Sunday, January 29, 2012

15 things that you must do in Rome

One of the cities that I have enjoyed tremendously and would love to visit again and again is Rome- truly the ‘eternal city’ for me. And my top 15 things to do in this glorious city:

1. Spend a day at the Italian squares called piazzas: the Piazza Navona is my favourite. Get your caricature done or buy a painting. The Piazza della Rotunda in front of the Pantheon is also a great place to be after its dark. See my post on Piazzas for a more exhaustive list.

2. Rome is a city of fountains. And you can fill your bottles here and just drink the pure water from the age-old underground system of pipes and cisterns. Visit the famous fountains for a dose of history and to see some great architecture by people like Bernini!

3. Rome is not what you just see above the ground. A large part of this ancient city still lies below. Take a tour of the catacombs or a Rome underground tour to appreciate how vast this subterranean world is!

4. For a different take on this city head to Trastevere on the other side of the Tiber with a bohemian ambience and a plethora of eateries! Walk through the streets, have a lazy meal and experience a feel of contemporary Rome.

5. Of course the Vatican City- you can spend days here... the treasures of the Museums, the Sistine chapel, St Peters Basilica. Don’t forget to see the Hall of maps and the tapestries- exquisite!

6. A day at the Coliseum and the Forum for a dose of colourful history. Be prepared with a hat and plenty of water. Remember all these sites are sprawling and you are in the open. To make it easier, pick up a book sold all over Rome called ‘Archaeological Rome’ which has transparent overlays over each building showing how it would have looked thousands of years ago.

7. People watching: at the piazzas and cafes of course. My vote goes to the Spanish Steps! Remember Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in ‘Roman Holiday’. Yes, this is the place where they meet.

8. Retail therapy: Rome is not just history. Visit the flea market at Porta Portese which operates only on Sundays. Via Condotti is Rome's main drag for haute couture and a great place for window shopping and experiencing Italian style!

9. Walk on the ancient Appia Antica on a Sunday when it’s closed to traffic. You can hire bikes and wander on this road with its share of ancient buildings. You can even take a tour on the Archeobus.

10. When in Rome, you must have an authentic wood fire paper thin pizza. Grab a bite of authentic pizza at Da bafetto near Piazza Navona. It’s nothing great by way of ambience but the pizza more than makes up for it!

11. Hit the museums. My pick of the most sees: the Capitoline Museums filled with Titian, Veronese and Caravaggio’s, The Borghese Gallery and the Palazzo Barbereni. For a quirky museum visit the National pasta museum close to the Metro Station Barbereni.

12. A taste of the bizarre? Head for the Church of Santa Maria Della Concezione In the basement of the church (there is an entrance directly from the street) you will find one of the most unusual sights in Rome. It contains the bones of 4,000 Capuchin monks, many arranged in artistic designs.

13. Get high on churches: This city has an extraordinary number of churches, each with its own cache of treasures! Don’t miss the Santa Maria Del Popolo with its Caravaggio’s, San Pietro in Vincoli (with Michelangelo’s statue of Moses), Santa Maria in Trastevere (one of the oldest churches) and Santa Maria alla Minerva (the only Gothic church here).

14. For the best bird’s eye view of Rome climb the Janiculum Hill close to the Trastevere neighbourhood.

15. End your days here with a gelato. Visit the famous Giolitti, nestled between the Pantheon and the Italian Parliament which has been serving gelatos since 1900! May cost 15 Euros but is a great way to sin!



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