Dear wanderers of love,
Chapter 1: Iconic Romance, Must-Visit Spots
1.1 The Colosseum
Begin your journey with the grandeur of the Colosseum, where the stories of gladiators and ancient love unfold. The inauguration of the Colosseum in AD 80 was an extravagant affair that lasted for 100 days, showcasing the grandeur and engineering marvels of ancient Rome. Emperor Titus, who completed the construction started by his father Vespasian, organized spectacular games and events to mark the occasion. One of the most astounding displays was the flooding of the Colosseum’s arena to recreate naval battles.
The best way to enter and to get to know the famous monument in detail is to take a guided tour. In order to avoid endless lines, arrive early or buy an entrance ticket to Palatine Hill, since there are usually fewer people there and the cost of entrance is combined with the Roman Forum as well 😉 Learn more about the Colosseum
1.2 The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum stands as a captivating archaeological treasure trove, offering a mesmerizing glimpse into the political, religious, and social life of the Roman Empire. Once the bustling hub of civic affairs, this sprawling plaza hosted vibrant markets, grand processions, and important public speeches. Encircled by iconic structures like the Arch of Titus and the Temple of Saturn, the Forum invites modern-day visitors to wander through the remnants of ancient temples, basilicas, and government buildings. Entrance on the first Sunday of every month is free 😉
1.3 Trevi Fountain
Toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain and let your wishes intertwine and feel like in the “La Dolce Vita” movie. Visit early in the morning or late at night to avoid crowds and bask in the fountain’s magical ambiance. The myth, originating in 1954 with the movie “Three Coins in the Fountain” goes like this:
- If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome.
- If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian.
- If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met.
In order to achieve the desired effect, you should throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder! Discover the history of Trevi Fountain
1.4 The Vatican City and St Peter Square
Experience the divine at St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the mastermind behind the design of St. Peter’s Square, left a subtle but intriguing detail in the colossal Tuscan colonnades that encircle the square. If you stand in one of the foci of the ellipse, marked by a stone disc on the ground, and look through the columns, you’ll notice that the rows of columns appear perfectly aligned.
Bernini achieved this optical illusion by subtly curving the colonnades. Additionally, on each of the 284 Doric columns, there is a Latin inscription with the name of the pope reigning at the time of the construction. It’s a fascinating detail that often goes unnoticed by casual visitors. Don’t miss the chance to ascend to the top of St. Peter’s Dome for a panoramic view of the city, but be prepared for a climb! Explore the wonders of the Vatican
1.5 Piazza Navona: A Baroque Masterpiece
Embark on your romantic odyssey at Piazza Navona, where Baroque architecture and bubbling fountains set the stage for an amorous escape. Witness the bustling life of street artists, sip espresso at a charming café, and let the charm of Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers captivate your hearts.
This is a masterpiece sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Legend has it that the figure representing the Rio de la Plata appears to cower and raise its hand in defense. This is said to be a reaction to the nearby church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, designed by Borromini, a rival architect. However, historians believe this is merely a misconception, and the positioning of the statues is purely coincidental. Read more here
1.6 Campo dei Fiori: Market Magic and Midnight Strolls
Discover the enchantment of Campo dei Fiori, a bustling market by day and a lively rendez-vous by night. Peruse the vibrant stalls, taste local delicacies, and revel in the jovial ambiance. As the sun sets, the square comes alive with music and laughter, offering an ideal backdrop for a moonlit escapade.
In the center of Campo dei Fiori stands a statue of Giordano Bruno, the philosopher and Dominican friar executed on this very spot. The statue, erected in 1889, serves as a tribute to free thought and the pursuit of knowledge. Bruno’s outstretched hand is not pointing accusatorily, as many assume, but rather represents the open-minded exploration of the cosmos.
1.7 Pantheon: A Love Letter in Stone
Immerse yourself in the timeless allure of the Pantheon, a testament to Rome’s architectural prowess. Marvel at the oculus that lets in a celestial beam of light, casting a spell of romance upon the ancient temple. As you explore its majestic interior, feel the whispers of history and love that linger within its hallowed walls.
Insider Tip: From 2023 the visit costs 5€ for not residents. If you can, travel to Rome to visit the Pantheon during the Pentecost, a Christian observance fifty days after Easter, marks the descent of the Holy Spirit. In a beautifully symbolic gesture, the fluttering rose petals mimic the descent of fiery tongues, creating an ethereal spectacle within the hallowed halls of the Pantheon. This age-old practice connects the present to the sacred past, inviting visitors to partake in a sensory experience that goes beyond sight and sound, immersing them in the delicate fragrance of tradition and reverence. It’s a moment that transforms the Pantheon into not just an architectural wonder but a living, breathing testament to the intersection of faith and history. Keep reading here.
Chapter 2: Hidden Gems, Unveiling Rome’s Secrets
2.1 Aventine Keyhole
(Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta): Embark on a quest for a secret view of St. Peter’s Basilica through the famous Aventine Keyhole. When you peer through the keyhole, you’re treated to a perfectly framed view of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, perfectly aligned within the garden pathway and the keyhole. The visual effect is not just accidental; it’s a meticulously crafted design that enhances the sense of wonder for those who discover this hidden gem. The nearby Orange Garden offers a serene setting for a romantic picnic and a wonderful view of the city at sunset.
2.2 Villa Borghese Gardens
Villa Borghese Gardens, sprawling over 80 hectares, offer a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Amidst the lush greenery, you’ll discover hidden fountains, statues, and even a small lake where visitors can rent rowboats. The gardens provide not only a scenic escape but also a perfect setting for a leisurely stroll or a romantic picnic.
Escape to the tranquility of Villa Borghese Gardens. Rent a rowboat on the lake for an intimate experience on the little lake or explore the Borghese Gallery, if you ask me, the must-see museum in Rome, full of famous and gorgeous statues and paintings. Book tickets in advance and consider a private guided tour for an immersive art experience. Discover Villa Borghese
2.3 Appian Way and Catacombs
Take a romantic stroll along the ancient Appian Way, flanked by towering pine trees, the original stones of one of the first roads ever built by the Ancient romans. Access is free, but guided tours of the Catacombs are recommended for a richer experience — discover San Sebastiano for example, and the park with the ancient acqueduc too!
Chapter 3: Local Insights, The Heartbeat of Rome
My personal favorite area of the city. Get lost in the charming streets of Trastevere, a bohemian neighborhood that oozes romance. Explore on foot and discover hidden gems like the Basilica di Santa Cecilia. Dine at a local trattoria; have an aperitivo. This is the go-to place for dining and drinking like a local. Get lost in the small streets so to discover beautiful hidden corners.
The cobblestone streets of Trastevere are not just pathways; they are stories etched in stone. As you wander through this charming neighborhood, you’ll notice a unique feature – many of the cobblestones bear inscriptions. These are remnants of ancient Roman tombstones, providing a glimpse into the rich history and layers of time that make Trastevere a living museum. Wander through Trastevere and check out the galleries to gather some inspiration here.
3.2 Testaccio Market
Savor the authentic flavors of Rome at Testaccio Market. Explore the market on weekdays for a more relaxed experience. Engage with vendors, ask for recommendations, and indulge in a culinary journey. Testaccio was once home to Rome’s slaughterhouse, and the market’s location is no coincidence. In the late 19th century, the slaughterhouse was moved, and Testaccio Market was established in its place. The market became a focal point for the neighborhood’s food culture, evolving into a vibrant hub where locals gather to share recipes, enjoy fresh produce, and celebrate the essence of Roman culinary heritage.
3.3 Janiculum Terrace
Cap off your Roman adventure with a visit to Janiculum Terrace at sunset. Access is free, and the panoramic view is unparalleled. Bring a picnic or enjoy a quiet moment at the nearby “Fontanone (literally “the huge fountain”). One of the unique features of Janiculum Terrace is the daily firing of a cannon at noon. This tradition dates back to 1847 when Pope Pius IX ordered the cannon to be fired to provide a time signal for the entire city. The “cannone del Gianicolo” continues to be fired every day, and it has become a beloved and audible symbol of midday in Rome.
- Photography Tips: Capture the golden hour by starting your day early or embracing the city lights at dusk. For professional photos, send me a request and we’ll plan for your personalized session.
- Local Transportation: Experience the city like a local by renting Vespas or electric motorcycles like “eCooltra). Several rental agencies offer daily or hourly rates; ensure you have a valid driver’s license. You can also move around using the public transportation (ATAC) which is great for the underground and some express buses, but can be unconvenient for some other buses (such as the 62). You can purchase tickets at “Tabacchi” or on the buses, now they have a contactless reader that allows to buy on board. Same for the metro, before the entrance.
- Dining Etiquette: Italian dinners are a leisurely affair and they don’t start before 8pm. Make dinner reservations, especially for popular restaurants that allow (some popular restaurants and pizza places don’t allow reservations). Opt for a table with a view, and embrace the slow-paced dining experience, savoring each course.
- Language of Love: While many locals speak English, especially in the city center, learning a few Italian phrases adds a personal touch. Use “Grazie” (thank you) and “Per favore” (please) liberally — people will appreciate ^^
Cultural Immersion: Check local event calendars for classical music concerts or opera performances. Websites like TicketOne or local box offices offer tickets. For a unique experience, attend outdoor events in historic venues like the Baths of Caracalla in summertime.