Ciao, fellow travelers! Journeying Jack here, back with another exciting edition of Suitcase Stories. Today, we’re going to embark on an unforgettable adventure through the Eternal City – Rome! With its rich history, awe-inspiring architecture, and mouth-watering cuisine, Rome is a treasure trove of experiences just waiting to be discovered. So, strap on your sandals and grab your toga, as I unveil my top 10 things to do in Rome that will leave you feeling like a true Roman Emperor! Let’s dive into the heart of Italy and uncover the secrets of this ancient city together. Andiamo!
Ancient Wonders: Must-Visit Historical Sites
Rome is a treasure trove of ancient wonders, with a rich history that spans thousands of years. As Journeying Jack, I’ve explored the city’s most iconic historical sites and compiled a list of must-visit locations for any traveler. So, grab your camera and step back in time as you explore these awe-inspiring ancient wonders.
The Colosseum: Rome’s most iconic landmark, the Colosseum is a testament to the grandeur of the Roman Empire. This massive amphitheater once hosted gladiator battles, wild animal hunts, and other public spectacles. Don’t miss the chance to walk in the footsteps of ancient Romans and imagine the roar of the crowd.
The Roman Forum: Located in the heart of Rome, the Roman Forum was once the center of political, religious, and social life. Wander through the ruins of ancient temples, basilicas, and government buildings, and marvel at the architectural prowess of the Romans.
The Pantheon: This ancient temple-turned-church is one of the best-preserved Roman buildings in the world. Its massive dome and oculus are architectural marvels, and the interior is adorned with beautiful artwork and sculptures.
Palatine Hill: As the birthplace of Rome, Palatine Hill is steeped in history and mythology. Explore the ruins of imperial palaces and enjoy stunning views of the city from this vantage point.
The Baths of Caracalla: These ancient public baths were once a hub of social activity in Rome. Today, you can explore the impressive ruins and imagine the grandeur of the complex in its heyday.
Ostia Antica: Just a short train ride from Rome, Ostia Antica is an ancient port city with well-preserved ruins, including an amphitheater, temples, and apartment buildings. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the daily life of ancient Romans.
The Catacombs: Venture underground to explore the eerie network of tunnels and burial chambers that lie beneath Rome. The Catacombs of St. Callixtus and St. Sebastian are particularly noteworthy for their intricate frescoes and ancient Christian inscriptions.
Trajan’s Market: Often considered the world’s first shopping mall, Trajan’s Market is an impressive complex of ancient shops and offices. Wander through the ruins and imagine the bustling marketplace it once was.
The Arch of Constantine: This triumphal arch, located near the Colosseum, commemorates Emperor Constantine’s victory over Maxentius. Admire the intricate reliefs and sculptures that adorn the arch, which tell the story of Constantine’s rise to power.
The Appian Way: One of the oldest and most important roads in ancient Rome, the Appian Way is lined with ancient tombs, monuments, and ruins. Rent a bike or take a leisurely stroll to explore this historic route.
As you explore these ancient wonders, you’ll be transported back in time and gain a deeper appreciation for the rich history and culture of Rome. So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the Eternal City’s past with Suitcase Stories.
Artistic Masterpieces: Rome’s Iconic Museums and Galleries
Rome is a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces, with countless museums and galleries housing some of the world’s most famous works of art. As Journeying Jack, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring many of these incredible institutions, and I’m excited to share my top picks with you. Here are some must-visit museums and galleries in Rome:
1. Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are a collection of museums within the Vatican City, showcasing an extensive collection of art and artifacts collected by the Roman Catholic Church over the centuries. Highlights include the Sistine Chapel, featuring Michelangelo’s iconic frescoes, and the Raphael Rooms, adorned with stunning frescoes by Raphael and his pupils.
2. Galleria Borghese
Housed in a beautiful 17th-century villa, the Galleria Borghese is home to an impressive collection of sculptures, paintings, and antiquities. Must-see works include Bernini’s “Apollo and Daphne” and “David,” as well as Caravaggio’s “David with the Head of Goliath.”
3. Capitoline Museums
Located on the iconic Capitoline Hill, the Capitoline Museums are considered the world’s first public museum. The museums house a vast collection of ancient Roman artifacts, sculptures, and paintings, including the famous bronze statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius on horseback.
4. National Gallery of Modern Art
For those interested in more contemporary works, the National Gallery of Modern Art is a must-visit. The museum features an extensive collection of Italian and international modern art, including works by Monet, Van Gogh, and Pollock.
5. Palazzo Doria Pamphilj
This stunning palace-turned-gallery houses an impressive private art collection, including works by Caravaggio, Titian, and Velázquez. Don’t miss the breathtaking frescoes adorning the ceilings and walls of the palace’s Gallery of Mirrors.
6. MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Arts
Designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, MAXXI is a striking contemporary art museum dedicated to showcasing innovative works from the 21st century. The museum’s collection includes pieces by Anish Kapoor, William Kentridge, and many other contemporary artists.
7. Museo di Roma
Located in the beautiful Palazzo Braschi, the Museo di Roma offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of Rome. The museum’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, and artifacts that tell the story of the Eternal City from ancient times to the present day.
8. Centrale Montemartini
This unique museum is housed in a former power plant, creating a striking contrast between the industrial setting and the classical sculptures on display. The museum features an extensive collection of ancient Roman statues, mosaics, and artifacts.
9. Palazzo Barberini
Home to the National Gallery of Ancient Art, Palazzo Barberini is a stunning 17th-century palace that houses an impressive collection of Renaissance and Baroque art. Highlights include Caravaggio’s “Judith Beheading Holofernes” and Raphael’s “La Fornarina.”
10. Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia
Dedicated to the ancient Etruscan civilization, the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia features a vast collection of artifacts, sculptures, and pottery. The museum is housed in a beautiful Renaissance villa, complete with lush gardens and stunning frescoes.
As you explore Rome’s incredible museums and galleries, you’ll be immersed in the rich history and artistic heritage of this remarkable city. Be sure to add these must-visit institutions to your itinerary for a truly unforgettable experience.
Culinary Delights: Savoring Roman Cuisine
When in Rome, do as the Romans do – and that includes indulging in the mouthwatering local cuisine. Roman food is all about simple, fresh ingredients and hearty flavors. Here are some must-try dishes and food experiences to make your Roman holiday a gastronomic delight.
1. Pasta alla Carbonara
This classic Roman pasta dish is made with eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, guanciale (cured pork cheek), and black pepper. The creamy, rich sauce is a perfect match for the al dente pasta. You can find this dish in many trattorias around the city, but for an authentic experience, head to Trattoria Da Danilo or Roscioli.
These deep-fried rice balls are a popular Roman street food. Stuffed with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, they make for a delicious and satisfying snack. Grab a few at Supplizio or I Supplì and enjoy them while exploring the city.
3. Pizza al Taglio
Roman-style pizza is characterized by its thin, crispy crust. Pizza al taglio, or pizza by the slice, is a popular way to enjoy this local favorite. Head to Pizzarium Bonci or Antico Forno Roscioli for some of the best pizza in town.
4. Cacio e Pepe
Another Roman pasta classic, cacio e pepe is a simple yet flavorful dish made with Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper. The cheese and pepper create a creamy, savory sauce that perfectly coats the pasta. Try this dish at Trattoria Da Felice or Osteria Morini.
No trip to Rome is complete without indulging in some creamy, delicious gelato. With countless gelaterias scattered throughout the city, you’ll never be far from a sweet treat. For some of the best gelato in Rome, visit Gelateria dei Gracchi, Fatamorgana, or Giolitti.
6. Wine Tasting
Italy is known for its incredible wines, and Rome is no exception. Take a break from sightseeing and enjoy a wine tasting at one of the city’s many enotecas (wine bars). Il Goccetto and Cul de Sac are two popular spots to sample a variety of Italian wines.
7. Artichokes alla Romana
Artichokes are a staple in Roman cuisine, and this dish is a must-try for vegetable lovers. Artichokes are braised with garlic, mint, and olive oil, resulting in a tender and flavorful dish. Enjoy this Roman specialty at Da Enzo al 29 or La Pergola.
This classic Italian dessert is a perfect way to end a meal in Rome. Made with layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and a rich mascarpone cream, tiramisu is a decadent treat. For some of the best tiramisu in the city, visit Pompi or Bar del Fico.
Italians take their coffee seriously, and Rome is no exception. Start your day with a strong, rich espresso at one of the city’s many cafes. Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè and Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria are two popular spots for a caffeine fix.
Aperitivo is the Italian tradition of enjoying pre-dinner drinks and snacks. Many bars and restaurants in Rome offer aperitivo specials, where you can enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine accompanied by a selection of small bites. Head to Freni e Frizioni or Salotto 42 for a stylish aperitivo experience.
With so many delicious dishes and culinary experiences to choose from, your taste buds will be just as thrilled as your eyes during your Roman adventure. Buon appetito!
Spiritual Sanctuaries: Exploring Rome’s Majestic Churches
Rome, the Eternal City, is not only known for its ancient ruins and delicious cuisine but also for its stunning churches that are a testament to its rich religious history. As Journeying Jack, I have had the pleasure of exploring these spiritual sanctuaries, and I am excited to share my top picks with you. So, let’s dive into the divine world of Rome’s majestic churches.
1. St. Peter’s Basilica
Arguably the most famous church in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica is a must-visit for anyone exploring the city. Located in Vatican City, this architectural marvel is the largest church in the world and is believed to be the burial site of St. Peter, one of Jesus’ apostles. Don’t forget to climb to the top of the dome for a breathtaking view of Rome!
2. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Another gem in Rome’s collection of churches is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. This beautiful basilica is one of the four major basilicas in Rome and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Its stunning mosaics and the relic of the Holy Crib make it a must-see for any visitor.
3. The Pantheon
Originally built as a temple to the gods of ancient Rome, the Pantheon was later converted into a church dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs. This architectural wonder, with its massive dome and oculus, is a testament to the ingenuity of Roman engineers.
4. Basilica of San Clemente
The Basilica of San Clemente is a unique church that offers a fascinating journey through Rome’s history. This 12th-century basilica is built on top of a 4th-century church, which in turn was built over a 1st-century Roman house. Don’t miss the chance to explore its underground layers and marvel at the ancient frescoes.
5. Santa Maria in Trastevere
Nestled in the charming neighborhood of Trastevere, Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of Rome’s oldest churches. With its stunning mosaics and beautiful golden ceilings, this church is a must-visit for anyone seeking a spiritual sanctuary away from the bustling city center.
6. Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano
As the cathedral of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope, the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano is another of the city’s four major basilicas. Its impressive façade, beautiful cloister, and the stunning Scala Santa (Holy Stairs) make it a must-visit for any Rome itinerary.
7. Santa Maria della Vittoria
Home to Bernini’s famous sculpture, “The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa,” Santa Maria della Vittoria is a lesser-known but equally stunning church in Rome. Its beautiful Baroque interior and fascinating history make it a hidden gem worth discovering.
8. Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Located near the Pantheon, Santa Maria sopra Minerva is a beautiful Gothic church that houses the tombs of several notable figures, including the famous painter Fra Angelico and the renowned architect Filippo Brunelleschi. Don’t miss the chance to see Michelangelo’s sculpture “Cristo della Minerva” while you’re there.
9. Basilica di Sant’Agostino
Another hidden gem in Rome, the Basilica di Sant’Agostino is home to Caravaggio’s famous painting “Madonna di Loreto” and Raphael’s fresco “Isaiah.” Its beautiful interior and rich history make it a must-visit for art and history enthusiasts alike.
10. Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
Built inside the ancient Baths of Diocletian, Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri is a unique church that showcases the architectural prowess of Michelangelo. Its fascinating history and beautiful interior make it a must-see for anyone exploring Rome’s spiritual sanctuaries.
As you journey through Rome, be sure to take the time to explore these majestic churches and immerse yourself in the city’s rich spiritual history. Happy travels, and until next time, this is Journeying Jack from Suitcase Stories, signing off!
Hidden Gems: Uncovering Rome’s Lesser-Known Attractions
As Journeying Jack, I’ve always been fascinated by the hidden treasures that lie just off the beaten path. Rome, the Eternal City, is no exception. While the Colosseum, Vatican, and Trevi Fountain are must-sees, there are countless lesser-known attractions that are equally captivating. In this section, I’ll share some of my favorite hidden gems in Rome that you won’t want to miss.
1. The Aventine Keyhole
Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, 3
This unassuming keyhole in the door of the Priory of the Knights of Malta offers a perfectly framed view of St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s a magical experience that leaves visitors in awe, and it’s one of Rome’s best-kept secrets.
2. Quartiere Coppedè
An architectural wonderland, Quartiere Coppedè is a whimsical neighborhood designed by architect Gino Coppedè. Wander through its streets to discover unique buildings adorned with gargoyles, frescoes, and intricate ironwork.
3. Centrale Montemartini
Via Ostiense, 106
An unexpected combination of ancient art and industrial machinery, Centrale Montemartini is a former power plant turned museum. It houses a stunning collection of classical sculptures amidst the backdrop of its original machinery.
4. The Protestant Cemetery
Via Caio Cestio, 6
This peaceful oasis is the final resting place of famous poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The cemetery is a beautiful, tranquil spot to escape the hustle and bustle of Rome.
5. The Mouth of Truth
Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18
Featured in the classic film “Roman Holiday,” the Mouth of Truth is an ancient marble mask that supposedly bites off the hands of liars. Test your honesty and snap a photo with this iconic Roman attraction.
6. San Clemente Basilica
Via Labicana, 95
This fascinating basilica is a historical treasure trove, with layers of history dating back to the 1st century. Explore its underground chambers to uncover ancient Roman homes, a Mithraic temple, and early Christian frescoes.
7. The Turtle Fountain
This charming fountain, tucked away in the Jewish Ghetto, features four bronze turtles seemingly climbing the basin’s edge. Designed by Giacomo della Porta and later modified by Bernini, it’s a delightful hidden gem.
8. The Pyramid of Cestius
Piazza di Porta San Paolo
This ancient pyramid, built as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, is a striking example of Rome’s diverse architectural influences. It’s a fascinating sight to behold, nestled among the city’s more traditional structures.
9. The Museum of the Sanitary Arts
Lungotevere in Sassia, 3
For the curious traveler, this quirky museum showcases the history of medicine and surgery in Rome. With a collection of surgical instruments, anatomical models, and ancient medical texts, it’s a fascinating journey through time.
10. The Magic Door
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II
Also known as the Alchemical Door, this mysterious portal is adorned with esoteric symbols and inscriptions. Legend has it that the door holds the secret to turning metal into gold. Unravel its mysteries as you explore this enchanting corner of Rome.
These hidden gems are just a taste of the countless treasures that await you in Rome. As you explore the city, keep your eyes open and your curiosity piqued – you never know what wonders you’ll uncover in the Eternal City.
Roman Nightlife: Experiencing the Eternal City After Dark
When the sun sets in Rome, the Eternal City transforms into a vibrant hub of nightlife, offering a plethora of experiences for every type of traveler. From trendy bars and clubs to live music venues and romantic spots, Rome’s nightlife is as diverse as the city itself. Here are some of the best ways to experience Rome after dark.
1. Sip on a cocktail at a rooftop bar
Rome’s skyline is a sight to behold, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than with a drink in hand at one of the city’s many rooftop bars. Head to Terrazza Borromini for a stunning view of Piazza Navona or Up Sunset Bar for a panoramic view of the city.
2. Dance the night away at a club
If you’re looking to dance until the wee hours of the morning, Rome has a variety of clubs to suit your taste. Check out Shari Vari Playhouse for a mix of music genres or Goa Club for techno beats.
3. Enjoy live music at a local venue
Rome is home to a thriving live music scene, with venues hosting everything from jazz to rock to classical performances. Visit Big Mama for blues and jazz or Stazione Birra for a mix of live music and craft beer.
4. Indulge in a late-night gelato
No trip to Rome is complete without indulging in some delicious gelato, and many gelaterias stay open late to satisfy your sweet tooth. Head to Giolitti, one of Rome’s oldest gelaterias, or Fatamorgana for unique flavors like basil and walnut.
5. Take a moonlit stroll through Rome’s historic streets
Rome’s historic streets and piazzas take on a magical atmosphere at night, making a moonlit stroll the perfect way to end your evening. Wander through the cobblestone streets of Trastevere or take a romantic walk around the Trevi Fountain.
6. Catch a movie under the stars
During the summer months, Rome hosts several outdoor movie screenings, allowing you to enjoy a film under the stars. Check out Cinema in Piazza for a selection of classic and contemporary films.
7. Experience Rome’s wine bars
Italy is known for its wine, and Rome is no exception. Visit a local enoteca (wine bar) like Il Goccetto or Cul de Sac to sample a variety of Italian wines and enjoy some light bites.
8. Attend a late-night museum event
Many of Rome’s museums and galleries host special late-night events, allowing you to explore their collections after hours. Keep an eye out for La Notte dei Musei (Night of Museums), an annual event where museums stay open late and offer free admission.
9. Explore Rome’s vibrant LGBTQ+ scene
Rome has a thriving LGBTQ+ scene, with a variety of bars, clubs, and events catering to the community. Head to Coming Out or My Bar for a lively atmosphere and friendly crowd.
10. Relax in a piazza with a drink
Finally, one of the simplest yet most enjoyable ways to experience Rome’s nightlife is to grab a drink, find a seat in one of the city’s many picturesque piazzas, and watch the world go by. Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, and Campo de’ Fiori are all excellent choices for a relaxing evening.
No matter your interests, Rome’s nightlife offers something for everyone. So, when the sun sets on the Eternal City, be sure to venture out and experience all that Rome has to offer after dark.
In conclusion, Rome is a treasure trove of history, culture, and culinary delights that never ceases to amaze. From the ancient ruins to the bustling piazzas, there’s something for everyone in this eternal city. As Journeying Jack, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring Rome’s many wonders, and I hope this list of top 10 things to do in Rome has inspired you to embark on your own Roman adventure. So, pack your bags, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to create your own unforgettable Suitcase Stories in the heart of Italy. Arrivederci, and happy travels!