given that, in the 12th century, it served as a fortress and in the 16th century was turned into a palazzo. The upper part of the building recently has been converted into high-end accommodation – a much sought-after property harmoniously blending the ancient with the new. From June to October, the facility gives stage to musical concerts, which is yet another reason to explore this beautiful piece of history, given the opportunity.

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.

Tip:
There are a number of bits and pieces of ruins scattered about this site, so be sure to check them out, too.
11
Trajan's Market

11) Trajan's Market (must see)

Trajan's Market is a complex of ruins, once part of Trajan's Forum in Rome. The remaining buildings (or rather fragments thereof) that offering a glimpse into the daily social and business activities of the ancient Roman capital, are now carefully restored.

The arcades in the market are believed to have served as administrative offices for Emperor Trajan himself. The shops and apartments were spread across multiple levels, some of which are open to visitors today. The world's oldest shopping mall, if you like, this venue comprised both a marketplace and a cultural center, attesting to which fact are certain elements, like the delicate marble floors, remnants of a library, as well as the triumphal column, which is the largest standing ancient structure in Rome after the Colosseum.

Trajan's Market was built around the year 100 AD by Apollodorus of Damascus, the architect who always accompanied Trajan on his voyages. Certain parts of the building, like the still visible today floor levels within the market and some fortification elements, like the "militia tower", were added during the Middle Ages. Also, a convent appeared in the area at a later period, but that was demolished in the early 20th century for the purpose of restoring Trajan's Market to its original form.
12
Il Vittoriano

12) Il Vittoriano (must see)

Il Vittoriano is a grand memorial to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy. The monument is located in Piazza Venezia at the end of the Via del Corso, close to the Roman Forum, and is dominated by the king's equestrian statue. Otherwise known as the Altar of the Homeland, this colossal monument measures 135m wide by 81m tall, flanked on the sides with two massive Italian tricolors and chariot sculptures.

To the right of the king's statue is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, appeared after WWI, with an eternal flame permanently guarded by two soldiers. Climbing up the central staircase will allow visitors to enjoy, other than the monument itself, a sweeping view over the city. Ideal for picture taking, this spot is well worth it. Also, in 2007, for extra comfort, a lift was installed for visitors to ride all the way up to the rooftop for a bird's eye panorama of Rome. This ride costs a few euros.

Subject to controversy, initially, the monument endured criticism and was subjected to some derogatory nicknames like the "wedding cake," for example, being just one of them. Regardless of that, over time, it has proven to be one of the city's most visited sights after the Vatican and the Roman Ruins.

At the base of the complex, there is a museum of Italian Unification. Entrance to the museum is free.

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.

Tip:
Best seen at night!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 9:30am-7:30pm; Fri, Sat: 9:30am-10pm; Sun: 9:30am-8:30pm
13
Palazzo Venezia

13) Palazzo Venezia

Palazzo Venezia is a 15th-century building right opposite the Vittoriano monument in Rome. Originally designed as a palace with a tower and a church, it was built by Cardinal Pietro Barbo, later known as Pope Paul II, upon which the palace served as a papal residence until 1564. His successor, Pope Pius IV, eventually gave up large part of the property to the Venetian embassy, in a bid to ingratiate himself with the Venetian Republic, and subsequently renamed it Palazzo Venezia.

In the 18th century, following the fall of Venice to the Austrian Empire, the palace became residence of the Austrian Ambassador to the Vatican. Many years later, it was notoriously made the headquarters of Mussolini from where the latter often and passionately addressed the nation standing on the balcony. Nowadays the palace houses the National Museum of Palazzo Venezia with a fairly good collection of early Christian and Renaissance artifacts (tapestries, ceramics, paintings, weapons, and others) which is often, and quite regrettably so, overlooked by tourists.

Tip:
If you ever visit here, make sure to take a walk around to the entrance off Via del Plebiscito and explore 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
14
Crypta Balbi

14) Crypta Balbi (must see)

Perhaps the most intriguing branch of the National Museum of Rome is Crypta Balbi standing upon the remains of the 13th-century Theater of Balbus. The latter, complete with numerous medieval artifacts filling up three floors, were uncovered during archaeological excavations. They say the best way to explore this museum is by working one's way upward, starting from the basement, walking through dark passageways amid the theater's ancient columns, checking out, among other remnants of the past, a fragment of an ancient depot once used for stocking grains collected from the nearby farms.

The museum displays images of Rome, the way it looked from the very beginning up until the present day, as well as artifacts attributed to various historical periods - pottery, fragments of glass, seals, ivory, collections of coins and precious stones, plus Medieval frescoes, marble slabs, and many others. Those in love with archaeology will find this museum particularly interesting, especially the 3D reproductions of Roman buildings from different ages.

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.

Tip:
A ticket to Crypta Balbi also grants access to three other branches of the National Museum of Rome, namely: Palazzo Massimo, Baths of Diocletian, and Palazzo Altemps. The ticket is valid for three days and is a true value for money.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-7:30pm
15
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

15) Palazzo Doria Pamphilj (must see)

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is home to one of the largest private art collections in Rome which is quite a feat in a city renowned for its artistic heritage. The palace was built in 1505 by a Catholic cardinal and then, a century later, passed on to another cardinal whose niece, in turn, married Camillo Pamphilj, nephew of Pope Innocent X.

The stately rooms of the palace, with vaulted ceilings and marvelous decoration, hold a vast display of Medieval and Byzantine art. One of the palace's wings is home to the Aldobrandini Gallery, featuring a mishmash of paintings and garden statues. In the adjoining chamber is a portrait of Pope Innocent X himself, painted by Velazquez. The Gallery of Mirrors, modeled after the namesake room in Versailles, is fitted with mirrors imported from France and is truly breathtaking. The ceiling fresco, depicting Labors of Hercules, is intricately intertwined with the Pamphilj family tree alluding to their supposed relation to the legendary Greek hero. The Primitives Room contains paintings performed on wooden panels.

The palazzo doesn't usually get too crowded and is quite comfortable to explore at one's own pace, which makes it all too nice and calming respite compared to other landmark Roman attractions. There's no need to buy a guided tour here either, as there's a free audio guide available, which is quite informative and adds much value to the visit. Each room, as well as some of the exhibits, are numbered specially for the audio guide. Also, for visitors enjoyment, apart from the art collection, there is a delightful cafeteria and a tea room, plus a bookshop.

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.

Tip:
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)
16
Piazza di Trevi . Trevi Fountain

16) Piazza di Trevi . Trevi Fountain (must see)

No visit to Rome is complete without seeing the marble marvel of the Trevi Fountain, and all year long during the day, the small Piazza di Trevi is crowded with visitors who want to see just that. At a glance, one may think that the fountain was built in the center of the city, whereas the reality is quite opposite, and it is the city that was built around the fountain.

Designed by architect Nicola Salvi in the 18th century, it took 30 years to build. Salvi himself never lived to see it happen, as he died halfway into the project. A peculiar thing about this fountain (one of the many, actually) is the stark contrast between its overwhelming grandeur and the narrowness of the surrounding alleyways and tiny nearby squares. This contrast is intentional and is meant to impress visitors even more, which is something they have no problem with, really, coming face to face with such a beauty.

The main statue in the ensemble is that of Oceanus riding in an oyster-shell chariot pulled by two horses, guided by Tritons. One horse is calm and the other is prancing – which symbolizes the two faces of the sea. On the one side of Oceanus is the statue of Abundance holding an urn, while on the other side is Salubrity holding a cup for a snake to drink from. Above the statues is a bas-relief depicting the legend of a young virgin who led Roman technicians to the source of water that feeds the aqueduct.

Each day, a small fortune (something in the area of €3,000 worth of coins) is thrown into the Trevi fountain for good luck. If you want some for yourself and have some loose change to spare, stand back to the fountain and toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. The police make sure that no one pinches this money, which is then collected and used for charity by municipal authorities.

The fountain is particularly beautiful at night, after 10pm, when it's gorgeously illuminated and has very few people around, so you can virtually have the place to yourself.

The piazza is also home to several little shops and souvenir stalls, lovely restaurants for pizzas/pasta, and tempting ice cream parlors. A nice place to spend some time.

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.

Tip:
The fountain is particularly beautiful at night, after 10pm, when it's gorgeously illuminated and has very few people around, so you can virtually have the place to yourself.

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.
Food Walk in Historic Rome

Food Walk in Historic Rome

Whether it’s a long lunch or a stop-off for an ice cream on an evening stroll, eating in Rome is a very social activity. Culinary traditions run deep in Rome, and it may well be one of Italy’s most pleasurable cities in which to eat. Most restaurants exclusively serve Italian or Roman cuisine – either traditional or “with a touch of creativity” – with more and more choosing organic...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Rome Shopping Streets Walk

Rome Shopping Streets Walk

You may come to Rome for the ancient history, stunning architecture or out of this world gelato, but you shouldn’t leave the city without discovering the variety of shops it has to offer. From big brands to artisanal boutiques, there’s enough to keep even the most discerning shopaholics happy. Amid the lack of one-stop shops or malls in downtown Rome, if you really want to indulge in retail...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Holy Sites Walking Tour

Holy Sites Walking Tour

Being the cradle of the Catholic Church, one of the world's biggest religions, Rome has a large number of valuable, sacred places of worship. Crowded with architectural splendors from different periods of time, each church and basilica represents a significant part of Rome's culture and history. Take this self-guided walking tour to discover Rome's magnificent religious heritage.

...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.9 km
Fountains and Squares Walk

Fountains and Squares Walk

In Rome there is a lively piazza round almost every corner, each with its own unique atmosphere and its own story to tell. These public squares have been the center of Roman culture for centuries, and some of the city’s most popular attractions are located within them.

Most piazzas have a fountain in the center and a lot of cafes around. In fact, Rome holds the largest number of fountains in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
City Orientation Walk II

City Orientation Walk II

The historic center of Rome is packed with numerous landmarks and genuine works of art, to see all of which may take days if not weeks. This Rome Orientation Walk Part II highlights some of the key sights emerged during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, comprising some truly magnificent marvels of architecture. Among the featured landmarks here are the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, Piazza...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 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: 9.0 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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...
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...