Rome: A pocket guide

Ever since the Goths came to destroy ancient Rome and stood in awe of its glory, successive waves of armies, invaders, scholars, and tourists have been in thrall to this city at the center of European history since its beginnings in 754 B.C. “A dethroned queen,” wrote Garibaldi, “and now to me the one and only symbol of Italian unity.”

Masterpieces of architecture and sculpture stand cheek by jowl in all four corners of the city and span every era: Roman, Mithraic, early Christian, medieval, the Golden Age of the Renaissance, the Baroque, and the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The best way to discover a city is to walk everywhere, and nowhere is this truer than in Rome, so a careful plan of where to go and what to see every day is vital.

For those who only have a few days, visits should include St Peter’s, the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Capitoline hill and museum, the Trevi Fountain, and the area around the Spanish Steps, with a well-deserved ice-cream in Piazza Navona. But this is barely scratching the surface of Rome. More and more visitors now spend longer here precisely because only a few days leaves them frustrated and wanting more; this has led to a trend of renting private houses and apartments for longer stays.

The city has also stepped up efforts to attract a higher caliber of visitors, so shops, restaurants, bars, and sidewalk cafés have been given cutting-edge designs and creature comforts. But ancient Rome is never far away, and visitors will never quite shake off the feeling that around the next corner some fantastical character from Rome’s past is just out of sight.

Trevi Fountain in Rome

Meet the Experts for Rome