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40 Ultimate Things to Do in Rome

Follow this travel guide to find the best things to do in Rome, Italy.

Get ready for your dream vacation to Rome. Our indispensable guide highlights the top places to visit, the most fascinating sights, the best food and drink, the unmissable museums, churches and monuments–plus all the secret spots only locals know about. As the old adage goes: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and there is no better advice for visitors to the Eternal City.

With 3,000 years of history at your fingertips, there are enough things to do, see, and taste to last a lifetime. With iconic historical sites, ancient ruins, Baroque churches, and world-famous museums, you’ll find endless shopping places and plenty of decadent pasta and gelato to indulge in. In short, Rome is an overload of the senses.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT ROME?Shoulder season (April-May, September-October) is the ideal time to visit Rome, when the weather is pleasant and the tourists haven’t arrived like conquerors. Rome has a fairly temperate climate, so even the winters months can be pleasant, though on the chilly side. Summers can be very hot and crowded.

Whether you are a first-time visitor or return to the city often, here are 40 things you absolutely must do to truly experience la dolce vita. And if you are looking for a place to stay while you’re in town, we’ve got recommendations for the Best Hotels in Rome.

Please note that the COVID pandemic is ongoing and restrictions may be in place in Rome. Visit the U.S. State Department website, to get the latest advice and information.

Related: Don’t Do This in Rome–How to Avoid Culinary Tourist Traps

1 OF 40

Admire Ancient Ruins at the Roman Forum

Entering the huge archeological site of the Roman Forum and strolling through the ruins, you can almost imagine the citizens of Ancient Rome walking the cobblestoned streets in togas and bringing sacrifices to the temples. Of course, it helps to have a guide who can bring the stories to life, or you might mistake Augustus’s house for Livia’s, as there are no signs within the complex indicating what’s what.

The site dates back to around 500 B.C., but was enlarged by Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Domitian, and Trajan. You’ll see remnants of Imperial Rome extending beyond the limits of the Forum to include Trajan’s Column, the Arch of Titus, and the Circus Maximus. After visiting the Forum, try your luck with the Bocca della Verità, an ancient stone carving of a bearded man’s face. According to myth, it will bite off the hand of anyone not telling the truth.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Rome Travel Guide

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Visit the Colosseum, Obviously

Rome’s most internationally recognized symbol, the Colosseum has a long and bloody history. It was inaugurated in 80 A.D. with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and animal fights. It was the largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire and is believed to have packed up to 50,000 people inside. Despite centuries of neglect—it was used as a quarry until the 18th century—it has remained intact (for the most part).

Related: The Colosseum 101: Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting the Gladiator Ring

Currently, tickets must be bought online in advance from the official website. Choose from a combined ticket for the Roman Forum, Colosseum, and Palatine Hill, which grants access to all three sites (€16 per person), or opt for the Full Experience ticket (€24 per person), which adds on access to the arena floor and underground areas.

Related: The Best Hotels Near the Colosseum 

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Gaze at the Architectural Marvel That Is the Pantheon

Though the name refers to a temple for all the gods, the Pantheon is actually the burial place of Rome’s kings and other prominent figures, including Raphael. The temple was built between 118 and 128 A.D. on the site of an older temple. A feat of architectural ingenuity, it was the world’s largest dome until the modern era, has been called the world’s only architecturally perfect building, and is the best-preserved monument of Imperial Rome. Walk inside and look up—the oculus in the dome is open to the sky, letting sunlight filter in.

Entrance to the Pantheon is free, but on Saturdays, Sundays, and Public Holidays, it is necessary to reserve an entry slot up to one day in advance via the official website.

Related: The Best Free Things to Do in Rome

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Transport Yourself to Baroque Rome at Piazza Navona

One of the most popular public spaces in Rome, the magnificent, oval-shaped Piazza Navona is lined with restaurants, gelaterias, souvenir shops, and the Museo di Roma inside the Renaissance Palazzo Braschi. The city’s Baroque art is on full display here. Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi features exquisitely carved figures representing the world’s four great rivers. Legend has it that the figure with his arms extended is recoiling in horror from the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone by Borromini, Bernini’s rival. To dine with a view here, check out Vivi Bistrot for organic treats, juices, and smoothies or Camillo dal 1890 for international favorites, like bao buns and burgers.

Wander down the small street next to the church and make your way toward Via Della Pace, one of the city’s most picturesque streets. The Santa Maria Della Pace church stands at the end, its white portico gleaming in the sun. Stop for lunch or dinner at Da Francesco in Piazza del Fico and try the pasta carbonara.

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Pay Your Respects to the Vatican and Its Museums

You could easily spend a whole day exploring the area around the Vatican. (Related: Read Our Vatican Travel Guide.) Start at the Piazza di San Pietro, which Bernini designed to look like arms extended in an embrace. Besides St. Peter’s Basilica, the absolute must-see is the Vatican Museums, which contain Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Other highlights in the 1,400-room palace include the Raphael Rooms, old master paintings, and antique sculptures. Walks of Italy run a number of small and private tours that will get you early or late-night entry, VIP status, and even breakfast in the Pinecone Courtyard. Just south of Vatican City stands Castel Sant’Angelo, where popes sought solace during sieges. Climb to the top for splendid views of Vatican City and the Tiber. At its base, you can see the Ponte Sant’Angelo with Bernini’s exquisitely carved marble angels.

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Visit St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica may be a pilgrimage site for Catholics, but even non-believers can appreciate the church’s architectural majesty. The original dates back to 349 A.D., when Constantine had a basilica built over the tomb of St. Peter, the first pope. That church was razed to make way for the current one, the world’s largest church at 18,000 square yards, which has been standing on this spot since 1626. Inside you’ll find Bernini’s masterful altarpiece—the great bronze Baldacchino—and Michelangelo’s Pietà.

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Climb the Spanish Steps

Fascinating in its contradictions, the Piazza di Spagna is both democratic and home to the city’s fanciest boutiques on Via dei Condotti, Rome’s legendary shopping street. (Related: Read Our Piazza di Spagna Travel Guide.) Climb the famous steps leading to the Trinità dei Monti church to admire the piazza and Bernini’s ship-shaped fountain from above. If you’re feeling ambitious, climb to the Villa Medici for stunning views of the Centro Storico. Off to the side of the steps, you’ll find the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, one of Rome’s best under-the-radar museums.

Related: The Best Boutique Hotels in Rome

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Explore Trastevere

In Latin, Trastevere means “across the Tiber,” and you’ll notice the difference once you cross the river. The vibe is hip and bohemian, and you’ll find plenty of boutiques selling jewelry, perfumes, and handicrafts in a neighborhood where you can stroll aimlessly along cobblestone streets flanked by ochre-colored buildings. Stop off for freshly baked biscotti at Biscottificio Innocenti, Le Levain for French patisserie delights, and make lunch a seafood feast at Osteria der Belli. At night, Trastevere buzzes with people hanging out and drinking at the bars that line the streets. It’s easy to wander around and find one that appeals to you, but a good place to start the night is Freni e Frizioni, which serves a great aperitivo and cocktails. End with a nightcap at Santo with their never-ending list of gin.

Related: Read Our Trastavere Travel Guide

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Throw a Coin in the Trevi Fountain

Any trip to Rome would be incomplete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain. Nicola Salvi’s awe-inspiring Baroque masterpiece features a marble statue of Neptune at the center, surrounded by tritons. Legend has it that anyone who throws a coin in the fountain will return to Rome. While the gorgeous fountain tended to be overrun by tourists vying for that perfect selfie angle and street hawkers selling cheap souvenirs, pandemic crowds have given this beauty some respite. Still, visit early in the morning or late at night for a chance at seeing it sans people. If you’re lucky, you might experience a magical moment like in La Dolce Vita when Marcello Mastroianni wades into the fountain after Anita Ekberg.

Related: Travel Secrets Unveiled: Where Does the Money Tossed in the Trevi Fountain Go?

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Visit Galleria Borghese and Villa Borghese

Nowhere in Rome—or dare we say, the world—will you find such a magnificent collection of Baroque art. The villa itself is a masterpiece, commissioned by seventeenth-century Cardinal Scipione Borghese to house his treasures, including Antonio Canova’s sculpture of Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister as Venus Victrix, Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, and Caravaggio’s self-portrait as Bacchus. Tickets must be reserved in advance for slotted times.

After perusing the villa’s galleries, take a leisurely stroll through the idyllic Villa Borghese park, where orange trees and flowers bloom. Meander south toward Piazza del Popolo. You can take rowboat out on the lake, visit the zoo, see a play at a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, or stop by two museums on the park’s edge: the Etruscan Museum in Villa Giulia and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna.

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Get Lost in the Centro Storico

One of Rome’s great joys is losing yourself in the narrow cobblestone streets that make up Centro Storico. Starting at Piazza del Popolo, three main roads form a trident leading toward Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum. Branching off are countless streets and alleyways where you’ll find churches with Baroque art, boutiques selling everything from carved wooden figurines to precious jewelry, private courtyards where the wealthiest Romans live, enticing gelaterias, cafés, and restaurants. Take your time and do as the Romans do—this is what la dolce vita is all about.

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Shop Until You Drop

Want to bring home the latest Italian styles? Head to Via del Corso, one of Rome’s main shopping streets. The Galleria Alberto Sordi, which dates to 1922 and features stained-glass skylights and mosaic floors, is one of Europe’s most gorgeous places to shop with stores like Coccinelle and Italian mega bookstore La Feltrinelli. La Rinascente (Italy’s main department store) is nearby on Via del Tritone. For designer boutiques, walk along Via Condotti and the surrounding streets. For vintage and Italian heritage brands, stroll through the Campo Marzio. On the hunt for gifts with a difference? Booktique has a fun and eclectic selection of books and gadgets and Co.Ro Jewels design one-of-a-kind Rome-inspired jewelry. For a piece of Rome when you’re home, Issimo is a chic online boutique with all things Made in Italy, including their latest “Italian Road Trip” Monopoly featuring some Roman stops you’ll recognize.

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Drink Espresso at Tazza d'Oro and Caffè Sant'Eustachio

When in Rome, you must drink espresso. Drip coffee and Starbucks don’t exist here. It’s not uncommon for Romans to drink three or more espressos a day, and there are some unspoken rules if you don’t want to look like a tourist when ordering. First, cappuccinos are only drunk at breakfast. After that, order un caffè (a shot of espresso) or un caffè macchiato (a shot of espresso with a dollop of steamed milk). If you ask for a latte, you’ll simply get milk. In the hotter months, ask for un caffè freddo (cold espresso sweetened with loads of sugar) or crema di caffè (the Roman equivalent of a frappuccino).

Two of the most famous cafés—Tazza d’Oro and Caffè Sant’Eustachio—hold a fierce rivalry and are just blocks from each other. Try them both and see which you prefer.

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Enjoy Aperitivo at the Stravinskij Bar

After work, Romans love to meet for aperitivo, the Italian happy hour. Any bar worth its salt offers snacks, ranging from peanuts and potato chips to elaborate buffets of the finest finger food you’ve ever eaten. An Aperol Spritz or the Negroni are the local aperitivo favorites, but you can always get a glass of wine, beer, or a cocktail. The Stravinskij Bar at the Hotel de Russie might have the city’s most extensive cocktail list. Drinks are served with olives, almonds, potato chips, and hot and cold canapés. Try their signature Stravinskij Spritz.

Related: Rome’s Best Bars for a Classic Aperitivo

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Shop at Rome’s Local Food Markets

Shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables at the Mercato is a way of life for many Romans. Most neighborhoods have their own market that offers quality produce and a slice of lively social interaction every morning except Sunday. The Campo de’ Fiori market still bustles with life; however, it lacks the authenticity of the old-fashioned open-air stalls of Trastevere’s Piazza San Cosimato, while the sprawling covered structures of Testaccio and Trionfale incorporate more variety of non-foodstuffs and some of the city’s most exciting street food. Whichever you choose, there is no doubt that a visit to one of Rome’s markets is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture while stocking up on delicious ingredients.

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Eat All the Gelato

Resist the temptation of the brightly-colored gelato readily available. Instead, hunt down the genuine stuff at one of Rome’s artisanal gelaterias, which utilize top-quality ingredients and well-honed expertise in place of powdered mixes and industrial methods. The selection of flavors at Fatamorgana, which has several branches across town, combines classic favorites such as zabaione, pistachio, and chocolate with creative twists including basil, walnut, honey, black cherry,  beer, and blueberry cheesecake. Otaleg in Trastevere takes its cue from the seasons with intensely-flavored sorbets and a constantly changing list of inventive scoops, which play with unusual sweet and savory elements. Elsewhere, Gelato del Teatro and Gunther Gelato also source the best Italian produce to ensure authentic gelato excellence and a treat for the palate.

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See Modern Art at MAXXI

With so much amazing ancient and Baroque art, it’s easy to forget that Rome has some wonderful modern art museums too. MACRO is great, but MAXXI (Museum of 21st Century Art) is arguably the best place to see modern and contemporary art. The building itself is a huge draw—designed by Zaha Hadid, it’s all glass, big open spaces, and staircases that seem to float in the air. The Chiostro del Bramante, a small museum near Piazza Navona, also puts on very good modern art exhibitions.

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Ascend Gianicolo for Panoramic Views

Rome was built on seven hills, and while Gianicolo (or Janiculum) isn’t technically one of them, it is the highest vantage point from which to see the city. Roman lovers gather here at dusk (it’s an infamous makeout spot), and street vendors may try to sell you glowing tchotchkes. But ignore all that and focus on the panoramic vistas. From up here, you can see all the most important monuments: the Spanish Steps, Palazzo Venezia, and beyond. The long and winding road can be quite a hike to the top, so it’s better to go by car or Vespa if you can. Stop to admire the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola (commonly referred to as la Fontanone), a monumental fountain where Paolo Sorrentino filmed scenes from La Grande Bellezza.

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Sample Fried Artichokes in the Jewish Ghetto

The Jewish Ghetto, full of distinct charms, forms a small area between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Venezia. From the Renaissance until the nineteenth century, its gates were locked after sunset. Today it remains the center of Jewish life, cuisine, and culture. Roman Jewish kosher food is unique to the neighborhood. The well-loved restaurants Piperno and Ristorante Al Pompiere are undoubtedly the best places to sample the celebrated carciofi alla giudia (Jewish artichokes), which are fried whole until golden and crispy. While in the area, be sure also to visit the Pasticceria Boccione, a historic Jewish bakery famed for their traditional pastries, including the delicious ricotta and sour cherry pie and pizza ebraica, a sweet bun studded with raisins, nuts, and candied fruit.

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Indulge in La Cucina Romana

Traditionally dubbed Cucina Povera, Roman specialties tend to be simple, with a few ingredients prepared using tried-and-true methods. Typical appetizers include fried artichokes, fried salt cod filets, and plenty of cheese and salumi. Offal like pan-fried innards or tripe are often on menus too. There are four classic Roman pastas including amatriciana, a rich tomato sauce with guanciale (pork cheek), and Pecorino Romano; carbonara, a creamy sauce made with raw egg yolk, black pepper, guanciale, and Pecorino Romano; gricia, Pecorino Romano and guanciale; and cacio e pepe, a winning combination of Pecorino Romano and black pepper.

To try these dishes in a typical no-frills Roman trattoria, head to Da Enzo al 29 in Trastevere. The line is worth the wait. Others of note include Armando al Pantheon, Emma, Flavio al Velavevodetto and local institution Roscioli. For fine dining with avant-garde takes on Rome’s traditional dishes, go to the Michelin-starred Ristorante All’Oro.

Related: What to Eat in Rome

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Find the Secret Keyhole in the Aventino

If you want to impress your fellow travelers, find the nondescript door to the Priory of the Knights of Malta up on the Aventine Hill, just past the orange grove. Peep through the keyhole and you’ll spy a perfect view of Saint Peter’s Basilica across the city. No one knows if it was designed that way or if it was just a lucky coincidence, but the centuries-old building is truly majestic. Before entering the hands of the Knights of Malta, it was a fortified palace belonging to Alberico II, who ruled Rome from 932-954, a Benedictine monastery, and home to the Knights of Templar.

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Find Caravaggio’s Greatest Paintings in Churches

Stumble into just about any church and you’re likely to see some impressive art and architecture. However, there are a few with altars by Caravaggio and other Renaissance and Baroque masters that will leave you awestruck. On Piazza del Popolo, the church of Santa Maria del Popolo holds two of Caravaggio’s masterpieces: the Crucifixion of Saint Peterand the Conversion of Saint Paul. Raphael, Bernini, and Pinturicchio also contributed to its splendid interiors. Near Piazza Navona, the smaller, unassuming church of San Luigi dei Francesidisplays three of Caravaggio’s greatest works: the Calling of St. MatthewMatthew and the Angel, and Matthew’s Martyrdom.

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Experience the City’s Hotel Bar Scene

After dark, Rome becomes a playground for bacchanalia. In Fellini’s day, Via Veneto was the place to go, and new luxury hotels like the W Rome are trying to revive the strip with spaces for travelers and locals to mingle. The city newcomer has a Sicilian-inspired eatery, a private garden, and a rooftop bar. The stunning Lumen Bar at the St Regis has an exciting cocktail and aperitif offering. While The Hoxton, with its Cali-vibes Beverly and Mama Shelter with signature cocktails and a garden, brings a lot of hip into the Roman hotel scene. Soho House (for members only) has a killer 15-meter pool on its rooftop where you can dine all day in stylish open-air booths. On rooftops, Hotel de la Ville’s Cielo Terrace is one not to miss either, and Chapter Roma boasts the Campocori restaurant that could be more defined as a dark and lavish dinner club. 

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Take a Short Trip to the Coast

It seems like all the locals have a house by the sea, and when the sweltering heat of summer sets in, it’s easy to understand why. Rome isn’t directly on the Mediterranean, but you don’t have to travel far to find great beaches, fabulous fish restaurants, and unspoiled coastal towns like Santa Marinella, Cerveteri, and Sperlonga. For a proper getaway, consider staying the night at a hotel near the coast such as the QC Termeroma resort in Fiumicino, where the spa and wellness facilities provide full-on relaxation, or the luxuriously stunning La Posta Vecchia in Ladispoli, which offers a seafront location, 5-star services, and a hefty dose of old-school beachside glamour.

Related: 13 Best Day Trips From Rome

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Zip Around the City on a Vespa

Want to see Rome the way the locals do? Hop on the back of a Vespa driven by one of Scooteroma’s awesome guides. Founded by American expat Annie Ojile, the company offers a variety of tours, including a classic tour, a cinema lover’s tour, and a street art tour of under-the-radar neighborhoods Ostiense, Quadraro, and Pigneto, but they can also customize tours based on your interests and time constraints. Most of the guides are born and raised in Rome and treat you more like a friend who’s visiting from out of town than a tourist.

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Must-Visit Roman Neighborhoods

To experience another side to Rome, head to the outer neighborhoods such as trendy Pigneto, a once-gritty working-class area now packed with hip restaurants, vintage shops, and cool street art. Make sure to grab a drink at Necci dal 1924, the preferred hangout of famed Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini. The student nightlife district of San Lorenzo is rapidly developing into one of the hottest spots in town thanks to both its young, creative crowd and the newly-opened Rome branch of Soho House. Leafy Garbatella, conceived initially as an area of public housing a century ago, boasts a strong cultural community with quaint bars and a tranquil atmosphere. For something completely different, head to the eccentric Coppodè district where the Florentine architect Gino Coppedè let his imagination run wild with different architectural styles.

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Tour Rome’s Hidden Treasures With Imago Artis

A city with over 2,000 years of history is bound to have some secrets that don’t appear in any guidebooks. If you want to dig deeper, enlist the help of Imago Artis, a luxury tour operator run by husband-and-wife team Fulvio de Bonis and Alessia Tortora and their business partner Chiara Di Muoio. They can get access to exclusive sites, like a museum of ancient ruins in the basement of a private home, a noble residence tucked away in the city center with panoramic views of Rome’s terra cotta rooftops, a church with stunning views of the Roman Forum that’s only open by appointment, and even the incredible gardens of the Knights of Malta, which are normally off-limits to the public.

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Sip Craft Cocktails at Drink Kong & The Court

Rome may not have as many cocktail bars as New York or London, but fans of shaken and stirred drinks will still find plenty of excellent watering holes. Patrick Pistolesi’s Drink Kong is one of the World’s 50 Best Bars and where you’ll find expertly crafted cocktails with an international menu covering everything from bao to lobster rolls. Romans spill out onto the square at Salotto 42, and Baccano by the Trevi Fountain, which has a fun list with delectable bar snacks. For outstanding cocktails with an unobstructed view of the Colosseum, head to The Court at Palazzo Manfredi, and the Stravinskij Bar in the luxurious Hotel de Russie remains a local favorite and is where many of the city’s best bartenders got their start. Choose a drink from the extensive list and then try Chorus Café, where Massimo d’Addezio (an alum of the Stravinskij Bar) shakes up creative cocktails in a beautiful marble-walled space near the Vatican.

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Check Into Luxurious Hotels

Rome’s most luxurious hotels ooze Italian style, with gorgeous accommodations, excellent restaurants and bars, and relaxing spas. Hotel de Russie is perfect for modern travelers who appreciate flawless service, a renowned restaurant, and a bar in a perfect location on the bustling Piazza del Popolo. Once Fellini’s haunt, the Hotel Eden has plush rooms and suites, a glamorous lobby bar decked out in marble and frescos, two rooftop restaurants, and a spa. Everyone who’s anyone has stayed at Hotel Hassler, a grand dame perched atop the Spanish Steps, a favorite of royalty and celebrities. Smaller boutique hotels are on the rise with design hotel Corso 281 Luxury Suites that has balcony views of Piazza Venezia, Chapter Roma with its cool dining spaces, Hotel Maalot, and its stylish art-filled bar and restaurant, and Hotel Vilòn tucked away in the 16th-century house annexed to Palazzo Borghese. Soho House members finally have a home in the city with urban views and a pool on its top floor, and the new Rome W Hotel comes complete with funky rooms, an outdoor pool, and a rooftop bar.

Related: The Best Luxury Hotels in Rome

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Sample the Best Pizza at Seu Illuminati and Pizzeria ai Marmi

There’s no shortage of pizzerias in Rome. Not all pizza is created equally here, so do your research before eating. You’ll have to line up for thin Roman-style pizzas at Trastevere’s Ai Marmi, which hasn’t changed since the 1950s. Nearby, L’Elementare serves up thin crust (or as the Romans know it: scrocchiarella) and excellent fritti (fried starters). Contemporary trattoria Emma has pizza on the menu and uses quality ingredients. For real deal Roman neighborhood vibes, you can’t skip Da Remo in Testaccio, and in contrast, the luxurious Hotel Eden’s casual restaurant, Il Giardino, serves deliciously light pizzas made with four types of flour and organic ingredients. For gourmet pizza that will blow your mind, head to Seu Illuminati, where pizza toppings change every season. Outstanding pizza slices on the run are served at I Supplì, Casa Manco and famed pizzaiolo Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzarium.

 

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Find Rome’s Cinematic History Around Via Margutta

Walking through Rome often feels like wandering onto a movie set, but for a deep-dive into the city’s cinematic history, look no further than the area around Via Margutta. This quiet cobbled lane stretches from the Piazza di Spagna to Piazza del Popolo. Legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini lived on Via Margutta, had an office at the nearby Bar Canova, and often used the surrounding streets to shoot his scenes. The road was also immortalized in the film Roman Holiday as the home of Gregory Peck’s character, and countless films have used the nearby Spanish Steps as a backdrop. To immerse yourself fully in the movie set vibe of Via Margutta, sleep next door at the luxury hotels Margutta 19 or Babuino 181, and dine in the beautiful secret garden of EMME Restaurant.

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Ogle Ancient Sculptures Inside a Former Power Plant

If you’ve visited the Vatican Museums and the Capitoline Museums, you might think you’ve seen your fill of ancient sculptures. Think again. The Centrale Montemartini in Ostiense displays the overflow of ancient sculptures from the Capitoline Museum’s collection in Rome’s first power plant. The machinery has remained intact, forming a striking backdrop for the marble masterpieces. Nowhere else does the idea of ‘gods and machines’ come to life quite so vividly. The best part? You’re likely to have the place to yourself, meaning you can commune with the art free of the typical tourist crowds.

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Visit Rome’s Cat Sanctuary

Animal lovers and history buffs alike will love this place. Largo di Torre Argentina, an archaeological site on a street where many buses stop, isn’t nearly as famous as the Roman Forum or Colosseum, but it’s just as significant. As well as the remains of four Republican-era temples, this is the place where Julius Caesar was murdered on the Ides of March 44 B.C. Nowadays, Torre Argentina is best known for its cat sanctuary located on the southwest corner, where strays from Rome and the surrounding areas are cared for and put up for adoption. However, a new restoration project of the site, sponsored by luxury jewelry brand Bulgari, plans to construct raised walkways to increase public accessibility to the ancient ruins.

Related: Meet the “Cat Ladies” of Rome and See Their Feline Sanctuary

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Peek Inside Noble Villas

In centuries past, aristocratic families like the Barberinis and the Pamphilis held immeasurable power and wealth. Today, you can see some of the architectural and artistic masterpieces they left behind. To glimpse into their world, visit the Palazzo Barberini (now the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica) and Palazzo Doria Pamphilj. You can even spend a night in the papal palace built for Pope Innocent X by the powerful Pamphili family, which has been converted into an ultra-luxurious apartment called the Holy Deer San Lorenzo City Lodge, and sleep in the pope’s bedroom overlooking Piazza Navona. It’ll cost you, though—the rate for this two-bedroom apartment is around $10,000 per night.

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Stroll the Appia Antica

You know the old adage, “All roads lead to Rome”—well, the Appia Antica was the road that connected ancient Rome with the rest of Italy. Archeologists have found that it went all the way to Brindisi on the Adriatic Coast of modern-day Puglia. Nowadays, it doesn’t lead anywhere particular anymore, but it’s a lovely spot for a picnic and a stroll back in time.

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Book Seats to the Ballet or Opera at the Roman Terme di Caracalla  

Rome has an exciting theatrical calendar, and the Teatro dell’Opera moves its entire program outdoors in the warmer months to the Terme di Caracalla. History, charm, and beauty collide at this archeological site and a night spent here is sure to be unforgettable. The former ancient baths have provided the backdrop for local and international artists, including Elton John and Lionel Ritchie.

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Be Wowed by Contemporary and Innovative Roman Dining

Pizza and pasta are great, but Rome also has an exciting and innovative food scene that keeps changing and evolving. As it does in most big cities, fine dining comes in many formats, deconstructing traditional dishes or showcasing their international flair. Alongside the old Trastevere cobblestones, Christina Bowerman’s Glass has a Michelin star and will impress with local and global ingredients. Over the river, Francesco Apreda takes you on an international culinary journey at Idylio. Riccardo Di Giacinto plays with Roman recipes and delicately serves them in a way that surprises and delights at his Michelin starred Ristorante All’Oro, while two stars at Anthony Genovese’s Il Pagliaccio will wow even the most trained fine diner. The team at Retrobottega showcase local foraging in contemporary dishes, and Pianostrada has fast become the city’s favorite shabby-chic garden dining space.

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Visit Artworks in Luxury Hotels (Even if You're Not a Guest)

It’s becoming more and more common for luxury hotels to curate their own art collections to wow guests. The great thing is that at least in their public spaces, the exhibits are open for you to enjoy. The Hotel Maalot has the aptly entitled “Almost Classic” series of thought-provoking artworks by Argentinian Stanley Gonczanski. The First Arte Hotel and H’all Tailor Suite always have an eclectic and fascinating installation of sculptures and paintings, and Corso 281 Luxury Suites have an ever-changing display of contemporary works and photographs. Hotel de Russie hosts a program of roving exhibitions throughout the year and announces events through their social media channels.   

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Try Rome’s Street Food and Deli-Style Dining 

The city has a long and mouth-watering history of street food, and you should try some. Romans love their fried treats, from baccalà (salt cod fillets) to zucchini flowers to the local favorite, the supplì (mozzarella stuffed rice ball). Try all of these and pizza al taglio at I Supplì in Trastevere. Old-school Roman dishes fill pizza-style pockets at Trapizzino outlets across the city, and Casa Manco serves up gourmet slices. Many of the city’s delis have transformed into casual eateries where you can sample the best local and international cheese and salumi bar style or as a sit-down hot meal. Ercoli is one of the most well-known names in town and keeps expanding with venues in the Parioli, Prati, and Trastevere neighborhoods. Aventina and Pizzicarola are two new kids on the deli block. 

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Take a Food Tour, Cheese Tasting, or Cooking Class

Who hasn’t visited Rome without food and wine on their mind? Get to the heart of Roman cuisine with a private walking food tour with locally operated Casa Mia. They take you deep into neighborhoods across the city, treating you to local markets, delicacies, and food stores you might not have otherwise discovered. They’ll customize any experience your heart desires. So, if it’s gelato you’re after, they’re up to the challenge! Your Private Italy runs some food and cocktail experiences, and local food personality and author Toni Brancatisano offers delicious private tours. In addition to food tours, Local Aromas run olive oil and cheese tastings and various cooking classes. Or combine food and a Vespa with Scooteroma Tours!  

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