Rome Things to Do
Bursting with centuries of history and a wide variety of cultural influences, Rome offers a near endless list of activities and once in a lifetime experiences to enjoy. As the capital of Italy and the capital of Catholicism, it is a city that encapsulates the vibrancy and spirit of Italian heritage.
Known as the “Eternal City” for its unique ability to preserve the past, Rome is a historic and artistic heavyweight, rivaling some of the world’s biggest travel destinations in both charm and variety. Whether one is looking to immerse in the religious culture of the city or wanting to experience local events and festivities, Rome boasts something for everyone. With its many iconic historical monuments, countless churches, amazing views, and legendary art museums, travelers and locals alike can fill their days with any number of exciting things to do.
FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Rome has an outstanding number of local festivals and events throughout the year. From weekly markets to special parades, the Roman people enjoy getting together and celebrating everything from national holidays to local customs.
Celebrated on June 2nd of every year, Festa Della Repubblica (Republic Day) celebrates Italian National Day. It is commemorated by a massive parade around the Altare della Patria, fireworks, and a flyover by the Frecce Tricolori, the aerobatic team of the Italian Airforce.
As a country known for its wine production, there are many wine events and festivals to enjoy throughout Italy. In the surrounding area of Rome, known as Castelli Romani, Wine Festivals are held each year in October to celebrate vendemmia, or grape harvesting season. Towns such as Marino, Velletri, and Zagarolo hold special events, sagre (festivals), and parades. One of the most unique sights is that of fountains that flow with wine – a tradition that has impressed visitors for many years.
In addition, there are countless religious events held in Rome every year. As the home of the Vatican and the heart of Catholicism, holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and other holy days are celebrated by a variety of processions and celebrations.
In terms of historic buildings, monuments, and sites, Rome is the most densely packed city in all of Italy. With over 900 churches, countless historic landmarks, and endless ancient buildings, the sightseeing in Rome allows for travelers to pick and choose which locales are ideal for their most unforgettable trip.
As the religious heart of Italy, Rome’s churches and cathedrals are a must-see for anyone, regardless of religious affiliation. St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most famous, as it is in the Vatican. Consider being a part of the Papal Audience, where an immense crowd gathers in St. Peter’s square to hear prayers and blessings by the Pope himself. It is a moving and outstanding moment to be a part of.
San Giovanni in Laterano is another highlight. It is the episcopal church of the Pope and one of the most impressive churches in all of Rome. There is also the Pantheon – one of the most well-preserved buildings of ancient Rome. Other great churches to visit are San Luigi dei Francesi, Santa Maria della Pace, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and many more.
One cannot discuss Roman sightseeing without mentioning many of the most famous and historic destinations. The Roman Forum – the ruins of the most important political and religious part of ancient Rome – offers a stunning, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, located just steps away from each other, are also a way to take in the remnants of ancient Rome. Various squares throughout Rome, such as Navona Square, Spanish Square, and Popolo Square, are the perfect way to see famous sites yet immerse oneself in the local culture. Stunning fountains all over the city – Quattro Fiumi, Tritone, Barcaccia, Naiadi, and of course the famed Trevi – are gorgeous displays of history, architecture, and tradition.
Whether taking a coffee break on the Spanish steps, taking in views of priceless art at any of Rome’s many museums, or exploring the gardens at Villa Borghese, there is a limitless number of sightseeing experiences to be had in the Eternal City.
Rome has a warm and temperate climate, making it the ideal location to take a walk and enjoy the open air of Italy. From enjoying views of iconic architecture to simply taking a walk to a local café, there are many ways to enjoy the fresh air as well as the culture of Rome.
As a city that values history, culture, art, and culinary creations, Rome has a wide variety of outdoor markets that allow locals and tourists to purchase everything from antiques, to handmade goods, to fresh fruits and vegetables. One of the biggest of which is the Circo Massimo Market where local farmers sell their fresh produce and products. A one of a kind market to experience is the Campo de’ Fiori Market (Field of Flowers Market). It is one of Rome’s most historical and gorgeous markets – featuring not just flowers, but also fruit, vegetables, meat, and fresh bread. Other markets include the Porta Portese Market – specializing in antiques and art, the Mercato Delle Stampe (Print Market) – offering a huge selection of vintage books and magazines, and the Mercato di Testaccio – a lively market offering fresh fruit and vegetables.
For art and architecture lovers, visit Hadrian’s Villa – a massive archaeological complex that allows modern day travelers to get a glimpse of what life was like in ancient Rome. Built between 118 and 134 AD, Hadrian’s Villa was a vast open-air museum displaying fine Roman, Greek, and Egyptian architecture. The ruins of this outstanding villa is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Another great outdoor activity is a day trip to the ancient city of Ostia Antica, located half an hour outside of downtown Rome. Once a significant shipyard and distribution center of the area, the city fell into ruin over the centuries as the Tiber river and surrounding roads become unnavigable. Engulfed by mud, Ostia sank, leaving a preserved ancient society for excavators and archeologists to find. Beneath the sand and mud, the remains of the city give us a picture of the social classes, daily life, artistic works, and architectural feats of the time.
Whether one is interested in high end fashion from iconic designers, historic antiques, or handmade handicrafts, Rome offers an array of shopping of all types.
The main location for shopping the biggest names in fashion is Via dei Condotti. Located off Piazza di Spagna (home of the famed Spanish steps), Via dei Condotti has Italy’s most famous haute couture designer shops from clothing boutiques to jewelry stores. Many enjoy visiting this street simply to window shop and people watch, as it is a hot spot for celebrities. Another locale for shopping high end designers is Via Borgognona.
Other streets specialize in different kinds of shopping. Along Via dei Coronari one can find antiques and art nouveau. The Via del Pellegrino is located in a historic part of the city and features book and art shops. To truly experience the Roman appreciation of art, visit the narrow, medieval street Via dei Cappellari – where local artisans gather to create and sell their crafts.
To enjoy some shopping as well as historic buildings, visit the old center in Rome where many of the shops are in Renaissance or Medieval style buildings.
Whether shopping for antiques on Via Margutta or taking a break from the Vatican Museums to explore the gift and food shops on Via Cola di Rienzo, visitors to Rome are sure to enjoy the local shopping options and bring home excellent souvenirs.
FAMILY & KIDS
A trip to Rome is the perfect way to bring the entire family together and enjoy some of Italy’s best activities. The family will love strolling the Piazza Navona square – featuring markets to shop at, churches to view, and fountains to toss coins in. Children will delight in a fun and exciting day at the Roman School of Gladiators – where children get to dress in traditional gladiator wear and learn techniques of Roman style fighting. The entire family can appreciate the new skills while watching a reenactment! Take a boat tour of the Tiber river, enjoying a unique view of the city and explore Tiber island, filled with fascinating bridges for the family to discover. Enjoy a day at Villa Medici, which features beautiful gardens for the whole family to enjoy.
Whether looking to join a large group of likeminded travelers or planning a private group excursion, there are many great activities to enjoy.
As with many cities throughout Italy, food and wine are a key part of the Roman culture. Groups may enjoy food tasting throughout the city, but specifically in Trastevere, where the bar and restaurant scene is young and lively. Bounce from bar to bar enjoying a variety of aperitif, first, and second courses of traditional Roman cuisine, just like the locals do!
Explore the underground catacombs of Rome. An eerie, but moving experience, the bunkers, crypts, and catacombs available for groups to tour contain fascinating artifacts and history about the area. One can see firsthand the crypt of Capucins and the tombs of the Mussolini and Savoy families.