Italy Rome Tours customizes to you private Rome Tours and day tours of the most important italian cities with a personal english-speaking tour guide. Get news, travel tips, things to do in Rome and all around Italy. Museums, Attractions and Monuments.
Since people who visit Rome usually keep their visits to the city’s historical centre, they sometimes get the idea that there aren’t many green spaces. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rome boasts the title of being the “greenest” city in Europe, with parks all over. Different in size and style, perhaps the city’s most famous one is Villa Borghese. This particular park was developed around what used to be a residence and garden for the powerful Borghese family. In the early XX century, it was acquired by the State and opened to the general public. With almost 200,000 acres of territory, it’s Rome fourth largest park. But Villa Borghese’s way more than just a lovely green area of the city. It is home to an incredible number of attractions. A stroll down the lanes of this park is definitely worth your while. Here are some of the reasons why.
Museums, museums everywhere
One of the most important museums in the city (and the world, actually) is located by one of the Villa’s entrance. The Borghese Gallery is a beautiful building near the northern entrance of the park, not far away from the famous Via Veneto. It is the largest museum based on a single person’s collection, Cardinal Scipione Borghese. Among the numerous works you can find here, there are many of Bernini’s sculptures (“Apollo and Daphne” is a personal favourite), some of Caravaggio’s paintings and a lot of other masterpieces by lesser known artists.
But even if this is the park’s most famous museum, it’s not the only one. You can also find smaller ones, like the Pietro Canonica (a lovely little fortress dedicated to the artist that gives the museum its name); the Carlo Bilotti museum, home to works by De Chirico and others; the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art; and the Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, these last two barely outside the Villa.
A great place to enjoy a movie
In 2004, the Casa del Cinema (House of Cinema) was created to play movies of general interest. Equipped with many rooms for movies, photo expositions and even a theatre out in the open for the summer months, the Casa is an important cultural centre and a great place to catch a movie while having a bite of mozzarella and enjoying the park’s fresh air.
Villa Borghese also prides itself in being home to the world’s smallest movie theatre, the Cinema dei Piccoli, which plays subtitled children films.
No place in Italy would be complete without at least a couple of cool eating spots. Near the Villa’s famous water clock (created by a Dominican friar and scientist) there’s the traditional and picturesque Casina dell’Orologio, where you can get your espresso fix before walking on and reaching the Pincio Terrace, one of the best views in all of the city. You can take your selfie there and enjoy the sight of Rome (we recommend getting there by sunset), and then either head to the Casina Valadier for a fancy dinner or, if you’re more in the mood for a sweet treat, walk down a little bit further and have a lovely cup of tea with pastries at Colbert, inside the French Academy. You can also, of course, bring your own food to the villa and have a picnic or DIY aperitivo as well. Nothing like a romantic glass of wine by the Pincio or surrounded by classic statues.
Take a boat ride at the Laghetto
Villa Borghese is big enough to hold its very own lake. Well, a small artificial lake, but a beautiful one at that. The Laghetto di Esculapio (“Asclepius’ little lake”) is one of the park’s most charming spots. Near the Villa’s exit to Piazza del Popolo, this area is filled with the shade the trees provide, and it gives you the chance to enjoy a short but romantic boat ride. If that is not your choice, you can always head to the Casina del Lago, a little bar ideal for a cocktail or a cup of tea while the heat dies down.
As you can now probably see, you can spend more than one day in this park and there would still be things to do and places to visit. We hope you can allot some time in your schedule to visit Villa Borghese and appreciate its beauty personally. If you’re already thinking about it, contact us! We can help you plan the best trip to Rome ever!
It’s no secret that Italians are proud of their coffee. Dark, and strong, you can’t walk far in any town in the country without finding a place to get a great espresso. A sign of hospitality – especially in the South – when you visit someone, a quick jolt of energy when the morning starts or in a break from work, there’s a whole etiquette to it and you better stick to it if you want to blend in. When in Rome, do as the Romans do – and boy, do they like their espresso. That is why you can’t leave the Eternal City without a good sip of it at least a couple of times. But as with everything else here, there’s always more to the experience than just drinking a good cup of java. That is why we chose a few that will be not only a treat to your taste buds, but also a true taste of Rome.
Books and coffee at Giufà in San Lorenzo
The San Lorenzo neighbourhood is the traditional quartiere for college students, since it’s very near to the main buildings of the Sapienza, Rome’s traditional and most well-known university. It follows that one of its best coffee shops here is also a great place to buy books, listen to a conference by an author or just relish a good slice of cake. Giufà is the name of this cosy and charming little bar, where you can also have your aperitivo. Everything is organic and prepared with care for the environment (if you find some carrot cake, grab it fast before someone beats you to it!). From 4pm until well after midnight you can be sure to find people engaged in fascinating conversations or immersed in some beautiful hardcover book.
Giufà can be found at Via degli Aurunci 38.
See how the other half lives at Il Cigno
If San Lorenzo is one of Rome’s rambunctious, rebellious parts of the city, the Parioli neighbourhood is its exact opposite. Aristocratic and elegant, you won’t find many tourists wandering around in this area. Which is actually a pity (although the locals surely prefer it that way): Parioli is not only a great example of the Italian brand of Art Nouveau architecture, called here “Liberty”, but also has some hidden jewels, like the quartiere Coppedè. And of course, a more than fair share of great restaurants and bars. One of its most picturesque ones is ll Cigno, “The Swan”. Decorated inside with a bas-relief that depicts the myth of Leda and the swan, and with the constellation of the same name adorning the bar’s floor, it certainly stands out. Il Cigno is a lovely place to get a glimpse of a part of Rome tourists rarely see, and to have some amazing coffee and pastries (cornetti with cherry jam seems to be the most sensible choice).
You’ll find Il Cigno at Viale dei Parioli 16.
Let history fix you a cup of coffee at the Antico Caffè Greco
One of Italy’s oldest Caffè, Il Greco has been around for more than 250 years. That in itself is no small feat. But there’s more. This bar has seen the likes of Hans Christian Andersen, Buffalo Bill, Henry James, Orson Welles, James Joyce and Goethe himself stop here for a chat and a drink. If you visit it, you’ll find the traces of all these illustrious guests and many, many more. Smack dab in the city center, it’s just two steps away from Piazza di Spagna. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit this historical spot! You’ll find it at Via dei Condotti 86.
Pick your side in the clash of kings: Tazza d’Oro and Sant’Eustachio
While every Roman has her or his own favourite coffee shop, it is almost general knowledge that the title for the best coffee in the city is disputed by two traditional bars in the city centre: Tazza D’Oro and Sant’Eustachio. Just a few minutes of walking from each other, both have fervent supporters, and with good reason. In the end, it all boils down to one thing; your own personal taste. Whichever you pick as the winner, you can be sure that you won’t be disappointed. Tazza d’Oro can be found at Via degli Olmetti 5B, just steps away from the Pantheon; and Sant’Eustachio is located at Piazza Sant’Eustachio 82.
As you can see, you won’t have time to miss your local coffee shops, as you’ll have your pick of the litter here. Even having a sip of espresso can be a cultural experience in Rome, and we want to help you plan your trip here to perfection! Get in touch with us and let’s start planning!
One of the first things that usually strike people as odd when they arrive in Rome is the number of churches they find in the city, especially in the most visited areas. There is, of course, a logical explanation for this. Rome, having been for more than two thousand years the “headquarters” for the Catholic Church, has seen the growth and prosperity of the church throughout history and the temples it has are here as a sign of this. Do not mistake them for abandoned buildings or museums, though. Most of the churches in Rome continue to be active and, besides the visits from the millions of tourists that come here every year, are also active centres for worship, formation and welfare service.
That being said, it is also true that many of them are truly precious, whether for their historical importance, the artistic works of art they house or the building in themselves that make them masterpieces on their own right. This, of course, is no secret, but the huge number of temples makes it impossible to visit them all. That is why we wanted to suggest a couple of them you really shouldn’t miss while you’re here. We’ll skip the more classic and well known, like Saint Peter or the Pantheon, and instead propose some rather unknown but very interesting ones.
Find layer upon layer of Rome in San Clemente
Not far away from the Colosseum or Saint John’s Basilica lies San Clemente, “Saint Clement”. This gorgeous basilica is especially interesting, however, not because of the current building, but of what lies underneath. In the lower levels you will find the remains of the medieval basilica, and going even deeper underground the ruins of a Roman house and a Mithraeum, a small ancient temple dedicated to the god Mithras, whose cult was pretty much in fashion during the time of Emperor Hadrian. The whole exhibition is very well curated, definitely worth a visit (and also a refreshing change of temperature in the scorching heat of the summer). You’ll find it at Via Labicana 93.
Geek out at Saint’Ivo alla Sapienza
Francesco Borromini is, to this day, one of the persons who has left his very visible mark in Rome. Among his works, one of the most interesting is the small (by Roman standards) chapel for what once was the main building for the Sapienza University and now is home to the State’s Archive. Since it was to become the church for that university’s students, Borromini made of that building a symbol of humanity’s search for wisdom (Sapienza means “wisdom” in Italian). From the foundations to the cross on the top of Saint Ivo, the place is packed with symbols and images related to this pursuit. The gorgeous courtyard where the church is located isolates it from the noisy streets of the city centre, so it can also be an oasis of stillness in the middle of Rome. You’ll find it at Corso del Rinascimento 40, between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.
Be dazzled by mosaics at Santa Prassede
Just a few steps away from Santa Maria la Maggiore lies Santa Prassede, one of Rome’s many minor Basilicas. It’s one of those places you’ll risk passing by without noticing it. But once you enter, it’s a different story. While there are other churches in Rome that have kept at least a little of byzantine art, Santa Prassede has probably the lion’s share of it. Both the apse and a small chapel remain as a glorious example of medieval art. Santa Prassede also claims to have a relic from Jesus himself: namely, part of the pillar where he was whipped by the soldiers during his Passion (the Franciscans in Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre Basilica claim to have it as well, but that’s another story for another day). The Basilica is also home to a huge reliquary holding the remains of hundreds of Roman martyrs, which makes it an interesting stop if you’re a pilgrim or interested in the early days of Christianism in the city. You’ll find all this at Via di Santa Prassede.
Adjust your sundial at Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
What do you do when you have the ruins of ancient baths lying around? Well, Pope Pius IV charged Michelangelo with the task of using them as base to build a Basilica. The famed artist laid down the main design to which other artists would add their own contributions later on. Located at the Piazza della Repubblica, this basilica was for a while the main church for the Kingdom of Italy. All this, and the church’s undisputable beauty makes for a sight to see. But Santa Maria is also the home to the city’s meridian. Pope Clement XI had it built there to check the accuracy of the then new Gregorian Calendar, and also as a way to predict Easter and boast a bigger and better meridian than the one there was in Bologna. Picture a huge sundial decorated with the signs of the zodiac and you’ll get an estimate image of this quirky creation. The Basilica holds contemporary art exhibitions from time to time, so ask if there’s any presentation when you go visit it!
This small showing of Rome’s almost thousand churches is another great example of how the city’s attractions are almost limitless. It also reminds us that, while Rome is always amazing, it’s better to know with someone who knows how to move around town. Let us help you plan your trip and guide you through the Eternal City. Contact us! We can’t wait to show you Rome.
Legend has it that the famed Greek physician Hippocrates discovered that when one of his patients suffered from a lack of appetite, a few sips of a bitter concoction made with wine and herbs would open even the most closed stomachs. While this fact would make the ancient medic one of history’s oldest mixologists, it also provides the first evidence of what would later become a beloved Italian tradition, the aperitivo. From the Latin aperitivus, “to open”, it describes succinctly a fantastic idea put into practice by Italians everywhere when the sun sets: to have a drink while you nibble on something (or gorge on a buffet, depending on your choice of place) and start your engines for dinner a little bit later.
There seems to be a consensus that this tradition begins at its earnest in Turin, around the last quarter of the XIX century. It was there that the vermouth was born, becoming so popular that it became the Court’s official aperitivo. The custom spread and of course, it also reached Rome. Nowadays, you have plenty of places to choose from when you come here, and different styles of aperitivo to enjoy. Here’s just a few you might like, especially in these warmer summer months.
Keep it local at the Oasi della Birra
We haven’t been coy about our love of Testaccio. Definitely one of the best places to eat or drink in the whole city, it also sports quite a few great spots for an aperitivo. The Oasi della Birra is one of them. A fantastic wine and beer shop, it also provides you with the chance to cool off after a long walk under the Roman sun with a great buffet filled with different cold cuts, veggie dishes and more. The list of beers is almost overwhelming, but the staff is extremely helpful. The best part of the Oasi is that you’ll feel like a local watching people pass by the square in front of the shop while you sip on a tasty rosso and wonder how you can export the aperitivo to your home town.
You can find the Oasi della Birra at Piazza Testaccio 38/41.
Take a trip to the 60’s at the Gatsby Cafè
The Esquilino neighborhood is home to some of Rome’s most beautiful churches, arguably its most colorful market and a few curious spots (like the mysterious Magic Door). Needless to say, more than worth your curiosity and interest. But should you be in need of further encouragement, we can give you another reason: the Gatsby Cafè. Decorated in true 60’s fashion, you’ll be expecting some star from Italy’s golden age of film to walk through its doors and drink a Negroni at the bar. Here the aperitivo is classic in its quantity but innovative in its content, and usually varies. Expect to be surprised with some twist on some old recipe or an unusual but effective combination of flavors. You’ll find the same fun eclecticism on the cocktail list. Put on your flat cap and head out there!
The Gatsby Cafè is found at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, 106.
Find a hidden jewel of the Trastevere at Alembic Ak Bar
No one will argue that the Trastevere is among the most popular rioni to enjoy a night out. And while its most bustling area is found around the ancient basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, we invite you to head in the opposite direction towards the Piazza in Piscinula and enjoy an artistic aperitivo at the Alembic # Ak Bar. Host to artistic events of different sorts, every time you go there, there’ll be something new to see. It has a very unique vintage atmosphere and a great barman that will prepare that spritz you’ll be longing to drink once you sit on a dreamy lounge chair.
Alembic # Ak Bar can be found at Piazza in Piscinula 51, in the Trastevere neighborhood.
The Roman summer is truly hot, but in the best of ways. It’s an amazing time to travel to our city and enjoy all it has to offer. Don’t wait any longer and start planning your trip! Get in touch with us and let us help plan the experience of a lifetime.