Top 10: Rome, Italy

In the 3rd installment of our Top 10 series here at Study Abroad Spotlight we’re returning to Italy for the top 10 things to do and see in Rome (plus a few extra honorable mentions)! Don’t forget to check out our past top 10 posts on Berlin, Germany and Florence, Italy!

The Eternal City — the majestic, faraway land we’ve all read about in our history textbooks. Our teachers never told us that those textbooks never truly do Rome any justice. People often say that Rome’s best museum is the city itself; you can walk the same route everyday for a year and see something new every time.

La Fontana di Trevi

La Fontana di Trevi

1. La Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain): It’s as beautiful as every movie has portrayed it (you might remember it as the backdrop for Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in the 1953 film Roman Holiday). If you’re going to visit Rome, I’d suggest that the Trevi be your first stop. Make your wish and enjoy the Roman air! It’s a perfect place to sit down, people watch, and soak in the Italian culture (if you’re not visiting during peak tourist season, that is).

2. Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps): If you ever feel like people watching, this is the place to be. A romantic spot, yes, but don’t be fooled! This spot is also known for Italy’s notorious pickpockets and annoying vendors. Surrounding the area, you can find high-end fashion stores such as Gucci, Prada, and Versace.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

3. Il Colosseo (The Colosseum): No Roman adventure is complete without a visit to the world’s largest amphitheatre. Get in touch with your inner gladiator and tour the very site that held 50,000 spectators over 2,000 years ago! Your ticket to the Colosseum is also a ticket to the Roman Forum right around the corner. As you walk across the cobblestones that were once a part of Ancient Rome, consider all of the people that walked on them as well — from Caesar to Michelangelo to Russell Crow himself — the possibilities are endless.

Michelangelo's famous Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica

Michelangelo’s famous Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica

4. Villa Borghese: One of Rome’s largest parks, the gardens and landscapes of Villa Borghese are absolutely breathtaking. Rent a bike or have a picnic and enjoy the fresh air in the big city! The park also contains the Galleria Borghese—a museum featuring famous sculptures created by Bernini. 

5. Citta del Vaticano (Vatican City): Catholic or not, the Vatican has gorgeous works of art, architecture, and history that everyone can enjoy. From the Sistine Chapel, to St. Peter’s Basilica, to the Vatican Museums, you’ll be able to keep yourself busy for hours. Within the Vatican walls you can find pieces by some of the world’s most famous artists, such as Michelangelo, Bramante, Raphael, da Vinci, and many more!

6. Campo de’ Fiori: Day or night, Campo de’ Fiori is the place to be! By day, Campo is a market filled with fresh veggies and fruits. By night, the square transforms into an entertainment avenue for the younger Roman scene. If you’re looking for a classy night with the ladies, I suggest La Vineria, a quaint wine bar where the charming Roman youth choose to gossip into the morning hours. Just up the street, you’ll also find Americanized alternatives such as The Drunken Ship and Sloppy Sam’s – both known for their beer pitchers and drink specials.

7. Porta Portese is Rome’s MASSIVE flea market that takes place in Trastevere (a district of Rome) every Sunday from 7AM to 2PM. Anything you might need, you’re likely to find here—and for great prices! Before you get there, make sure you practice your bartering skills; you’re going to need them! Most vendors are willing to bargain and everyone loves getting a good deal.

The Vittorio Emanuele Monument in Piazza Venezia

The Vittorio Emanuele Monument in Piazza Venezia

8. Via del Corso: To all of my shoppers out there, this one’s for you! Along the street you can find not only your favorite stores like H&M and Zara, but also the Ferrari flagship store and popular fashion brands like Diesel, Lacoste, and Miss Sixty. The street starts at the Piazza Venezia, where you can find the beautiful Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, a colossal marble structure that features gorgeous staircases, detailed columns and fountains, and a breathtaking view from the top.

To truly “do as the Romans do,” check out a Roma soccer game!

To truly “do as the Romans do,” check out an AS Roma soccer game!

9. AS Roma (Roman Soccer Game): Soccer—the football of Europe, literally! Roman locals eat, sleep, and breathe soccer. During the season (which is 10 months of the year!), every television in town is always tuned into the game, every newspaper headline is about the game, and the game is often a favorite topic over coffee at a local bar. So if you desire to “do as the Romans do,” definitely consider going to a game to see what all of the hype is about. Tickets can be as cheap as 10 euro!

The Neptune Fountain at Villa d'Este in Tivoli

The Neptune Fountain at Villa d’Este in Tivoli

10. Tivoli: While it’s 3 miles from the center of Rome, it’s well worth your visit. Tivoli is home to gorgeous and massive villas including Villa d’Este — the same site featured in the Lizzie McGuire movie! Villa d’Este is absolutely magnificent and a must-see. It’s a perfect getaway if you’re ever beginning to feel distressed by the hustle and bustle of the Roman streets. It truly is “what dreams are made of.”

Three Bonuses!

1. Sexy Wine” at Miscellanea: As a student in Rome, this restaurant was one of my absolute favorite spots. Just a few steps away from the Pantheon, Miscellanea offers delicious meals for such a great price. If you go, be sure to ask for their “Sexy Wine” —an original, delicious strawberry blend. I loved it so much I brought two bottles back to America with me!

2. Castel di Sant’Angelo (The Mausoleum of Hadrian): Originally built as a mausoleum for Hadrian, the “castle” is situated right next to the Tiber River and gives you an incredible view of St. Peter’s Basilica from the top!

3. Caffè: Sit in a local bar and drink coffee. There’s a café on nearly every street corner! As students, my friends and I became locals at Bar Vale, a tiny coffee shop in Piazza Sant’Andrea. Just nearby, in Piazza Navona, you can also find the world-famous and sophisticated Caffè della Pace. If you’re lucky, you might catch some celebrity sightings here! Even if you hate coffee, there really is nothing quite like a caffè macchiato in the eternal city. Practice your Italian now and say this out loud: “Un caffè, per favore!”

There are so many more beautiful sights in Rome; it’s impossible to try to narrow it down to ten! My best advice is to take a day to walk around the city without a plan and get lost — you’ll find the best places and meet some interesting faces.

Diane Ferrer Study Abroad Spotlight intern Diane Ferrer studied abroad in Rome, Italy. Diane is currently finishing up her B.A. in Advertising and Public Relations as well as earning her MBA from Quinnipiac University. This summer she’ll be studying abroad (again!) in Budapest, Hungary! Learn more about Diane by checking out her Spotlight here! You can also find Diane heading up Sparky’s Instagram account!

Are you an expert on your study abroad host city? We want to hear from you! If you’re interested in contributing to our Top 10 series (or guest blogging in general), see our post about guest blogging at Study Abroad Spotlight and contact Emily Caskey.

Michele Dantas McCarthy

Michele is originally from Brazil, and has studied abroad in the US (twice), Italy, the UK, volunteered in Mozambique and worked in Ireland. She is currently writing for her blog "[...]

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