Rome Neighbourhoods: A Comprehensive Guide

By Megan Hills

Explore your way around the city with our comprehensive guide to the best of Rome neighbourhoods!

The best way to plan your visit to the beautiful Eternal City is to divide your time across the various Rome neighbourhoods, or rione. Each has something unique to offer as this guide, brought to you by the team at the Rome Pass, sets out.

Ancient Rome – Celio and Campitelli

This is where it all began, the ancient heart of Rome and the Roman Empire. Perhaps the most impressive of the city’s landmarks is here: the Colosseum. Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, it dominates the piazza del Colosseo. Commissioned in AD 72 by Emperor Vespasian and completed in AD 80 by his successor, Titus, it’s the largest amphitheatre ever built, holding between 50,000 and 75,000 spectators in its heyday. It’s now the most visited tourist site in Italy, so booking tickets in advance (online or by phone) is recommended. The standard admission ticket to the Colosseum also includes entry to the neighbouring Palatine and Roman Forum. In Roman mythology, the Palatine is the birthplace of Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome. It is now an open-air museum offering a fabulous panorama of the archaeological remains below. In the adjacent Roman Forum – marketplace, business district, civic centre and seat of power of Ancient Rome – you can see the supposed burial place of Romulus, the remains of temples and law courts, and fragments of pottery, mosaics and sculptures. A guided or audio tour will help you get the best out of the site. Had your fill of history? Take a stroll to the leafy residential area of Aventine Hill just beyond the Circus Maximus and take in the fantastic panoramic city views.

Centro storico

The Centro storico (historic centre) comprises a number of different rione and contains some of the most iconic of Rome’s sights. The piazza Navona is at its heart, a lively square with street artists, buskers and plenty of cafés. Built over Emperor Domitian’s stadium in the 15th century, it features some of the city’s most beautiful Baroque art and architecture, such as the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone and three splendid fountains. You can also take a fascinating underground tour of the remains of the original stadium. Just to the east is the Pantheon. Originally built around 25BC as a temple to all of the Roman gods, it was given to Pope Boniface IV in 609. The Pantheon has functioned as a Christian church to St Mary and the Martyrs ever since, with mass held every week. This continued usage has helped keep the ancient building in an excellent state of repair. Further east again is the Trevi Fountain, the largest Baroque fountain in the city. A dense and impressive mass of sculpture and carving, the fountain is over 26 metres high and ejects 80,000 cubic metres of water every day. Legend has it that a visitor who throws a coin into the fountain is guaranteed to return to the Eternal City. A stroll northwards through the narrow lanes will take you to the Scalina Spagna, or Spanish Steps. Built in the 1720s, the 138 steps are a mixture of curves and straight flights, vistas and terraces overlooked by the Trinità dei Monti church. The steps were a popular gathering place for artists and poets in the 18th century, and there are still artists plying their trade at the top, ready to paint visitors’ portraits. At the foot of the steps is the house where John Keats lived and died, now a museum dedicated to the English Romantic poets. This area around the Via dei Condotti is also where you’ll find some of Rome’s most upmarket boutiques, restaurants and hotels.

Vatican City & Prati

Technically, Vatican City is a sovereign state, but for sightseeing purposes it is just another of the Rome neighbourhoods. Official residence of the Pope for centuries, it is also home to eleven museums and, of course, Michelangelo’s beautifully painted Sistine Chapel. There are no paintings in St Peter’s Basilica, the largest Roman Catholic church in Italy, but plenty of statues and some breathtaking architecture. Michelangelo’s sculpture, Pietà, is at the head of the right nave and the only work he ever signed. If you have a head for heights, you can climb the 551 steps to the top of the dome and be rewarded with fabulous rooftop views. Catholic or not, mass in St Peter’s Basilica is an experience not to be missed. It is celebrated Monday to Saturday in the various chapels of the Basilica. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Rome at the same time as the Pope himself, you can even book tickets (free) for a Papal Mass either in the Basilica or St Peter’s Square. Don’t stay indoors the whole time though: take a tour of the Vatican Gardens. A wonderful place for quiet meditation since 1279, the gardens now cover a large proportion of the site and contain grottoes, fountains, monuments and the heliport. Advance booking only, the tour lasts two hours. If visiting the Vatican is the main purpose of your trip to Rome, you’d be wise to stay in Prati, just to the east. Affordable hotels, good shopping and plenty of decent places to eat all within walking distance of Vatican City, and there are two metro stops with good links to the Vatican as well.

La bellezza❤️ #rome #italy #25aprile #trastevere

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A medieval working-class district, Trastevere has gradually been gentrified since the 1970s and is now very popular with visitors. Wander the cobblestoned streets, relax in the University’s botanic gardens and watch the world go by from the steps of the fountain in the piazza di Santa Maria. As you’d expect from one of the more up-and-coming Rome neighbourhoods, there are some excellent restaurants and bars and a really buzzing nightlife. It’s also a good place for funky boutiques, plus there is a huge flea market on Sundays at Porta Portese selling everything from antiques and books to clothes.

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A Visitor's Guide to the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums see over 5 million people per year; and with an estimated worth of over €15 billion it’s no wonder people flock to see it! At an impressive 9 miles in length the museum is bursting with art from floor to ceiling. It’s believed that if you spent just one minute admiring each painting it would take you four years to see the entire collection. And that’s not including the sculptures, tapestries, frescoes... The Vatican Museums are filled with some of the greatest masterpieces of all time; from Michelangelo to Botticelli, Bernini and Raphael. There are 54 rooms, or salas, in total ranging from miniature mosaics, Etruscan artefacts, classical antiquities and much more... But as part of the Holy See in the Vatican City (and the smallest country in the world), needless to say there are rules to be followed and customs to be respected. It’s hard to know where to begin, so we’ll give you some advice from what to see and to what to wear, with our visitor’s guide to the Vatican. Rules Because the Vatican City is a place of worship and the heart of the Roman Catholic Church, any visitor must abide to their rules and regulations - even if its outside of your beliefs. You may not wear short skirts, sleeveless blouses or shorts (cover all knees and shoulders) so make sure you come appropriately dressed in advance or you’ll be sold an overpriced scarf by a lurking tout to drape over yourself. As any important building or museum, you must be respectful of your surroundings. The Vatican Museums date back to the early 1500s so it’s almost an artefact in itself. Don’t try and touch any of the sculptures, or tapestries on display – even though there will be hoards of people inside - please leave enough room around the art pieces. Cameras may be used in the museum with no flash, but not in the Sistine Chapel. This is to protect the fresco from fading – and let’s be honest, it would be a travesty if Michelangelo’s Last Judgement were to peel and discolour. What to see An average visit to the Vatican Museums takes about four hours and from the moment you get in there are works of art, sculptures and architecture to be admired. From the spiral staircase built in 1832 right at the entrance, to the four imposing Raphael Rooms in the public part of the papal apartments, you can explore the great Vatican Museums from top to bottom. Discover the Ancient Egyptian Museum covering nine rooms, or learn about the different Popes in the portraits gallery. If you love statues, you can’t miss the hallway of marble masterpieces. Checkout the Sistine Chapel on your way out to end on a high. Literally. Remember no cameras are allowed, so take a mental picture of the famous 15th century ceiling and while you're in there, admire Botticelli’s long murals, too - something that often gets overlooked. Beat the crowds With the OMNIA and Vatican Card you can get free and fast track entry into the Vatican Museums, saving you hours of queuing in the summer months. Just flash your card and jump straight to the front. To make your experience even more enjoyable, our advice is visit around midday or 1pm when the early birds are leaving to get lunch which means there might be a lull in numbers. Saying that, it’s always pretty busy so make sure you’re good in crowds. There’s an outdoor area and little café in the grassy courtyard, too, if you need a break – and it’s always nice to sit outside and admire the architecture from a different perspective. If you want something a little different, why not try their Night Time Tours, which run in the summer (May-July and Sept-Oct) when the Vatican Museums are open until 11pm. It's the perfect time to go as you’re guaranteed fewer people and a calmer experience - even if it's at an extra cost. St Peter’s Basilica St Peter’s Basilica is part of the Vatican City however it’s not accessible through the Vatican Museums. For this, you’ll have to queue up under the right hand colonnades of St Peter’s Square and enter from the front of the basilica. Like the Vatican Museums, you must have shoulders and knees covered to be allowed entry. As this is a daily place of worship you must be respectful of those around you. With an OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card you can get a free audio guide and skip the lines to St Peter’s Basilica once you’ve visited the Vatican Museums, to complete your exploration of the Vatican City. Discover more of the Rome and the Holy See with the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card - your indispensable sightseeing pass!
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A Taste of History: Rome's Oldest Restaurants

Have your history and eat it too at Rome's oldest restaurants When in Rome, do as the Romans do and get stuck into its fabulous dining scene. We don't have to tell you about Rome's incredible street food and fresh pastas - the international hype speaks for itself - but there are a few grand establishments worth trying that really know what they're doing. Try the dishes at some of Rome's oldest restaurants below for a true taste of tradition. Some classic Roman #appetizers to start our night at one of the oldest restaurants in #Rome 🇮🇹 #carciofoallagiudia #friedArtichoke #friedzucchiniflowers with cheese 👍😋 #lacampanaroma #ristorantelacampana A post shared by 🎀 🎀 EAT hard PLAY hard 🎀 🎀 (@fonc) on May 14, 2017 at 12:02pm PDT La Campana This family-run trattoria is a stalwart of the Roman dining scene, with nearly 500 years of patronage and Italian comfort food. Founded back in 1518 and named after Pietro de la Campana, the restaurateur who opened the establishment, it remains a firm favourite with both locals and tourists - especially because the Pantheon and Piazza Navona are nearby. Try the Artichokes alla Guidia and Saltimbocca for some real classic tastes. Nearby Sites: Pantheon, Piazza Navona E niente, posso resistere a tutte le tentazioni ma davanti a loro,mi inchino. A post shared by @just_anto64 on May 10, 2017 at 5:23am PDT Ristorante Peppone It's a story we're all familiar with - a small town boy named Giuseppe Tozzi leaves the countryside for the big city, dreaming of fame and fortune. Even back in the 1800s, it was a cliche and one that Giuseppe (nicknamed Peppone) owned wholeheartedly. He opened up a traditional restaurant in the 1890s and it's persisted till now, run by his great grandchildren who bring the flavours of his hometown Abruzzo to the capital. Nearby Sites: Via Veneto doooood getting the full Roman offal experience here... starting at 12:00 is veal testicles (best part on this plate), veal small intestine, veal sweetbreads (damn good), repeats from 6-12 position and then veal liver in the middle... all perfectly roasted with some salt that's it... with squeeze of lemon and it's magically delicious A post shared by Victor Tam (@victors_belly) on Jun 18, 2017 at 6:51am PDT Checchino dal 1887 If you're keen to try quinto quarto - Italian for offal - then you've come to the right place. Popular with locals, this restaurant has lived many lives starting off as a wine cellar, then a slaughterhouse, then eventually a restaurant. Started by a young couple, the restaurant really hit its stride once their daughter and grandson breathed new life into the business and revamped its dishes. With quinto quarto tasting menus, vegetarian options and a mean spaghetti carbonara, it's worth stopping by here on the way to see Monte Testaccio. Nearby Sites: Monte Testaccio Fried artichokes in Rome. Been waiting for this for a long time. #waitingmakesitsweeter A post shared by Christine Barbour (@dcbrocksjewelry_rawredefined) on Jul 8, 2017 at 12:54pm PDT Ristorante Piperno Jewish cuisine is a strong influence on many of Rome's tastes and dishes and you'd be hard-pressed not to find Carciofi alla Giudia (artichokes cooked in the Jewish style) on menus in Rome. As the oldest joint in the Jewish quarter dating back to 1860, it's no surprise that they specialise in the dish - so much so that they threw spring parties called Carciofolata there. Their homemade pastas are also a thing of beauty, try the taglioni. Uma grande mistura de sabores! #gelato #fassi #italia #roma A post shared by Valnice Lopes (@val_nice) on Jul 1, 2017 at 2:56am PDT Palazzo del Freddo di Giovanni Fassi Skip dinner and head straight for dessert at Palazzo del Freddo, a gelato sanctuary started way back in 1880. Forget the mom and pop soda shops you'll see in the US, gelato is serious business here with classy interiors and over 30 different gelato flavours ranging from safe vanillas and hazelnuts to bolder choices like rice and pineapple. Order an extra large scoop, grab a marble-topped table and be prepared to feast - the dessert's next level here.
Megan Hills

Explore the Ancient Ruins of Rome

Rome is not shy of a few ancient ruins; in fact there are a number of buildings and areas that still stand and remain to be explored. As Rome dates back to 27 BC, when it was founded by the two brothers Romulus and Remus, there’s certainly plenty of history behind the city. Surprising at first, as a tourist when you stop to marvel the rubble and ruins every corner, it’s not long before you become accustomed to the juxtapositions of the ancient and the new wherever you look. However, because there are so many ruins and so much to see we thought we’d whittle it down for you, and pick our Top 10 must-see ancient Roman ruins in and around Rome. After all, you can’t leave Rome without a bit of culture. Coliseum One of the most iconic buildings in Rome, the Coliseum dates back to 72 AD and was commissioned by the Emperor Flavius. Did you know the name of the building was originally called Amphitheatrum Flavium after its patron? You can still see the name engraved in its wall today. Used largely for entertainment and events, the Coliseum is famous for its gladiator fights and wild animal battles. Pantheon Re-built in 126 AD by Emperor Hadrian, the Pantheon is one of the best preserved buildings from Ancient Rome. It stood as a temple for all the Roman gods, yet has been used as a Roman Catholic Church since the 7th century. Its impressive structure makes it one of the most iconic temples in the world with a huge oculus and dome, granite portico and rotunda. Pyramid of Cestius The Pyramid of Cestius is an ancient Roman tomb (and reminiscent in design of the ancient Egyptian pyramids of Nubia), built for Gaius Cestius around 18 - 12 BC. Its white marble façade measures nearly 30m2 at the base and is 37m high. At the fork of two ancient roads, Via Ostiensis and the ancient Via della Marmorata, it’s also one of the best preserved buildings of ancient Rome. Although visitors are not permitted entrance into the tomb, the burial chamber is decorated with orate frescoes by Bartoli, too. Arch of Constantine Standing tall between the Coliseum and the Palatine Hill, the Arch of Constantine is an epic monument to Rome’s past. Built in 315 AD to commemorate Emperor Constantine’s victory over Maxentius. Spanning over the ancient Via Triumphalis – the street emperors took to enter the city in triumph – it measures 21m high and 26m wide and marks a departure from the stylistic trends of the previous century. Terme di Caracalla These Roman baths of Caraccalla are the second largest public baths in Rome, built between 212 and 216 AD. Built as a form of political propaganda, they were used to unite Romans from every social class – blurring lines of caste and class. The baths were still in use until the 6th century and nowadays their impressive ruins act as a backdrop to host famous opera and ballet performances in the summer months. Roman Forum For centuries, the Roman Forum was the centre of Ancient Roman life. As a bustling market place, traders would exchange commerce, it would host gladiator fights at the neighbouring Coliseum, even political trials and public speeches. In the valley of the two hills; the Palatine and the Constantine, the Forum includes many famous landmarks such as the Arch of Septimus Severus, the Shrine of Vulcan and the Temple of Romulus. Castel Sant’angelo Having passed through the centuries, built over 2,000 years ago by the Emperor Hadrian, Castel Sant’angelo (or Mausoleum of Hadrian) is a testament to ancient Roman construction. Housing the tomb of Emperor Hadrian, it is now a museum but was once a fortress, prison and refuge for the Popes. Did you know there’s a secret underground tunnel that runs to the Vatican? Ostia Antica Forum Just outside of the city centre, Ostia Antica forum is one of Rome’s most famous archaeological sites and namely so as Ostia was the old harbour city of Ancient Rome. You can walk around this sprawling rural forum dating from 7- 3 BC and admire the ruins of the military camp, the Castrum, and the temple of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva in the Capitolium – to name a few. Palatine Hill Just higher than the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill is one of the most ancient parts of Rome and backs onto the Circus Maximus, beside the Coliseum, too. According to Roman mythology, the Palatine Hill was where the she-wolf found the two founders of Rome, as babies hidden in a cave. There is evidence to trace the Palatine Hill back 1000 years BC, and you can see the ruins of the Flavian Palace and the Statium of Domitian. 10. Aurelian Walls Built to enclose the Seven Hills of Rome and the Trastevere district as a military defence, the walls ran 19kms in total and were 3.5m thick. Built between 271 and 275 AD they have undergone some extension over the years, however, they remain surprisingly well preserved considering their part played in the protection of the city up to the 19th century. Head to Muro Torto in Villa Borghese for one of the most intact areas.
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