32 Ultimate Things to Do in Rome

It’s not surprising that a lot goes into running a theme park, and that couldn’t be more true than for Disney. From Disneyland’s classic rides and sights like The Haunted Mansion and Sleeping Beauty Castle to flashy, new attractions at Walt Disney World like Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, it takes a massive effort just to turn the lights on and get guests through the gates at Disney’s six American theme parks and two waterparks. That’s no secret. However, there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that Disney would rather its guests and fans didn’t know.Of course they don’t want you to know what Mickey Mouse looks like without his head on or what exactly it looks like backstage, but there are 25 less obvious things that make the park run smoothly every day that you may not even think about.Did you ever wonder why the flags on Main Street don’t lower to half-mast, why it smells vaguely of saltwater when you walk by Pirates of the Caribbean, or why the raccoon at Splash Mountain looks so familiar from your childhood? Well, wonder no more — check out these 25 park secrets that Disney doesn’t want you to know.
Leon Neal/Getty
Slide 1 of 32: Admire Ancient Ruins at the Roman Forum
Slide 2 of 32: Visit the Colosseum
Slide 3 of 32: Gaze at the Architectural Marvel That is the Pantheon
Slide 4 of 32: Transport Yourself to Baroque Rome at Piazza Navona
Slide 5 of 32: Pay Your Respects to the Vatican and Its Museums
Slide 6 of 32: Visit St. Peter’s Basilica
Slide 7 of 32: Climb the Spanish Steps
Slide 8 of 32: Explore Trastevere
Slide 9 of 32: Throw a Coin in the Trevi Fountain
Slide 10 of 32: Admire Masterpieces in Galleria Borghese and Stroll Through Villa Borghese
Slide 11 of 32: Get Lost in the Centro Storico
Slide 12 of 32: Shop Until You Drop at the Galleria Alberto Sordi
Slide 13 of 32: Drink Espresso at Tazza d'Oro and Caffè Sant'Eustachio
Slide 14 of 32: Take an Early Evening Break for Aperitivo at the Stravinskij Bar
Slide 15 of 32: Shop at the Market at Campo de’ Fiori
Slide 16 of 32: Eat All the Gelato at Giolitti
Slide 17 of 32: See Modern Art at MAXXI
Slide 18 of 32: Ascend Gianicolo for Panoramic Views
Slide 19 of 32: Sample Fried Artichokes in the Jewish Ghetto
Slide 20 of 32: Indulge in La Cucina Romana
Slide 21 of 32: Find the Secret Keyhole in the Aventino
Slide 22 of 32: Find Caravaggio’s Greatest Paintings in Churches
Slide 23 of 32: Experience the Nightlife in Testaccio
Slide 24 of 32: Take a Day Trip to the Sea in Ostia Antica
Slide 25 of 32: Zip Around the City on a Vespa
Slide 26 of 32: Explore the Up-and-Coming Neighborhood of Pigneto
Slide 27 of 32: Tour Rome’s Hidden Treasures With Imago Artis
Slide 28 of 32: Sip Craft Cocktails at Chorus Café and Caffe Propaganda
Slide 29 of 32: Check Into Luxurious Hotels Like the Hotel de Russie and Hotel Eden
Slide 30 of 32: Sample the Best Pizza at Bonci Pizzarium and Pizzeria ai Marmi
Slide 31 of 32: Find Rome’s Cinematic History Around Via Margutta
Slide 32 of 32: Ogle Ancient Sculptures Inside a Former Power Plant at Centrale Montemartini

Admire Ancient Ruins at the Roman Forum

Entering the huge archeological site of the Roman Forum and strolling through the ruins, you can almost imagine the citizens of Ancient Rome walking the cobblestoned streets in togas and bringing sacrifices to the temples. Of course, it helps to have a guide who can bring the stories to life, or you might mistake Augustus’s house for Livia’s, as there are no signs within the complex indicating what’s what.The site dates back to around 500 B.C., but was enlarged by Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Domitian, and Trajan. In fact, you’ll see remnants of Imperial Rome extending beyond the limits of the Forum to include Trajan’s Column, the Arch of Titus, and the Circus Maximus, just to name a few.After visiting the Forum, try your luck with the Bocca della Verità, an ancient stone carving of a bearded man’s face. According to myth, it will bite off the hand of anyone not telling the truth.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Rome Travel Guide

Visit the Colosseum

The most internationally recognized symbol of Rome, the Colosseum has a long and bloody history. It was inaugurated in 80 A.D. with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and animal fights. It was the largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire and is believed to have packed up to 50,000 people inside. Despite centuries of neglect—it was used as a quarry until the eighteenth century—it has remained intact (for the most part).Today nearly 4 million people visit annually. Buy your tickets in advance or be prepared to wait in a very long line. A combined ticket for the Roman Forum, Colosseum, and Palatine Hill grants access to all three sites and lets you skip the line at the Colosseum.

Related: The Best Hotels Near the Colosseum 

Gaze at the Architectural Marvel That is the Pantheon

Transport Yourself to Baroque Rome at Piazza Navona

Pay Your Respects to the Vatican and Its Museums

You could easily spend a whole day exploring the area around the Vatican. (Related: Read Our Vatican Travel Guide) Start at the Piazza di San Pietro, which Bernini designed to look like arms extended in an embrace. Besides St. Peter’s Basilica, the absolute must-see is the Vatican Museums, which contain Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Other highlights in the 1,400-room palace include the Raphael Rooms, old master paintings, and antique sculptures.Just south of Vatican City stands Castel Sant’Angelo, where popes sought solace during sieges. Climb to the top for splendid views of Vatican City and the Tiber. At its base you can see the Ponte Sant’Angelo with Bernini’s exquisitely carved marble angels.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Rome Travel Guide

Visit St. Peter’s Basilica

Climb the Spanish Steps

Fascinating in its contradictions, the Piazza di Spagna is both democratic and home to the city’s fanciest boutiques on Via dei Condotti, Rome’s legendary shopping street. (Related: Read Our Piazza di Spagna Travel Guide) Climb the famous steps leading to the Trinità dei Monti church to admire the piazza and Bernini’s ship-shaped fountain from above. If you’re feeling ambitious, climb to the Villa Medici for stunning views of the Centro Storico. Off to the side of the steps, you’ll find the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, one of Rome’s best under-the-radar museums.

Related: The Best Boutique Hotels in Rome

Explore Trastevere

Throw a Coin in the Trevi Fountain

Admire Masterpieces in Galleria Borghese and Stroll Through Villa Borghese

Nowhere in Rome—or dare we say, the world—will you find such a magnificent collection of Baroque art. The villa itself is a masterpiece, commissioned by seventeenth-century Cardinal Scipione Borghese to house his treasures, including Antonio Canova’s sculpture of Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister as Venus Victrix, Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, and Caravaggio’s self portrait as Bacchus. Tickets must be reserved in advance for slotted times.After perusing the villa’s galleries, take a leisurely stroll through the idyllic Villa Borghese park, where orange trees and flowers bloom. Meander south toward Piazza del Popolo. You can take rowboat out on the lake, visit the zoo, see a play at a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, or stop by two museums on the park’s edge: the Etruscan Museum in Villa Giulia and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Rome Travel Guide

Get Lost in the Centro Storico

Shop Until You Drop at the Galleria Alberto Sordi

Drink Espresso at Tazza d’Oro and Caffè Sant’Eustachio

Take an Early Evening Break for Aperitivo at the Stravinskij Bar

After work, Romans love to meet for aperitivo, the Italian happy hour. Any bar worth its salt offers snacks, though these range from peanuts and potato chips to elaborate buffets of the finest finger food you’ve ever eaten. An Aperol Spritz is the classic Roman aperitivo, but Fragolino—a sweet sparkling wine that tastes like strawberries—comes in at a close second. The Stravinskij Bar at the Hotel de Russie—beloved for its lush courtyard garden and top-notch service—might just have the city’s most extensive cocktail list. Have a seat in the hotel’s beautiful secret garden and try the Stravinskij Spritz, which comes with olives, almonds, and potato chips.

Related: Rome’s Best Bars for a Classic Aperitivo

Shop at the Market at Campo de’ Fiori

Shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables at the mercato is a way of life for many Romans. Lots of neighborhoods have their own markets, and the produce tends to be very high quality—perfect for preparing salads and sandwiches for a picnic. Even if you’re just visiting, you can immerse yourself in the local culture by shopping at the market. The one at Campo de’ Fiori bustles with vendors every morning except Sunday and is one of the city’s most popular.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Rome Travel Guide

Eat All the Gelato at Giolitti

See Modern Art at MAXXI

Ascend Gianicolo for Panoramic Views

Sample Fried Artichokes in the Jewish Ghetto

Indulge in La Cucina Romana

Italian cuisine is very regional, and though you might see dishes like ragù alla bolognese (the typical meat sauce that hails from Bologna) on restaurant menus, stick to Roman dishes. Traditionally dubbed la cucina povera, Roman specialties tend to be simple, with a few ingredients prepared using tried-and-true methods.Typical appetizers include fried artichokes, fried salt cod filets, and plenty of cheese and salumi. The most classic Roman pastas are bucatini all’amatriciana, a spicy tomato sauce with peperoncino, guanciale (pig’s cheek), and pecorino romano; spaghetti alla carbonara, a creamy sauce made with raw egg yolk, black pepper, guanciale, and pecorino romano; and tagliatelle cacio e pepe, a winning combination of pecorino romano and black pepper.To try these dishes in a typical no frills Roman trattoria, head to La Carbonara in Monti. For fine dining with avant-garde takes on Rome’s traditional dishes, go to the Michelin-starred Ristorante All’Oro.

Related: What to Eat in Rome

Find the Secret Keyhole in the Aventino

Find Caravaggio’s Greatest Paintings in Churches

Experience the Nightlife in Testaccio

Take a Day Trip to the Sea in Ostia Antica

Zip Around the City on a Vespa

Want to see Rome the way the locals do? Hop on the back of a Vespa driven by one of Scooteroma’s awesome guides. Founded by American expat Annie Ojile, the company offers a variety of tours, including a classic tour, a cinema lover’s tour, and a street art tour of under-the-radar neighborhoods Ostiense, Quadraro, and Pigneto, but they can also customize tours based on your interests and time constraints. Most of the guides are born and raised in Rome and treat you more like a friend who’s visiting from out of town than a tourist.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Rome Travel Guide

Explore the Up-and-Coming Neighborhood of Pigneto

Tour Rome’s Hidden Treasures With Imago Artis

Sip Craft Cocktails at Chorus Café and Caffe Propaganda

Check Into Luxurious Hotels Like the Hotel de Russie and Hotel Eden

Rome’s most luxurious hotels ooze Italian style, with gorgeous accommodations, excellent restaurants and bars, and relaxing spas. The Hotel de Russie is perfect for travelers who appreciate flawless service, a renowned restaurant and bar, and modern design in a perfect location on the bustling Piazza del Popolo. Once Fellini’s haunt, the Hotel Eden has emerged from a top-to-bottom renovation and was reborn with plush rooms and suites, a glamorous lobby bar decked out in marble and frescos, two rooftop restaurants (one for fine dining and the other more casual), a lounge, and spa. Everyone who’s anyone has stayed at Hotel Hassler, a grand dame perched atop the Spanish Steps that’s a favorite of royalty and celebrities with a Michelin-starred restaurant. Palazzo Dama—housed in a restored aristocratic villa—sports a cool, eclectic design and has a Peruvian restaurant and the only pool right in the city center. Hotel Vilòn is tucked away in the 16th-century house annexed to Palazzo Borghese, with a gorgeous design featuring the photographs of renowned Florentine photographer Massimo Listri.

Related: The Best Luxury Hotels in Rome

Sample the Best Pizza at Bonci Pizzarium and Pizzeria ai Marmi

Find Rome’s Cinematic History Around Via Margutta

Strolling through Rome’s cobblestoned streets can sometimes feel like being in a movie, but there are a few places with an especially cinematic history. While Via Veneto—featured in La Dolce Vita—has lost much of its charm, there are plenty of other spots worth finding. One of the most picturesque is Via Margutta, where legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini lived with his wife, the actress Giulietta Masina. You can still see the plaque on his building on the northern end of the street. He often worked at Bar Canova on Piazza del Popolo, where he had his own office in the back. Many of his drawings still hang on the walls. Gregory Peck’s character in Roman Holiday lived on Via Margutta too. Keep walking and soon enough you’ll come to Piazza di Spagna, which was featured in Roman Holiday and The Talented Mr. Ripley to name just two.

Related: There’s a Surprisingly Affordable Hotel on the Via Veneto. Find out which one in our guide to The Best Budget Hotels in Rome.

Ogle Ancient Sculptures Inside a Former Power Plant at Centrale Montemartini

Source: Read Full Article