A heady mix of haunting ruins, awe-inspiring art and vibrant street life, Italy’s hot-blooded capital is one of the world’s most romantic and inspiring cities. A trip to Rome is as much about lapping up the dolce vita lifestyle as gorging on art and culture. Idling around picturesque streets, whiling away hours at streetside cafes, people-watching on pretty piazzas – these are all an integral part of the Roman experience. Restaurants and trattorias hum with activity and cheerful hordes mill around popular haunts before heading off to cocktail bars and late-night clubs.
In a city of extraordinary beauty, Rome’s ancient heart stands out. It’s here you’ll find the great icons of the city’s past: the Colosseum; the Palatino; the forums; and the Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill), the historic home of the Capitoline Museums. Touristy by day, it’s quiet at night with few after-hours attractions.
Boasting a wealth of diversions, this huge area extends to Rome’s southern limits. Glorious ancient ruins lounge amid pea-green fields and towering umbrella pines along the cobbled Via Appia Antica, one of the world’s oldest roads and pot-holed with subterranean catacombs. By contrast, post-industrial Ostiense blasts visitors straight back to the 21st century with its edgy street art, dining and nightlife. Then there’s EUR, an Orwellian quarter of wide boulevards and linear buildings, which risks being the new fashionista hot spot with the arrival of Italian fashion house Fendi.
Villa Borghese & Northern Rome
This moneyed area encompasses Rome’s most famous park (Villa Borghese) and its most expensive residential district (Parioli). Concert-goers head to the Auditorium Parco della Musica, while art-lovers can choose between contemporary installations at MAXXI, Etruscan artefacts at the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia or baroque treasures at the Museo e Galleria Borghese.Vatican Museums
Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century and enlarged by successive pontiffs, the Vatican Museums boast one of the world’s greatest art collections. Exhibits, which are displayed along about 7km of halls and corridors, range from Egyptian mummies and Etruscan bronzes to ancient busts, old masters and modern paintings. Highlights include the spectacular collection of classical statuary in the Museo Pio-Clementino, a suite of rooms frescoed by Raphael, and the Michelangelo-painted Sistine Chapel.