Destination Insight: Rome City Guide
'Rome if you want to...'
It may not be Italy's financial capital, but the 'eternal city' remains one of our most popular European destinations for business travel, thanks to its wealth of flight connections and high-speed rail options, while an abundance of impressive, historic venues and hotels makes it a firm fixture for conferences and events.
2017 should finally see the opening of the Cloud, the new state-of-the-art 800-seater conference centre and luxury hotel complex which will cement its business offering further.
Of course a major part of the city's appeal for business travel is its wealth of attractions which make extending your stay such a pleasure, so here are just a handful of our favourites.
Trevi Fountain at Night
Designed by architect Nicola Salvi in 1732 and crafted for over 30 years, the lavishly ornate Trevi Fountain is certainly a beautiful sight to behold, with its dramatic bar relief horses rising from the water. The fountain benefitted from a €2.2 million restoration project last year so there’s never been a better time to see it in all its splendour. It can get very crowded with tourists and hawkers in the day so it may be best appreciated after sundown. Toss a coin in and make a wish, according to tradition doing so means you’ll return one day.
Take in the Colosseum
It’s impossible to miss Rome’s grand gladiatorial arena, where some 50,000 spectators once gathered to watch the Empire’s prized pugilists duking it out with each other, as well as lions,
The outer walls have three levels topped with Doric and Corinthian columns, while the interior structure houses the arena, which had a sand covered wooden floor (or hypogeum) to soak up blood and stop combatants slipping, the cavea where the majority of spectators sat and the podium where only Emperors and dignitaries.
You can take a guided tour of the top tier and hypogeum, which is best booked in advance.
Explore the Forum
The remains of the nearby Roman Forum are included in the Colosseum’s admission ticket, along with Palatine Hill, so you can easily tick off all three ancient sights in one visit. This important nexus of Roman political and commercial life is actually comprised of basilicas, temples, public squares and many other buildings from a wide range of eras and reigns covering a span of 1000 years, with the oldest monuments dating back to the 6th century BC.
The site was quarried in the middle ages, while excavations only started in earnest in the 18th century, which continue today.
Traipse around Trastevere
Just across the Tiber is the charming medieval district of Trastevere, which continues to grow in popularity with Romans and visitors alike. No wonder since it’s packed with atmospheric cobbled streets, faded palazzos, funky independent shops, buzzing bars and high quality trattorias. Santa Maria Piazza is always a popular draw of an evening thanks to its lively outdoor cafes and street performers, and the botanical gardens of Orto Botanico is a little oasis of calm.
Visit the Vespa Museum
Few everyday modes of transport are more iconic than the Vespa, the world-famous brand which brings a touch of glamour, zip and style to the sometimes chaotic traffic-clogged streets of Rome. This small, free museum pays tribute to some of the most dashing models of the past 60 years or so, which are have become so familiar from their appearances in classic films such as Roman Holiday.
Go for an Aperitivo
The Italian tradition of Aperitivo is a far more stylish and civilised alternative to our happy hour, where you can expect your Aperol or beverage of choice to be accompanied with a small snack. Gusto’s Wine Bar in Campo Marzio offers what many consider to be the best Aperitivo buffet every night of the week, a sumptuous range of arancini, pizzete and other morsels, while the rather grander Caffe della Pace near Piazza Navona dates from the 1880s and apparently counts Al Pacino and Robert Deniro among its clientele.
Grab a Gourmet Gelato
Of course there’s hardly a shortage of gelaterias in Rome to tempt you on a hot day, but in recent years the city’s artisan producers have significantly upped the ante, bringing natural processes and a dazzling array of flavours to sweeten the deal.
Claudio Torce near Circus Maximus is renowned for his natural ingredients and surprising savoury flavours such as carrot and gorgonzola, historic Giolitti’s is one of the best-known places, while the likes of Carapina dispenses whiskey-infused ice cream and other boozy treats.
Make a Scene at Cinecitta
Just a few stops on the Metro from Rome’s historical centre, you’ll find Cinecitta, Europe’s largest film studio, a sprawling 100-acre site of 22 stages and 300 dressing stages. The permanent exhibition showcases the studio’s golden era from 1937 – 1989, when the likes of Federico Fellini and Sergio Leone made their masterworks earning the studio the moniker of ‘Hollywood on the Tiber.’
Today you can explore the vast original sets of Florence in the 1400s, which stood in for Verona in Rome and Juliet, and the Temple of Jerusalem featuring in this year’s adaptation of Anne Rice’s book the Young Messiah.
Marvel at the Pantheon
The 2000-year-old Pantheon is not only Rome's best preserved ancient monument, it's also an architectural marvel which once prompted Michelangelo to comment that it must be the work of angels, not men. Its best feature is perhaps giant dome with its oculus at the top which lets in light.
An impressive feat of engineering makes the structure the world's largest unsupported dome anywhere in the world. In 1609 the building was designated as a church which it remains nominally today. There's no admission charge and the building is usually open from 8.30am until 7.30pm on week days and Saturdays.
Getting to Rome
Rome is served by two airports, Leonardo Da Vinci in the coastal resort of Fumicino and Ciampino. Leonardo is the city’s main international hub, while Ciampino caters for budget airlines.
From Leonardo you can reach the city in 30 minutes taking the Leonardo Express train which leaves every 15 minutes. From Ciampino one of the coach shuttles operated by Terravision or SIT are your best bet. These will deliver you to Termini Station for just a few euros.
Getting Around Rome
Rome is served with a reliable network of trams, a three-line metro service, buses and regional trains. A single ticket costs €1.50 and is valid for 100 minutes, while a day pass costs €7.
Taxis can be convenient, but stick to licensed and metered cabs, which are always white. This guide is a useful primer.