Things to Do in Rome
Shopaholics in Rome, head for Via Condotti, where even the window-shopping is worth the trip.
Via Condotti (its complete name is Via dei Condotti) is a street in central Rome that dates back to the ancient Roman era. It was a fashionable address as far back as the 18th century, when the Caffe Greco opened and was frequented by the likes of Goethe, Byron, Liszt, and Keats. The cafe remains open – and popular with visitors – to this day.
Most of Via Condotti is known for its fashion boutiques. Major names in fashion have shops along the street, including Gucci, Valentino, Armani, Prada, Ferragamo, Dolce & Gabbana, as well as many other designers – Italian and otherwise.
Since opening its doors in 2006, the Ara Pacis Museum has caused more than its fair share of controversy, with its modernist glass and travertine façade splitting public opinion. The futuristic building, the work of architect Richard Meir, was one of Rome’s first major post-war architectural works and was built to house one of the city’s most significant ancient artworks.
Whatever your opinion of the museum itself, there’s no disputing the magnificence of its star exhibit – the Ara Pacis, or ‘Altar of Peace’, which dates back to 9 B.C. The elaborate Roman sculpture is a gigantic marble altar towering over 11-meters high and built by the Emperor Augustus to symbolize peace in the Roman Empire. Today, the protected monument is preserved and displayed in its full glory, with the original structure augmented by reproductions of the panels already on display in the Villa Medici, the Vatican and the Louvre.
It's awe-inspiring to walk through the ruins of ancient Roman temples and amphitheaters, but to bring history to a human level you've got see where those ancient people lived. You can do that at the Case Romane del Celio.
Underneath the Basilica of Santi Givanni e Paolo, the Case Romane del Celio is a network of ancient Roman houses. There are homes from different periods – one from the 2nd century, another from the 3rd century – and for different levels of society. There are beautiful frescoed walls and a small museum displaying some of the artifacts unearthed during the excavation of the site.
The ancient home of Emperor Nero, also known as ‘golden house,’ the residence was built after a massive fire in 64 AD. At the time it covered nearly one third of the city of Rome and was named after the gold that covered its facade. It is estimated, however, that only 20 percent of the original structure still stands today. Remains of the frescoed walls and once gem-studded ceilings show the remains of this part of ancient Roman history.
It was designed primarily for entertainment, at one time having more than 300 rooms with no bedrooms for living and sleeping. It was once exquisitely decorated in over-the-top marble, ivory, mosaics, and grand fountains. In its prime there was also a massive garden complex with an artificial lake at its center. Its vaults once contained treasures from conquered Eastern cities. Today only around 30 rooms are open to the public, where visitors can view architecture and art from more than 2,000 years ago.
More Things to Do in Rome
Visitors to Rome are still able to visit what was once the grandest and most luxurious public bath or thermae in the ancient city. Built from 298 to 306 AD, at its largest it spanned nearly 32 acres and could accompany as many as 3,000 bathers. Bathing was a social event and ritual significant to Roman society. Rooms ranged from cold to warm to hot water, with saunas, swimming pools, and spas. Baths were not just a form of relaxation for ancient Romans, but a social and even political act where business often took place. These massive baths were named in honor of Emperor Diocletian, who at the time hadn’t even visited Rome. The entire complex included a gymnasium, library, stadium, gardens, galleries, and walking paths. Though most of the structures were destroyed by Goths in 537 AD, some of the ruins remain. The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels was built into the central bath area by Michelangelo in 1561.
The Doria Pamphili Gallery, located in Rome, Italy, is one of the largest and most magnificent palaces in the center of the city. It is home to the Doria Pamphili (sometimes spelled Pamphilj) family, and some members of the family still live in one section of the palace. The original building dates back to the 15th century, though it has been renovated several times. A visit to the gallery provides a glimpse into aristocratic life in Rome. Many private rooms are now open, including a ballroom, a chapel, and living quarters, all decorated with elaborate paintings and sculptures.
The art gallery itself contains approximately 400 pieces from the 15th to 18th centuries. Some of the more famous pieces include a portrait of pope Innocent X by Velázquez and two busts of the same pope, created by Bernini. The Gallery of Mirrors is one of the most lavish rooms in the palace and includes frescoes depicting the Labors of Hercules.
The National Roman Museum has four locations in Rome, Italy, and one of them is housed in the 19th century Palazzo Massimo alle Terme near Termini train station. It contains one of the world's most important collections of Classical art. The museum has four levels with sculptures, frescoes, mosaics, coins, jewels, and many other items that show the evolution of Roman art from the Late Republican age through Late Antiquity. The art depicts ancient Roman history, myths, and the culture of every day life throughout several hundred years.
Some of the exhibitions in the National Roman Museum include Greek works that were discovered in Rome such as the Boxer at Rest, the Hellenistic Prince, portraits from the Republican and Imperial Ages, and the statue of Augustus Pontifex Maximus. Other pieces in the museum depict Roman battle scenes and other parts of Roman life.
With some of the greatest luxury clothing brands, Italy is known for its fashion and shopping. Castel Romano Designer Outlet offers some of the best brands at up to 70% off of retail prices. There are over 140 stores for both women and men. There truly is something for everyone to shop for. Brands range from Italian designers like Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, and Versace to international brands such as Nike and Tommy Hilfiger.
Designed in a boutique style, the collection of shops was designed to resemble the structure of ancient Rome, and is fun to wander and browse outdoors. There are also dozens of restaurant, bar, and cafe options, a playground for children, and events taking place throughout the year. A beauty bar with facial and body treatments makes it easy to pamper yourself after a long day of shopping.
The Basilica di San Nicola in Carcere is a church in Rome with an interesting history. It was built on top of three ancient temples, and pieces of these temples were incorporated into the facade of the current church. There are columns and other sections from the Temple of Spes dating back to 250 B.C., a temple that honored Juno from the 2nd century B.C. and rebuilt in 90 B.C., and the Temple of Janus, the god of gates and beginnings, dating to 17 A.D. Unlike most churches in Rome that took columns from other ruins around the city and moved them, the columns in this church still stand in their original location.
Since the ground level was much lower 2,000 years ago, some of the ruins of these temples are now underground. Visitors can take a tour beneath the church to see these ruins, which are older than many other ruins in the city. These ruins are Republican era, making them roughly 500 years older than the imperial era ruins in other parts of Rome.
A lush garden overlooking Roman rooftops and domes, the Giarino degli Aranci was once an ancient fortress and now offers some of the best panoramic views of Rome. Full of orange trees, there are many benches and grassy areas to relax on and escape the bustle of the city. Views stretch across the skyline from Trastevere all the way toward St. Peter’s Basilica.
Legend says that Saint Dominic planted a single bitter orange tree in the courtyard of the nearby Basilica di Santa Sabina in 1200 AD. It is said to be the first orange tree in the whole of Italy, and today the gardens have a pleasant orange aroma from the groups of many trees.
Upon entering the gardens, visitors can see the face of Giacomo Della Porta's fountain, believed to have been made in reference to the river god Oceanus. Overlooking the Tiber River, it has been called one of the most romantic spots in Rome.
Found in the basement of the Art Nouveau Great Synagogue of Rome, which was built across the River Tiber from the former Jewish ghetto in Trastevere and inaugurated in 1904, the Jewish Museum of Rome (Museo Ebraico di Roma) opened in 1960 and records 2,200 years of Jewish life in Rome. It was much expanded in 2004 and now seven ornate rooms house new displays of precious textiles, manuscripts and silverware as well as information on the Nazi occupation of Rome, liturgical vestments and tombstones moved from the catacombs underneath the city. An unusual aspect of the exhibition is the explanation of the contribution of Libyan Jews to Roman life when they were expelled from Tripoli in 1967. A further gallery displays marble fragments from the 16th–19th centuries that record elements of Jewish life, from the purchase of cemetery plots to the wills of wealthy families. The highlight of a visit, however, is undoubtedly the 3D virtual tour through the Jewish Ghetto.
One of the many ancient Roman ruins atop the Palatine Hill is the Domus Augustana, part of the huge Flavian Palace, built for Emperor Domitian.
The Domus Augustana – sometimes called the Domus Augustiana – was the luxurious residence of the emperor (his official name was Titus Flavius Domitianus, hence the name of the palace). The palace complex was built in the late 1st century, and the Domus Augustana was lived in by emperors until about the third century. It's fairly well-preserved.
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