It seems that any trip to Italy would be incomplete without a stop in the city that was once the center of the world. We were only able to squeeze in three days here during our trip, which is obviously not enough time to see all there is to see in the storied metropolis.
Making priorities for destinations is a must for anyone taking a short stay. So where are the best places to go in Rome?
Between hoofing it around town each day and taking advice from our wonderful Roman hosts, from our experience we have a couple of places to share with you. I’ll start the list with less widely-known places, and move on to the more recognized places down the line.
Seriously, GO HERE. The lovely Villa Farnesia is a quiet place, built in the early 16th century by a wealthy Sienese banker. What’s so special about it you ask?
A visit to Villa Farnesina means that you will see impeccable, exquisite Renaissance architecture and amazing frescoes by none other than Rafael.
Another bonus factor lies in that the villa is a bit of a hidden gem, making it generally quiet and uncrowded. When we visited it felt like we had the place to ourselves. After a few days in Rome it’s certainly nice to take a break from the throngs of people, and nicer still to be able to take that break in a beautiful and interesting place.
Yet another positive quality comes in the price. The ticket for admission is €6 for adults, and €4 for students. If you’re a student just be sure to have your student ID on hand to save a couple euro. All in all it’s a great value for what you get inside the villa.
Villa Farnesina is located very near the south side of the Tiber River, just one street back, but it was a little confusing for us to find. The villa is surrounded by yellow walls and only has a small metal plaque outside of it’s main gate to declare itself. Just keep on the lookout and you’ll see it. 🙂
This stop ended up being a pleasant surprise for us, and actually one of my favorite places we went in Rome. Lined with beautiful buildings and exhibiting the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi as a centerpiece, this large, open piazza is not to be missed.
On top of the gorgeous visual, Piazza Navona is busting with activity ranging from artists, street performers (talented ones!), and people out and about. Not surprisingly the location makes for an excellent people watching venue.
There are plenty of places surrounding the square to grab a bite or a drink, too. For us it was a place to kick back, observe, and take it all in.
I’m sure this one was on your list in the first place, but I would be remiss to skip commenting on the majesty of this building.
It is incredible. An incredible display of engineering, and beauty, and perfection, and all that can be right in a structure. Intensely awestruck may be the best way to describe the feeling we got upon entering and looking up at the oculus.
I don’t know how else to describe it, but I think it would be a major mistake to pass up the Pantheon if you’re in Rome.
Admission is completely free, which also means that it can get extremely crowded. If you can manage, go during non-peak tourist season so as to have enough space to really enjoy and appreciate being inside.
The Tiber River of Roman mythology flows right through the heart of the city and makes for a incredibly scenic addition to the overall scene. Overarched by beautiful bridges, bordered by gorgeous tree-lined streets, and steeped in historical significance, the river is a true focal point for the metropolis.
Near the center of Rome in the middle of the Tiber is the river’s solitary island — a charming, small bit of land that makes for a perfect pit stop called Isola Tiberina. Take a few moments to visit this island that has connected both sides of Rome since antiquity and you immediately get the sense that you’ve stepped into a place deeply connected with the past.
During our impromptu rest stop here we took a seat at the south end of the island to admire the striking Ponte Rotto. We didn’t know it at the time, but it is actually the oldest stone bridge in Rome, constructed in the year 179 BCE.
Just behind the Ponte Rotto is the “modern” bridge (constructed in 1887) Ponte Palantino. The contrast of the two bridges is really incredible. It’s a very strange thing to behold a city that seems to just meld around history everywhere you look; the resulting feeling is a little haunting, but at the same time overwhelming uniting to have such a display of continuity.
I felt more than a little mind-blown while we picnicked on Isola Tiberina. If you want a few minutes to chill out and bask in the splendor of the remarkable city of Caesar during your trip, just slot in a little time for this place.
The Trastevere is an area located on the west bank of the Tiber that is known for its undeniable character. We wandered into this famous Roman neighborhood by mistake after visiting Villa Farnesina, and it was a very happy coincidence.
While we only spent around an hour total in the area we enjoyed it immensely. The whole quarter oozes old-world charm and is simply enchanting.
Our stroll that misty morning led us to a cafe where we found inexpensive cappucino and croissants, though sadly I cannot remember the name of the place.
Like many tourist destinations in Italy, there were several gypsies around, so just make sure you have a good handle on your belongings while you’re exploring.
I hope you’ve found our favorite places in Rome helpful for planning your trip. What are the best places to go in Rome for you? Let us know in the comments section!