*The following is a recommendation of things to do in Rome, based on what we enjoyed doing the most!*
When Justin and I visited Italy last year, we made sure to stop in Rome and take a few days to see what all the fuss was about. Only a handful of cities in all of history have commanded as much admiration and glory as Roma herself. It has been home to legendary emperors, warriors, athletes, artists… oh, and a bajillion or so cats.
8 things to do in Rome
1. Walk the Appian Way
The Via Appia, Rome’s—and perhaps all of Italy’s—oldest road, once served as the main route of transportation for the Roman Empire’s famed legions. One can imagine how busy it must have been in its heyday. Picture 5,000 armed men, in perfect marching order. Thousands of years later, it is a peaceful, scenic cobblestone road lined with picturesque trees, interesting ruined monuments, churches, and even the entrance to the famed Catacombs of Rome.
2. Eat Pizza until it hurts
What better way to assuage a gladiator-sized appetite than with ever-reliable, ever-available, oh so tasty pizza? There is a multiverse of famous pizza places around the metro such as Antico Forno Roscioli, with their well-loved Pizza Bianca, or La Gatta Mangiona, featuring 18th century recipes for their sauces. Consult the locals—or good ol’ Google—for more selections.
3. Visit the Cat Sanctuary at Largo Argentina
Okay, so this one is pretty popular among Romans. Cats are like the spirit animal of independent people, so it only makes sense that the Romans—whose ancient ancestors basically embodied the concept of Civic Virtue—love them. Rome has hundreds of thousands of homeless feral cats, taken care of by the government (there is a no-kill law for cats in Rome). They are even regularly neutered and monitored by different volunteer groups.
Oh, and some guy named Gaius Julius Caesar also happened to have been shanked to death at a spot within the sanctuary. Which is kind of cool and awful at the same time…
4. Enroll in a Gladiator School
Have you watched Ridley Scott’s epic Gladiator enough times to have memorized it from start to finish? Me neither, but saying every scripted line out loud wouldn’t really put one in Maximus Decimus Meridius’ shoes—err, sandals—now would it?
The Scuola Gladiatori di Roma (literally the Gladiator School of Rome) offers the curious and the beholden the opportunity to engage in some good ol’ fashioned sword-swinging lessons at a rather comfortable price. The programs are more geared towards the kids, but women can be gladiators too dammit!
5. Visit the Capuchin Crypt
For those with a taste for the macabre and the bizarre, a trip to the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini might be just the fix. Here one can view the bones of thousands of dead Capuchin monks, brought over by the cartload in the 17th century and rearranged into fantastically grisly designs for the church interior. This is no mere exhibition of some unimaginatively piratical skulls and crossbones sets—stack upon stack of yellowing skulls and limbs have been arranged carefully to form chapels and monuments to the Christian concept of the afterlife.
6. Take a private tour of the Vatican
The Vatican is honestly the most stunningly spectacular “museum” that I have ever visited (even more so than the Louvre)! It’s worth splurging on a private tour to make sure you see all the good stuff you’d be sad to miss. Plus you get to skip all sorts of lines and waiting areas… My favourite!
7. Visit some local gardens
Who doesn’t like a good hedge maze? You know, the elaborate kind where you and your beau can chase each other around- and romantically get lost in? Or you can do what Justin and I did, and casually stroll through while eating handfuls of cookies and pastries…
The Castello Ruspoli in Vignanello is one of the finest examples of garden architecture in the world. It is over 400 years old!
8. Tour the city at night
Even when the endless crowds have receded with the sunset, the city remains alive and vibrant. Visiting the world-famous Trevia fountain—always packed during the the morning/afternoon—is a spectacular way to end a day. Of all the things to do in Rome, being a night owl is one of our favourites. Roman locals seem to be more active during the cooler evenings too.