We could give you 100 reasons why we love Rome, and why you should visit the Eternal City. But we don't need to - 5 will be more than enough to have you reaching for your passport and heading off in search of authentic Roman cuisine, fascinating history and a little bit of magic...
Photo credit: anamericaninrome.com
There’s easily 100 reasons to visit Rome for the food alone. But we’ll try not to get too carried away. Roman cuisine is truly amazing, so our top tip would be to make sure you try as many local dishes as you can, and if this means squeezing in extra an extra meal or snack stop, so be it. You couldn’t leave Rome without trying a carbonara (or two), but make sure you try the Eternal City’s other famed pasta dishes too, like spaghetti cacio e pepe, which from the four humble ingredients of spaghetti, leftover pasta water, pepper and pecorino romano cheese somehow emerges one of the tastiest pasta dishes you’ll ever have tried. Then there’s supplì, a popular street food consisting of a fried rice ball stuffed with mozzarella, not forgetting the fried artichokes or zucchini flowers. We could go on. Where to find the best of each local speciality can be a bit of a contentious subject, so to avoid any heated arguments we’ll just encourage you to get out there and discover for yourself!
It’s unsurprising that since the city has been around since 753BC when ancient Rome was founded, the Italian capital has one of the richest cultures in Europe. The centre of Rome is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site (and not many cities can say that), but even this aside you’re literally surrounded by history everywhere you turn. Roman’s are well versed in their city’s history and passionate about sharing that heritage, so around the beauty of a crumbling ruin you might find a couple of locals discussing (wild hand gesturing included) which century the columns come from, or someone who’s more than happy to give you some facts about a specific monument. Everywhere you turn are the awe-inspiring remains of empires, so we guarantee you’ll want to explore and learn more!
We’ll admit that the Romans are a pretty stylish bunch, so do as the locals do and spend some time soaking up the fashionable boutiques or cheap chic markets. To really blow your budget, or just to watch other people doing so, head to via dei Condotti at the Spanish Steps to soak up the luxury at the big name Italian designer stores. For a more eclectic mix of high street stores, independent boutiques, bookshops and delis, browse via del Corso. If you’re not feeling Rome’s fashion scene, spend a morning perusing antiques, food, vintage threads and everything in between head to the Porto Portese flea market, open every Sunday, or stick to our favourite type of shopping: food! Not to be missed is Franchi, one of the most celebrated delis in Rome where you’ll find everything from pasta to prosciutto, olive oil to cheeses from all over Italy along with items from foodie heaven (we mean truffles and Italian wine).
Visiting a country within a country
What a perfect opportunity to tick off not one, but two countries off your bucket list (or any list, for that matter, of countries that you’ve visited). The Vatican City is an independent state, and the smallest country in the world (there goes another bucket list tick). The 110 acre walled enclave is headquarters of the Catholic Church, but even if you’re not set on catching a glimpse of the Pope in his popemobile, the stunning Renaissance architecture of St Peter’s Basilica will pull you in!
Myths and magic
Okay so maybe not actual magic, but maybe it just depends on whether you believe the stories or not... There’s the Porta Alchemica or Magic Portal at the Villa Palombara, where legend has it, an alchemist discovered in the gardens a herb that could concoct gold before he was seen disappearing forever through the door, leaving behind him a trail of gold flakes. Or you can visit the door to the underworld at the Colosseum, which in Medieval times was believed to be full of the spirits of gladiators who weren’t quite ready to pass into the underworld yet. Even St Peter’s Basilica looks a little magical; when you walk towards it, the dome seems like it’s getting smaller, but when you walk away? It get’s bigger... (It’s actually just an optical illusion, but let’s not ruin all the fun).
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