Rome's top three museums for art and history

By Go City Expert

A visit to Rome is rich in culture, history and tradition. Any visitor will fall in love with the city and be overwhelmed by the deep running traditions and heritage of the Roman people. There’s no better place to experience this than by visiting the wealth of museums within Rome, accessible with your Roma Pass and OMNIA Card. Both cultural and historical, there are museums that exhibit the city’s artistic and social past. We thought we’d look at top three and share with you why they are must-sees: Vatican Museums Arguably the most famous museums in Rome, the Vatican Museums are a cultural pilgrimage as much as a religious one. Set in the Vatican City they are home to some of the most priceless art and sculptures in the world. This vast set of interconnecting museums measure over 9 miles, so you’re best to dedicate a good half day to exploring the departments and salas at leisure. Some of the highlights of the museum include the Papal Throne, the Sistine Chapel, and various galleries displaying ancient statues, busts, maps and tapestries. Its 1,400 rooms are brimming with art dating back from Ancient Egypt to the 20th century. So there’s something for everyone. Obviously there’s a deep spiritual undercurrent and theme behind all the works collected and on display in the Vatican Museums so visitors can learn about the Papal history and Roman Catholic influence over art works through the ages. Some of the artists featured in this renowned museum are Michelangelo – who’s Last Judgement can’t be missed – Raphael and Bernini, among others. National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo This fortified castle, and mausoleum, is one of Rome’s most iconic landmarks and sits impressively on the northern bank of the River Tiber. The National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo is a must-visit for anyone interested in history and is otherwise known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Interlinked with the Vatican – there’s a secret passage underground that links the two together once used for papal refuge – the museum of Castel Sant’Angelo is home to Papal apartments of the (infamous) Borgia Pope Alexander VI and display the lavish decorations and furniture collected by these heads of the Church. Visitors can also admire the Hall of Urns where it’s believed the ashes of Hadrian are kept, symbolically, right in the centre of the stronghold. Capitoline Museums Rome’s Capitoline Museums are some of the best collections of ancient Roman art and archaeology. Originally built as the ‘people’s museum’ it’s also believed to be the first museum in Rome – and the world’s oldest national museums – founded in 1471 by Pope Sixtus IV. One of the many highlights of the collection is Rome’s national symbol, the She Wolf and Romulus and Remus. The collections also contain ancient sculptures, statues, sarcophagi, mosaics and ruins of ancient dwellings from the Roman Forum. Set within three buildings, there is so much to be discovered about Rome’s rich history and culture – as well as Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Greek cultures. The Capitoline Museums give visitors a unique insight into Rome’s important history and you won’t be disappointed! With the Roma Pass you can get free entry into the Capitoline Museums and the Museum of Rome for free and many other historic sites like the Coliseum and the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill at a discounted price.

Continue reading

Blog

Top 10 Things for your Rome Bucket List

Be adventurous, put the guidebook down and think outside the box with this bucket list of top things to do in Rome. Aside from the popular Rome attractions like the Coliseum and Vatican – which are a given – there are so many more places to go and see. So we’ve spoken to the locals and got some recommendations for you to make your trip to Rome even better. Have an ice cream at Fatamorgana Rome is one of the best places to go for good food and good wine. Among the many options to suit everyone you can’t miss the delicious organic and authentic gelateria Fatamorgana in the uber trendy Monti district. Just a 5-10 minute walk up from the Coliseum and Roman Forum it’s a great place to go to cool off and get a sugar hit. From sweet sorbets to creamy chocolates it’s well worth a visit. Toss a coin into Trevi Fountain and make a wish One of Rome’s most iconic landmarks, Trevi Fountain is undeniably bucket list worthy. In these selfie stick days at least it makes getting a picture in the crowds that bit easier! Did you know that throwing a coin into the fountain is meant to bring you good luck and ensure you will return to Rome? You may as well throw in a handful to raise your odds! We also recommend visiting Trevi Fountain after dark when the baroque marble is lit up, plus it's normally a lot quieter. Walk around the Orange Garden A hidden gem, the Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) is a quiet sanctuary right in the middle of the bustle of Rome. You wouldn’t know it but just a few streets up from the busy road circulating the Circus Maximus you’ll find this orange tree filled garden. It’s a great place to watch the sun go down, especially if you've planned with a bottle of wine for a romantic picnic. Have a selfie with a Gladiator One of the main symbols of Rome are the Gladiators stationed outside the Coliseum and Roman Forum 24/7. Dressed up in their Spartan gear, a selfie is mandatory before you leave the Eternal City. Don’t forget with the Roma Pass you can skip the lines and visit the Coliseum and Roman Forum for free! Views at the top of St Peter’s Dome Undeniably one of the best views of Rome is from the top of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. Nothing can quite prepare you for the breathtaking panorama over Rome from this unrivalled vantage point at the centre of the Vatican, overlooking the rooftops of Rome in the distance and the iconic piazza underneath. With 360 degrees of uninterrupted city it really is a non-mover on the bucket list. Walk around the ruins at Appia Antica Not many people think to venture that far out of Rome but there is so much more to discover outside the city centre – if you just dare! Vast ruins lie waiting to be explored, such as Appia Antica, one of Rome’s historic attractions, an archaeological site that was built back in 312 BC to connect the road to the south. Stroll through the Appia historic park and you’ll see tombs, ruins and catacombs that will unlock Rome’s rich past. Hire a go cart around Villa Borghese Villa Borghese is a must-visit during your trip to Rome as it’s one of the most accessible parks in the city. In the summer you’ll find it busy with sunbathers, picnickers and roller-bladers, but what’s even more fun though is if you hire a go-kart and have a go at pedalling your way around yourself. You can hire these at various locations around the park, usually for one hour or even half a day. It’s great fun and definitely not something you’d do every day! Make sure the more confident driver is at the wheel as there are a few bumpy bits and steep inclines! See the dome in Sant’Ignazio One of Rome’s best hidden gems is the church of Sant’Ignazio just around the corner from the Pantheon. From the outside this church doesn’t look anything out of the ordinary, in fact it looks a lot like every other city church. However, when you step inside and look up at the ceiling you’ll be taken aback by the optical illusion painted on the roof. Don’t be fooled into thinking the church’s dome is actually concave; the painter, Andrea Pozzo, painted it on a flat surface with the 3D effect! Very clever... See the traditional guards at the Vatican London’s Tower of London has its Beefeaters, but at the Vatican, visitors can see the (semi-equivalent) Papal Swiss Guard in all their finery. At St Peter’s Basilica you will see them stationed at various posts in their yellow and purble robes. Their institution dates back to the 15th when and they traditionally served as guards to foreign European courts, now, the Swiss Guard's role is like a bodyguard to the Pope and they have to match a certain criteria such as having completed basic training with the Swiss military. Campagna Amica Market The Forum Boarium, the oldest Roman Forum, is home to two ancient temples and was once Rome’s ancient cattle market. It’s now a selling point of the most exclusive neighbourhoods with unparalleled views over the Forum, Circus Maximus and the Capitoline Hill. On the weekend, we recommend you head down to the Campagna Amica market to sample some locally sourced delicacies from smooth olive oil to fresh prosciutto. If you want to make a morning of it, why not have a coffee at Cristalli dello Zucchero first to get your caffeine hit.
Go City Expert
Blog

A Guide to the Real Food and Wine of Rome

Whether you are a passionate foodie visiting Rome in order to broaden your culinary horizon, or a first-timer in the country, eating well in the eternal city is a must. Authentic, fresh food is at the heart of Italian culture and Roman cuisine is often based on seasonal, fresh produce. As with every region, in Rome there are some dishes that are well-established classics among the locals. Although you should steer clear of tourist traps around the Fori and historical centre, finding a decent eatery in Rome is not a difficult feat. There are many good and affordable restaurants near the Vatican, Trastevere area and Borghese gallery. If you are looking to stay closer to the centre, try visiting the Jewish Quarter, Campo de’ Fiori and the young and hip Monti area. Once you’ve found your spot, it’s time for the dining to commence! Mapping your Meal But before you dive into the delights of ‘La Cucina Romana’, it’s important to get your bearings. First things first: Antipasti. This is your pre-meal appetizer, and traditionally consists of local cured meats, cheeses, vegetables or fritti (fried food). At a more informal pizzeria or trattoria, try a true Roman antipasto: suppl ì. Not, as any proud Roman will tell you, to be confused with the Sicilian arancini, supplì are deep-fried, oval-shaped balls of risotto rice with a melted mozzarella centre. Another Roman fritto not to be missed is fiori di zucca (deep-fried courgette flowers in batter, often made with anchovies). After antipasti, you usually move on to primi. This is the first course of a classic Italian meal, but can be eaten as a main course. Pasta features heavily as a primo in Rome, along with soup and rice dishes. Next in line is secondi, which is the main, or ‘second’ course, normally a carb-free affair consisting of fish or meat, often ordered with a contorno (side). The Festival of Pasta Pasta is the staple of any Roman diet, and with basic, flavoursome ingredients, Romans do it well. Flawless pasta is not an arbitrary undertaking either. Pasta shapes, their cooking time and optimal sauce pairings are meticulously considered and rooted in Italian cuisine. One of the best examples of a simple yet fantastically tasty local dish is Bucatini all’amatriciana, a historic dish that first originated in Amatrice. In Rome, amatriciana is made with bucatini: thick, spaghetti-shaped tubes, which, in this recipe, are covered with a rich tomato sauce made with pork cheek (guanciale), pecorino and usually also onion, garlic and chilli. Spaghetti alla carbonara is a pasta dish that is known around the world, but you haven’t had it until you’ve had it in Rome. First brought to Lazio by coal men (carbonari, hence the name) from Umbria, it is now a staple dish on most Roman menus. Made with guanciale or pancetta (Italian bacon), eggs, parmesan, olive oil and pepper, this is a recipe with few ingredients, but one that is surprisingly difficult to get right. When it is, it’s delectable. Another Roman pasta dish that cannot be omitted is Spaghetti cacio e pepe. This is basically like macaroni cheese with a continental makeover. ‘Cacio’ is the ever-prevalent pecorino romano, while ‘pepe’ is pepper – these are the two ingredients that make this concoction mouth-watering. Pizza You simply can’t go to Rome and not have pizza. You cannot. Pizza romana, with its signature thin, crunchy crust is renowned as one of Italy’s best. However, it is worth noting that different regions have their own style of pizza perfection, one of the most famous being pizza from Naples (pizza napolitana) which has a much thicker crust. Pizza is often accompanied by beer rather than wine and is traditionally an evening dish. For pizza on-the-go, try bakeries and pizzerias that sell pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice). Secondi Piatti When ordering secondi, choose local produce that is made in true regional style, such as Abbacchio alla scottadito (charcoal-grilled, marinated lamb cutlets). ‘Abbacchio’ is little lamb in the local dialect, while ‘scottadito’ means ‘finger burning’. Perhaps not the most enticing name at first glance, it is actually a humorous take on the fact that the cutlets are traditionally eaten by hand and served hot. Another variation of this meal is Abbacchio arrosto (roast lamb with herbs.) For those with a more adventurous palette, try Coda alla vaccinara, also known as Roman oxtail stew, made with celery, carrot, herbs, tomato and pancetta. The coda itself has a sweet and sour taste, prepared using raisins or candied fruit. Roman cuisine features a lot of dishes based on offal, or ‘quinto quarto’, including Pajata (lamb, veal or goat kid intestines) and even Testarelle (whole roasted lamb’s or goat kid’s head). Not for the faint of heart. If you would rather opt for fish, a typical Roman dish to try is Filetti di baccalà fritti (batter-fried baccalà). Although this dish is available throughout the year in Roman restaurants, it is traditionally eaten only once a year, for Christmas, and is the result of several days’ work if using salted cod. Vegetarian Delicatessen With its fresh vegetables, legumes and cheeses, Roman cuisine is in fact a vegetarian wonderland. Vegetarian options can be found on almost all typical Roman menus and there are even a few common dishes that are suitable for vegans, such as gnocchi al pomodoro or pizza marinara. A great veggie appetizer is the simple but delicious bruschetta aglio ed olio (toasted bread with garlic and olive oil) or bruschetta alla romana (topped with fresh, chopped tomatoes and herbs). A great, typical Roman dish to look out for is Puntarelle, a variety of Catalonian chicory that is found exclusively in Rome. A seasonal green, it is usually available from November until February and is painstakingly prepared by cutting off the tender tips of the plant, which are then soaked and tossed. Although the traditional dressing is not vegetarian (it contains anchovies, along with garlic and vinegar), you can find vegetarian varieties. Another must-taste delicacy is Carciofi (artichokes). These come in two styles that reign in Rome. One is Carciofi alla romana (Roman artichokes), stripped, violet artichokes that are stuffed with a mix of oil, lemon, garlic, parsley and mint, then braised until tender. The other, Jewish-style artichoke dish, Carciofi alla giudia, uses globe artichokes and is deep-fried, salty and equally delicious. The latter is common in the historic Jewish ghetto of Rome. Desserts Now you’ve had your primo and secondo, it’s time for dolci (dessert). Italy is famous for some of the world’s most mouthwatering treats, and Rome is certainly no exception. Starting with their breakfast cornetti (cream or chocolate filled pastries), Romans don’t do things in halves when it comes to the sweet stuff. Of course, there’s gelato. We all know that one. But how about gelato made from ricotta cheese? A Roman specialty, this is more like a chilled sorbet-pudding made with ricotta, eggs and cognac. Decadence seems to be key concept for Roman pastries. Take for example the Bignè di San Giuseppe, also known as Zeppole. These are deep-fried or baked sugary dough balls, about the size of a fist, oozing (think volcanic quantities) with a cream filling. Another heart-stopping Roman classic is Maritozzi con la panna. Guaranteed to leave you with a creamy grin, these are a cross between bread and pastry, opened like a sandwich and filled with cream. The wine of Ancient Rome Historically, the areas around Rome have been important in the production of wine (particularly white wine) and there are many vineyards in the Lazio region, which has volcanic soil, lakes and a mild climate. Frascati wine is produced a stone’s throw away from Rome, in the Castelli Romani area, and is the most well-known wine of the region. The white wines especially are delicate and can be paired with fish, antipasti and cheeses. Near Montefiascone is where the famous and peculiarly named Est! Est! Est! wine is produced with the grapes of Trebbiano Toscano e Malvasia. This is an aromatic wine that goes well with appetizers such as artichokes and fritti. For a red variety, try Cesanese, cultivated towards the south of Lazio in the areas of Piglio, Frosinone and Zagarolo. This increasingly popular variety has a warm aroma of mulberry, blueberry and juniper. It can be served with meat dishes such abbacchio (lamb) and stews, or with gnocchi. Eat Like a Local To eat authentic, quality local food is one of life’s pleasures, and what better place to do it than in Rome? Not to mention that food in Rome is more than just an iconic red-checkered tablecloth and a bowl full of pasta. It is a social ritual, a tradition and an important part of a rich cultural heritage. It’s about sharing, chatting and possibly eating ‘til you burst at the seams. Buon Appetito!
Go City Expert
Blog

Rome Itineraries - 3 and 4 days

Planning an itinerary is the best way to make the most out of your visit – especially to a city that has so much to see and do, like Rome. With your 3-day OMNIA Rome and Vatican Pass, here is a suggestion of what you could do over 3 days in Rome and if you’re staying a bit longer, what to do during day 4 in Rome, too. From the iconic historic attractions to must-do bus tours, here are some suggested itineraries for your trip to Rome. 3 Day Itinerary Day 1: MORNING Attraction: St Peter’s Basilica Make St Peter’s Basilica the first stop on your itinerary and get one ticked off the bucket list. Any visit to St Peter’s Basilica will start your holiday on the right foot. With its huge impressive dome, marble façade and beautiful interior you can’t help but be awed by this Roman landmark. Don’t miss Bernini’s baroque baldachin, the papal throne and crypt underneath. Visit duration: 2 hours Address: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano Metro: Ottaviano-S.Pietro-Musei Vaticano (Metro A line) MIDDAY Attraction: Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums Around the corner from St Peter’s Basilica you’ll find the Vatican City, home to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Made world-famous by Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement, visit this chapel to admire the skill for yourself. There are also 9 miles of art, sculpture and tapestries to admire in the museums too – so make sure you have enough stamina! Visit duration: 4 hours Address: Viale Vaticano, 00165 Roma Metro: Ottaviano-S.Pietro-Musei Vaticano (Metro A line) AFTERNOON Attraction: Castel Sant’Angelo Castel Sant’Angelo is also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian and has stood on the bank of the River Tiber for over 2,000 years. It was once Rome’s fortress, then papal refuge, now it’s a historic attraction that showcases a range of ancient Roman artefacts from pottery to paintings, military weapons and the bronze angel right on top. Visit duration: 2 hours Address: Lungotevere Castello, 50 - 00186 Rome Metro: Lepanto or Ottaviano (Metro line A) Day 2: MORNING Attraction: Colosseum The Colosseum is one of the most iconic historic buildings in Rome and dates back over 2,000 years so its walls are bursting with history and tales of Ancient Rome. The Colosseum is the world’s most famous amphitheatre, once used for entertaining and brutal gladiator contests – you can learn about these and the lives of a gladiator and the hierarchy of the Empire at the fascinating exhibits in the Colosseum. Visit duration: 2 hours Address: Piazza del Colosseo, 00184 Rome Metro: Colosseo (Metro line B) MIDDAY Attraction: Roman Forum & Palatine Hill If you’re into your history and archaeology, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are two of Rome’s most iconic sites to visit and will give you a great insight into what life was like in Ancient Rome. Walk through the cobbled streets of the forum to imagine what life was like in the busy market place, and walk up the Palatine Hill for views across the city of Rome and the ruins of the Forum below. Visit duration: 2 hours Address: Via di San Gregorio, 30 - 00184 Rome Metro: Colosseo (Metro line B) AFTERNOON Attraction: Capitoline Museums The Capitoline Museums are considered the world’s oldest national museums, founded in 1471 by Pope Sixtus IV who donated bronze statues to the museum, set within three historic buildings and piazza designed by Michelangelo. Within you can see the iconic She-Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, as well as sculptures and statues thousands of years old. Visit duration: 2 hours Address: Piazza del Campidoglio, 1 - 00186 Rome Metro: Colosseo (Metro B) Day 3: MORNING Attraction: Borghese Gallery The Borghese Gallery is one of the most impressive art galleries in Rome and certainly in one of the most picturesque of locations. Housed in the old Villa Borghese Pinciana, once home to Scipione Borghese who commissioned works off Caravaggio and Botticelli for his private collection, has since become one of the most esteemed art galleries for paintings and classical antiquities in all of Rome. Visit duration: 2 hours Address: Piazzale del Museo, Borghese, 5 - 00197 Rome Bus: Pinciana- Museo Borghese MIDDAY Attraction: Hop on Hop off Bus Tour There’s no better way to see the sights of Rome than aboard a hop on hop off Rome Christiana bus tour. Take the stress off and just sit back and admire the landmarks and monuments of Rome, passing the iconic sites; Castel Sant’Angelo, St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican City, River Tiber, Colosseum – and more! Plug into live commentary as you drive through the streets and learn about the city’s history as you go. Whenever takes your fancy, just hop off to explore! Visit duration: 3 hours AFTERNOON Attraction: St John in the Lateran Did you know St John in the Lateran is the official seat of the Pope? Take in the stunning Cosmatesque architecture, sculpture and 14th-century Gothic Baldacchino, and don’t forget to visit the Scala Sancta – the Holy Steps – to which hundreds make pilgrimage to every month. It’s also one of the oldest basilicas in Europe, dating back to 324 AD! Visit duration: 2 hours Address: Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, 00184 Rome Metro: San Giovanni (Metro A) 4 Day Itinerary Day 4: MORNING Attraction: Pantheon The Pantheon is one of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome, dating back to 118 AD. It’s a place of worship and working church to this day, and its name, in fact, means “house of gods”. It’s famous for its large pillared façade – upon which the Pantheon in Paris was modelled – as well as its huge oculus in the ceiling which provides the only source light in the building. Visit duration: 1 hour Address: Piazza Della Rotonda, 00186 Roma Tram/Bus: Largo di Torre Argentina MIDDAY Attraction: Trevi Fountain The Trevi fountain is not to be missed on your trip to Rome; it’s the perfect place to go around lunch as all around the piazza are restaurants so you might be lucky to get a table with a view. The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world thanks to its stunning Baroque sculptures – so make sure you throw a coin in for good luck to make sure you’ll return to Rome! Visit duration: 1-hour Address: Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma Metro: Barberini (Metro line A) AFTERNOON Attraction: Spanish Steps There are 135 steps which make up the Spanish Steps that date back to the early 1720s, linking the Piazza di Spagna to the elevated church in the Piazza Trinità dei Monti at the top. You might recognise the steps in some classic films, such as Audrey Hepburn’s Roman Holiday, otherwise, it’s a lovely spot to buy a coffee or a picnic and sit and watch the world go by. Visit duration: 1 hour Address: Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma Metro: Spagna (Metro line A) It’s important to plan out an itinerary or rough agenda so you can make the most out of your days in Rome. There are so many historic sites, it makes more sense to group them by location, as above. Rome is small enough you can walk between many attractions during the day – but with the OMNIA Rome and Vatican Pass you get a free travelcard for the Metro, Trams and Buses which also makes getting from A to B easier.
Go City Expert

Dreaming of that Rome city break?

Sign up to receive top travel tips

  • Thick check Icon