Launch Photo Gallery >>
East of the Tiber River
The Tiber River has flowed between Rome’s seven hills since time immemorial. While it is no longer the city’s main route for commerce, it remains a symbol of Rome to this day. Its eastern shore is home to Rome’s iconic architecture and attractions, including the Pantheon and the Colosseum — you can’t leave Rome without seeing them.
The Pantheon was built nearly 2,000 years ago as a temple to all the Roman gods, and has been in use ever since, though it has been a Catholic church since the 7th century. The Colosseum is even older, and originally hosted gladiator hunts and even naval battles! Today, you can tour this massive edifice and even get a glimpse under its floor at the passages that were used to produce spectacles to amaze ancient Romans.
Also east of the Tiber, in the ancient walkways of Rome, you’ll find the Roman Forum. Remarkably intact, visitors can still see the main square, a number of temples and shrines, and even the Arch of Titus, which inspired Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Wander the same paths ancient Romans strolled, in the field where they met, haggled, and debated. This was one of the most important areas of the Roman Empire, and that can still be felt today.
When you’ve had your fill of Rome’s immense spread of history, there's a great series of neighborhoods for dining and shopping, or you can just linger on the Spanish Steps and by the Trevi Fountain — make sure you throw a coin in over your shoulder to ensure your return to the city. You can also visit the Villa Borghese, with its art gallery and extensive gardens, and Piazza Navona, with its famous Fountain of the Four Rivers.
West of the Tiber River
Trastevere, the charming district south of the Vatican on the west bank of the Tiber, is full of narrow cobblestone streets and lonely squares that have long served as the inspiration for artists. Once a working-class neighborhood, it is now a peaceful enclave of history and culture. The Piazza di Santa Maria is at its heart and a great spot for people watching in the shadow of the Basilica di Santa Maria — duck inside for a glimpse at still-sparkling mosaics by Pietro Cavallini, who lived and worked in Rome in the 13th century.
A fresco by Cavallini can be seen at the nearby Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere – it depicts the Last Judgment, and is considered to be his finest work. After dark, take a stroll through the neighborhood, grab a bite at a local trattoria, or enjoy a bar with the locals until the early hours of the morning.
Nestled on the outskirts of Rome is the independent Vatican City, the seat of the Pope and home to the famous St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. The influence of the Holy Catholic Church on the people of Italy is still evident today in a series of holy festivals, carnivals, and parades involving young and old alike in almost every city, town, and village.
If the Vatican were home to nothing but its most famous part — the Sistine Chapel and its magnificent ceiling — it would be more than worth a visit (try to avoid ending up in an awkward backbend while you take it in). The Vatican Museums alone, of which the Sistine Chapel is only the last room, hold countless masterpieces dating as far back as the Roman Republic, and even earlier.
Be sure to see the four “Raphael Rooms,” so titled because of the master’s brilliant frescoes adorning the walls. The most famous is his School of Athens, which features the likenesses of various renowned artists of the Renaissance, including Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. After exiting the Sistine Chapel into a sunny Roman day, take another moment to view St. Peter’s Basilica itself, the most renowned Catholic church in the world.
Food and Drink
There is no shortage of incredible food to be had in Rome — the only downside is that your old standbys at home will never taste half as good. The pizza (thin crusted and served either as an individual pie or by the gram) and the pasta (served alla carbonara, alla Matriciana, cacio e pepe, but never alfredo) are second to none, but they’re far from the only things you should sample.
Have a cornetto (croissant) with cappuccino for breakfast, a panino for lunch, and osso bucco for dinner. Try Rome’s famous tripe, veal, and artichokes. Indulge in gelato (the brighter the colors, the more likely it is of low quality) or tiramisu. Wash it down with an espresso (milky coffee drinks, after all, are only for the morning). If they don’t have to roll you onto the plane when it comes time to leave, we’re afraid you’ve done something wrong.
When it comes to drinking with your meal, you’re in luck – Italy is home to some of the best wines in the world, and they’re not picky about how you enjoy them. Have no fear of the house wine; no Roman trattoria would ever dare serve a bad bottle. Domestic beers are quite inexpensive as well, and no Italian will look badly on you for enjoying one with a slice of pizza. Of course the standard rule applies: the more tourists you see in the restaurant, the more you can expect to pay. Wander a bit away from the most crowded streets and you’ll usually find the best places, and the very best food.
A 'Break' in Rome
Want to take a quick trip to Rome? Take a look at Liberty Travel’s EURObreaks – short European getaways tailor-made for you. Best of all, each EURObreak includes a City Insider, an expert who lives in and loves the city you’re exploring. They’ll give you an overview of the city and its history, highlighting what’s trendy, tried and true, or a combination – they’ll even give you a quick lesson in the city’s public transportation! Your City Insider helps ensure that your vacation memories will be unforgettable.