City Orientation Walk I, Rome

Rome's glory didn't end with the fall of the Roman empire, it continued as a melting point of culture and creativity for centuries. Today, the city is a fabulous architectural patchwork, a living masterpiece, and a true tribute to its history. The say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and that undoubtedly implies appreciating the enormous historical and architectural richness of the city, often – and rightly so – referred to as “eternal”. Stretching from Colosseum to Trevi Fountain, this walk invites you to explore the most notable attractions of the Italian capital, including the Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Capitoline Hill and more.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. 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 arguably the grandest monument to stand the test of time and probably the most visited ruins in the world. It was first called the Flavian Amphitheater because the works began under Emperor Vespasian from the Flavian family in 72 AD, and were completed by his son Titus eight years later. The “Colosseum” name is probably derived from Nero's statue, which stood in the immediate vicinity, the so-called Colossus Neronis. Construction entailed over 100,000 cubic meters of stone, held in place not by mortar, but by iron chevrons. Below ground, passages were used to bring men and animals into the arena. The tiered seating areas could hold up to 50,000 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 of the games was the Emperor. Although popular belief states that early Christians were martyred here, it is unlikely. Records reveal that these unfortunates were executed in the Circus Flaminius instead. The idea that the Colosseum was where they died started in the 17th century.

In medieval times the amphitheater was used as living quarters for a religious sect and for poor families. It was also used as a fortress and a quarry, as people building houses in the area didn't hesitate to take stones from the building. 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 – mind you, you have to book way in advance to have a chance of seeing the underground as well as the 3rd floor, so keep an eye out for available tickets at Coopculture's homepage. The only floors accessible without this special ticket, are the ground floor and the next level, but you will also get to visit the Forum Romanum and the Palatine Hill for free. Inside the Colloseum, you will usually find an exhibition about its history as well as other changing exhibitions. Do not expect to have the site to yourself, but if you arrive and enter as soon as it opens you have some chance of walking around without getting squashed.

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)

You will find the Arch of Constantine between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It is the last Triumphal Arch to be erected in Rome. In 312 AD, Constantine I led his troops against Emperor Maxentius for a final battle at the Milvian Bridge. The emperor’s army was hopelessly outnumbered, and according to legend, Constantine had a vision of a Cross of brilliant light superimposed upon the sun; and he heard a voice say to him, “By this sign, you will conquer”. Therefore, Constantine had his men make a wooden cross, which they carried into the battle, and later commissioned the arch in commemoration of his victory.

The main bas-relief depicts this very battle at the Milvian Bridge, but the arch itself was built on the model of the hundred-year-older Arch of Septimius Severus on the Roman Forum. Furthermore, the bas-reliefs of the river gods over the side arches and the medallions of the rising and setting sun on each end were taken from Trajan’s Forum; the 8 statues on the upper level come from other buildings, as well. There might be two reasons for this pilferage: one could be that the architects didn’t have enough time between the building and the dedication to do any original decorations, apart from the main bas-relief. The other reason seems more likely; judging from that bas-relief, their work was of such poor quality that they pinched the other works to avoid the arch being a total embarrassment to the emperor. 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.

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)

Palatine Hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills; it is reputedly the one where Romulus and Remus were found in a cave and where Romulus founded his city. Rising 40 meters over the Roman Forum, the Hill was the “in” place to live for the rich nobles: the views from the summit are magnificent and it was thought that the air was purer there. No wonder that so many palaces and villas were built.

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. During 18th century excavations the remains of a Bronze Age settlement were uncovered as well as the ruins of a house believed to be where Augustus, the 1st Roman Emperor was born. Among the ruins on the Hill, you can see the remains of Septimus Severus’ palace, together 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).

In 2007 a cave was discovered, believed to be the Lupercal Cave of Romulus and Remus, but more likely a nympharium or a triclinium dating back to Nero’s time. The Palatine Museum on the Hill is worth a visit as it has a fine exhibition of pottery, mosaics and other artifacts from the ancient buildings.

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 Palatine Hill, one of Rome’s Seven Hills, you will find the Farnese Gardens (Italian: Orti Farnesiani sul Palatino). A flight of stone steps lead from the gardens to the Roman Forum. The land was bought in 1550 by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese who had a summer home built on the ruins of the palace of Roman Emperor Tiberius.

The gardens, laid out in the 16th-century classical form, in quadrants with a well in the center, were created by Vignola and completed after his death by Rainaldi. The cardinal was an important patron of the arts and these lovely gardens became a favorite gathering place of Rome’s literati of the epoch. He was also a keen horticulturist and he created beautiful botanical gardens. Such gardens were a novelty at that time, being mainly cultivated by a few Italian universities. One of the cardinal’s importations from Central America, a Needle Bush, bears the Latin name "Acacia farnesiana" and is the base of the biochemical, Farnesol, used in perfumery. Unfortunately, not much of the 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.

More recently, with help from the government and other donors, a prominent section of the gardens, called the Farnese Aviaries, was restored. Laurels, cypresses, yews, citrus trees, climbing plants and Damascan roses have all been replanted to capture something of the spirit of the old days. Likewise, two precious marble sculptures were restored to their original location. Perhaps the most impressive of these is the “Kneeling Barbarian,” in sumptuous black and white marble that was used for plants in the period. A multimedia exhibition was also put in place from March to October, taking visitors on a “journey through the place and the characters who came into contact with it through time.”

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 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)

The Imperial Fora – or 'Fori Imperiali' in Italian – is a series of monumental public squares, constructed in Rome over a period of one and half centuries, between 46 BC and 113 AD. These forums once were the center of politics, religion and economy in the ancient Roman Empire.

Built by Julius Caesar and Augustus, the first such square was an extension to the Roman Forum and a Temple of Venus was built there with an equestrian statue of Caesar in front of it. It became a popular public square and just before Caesar’s murder, the Senate agreed to move there. Augustus founded the second of the Imperial Fora, with a temple dedicated to Mars Ultor (Mars the Avenger). Used by the public and senators alike, its main function was that of a law court.

After the conquest of Jerusalem, Emperor Vespasian had the Temple of Peace built with a garden filled with statues and ponds. This one had no civil function, so it wasn’t considered a Forum in itself, but it was a favorite meeting area for the wives of various Roman officials. Domitian wanted to connect the two forums and the Temple of Peace. He built a temple dedicated to Minerva that served as access to the two larger ones. The work was finished under Emperor Nerva’s rule and bears his name.

By large the biggest and greatest of all the forums was that of Trajan, built in 112 AD to commemorate the Roman victory over the Dacians. This was where the Basilica Ulpia was erected and also the large Temple of Trajan, built after the emperor’s death. Two libraries stood between the temple and the basilica. Unlike Christian churches, the basilica was a secular building.

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.

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 (Italian: 'Foro Romano') is a rectangular plaza surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. It was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; as well as the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history. Sitting in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations attracting nearly 5 million sightseers yearly.

***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 undoubtedly the most emblematic structure of the Roman Forum, with its monumental columns that form the postcard image of the legendary Roman ruins. It sits at the northwest point of the Roman Forum, 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 before the rebellion and the establishment of the Roman Republic. The structure was modified and restored several times over the centuries and the version you can see today is the result of a restoration in the 3rd century after a devastating fire. After serving as a temple for the god Saturn, it later housed the Roman Treasury, something that is quite appropriate for the god of wealth and abundance. The eight ionic columns that are still today are absolutely majestic and give you a feeling of the size and grandeur of Rome in its day. Standing in front of them, you feel like a tiny grain of sand in the ocean of time.

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 Musei Capitolini make the main museum of the city of Rome and can be defined as the oldest public museum in the world. The historic seats of the museums are Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, facing on the highly photogenic Piazza del Campidoglio that was designed by Michelangelo. The history of these museums can be traced to 1471 when Pope Sixtus IV gifted a precious collection of ancient bronzes to the people of Rome and located them on top of the Capitoline Hill. 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. You need a lot of time to see them all.

The piazza outside contains a copy of the only remaining ancient Roman bronze statue. The original, a statue of Marcus Aurelius as a mounted rider is inside the museum. Many Roman statues were destroyed on the orders of Christian Church authorities in the Middle Ages; this statue, however, 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 Palazzo Nuovo, you must first purchase a combined museum ticket at the Palazzo dei Conservatori booth and enter the museum from there. After exploring that side of the museum, you can access Palazzo Nuovo via an underground tunnel. You can't enter the Palazzo Nuovo facilities directly from Piazza del Campidoglio.

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. According to legend, Rome was founded on seven hills by Romulus and Remus, but in truth, the bastion of the early Roman civilization was this one particular hill, with its double summit and a sheer cliff face on one side. Many of the temples built there were dedicated to Roman gods, such as the Capitoline Triad, (Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva); others were dedicated to Venus and Mars, but sadly none of these remain. A tabularium holding the official records office of ancient Rome was built on the slope facing the Roman Forum, and it can be visited via the Capitoline Museum.

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. In the 8th century BC, after the abduction of young women from their tribe, the Sabines declared war on the Roman settlement. The Romans’ seemingly inviolable fortress was breached by a young woman, Tarpeia, who opened the gates for the attackers in reward for “what they bore on their left arm”, meaning gold bracelets. Unfortunately for her, the Sabines wore their shields on their left arm and she was crushed under the weight of them. To add insult to injury, they then threw her off the cliff, which was later named the Tarpeian Rocks.

In the 16th century, Michelangelo designed the Piazza dei Campidoglio and the Palazzo dei Conservatori, built next to the 12th century Palazzo Senatorio. These two palaces, along with Palazzo Nuovo, designed in the 17th century, are now the Capitoline Museums. The church, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, on the second summit of the hill was built in the 14th century. A flight of steep steps leads from the ancient Roman Forum to the church. Another, shallower flight, the Cordonata, from the Forum to the square was designed by Michelangelo.

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 chose to visit. The Colosseum may have been the biggest, but the Teatro di Marcello was there first, and it served as the model for the Colosseum. Still well preserved, it definitely adds charm to even 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 who died under mysterious circumstances a few years later, but it was actually Julius Caesar who ordered its construction before being murdered.

The building was used uniquely for mythological dramas in ancient Roman times. Built on three levels, it represented the three orders of classical architecture: 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 apartments; therefore, it's a great place to admire the mix between old and new. With some luck, you could even catch the small concerts that are held in the facilities (from June through October).

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 (Italian: Mercati di Traiano) is a large complex of ruins in the city of Rome, located on the Via dei Fori Imperiali, at the opposite end to the Colosseum. The surviving buildings and structures, built as an integral part of Trajan's Forum and nestled against the excavated flank of the Quirinal Hill, present a living model of life in the Roman capital and a glimpse at the continuing restoration in the city, which reveals new treasures and insights about Ancient Roman architecture.

Thought to be the world's oldest shopping mall, the arcades in Trajan's Market are now believed by many to be administrative offices for Emperor Trajan. The shops and apartments were built in a multilevel structure, and it is still possible to visit several of the levels. Highlights include delicate marble floors and the remains of a library.

Trajan's Market was probably built in 100-110 AD by Apollodorus of Damascus, an architect who always followed Trajan in his adventures and to whom Trajan entrusted the planning of his Forum, and inaugurated in 113 AD. During the Middle Ages the complex was transformed by adding floor levels, still visible today, and defensive elements such as the Torre delle Milizie, the "militia tower" built in 1200. A convent, which was later built in this area, was demolished at the beginning of the twentieth century to restore Trajan's Markets to the city of Rome.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Il Vittoriano

12) Il Vittoriano

Il Vittoriano, also known as Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II ("National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II"), is a grand memorial to Vittorio Emanuele II (1830-1878), 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 the King. To the right, there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of WWI with an eternal flame and two soldiers standing permanent guard. It also offers exceptional views of Rome, a fact which makes the tiring climb worthwhile. Although this monument was very controversial in its day and has received all kinds of humorous and derogatory nicknames over the years (the Allies famously called it the "typewriter" when they entered Rome in 1944), it is still one of the most-visited monuments in the city after the Vatican and the Roman Ruins.

The base of the structure houses the museum of Italian Unification. In 2007, a panoramic lift was added to the structure, allowing visitors to ride up to the roof for 360-degree views of Rome. You can board the elevator 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

To the north of Capitoline Hill 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.

The palace was built in 1455 by the Cardinal Pietro Barbo who also integrated a medieval tower and an ancient church, built in 336, into the new building. The cardinal went on to become Pope Paul II and the palace remained as a papal residence until 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 their 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 Benito Mussolini, who used to address the crowd from its balcony. 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. The artifacts include early Christian to Renaissance ceramic statuettes, chests, tapestries, 17th/18th-century paintings, weapons, and wood sculptures. The staterooms are often used to hold temporary exhibitions.

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, the Crypta Balbi stands on the remains of the 13th-century Theater of Balbus. During excavations in 1981, the remains of the ancient theater and artifacts from the medieval occupation of the city were uncovered and are now housed in the museum in the Archaeology Section. In the basement, you will find the remains of the theater, including parts of the columns of the quadriporticus and objects from a nearby statio annonae (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 that indicate 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 under the 3rd century Emperor Septimus Severus. The map was a guide to visitors to the city.

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.

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 the largest privately owned collection in Italy today. The palace was constructed in 1505 by Cardinal Giovanni Fazio Santoro. It was bought in 1601 by Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini and it came into the Pamphilj family when the cardinal’s niece, his heiress, 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, richly decorated in Chinese style by Ginesio del Barba. In an adjoining chamber is a portrait of Pope Innocent X, painted by Velazquez. The Gallery of Mirrors is truly breath-taking, designed in 1730 by Valvassori. The frescoed ceiling, by Miani, 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 very good cafeteria and tea room where you can either have tea and cakes or a hot snack. In the palace’s bookshop, you will find postcards and prints of the masterpieces exposed in the Gallery.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place to discover during a rainy Monday in Rome, the time when most museums are closed.

The audioguide is by the current head of the Pamphilj family and is both informative and personal. Get it!

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 Trevi Fountain, so don’t forget to take some loose change with you to toss into the basin of the most famous fountain in the world. You must remember to have your back to the fountain and toss the coins over your shoulder for luck.

To understand the importance of Rome’s fountains, you must understand the importance of the aqueducts that brought fresh water to the city. The River Tiber was filthy and unfit for drinking as it was used as a sewer. It was a Roman custom to build an imposing fountain at the end of an aqueduct. A lot of the aqueducts were destroyed in 536 by the Goths; the Aqua Virgo was repaired in 1453 and a fountain was erected shortly afterward.

In 1629 Pope Urban VIII commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to build a bigger, better fountain, but before work got underway the pope died and Bernini’s plans were shelved. In 1730 Nicola Salvi won the competition set by Pope Clement XII to build the new fountain and it was completed in 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini, who took over the construction when Salvi died.

The Palazzo Poli serves as a backdrop to this truly wonderful fountain, the Triumphal arch is superimposed onto its facade and rocks and sculptured vegetation run along its foundations and around the borders of the basin.

The main sculpture is a magnificent statue of Oceanus riding in an oyster-shell chariot, pulled by seahorses and guided by two tritons. On one side of Oceanus is a statue of Abundance holding an urn, 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 at feeds the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct.

A small fortune is thrown into the fountain every day; it is not unusual to find over 2000 Euros in the basin. The area is policed to stop thieves pinching the money, which is used to fund a supermarket for the poor.

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 early morning or at night to avoid crowds, and make sure to try the 'gelaterias'.
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.
"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 day of her life in Rome!

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.9 km
Pincian Hill Area Walk

Pincian Hill Area Walk

Pincian Hill, overlooking the Campus Martius, lies outside the original boundaries of the ancient city of Rome. It was not one of the Seven hills of Rome, but it' is located within Aurelian wall. The Hill is home to the Pincio Gardens, an impressive park with terraces offering great views of Rome. Take this tour to explore the Pincian Hill and visit such famous sites as the Galleria Borghese, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna and Bioparco.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 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 the following tour to discover Rome's magnificent religious heritage.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.9 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 by narrow, cobbled streets and medieval buildings.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
Trevi and Colonna Walking Tour

Trevi and Colonna Walking Tour

The Trevi rione (district) of Rome, which is the 2nd rione, is most famous for the Trevi Fountain, as well as for being home to several magnificent public libraries. Colonna is the 3rd rione of Rome and takes its name from the rione's most famous landmark, the Column of Marcus Aurelius in the Piazza Colonna. Colonna is also home to several palazzos, churches and other landmarks.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Sightseeing Walking Tour in EUR

Sightseeing Walking Tour in EUR

Esposizione Universale Roma (EUR) is a suburban area in Rome established in 1942, it was designed to host an exhibition which didn't take place due to World War II. EUR is popular for the period architecture of Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana. The area also contains some very important landmarks of history and culture, including Museo della Civiltà Romana, Pigorini Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico and Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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...
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...
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.