Rome (Roma), the “Eternal City”, is Italy’s capital and the largest city and the Lazio (Latium) region. It’s the famed city of the Roman Empire, the Seven Hills, La Dolce Vita (sweet life), the Vatican City, and Three Coins in the Fountain.
As a millennium-long center of power, culture, and religion, having been the center of one of the globe’s greatest civilizations ever, Rome has exerted an enormous influence over the world in its circa 2500 years of existence.
The historic center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With wonderful palaces, millennium-old churches and basilicas, grand romantic ruins, opulent monuments, ornate statues, and graceful fountains, Rome has an immensely rich historical heritage and cosmopolitan atmosphere, making it one of Europe’s and the world’s most visited, famous, influential and beautiful capitals.
Today, Rome has a growing nightlife scene and is also seen as a shopping heaven, being regarded as one of the world’s fashion capitals (some of Italy’s oldest jewelry and clothing establishments were founded in the city).
With so many sights and things to do, Rome can indeed be classified a “global city”.
Districts of Rome
Rome’s central districts
Rome can be divided into several districts.
The so-called historical centre (centro storico) is quite small, being only around 4% of the city’s area.
This mainly consists of the area inside the Aurelian walls and is protected by UNESCO.
You will find a description of each district below:
• Modern Centre
Where many of the hotels are, as well as shopping and dining galore along the Via Veneto;
home to the Quirinale, Trevi fountain, Barberini, Castro Pretorio, and Repubblica areas.
• Old Rome
The center of the Roman medieval and Renaissance periods, with beautiful plazas, cathedrals, the Pantheon, and plenty of laid-back dining;
includes the Navona, Campo de’ Fiori, and the Jewish Ghetto neighborhoods.
The Papal City State and its endless treasure troves of sights, relics, and museums, as well as the surrounding Italian neighborhood.
The heart of ancient Rome is the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Forum of Augustus, the Forum and Markets of Trajan, as well as the Capitoline and its museums.
• North Centre
We are situated in the north part of Rome, home to the Villa Borghese, the Spanish Steps, and the elegant neighborhoods of Parioli and Salario.
To the south of the Vatican, the west bank of the Tiber River was full of narrow cobbled streets and lonely plazas that inspired artists such as Giorgio de Chirico.
Now arguably the center of Rome’s artistic life.
Rome’s off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods offer plenty of surprises for visitors, as well as some excellent food.
• Esquilino-San Giovanni
South of Termini, with an indoor market, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, and the Cathedral of Rome Saint John in Lateran.
The neighborhoods “behind” the train station. Vibrant nightlife in San Lorenzo.
Situated on the River Tiber, between the Apennine Mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea, the “Eternal City” was once the administrative center of the mighty Roman Empire, governing a vast region that stretched from Britain to Mesopotamia.
Today it remains the seat of the Italian government and home to numerous ministerial offices.
Rome has 2.7 million inhabitants while the metropolitan area is home to around 4.5 million.
Architecturally and culturally, Rome has some contrasts – you have areas with pompously huge majestic palaces, avenues, and basilicas, which are then surrounded by tiny alleyways, little churches, and old houses.
The center of Rome is mainly ancient, and modern buildings are usually concentrated in the suburbs, unlike Milan (where new and old architecture is combined both in the center and the outskirts).
You may also find yourself walking from a grand palace and tree-lined elegant boulevard, into a small and cramped Medieval-like street.
The abbreviation “S.P.Q.R” is ubiquitous in Rome, short for the old democratic motto “Senatus Populusque Romanus” (Latin), i.e..”The Roman Senate and People”.
For two weeks in August, many of Rome’s inhabitants shut up shop (literally) and go on their vacations; many stores, restaurants, and other amenities will be closed during this time.
The temperature in the city center at this time of year is not particularly pleasant.
If you do travel to Rome at this time, be prepared to see Chiuso per ferie (Closed for holidays) signs on many establishments.
Even in these weeks, the city is magnificent, and if you are looking for a less overcrowded vacation in Rome, this is not the wrong time.
You will always be able to find somewhere to eat.