Yes, that old saying applies. When in Rome means anything is possible in this titan city riveting with history out of every crack. Czars, Emperors, Philosophers, new ideology, and pagan gods, walked down these streets literally and figuratively. Centuries of thriving civilization lived here educated in building aqueducts, public baths, healthcare, architecture, painting, music, sculpture, laws, and literature. Rome was a city of conquers, gladiators, and storytellers–and at one time–the capital of the world.
Before we get into the most fun and fascinating things to do in Rome, it’s worth taking a little history lesson to understand just how incredible this city truly is.
The Roman Empire was established under Octavian in 27 BC, after Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, and… you know what? Watch this video for a quick crash course so you can impress your friends.
“Rome has grown since its humble beginnings that it is now overwhelmed by its own greatness.” Titus Livius (59 BC – 17 AD)
If you’re looking for something with a little more dramatic flair, the HBO original series Rome is a binge-worthy depiction of Rome from the time of Czar to Octavian.
Round out your education with some shocking facts about Ancient Rome:
Modern Rome is a bustling cosmopolitan city thriving in media arts and culture splattered in old and new. There are so many things to do in Rome, you could spend a lifetime there and still have more to discover… and to eat. There was an immediate romance I felt about the city–maybe the combination of the new world melting with the ancient.
First things first: how to get around and about. The best transportation, in order of what I do:
Take a pizza making class in a state-of-the-art professional designer kitchen, set in a gorgeous 17th-century Roman palace right in the middle of the Historic Center.
This happens to be the smallest country on earth by size and population that is located in Rome with less than 1000 inhabitants. It is also home to the Catholic Pope since the 14th century. Each year around five million tourist visit this tiny county. If you want to go inside the buildings and the Sistine Chapel, buy tickets now or face the large lines wrapped around the buildings.
The Colosseum, or Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an oval amphitheater in the center of Rome, Italy. Built in 70 AD, it is the largest amphitheater ever built and is rich in Gladiator history. In terms of things to do in Rome, this one is a must. I recommend getting tickets for a private tour today.
The Roman Forum was where public life in ancient Rome took place. Now, the ruins paint a picture of daily life in the ancient world.
The Pantheon is a former Roman temple on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus. Free admission.
Climb the steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.
Piazza Navona is a piazza in Rome. It was built in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium.
One of the oldest and most famous cappuccino and espresso shops in Rome, Caffé Sant’Eustachio is famous for its home-roast beans, blended with water from an ancient aqueduct. Grab a cup while you ponder what to do in Rome.
The summer months can be ridiculously hot, so bring water with you if you are going on a long adventure through the city. Take a good camera, ride the metro, and get lost in Rome!
Best breakfast: Pasticceria Regoli
Best brunch: Coromandel
Best pizza: Pizzarium
Best sandwich spot: Mordi e Vai
Best cheap eats: Pastificio
Best gelato: Fatamorgana
Best food coma date night: Roscioli
My friends Benny and Graci and I were going to see Ben Harper perform at the Auditorium Parco della Musica. (Thank you my favorite app, Bands in Town.) Before the concert, we stop off at a super local sushi spot where I start chatting to a guy who has a live parrot on his shoulder.
I become friends with his parrot and hold it throughout my meal. So I am sitting here in a tiny sushi restaurant holding a parrot when this Italian guy I went on a date with 6 years ago in LA strolls in. I think the parrot could sense what was going on – I could have sworn that it chuckled.
Not only is Rome an ancient hub of culture, it’s also a modern metropolis where art, food, and fashion cross paths on the gritty, cobblestoned sidewalks. There are endless things to do in Rome, but before you go to the Eternal City, be sure to check out our curated packing list so you can be sure you’re traveling a Roma in style!