History buffs, romantic souls, and curious foodies are all united in their love of Rome. Want vibrant nightlife? You’ve got it. Staggering monuments? Sure. Unfathomable beauty? No problem. If you still need convincing, here are 10 reasons to put Rome at the top of your European travel wish list.
1. You’ll Never Go Hungry
It’s no secret– Italian food is divine. But if you want to know where and what to eat exactly, you’ll need the inside scoop. Join a foodie walking tour towards the start of your trip (Eating Italy Food Tours are fabulous) to learn how the locals eat, then spend the rest of your trip to Rome stuffing yourself silly.
2. World-Class Shopping
Pair Italian craftsmanship and world-renowned fashion and what do you get? Certainly no excuse to come home with a tacky souvenir. Strut down Via Condotti on the hunt for designer goods, sniff out foodie delights at Campo de Fiori, or head to the Porta Portese flea market for unusual trinkets.
3. Unbeatable History at Every Corner
Croatia and Ireland may draw Game of Thrones pilgrims, but as any Rome travel guide will tell you, the Colosseum is the true home of epic battles– and these ones were real! An expert-led tour of the iconic amphitheater and adjacent Roman Forum is a wonderful introduction to the ancient city’s bloodthirsty past. Make sure you book in advance (Viator is a good place to start) to avoid lengthy lines.
4. Jesus – That’s a lot of Churches
Over 900 in fact. Whether you’re a devout follower or not, it’s impossible not to be moved by the glorious domes and frescoes of Rome’s Catholic churches. Swing by St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel early to beat the crowds and tick another country off your list (Vatican CIty is the smallest sovereign state in the world).
5. It’s Wonderfully Walkable
Bring comfortable shoes when you visit Rome because the best way to explore the city is by foot. As you wander you’ll notice the city’s nasoni– over 200 fountains spouting cool, clean drinking water– everywhere, which come in handy on a hot summer’s day. There’s a technique to drinking from them, so watch a local for hints. Sip on something a little stronger in Trastevere, an atmospheric neighbourhood ideal for evening strolls and aperitifs.
6. Piazzas are Perfect for People Watching
From grand open spaces to quaint social hubs hidden by a maze of tangled streets, Piazzas are a quintessential part of living like a Roman. You’ll stumble across dozens as you explore the city, but make a special effort to see Piazza Navona. With its ornate fountains and Baroque architecture this expansive square is a beautiful place to stop for a leisurely glass of wine and watch the world go by.
7. There’s Even More to Explore Underground
It’s no surprise that a city as old as Rome has its fair share of buried treasures. If you can stomach skeletal interior design, Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts (Via Vittorio Veneto, 27) offers an eye-opening history lesson. This ossuary is packed with the bones of Capuchin friars and was designed to remind monks of the fragility of life. Alternatively, take a tour of the Vatican Necropolis or the Catacombs of San Sebastian which are said to house the remains of St. Peter and a set of Jesus’ footprints respectively.
8. The Little Details are the Most Delightful
With such an array of world-famous attractions, the more subtle charms of this dazzling city are often overlooked. Porta Alchemica (Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II) is a prime example– this overlooked ruin, consisting of one mysterious door, is said to be inscribed with an alchemist’s magic code. Across town, the Aventine Keyhole (Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta 3) is gaining popularity, and for good reason: what looks like an unassuming door to nowhere provides the perfect peephole view of St. Peter’s Basilica.
9. Two Words: Cat Sanctuary
Forget owl cafes and goat yoga– the cats at Torre Argentina cat sanctuary are more than just a fad. Stray felines have been making these ruins– the site of Caesar’s murder– their home since the 1920s. Today there is a dedicated team of volunteers who run the on-site shelter. Culture and cat cuddles? What a purrfect combination.
10. Getting out is easy
Italy’s capital is often called the Eternal City– and the nickname is apt; you’ll never run out of things to do in Rome. But if you’re hoping to pack in as much of the country as possible, you’re in luck. Rome is very well connected and Italian trains are gloriously fast and efficient. Naples, Tivoli and Florence are all less than two hours away.
Emma Sparks is a travel editor and blogger based in London. Her Italian exploits always prioritize food– arancini and strawberry gelato, to be precise.
Featured image by Melanie Van Leeuwen