Rome/Old Rome

thumb|350px|The Fountain of Neptune at the center of the Piazza Navona

77 things to do

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The Pantheon

Originally built in 27 BCE, by the Emperor Hadrian (AD 125-128), this ancient temple was built as a temple to all the gods of the Roman state but has served as a Christian church since the 7th century. It is the only building from the Graeco-Roman world which has remained substantially intact and in continuous use throughout to the present day, and as it is still a functioning church, silence is requested during your visit. The Pantheon is celebrated for its large dome. From inside you'll see traces of the former bronze ceiling, melted down during the reign of Pope Urban VIII to make weapons for the fortification of the Castel Sant' Angelo. The hole in the center of the ceiling, though, is an original feature designed for architectural reasons (the dome would collapse without it.) If it happens to be '''raining''', you should definitely go to the Pantheon to see the rain pouring into the building through the hole in the ceiling. There are holes in the ground that drain the water. The spectacular doors are Romans, but not the original. The original bronze beams of the pronao were melted down by Pope Urban VIII and might have been used to create Bernini's Baldacchino, or canopy, in Saint Peter's. The dome is the largest masonry dome in the world, larger than that of Saint Peter. The building now appears to be built in a depression, but this was not the original appearance. The street level at the sides and rear has risen about 10 meters since the original construction due to the accumulation of debris from 2,000 years of settlement. This has necessitated the maintenance of the deep trench that keeps the building from being buried.

Campo de' Fiori

If it is sunny, you'll catch a few young people and older gentlemen sitting at the base of a statue in the middle of the open space. The statue is a brooding, hooded Giordano Bruno—an excommunicated Dominican monk and one of the earliest cosmologists who held the idea of an infinite universe. He was burnt at the stake for heresy on this spot on 17 February 1600. The piazza is used as a marketplace during the day, and party central for college students and tourists at night. When the sky gets dark and the street lamps go on, the Campo de' Fiori fills with people and lovers wander arm in arm in the crowd. Over the buzzing of conversation and the occasional burst of laughter you may hear a young vocalist belt out ''O Sole Mio'' at the top of his lungs as change plunks into his accordion case.

SEE   —  Map

The Ghetto

The Ghetto lies between the island in the River Tiber and the Theatre of Marcellus and includes Rome’s synagogue. It was established in 1555 as a result of a Papal Bull by Pope Paul IV that required all Jews to live in the area, considered one of the least desirable quarters of the city, as it was subject to constant flooding by the river. The area was originally enclosed by walls and gates that were only open during the day. With the end of the Papal States in 1870, the requirement that Jews live in the Ghetto came to an end. The walls were torn down in 1888 and much of the ghetto was demolished. However, there is still much to see, including walls of buildings that incorporate Roman ruins, and there are several good Jewish restaurants.

SEE   —  Map

Sant'Ivo della Sapienza

This little church is hard to find but well worth the extra effort although it is often closed when you get there. One of Borromini's masterpieces. It is located only a block from Piazza Navona, but not usually visible from the street, as one must enter the courtyard of an old palazzo to reach the church. Sant'Ivo is a small church the dome of which is shaped like the Star of David, but with every other point rounded. The steeple seen from the outside looks like it has a staircase wrapped around it that ascends to heaven. As the church was commissioned by the Barberini family that produced a number of popes and whose family symbol was the bee—some say the steeple resembles the stinger of the insect.

Piazza Navona

The pride of Baroque Rome, was established towards the end of the 15th century, and preserves the shape of the ancient Stadium of Domitian. The buildings surrounding the square stand where the spectators once sat, watching the spectacle of the naumachiae (battles among ships). The square remains completely unspoilt by traffic and modern buildings. Today, the square is an immensely popular place to sip a cappuccino, shop, and watch street performers. Behind the piazza at the northern end, you can still see remains of the Roman athletic stadium well below the current ground level. Amongst the various monuments of the square, look especially for the two Baroque masterpieces by Bernini and Borromini.

SEE   —  Map

Via de Coronari

In the Middle Ages pilgrims on their way to St. Peter's had to pass through the Via dei Coronari in order to cross the Tiber at Ponte St. Angelo. The street got its name from the people who sold rosaries to the pilgrims. It follows the ancient Via Recta which led from what is today Piazza Colonna to the Tiber. In the 15th century Pope Sixtus IV initiated the construction of private buildings. Today, several houses dating back to the 15th and 16th century may be seen. House nr. 156/157 is said to have been the House of Fiametta, the mistress of Cesare Borgia.

SEE   —  Map

Largo di Torre Argentina

Not, as commonly believed, named after the country but after the city of Strasbourg (''Argentoratum'' in Latin), from which came a courtesan of Pope Alexander VI who lived nearby. Four Roman Republican-era temples, Pompey's theater and a Roman public toilet ("Latrina") have been excavated. The largo is also home to a large number of cats which are tended by the local animal rights organization. (Purportedly a jab at Mussolini who excavated the area and is said to have hated cats.)

SEE   —  Map

Palazzo Madama

This palace of the 16th century was erected by the famous Medici family. It was the residence of Cardinals Giovanni and Giuliano Medici, later Pope Leo X. and Clement VII. Catherine de Medici, Pope Clement VII's niece lived here until her marriage in 1553 with Prince Henry, the son of King Francis I of France. The palace is named after Madama Margerita of Austria, the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V. Since 1871 it has been the seat of the Italian Senate.

Piazza di Pasquino

Small piazza about 20 m (65 ft) from Piazza Navona, behind the Brazilian Embassy. There is a statue named "Pasquino", according to a legend named after a tailor who used to work nearby and had a reputation for complaining. The statue has been used for the past three centuries as a place to hang messages, complaints and other opinions which have to be shared with the neighborhood. The statue is probably an ancient Roman portrait of Hercules.

SEE   —  Map

Via del Governo Vecchio

The street is named after the Palazzo del Governo Vecchio, the seat of the Papal government in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was part of the ''Via papalis'' which connected St. John Lateran and St. Peter's. Houses nr. 104 and 106 date to the 15th century and there are some houses from the 16th century as well. The palace on nr. 123 was intended to be the residence of Bramante. The Palazzo del Governo Vecchio is situated just opposite.

SEE   —  Map

Crypta Balbi

This museum is built on top of the excavation site of the Balbi Crypt, a building from the first century A.D. which underwent considerable modifications in the following centuries. Through the building's history, the museum gives us glimpses of what Roman life across the ages was like. Free visits of the ruins are possible. The Essedra ruins are only accessible on Saturdays and Sundays, at 10:45AM, 11:45AM, 12:45PM, 2:45PM and 3:45PM

Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne

The palace was built by the architect Baldassare Peruzzi on behalf of the Massimo family. The former palace was destroyed during the pillage of Rome in 1527. The Massimo family can be traced back to Quintus Fabius Maximus who defeated Hannibal in the 3rd century BC. The building is open to the public on March 16, only in order to commemorate the miraculous reanimation of Paolo Massimo by St. Philip Neri in 1538.

Hotel Raphael

Behind an ivy-covered facade on a narrow side street behind the Piazza Navona. The first floor houses a collection of Mayan art and original ceramics by Picasso; the third floor and its rooms were designed by Richard Meier. The restaurant is ''expensive'' but of very high quality. The (also expensive) rooftop terrace and bar is beautiful and has excellent views over the city, particularly of the Vatican.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 682831 —  Largo Febo, 2

Via Giulia

An example of urban planning that goes back to Pope Julius II, who, in 1508, envisioned it as a street that would connect all major government buildings. It is around a kilometer long and is in a straight line, an unusual feature for the time. It is lined with some interesting palaces but these days is more known for its antique shops. Via Giulia runs parallel with and one block from the River Tiber.

SEE   —  Map

Palazzo del Collegio Romano

The Collegio Romano was a college of the Jesuit order. Many popes, cardinals and bishops were educated here. Since 1870 it has been a secular (non-monastic) school. The coat of arms on the doorway is that of Pope Gregory XIII (1572–1585). The tower was erected in 1787 and served as an observatory. Until 1925 all clocks in Rome were set after that of the Collegio Romano.

Palazzo Altemps

Simple and elegant lines make up this building, whose construction began in 1480 for Count Girolamo Riario, nephew of Papa Sisto IV and was taken up by architect Martino Longhi for the new owner, Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps. Today it houses one of the branches of the National Museum of Rome, showcasing Renaissance Sculptures and the museum's Egyptian collection.

Fontanella del Facchino

Like Pasquino, the Facchino is one the so-called "speaking figures" which are peculiar to Rome. He is looking out of the Banco di Roma building. The man depicted is holding a barrel in his hands and is carrying water. It is sometimes said that he is looking similar to Martin Luther, but more probably a porter who died while carrying a barrel is depicted here.

SEE   —  Via Lata


Don't come to Supperclub if you're in search of a traditional restaurant, have lazy taste buds or are scared of new experiences. However, if you're looking for an unusual dinner experience in an unexpected place and are not afraid to discover the creative corners of your personality, then knock on the door. Have fun, eat, listen, dance and enjoy your evening.

Palazzo Taverna

The building is in one of the most hidden corners of the city center among Piazza Navona and Castel Sant'Angelo. It served as residence for the Orsini family. Nowadays it is private property and one can only glance at the courtyard and the amazing fountain inside, erected in 1618 by architect Antonio Casoni. However, the brief moment is worth it.

Il Bacaro

You'd never know that you are three minutes walk from Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Via degli Spagnoli is tiny, leafy and quiet. Il Bacaro seats about 24 inside and even fewer outside under the shade of an ancient vine. Great selection of wine. In general a great stop for a romantic meal in the Eternal City.

Il Portico

Small indoor/outdoor restaurant with local cuisine. Must tries include the Roman specialty "trippa", tripe simmered in a light tomato sauce and sprinkled generously with Parmesan. Risotto is also fantastic. The staff is warm and friendly, if not with a full grasp of the English language.

Sant'Agnese in Agone

By Borromini, reputed to be on the spot where St. Agnes was martyred in the fourth century A.D. This lovely basilica church is small with an almost circular interior. It is undergoing rehabilitation and the facade and dome are hidden in scaffolding. It seems to be open only until noon.

SEE   —  +39 0668192134 —  Piazza Navona

The Drunken Ship

Western bar. Girls are encouraged to have fun by lying on the bar and allowing guys to drink shots off their chests. Do NOT visit this bar on nights when England of English teams play football at Stadio Olimpico, because Italian lads often come here armed with knives to pick a fight.

DRINK   —  Campo de' Fiori

Temple of Hadrian

The temple of the Emperor Hadrian was consecrated in 145 AD by Emperor Antoninus Pius. The remains of the antique temple were incorporated into a new building that served as the Papal Customs House. It was finished around 1690 and today accommodates the Stock Exchange (''Borsa'').

Palazzo della Cancelleria

This remarkable building served as the site of the Apostolic Chancellery, or offices of the Pope, for centuries, and now houses a Vatican court. Tucked behind the facade is also the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso, an ancient Roman house church rebuilt in the 15th century.

Palazzo Spada

This building was erected in the 16th century for Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro. One century later it was acquired by another powerful Cardinal, Bernardino Spada, and was restored by Borromini, who created the forced perspective optical illusion in the arcaded courtyard.

SEE   —  Piazza Capo di Ferro

Palazzo della Sapienza

This building housed the University of Rome from the middle of the 15th century until 1935. The splendid interior courtyard was created by Giacomo della Porta. The inside church of Sant'Ivo (see above) is one of the masterpieces of the architect Borromini.

Taverna Lucifero

A hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant. As of summer 2012, not too crowded—it seems people haven't found it yet. All seating is inside. Don't miss the eggplant appetizer, mozzarella and tomato appetizer, limoncello liquor, tiramisu and chocolate mousse.


One of Rome's best artisanal gelaterias, but without the fussy attitude that marks some of the higher-class or more expensive locations. Excellent rotating flavors, all prepared on the spot. Their eponymous house flavor comes with a free cookie.

San Luigi dei Francesi

This church is roughly halfway between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. It is most notable for a side chapel which contains three Caravaggio masterworks: "The Calling of St. Matthew", "St. Matthew and the Angel" and "Martyrdom of St. Matthew".

Palazzo Crivelli

This building also known as the Doll House was built in the 16th century. It is unique for the quantity and quality of the decorations—lions' heads, satyrs and disfigured heads that adorn the facade attributed to the sculptor Giulio Mazzoni.

Forno di Campo de' Fiori

A traditional bread shop that makes one of the best kinds of pizza bread in Rome. With your back to the Giordano Bruno statue in the middle of the square, the Forno is at the bottom of the square to the left. Good place to have lunch.

EAT   —  Campo de' Fiori

Santa Maria sopra Minerva

This church is literally right next to the Pantheon. It is one of Rome's only Gothic churches, and well worth looking inside, although its plain square façade makes it look inconspicuous from outside. Excellent stained glass windows.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

By Bernini, in the very centre of Piazza Navona. Incorporates an Egyptian obelisk and symbolises four of the world's great rivers (the Ganges, the Nile, the Danube and the Plata), representing the four continents known at the time.

SEE   —  Piazza Navona

Fontana delle Tartarughe

A pleasant fountain in an out-of-the-way square. It was originally meant to have four dolphins rather than turtles but the dolphins proved to be too large for the water pressure so the turtles were added as an afterthought.

SEE   —  Piazza Mattei

Gelateria Giolitti

Originally opened in 1800, very popular amongst locals, tourists, and the late Pope John Paul II was known to be a regular customer. Arguably the best ice cream in Rome. About €4 for a large cup and €2 for a regular cone.

Palazzo Farnese

Since 1871 this has been the French Embassy. This sixteenth century palace houses a library of collections by the French school in Rome, particularly on Roman archaeology. Note the two beautiful fountains in the piazza.

Residenza Frattina

Town House Hotel near the Vatican. Features 9 individual rooms with private bathrooms, decorated in classic Roman style. Tea and coffee maker, wi-fi internet, air conditioning, flat-screen satellite TV.

SLEEP   —  +39 066783553 —  Via Frattina 107

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

Good collection of Renaissance and Baroque art, including by Velasquez, Titian, Raphael, and Bernini, all owned by the Doria Pamphilj family. Excellent audio guides really bring the paintings to life.

Museo Napoleonico

The museum is dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte and his family. After Napoleon's death in 1821 the Pope gave permission to his family to settle down in Rome. His sister married Prince Camillo Borghese.

BellaCarne Kosher Grill

Focused on the world of kosher meats, bringing back Jewish traditions and culture to the heart of Rome’s Jewish neighbourhood, along with the typical tastes and recipes from Rome’s Jewish cuisine.

Santa Maria della Pace

The church was built by order of Pope Sixtus VI (della Rovere). The campanile was erected in 1504 by Bramante and the church has frescoes of the four sibyls by Raphael in its interior.

Fontana del Moro

At the southern end of the Piazza, designed by Bernini but the main statue of the Moor was done by Giacomo della Porta and the other statues are 19th-century copies of the originals.

SEE   —  Piazza Navona

Pizzeria da Baffetto

Old-fashioned, family feel pizzeria near Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, unarguably serving some of the best pizzas in Rome. Usually crowded but well-worth the occasional queuing.

Hosteria dell'Orso

A historical inn where reputedly the Italian poet Dante Aligheri and French travellers of the 16th century, including the poets Francois Rabelais and Michel de Montaigne, stayed.

SEE   —  Via dei Soldati, 25


Between the Pantheon and Via del Corso. A stunning example of Baroque art. The ceiling frescoes are especially fine, including a trompe l'oeil dome by the master Andrea Pozzo.

SEE   —  8 A Via del Caravita

Della Palma

Located just a couple blocks north of the Pantheon, this is an excellent gelateria with 140 different flavors. Prices are very reasonable. Vegan soy gelato also available.

Caffè Novecento

Offers a very good variety of cakes, sweets, coffee and tea. The furnishing are nice, with couches as seats at some tables. Prices are mid-high range but worth every cent.

FortySeven Hotel

A modern hotel with quite spacious rooms, hot breakfast, nice fitness facility, and a rooftop restaurant/bar with gorgeous views. Walking distance to Trastevere.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 6787816 —  Via Petroselli 47

Piazza Colonna

Where the building of the Italian Government, Palazzo Chigi is situated. Also there is a marvelous carved column—hence the name—dating back to Imperial Rome.

SEE   —  Map

Chiesa del Gesù

This is one of the two main Jesuit churches in Rome, the other being the nearby Sant'Ignazio. The interior is Baroque art on steroids. Simply astounding.

Cul de Sac

One of the best enoteche (wine bars) in Rome, serving a wide range of small dishes. The pate selection is a must-try. However, off-hours service is slow.

Via della Gatta

The Via della Gatta connects Palazzo Doria Pamphili with Palazzo Grazioli. The sculpture of the cat is on one of the corners of Palazzo Grazzioli.

SEE   —  Map

San Nicola in Carcere

Church built on the site of three Roman pagan temples, which can be explored underground for a small fee paid at a desk near the church entrance.

SEE   —  Map

Pantheon Royal Suite

A boutique hotel beside the Pantheon. Rooms are modern and comfortable with clean linens. The receptionists are friendly and helpful.

Piazza della Minerva

A small piazza just behind the Pantheon. The centerpiece is a statue of an elephant by Bernini with an ancient obelisk on its back.

SEE   —  Map

B&B Campo de'Fiori

Modern design in a building dating back to 1600. Non smoking rooms with A/C, tv, safe, free wifi. Private bathroom with shower.

Caffè Giolitti

An elegant coffee house in the style of the Belle Epoque, opened 1900. It is said that it offers the best ice cream in Rome.

Best Pantheon

A relatively new B&B with very modern decor. Four rooms with A/C, satellite TV, and DVD players + movies.

Santa Maria dell'Anima

Contains the tomb of Pope Hadrian IV, the last non-Italian pope before Pope John Paul I.

Hotel Portoghesi

Externally attractive hotel in a relatively quiet area of a busy part of town.

Fontana del Nettuno

A 19th century addition to the square, made to balance the Fontana del Moro.

SEE   —  Map

Aristocampo de' Fiori

A chain restaurant with many locations in Rome. Offers delicious sandwiches.

Pie di Marmo

The marble foot belonged to a temple of the Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris.

Piazza di Sant'Ignazio

Small and attractive piazza tucked away in a neighborhood near Pantheon.

SEE   —  Map

Santa Maria Minerva Obelisk

One of Bernini's masterpieces, an obelisk on the back of an elephant.

SEE   —  Piazza della Minerva

Piazza di Monte Citorio

Where you can find the building of the House of Representatives.

SEE   —  Map


Kosher fast food. Located in the heart of the Jewish Ghetto.

Obelisco di Montecitorio

An Ancient Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome in 10 BC.

SEE   —  Map

Maison Giulia

Guesthouse near Campo de Fiori and Trastevere.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 68808325 —  Via Giulia 189/A

Vineria Reggio

Great place to sit for an affordable drink.

DRINK   —  Campo de' Fiori

La Taverna del Ghetto

Meat restaurant, excellent lamb dishes.

Palazzo Altemps

See Historical Buildings.

Tapa Loca

Spanish food.

Source: wikivoyage