Obviously Rome doesn’t really need any introduction from me so I’ll keep it brief. It’s the most culturally fascinating and historically complex city that I’ve ever visited, which is why I’ve written nearly forty posts about it, with more to come I’m sure. I’ve been six times, in 1984 on holiday when I was 18, and in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2018 for work and again in 2020 for another holiday. Most of those were fleeting visits but in 2018 and 2020, when most of the posts below were written, I got to stay for several days, which gave me time to get quite a good knowledge of the different neighbourhoods. Of course I still have plenty to learn so please just think of this as a useful travelogue rather than a comprehensive guide.
My city map with over eight hundred placemarks, plundered from a multitude of guides, is here. The key is in the top left. If there is a more comprehensive tourist map in the English language, I’d like to see it!
Rome is divided into fifteen administrative areas called Municipi. Municipio I, the most central subdivision, corresponds to the Centro Storico (map here). It’s quite a big area, not only the classical and medieval areas where the main tourist sites are, but the wider area once enclosed by the Aurelian city walls.
Municipio I is further subdivided into twenty two Rioni. You can see them all on this map of the neigbourhoods in the Centro Storico. I’ve organised my posts according to which rione they are describing.
Here’s a list of my rioni post with brief descriptions of contents:
Near Termini and the Hotel Columbia (where my colleagues usually stay)…
Rione XVIII – Castro Pretorio (map here).
– staying in the neighbourhood around the Hotel Columbia (post here).
– eating in the neighbourhood around the Hotel Columbia (post here).
Rione XV – Esquilino (map here).
– things to see and do (post here).
– takeaway food to the east of the hotel (post here).
– restaurants to the east of the hotel (post here).
– cafes and bakeries to the east of the hotel (post here).
Rione I – Monti (map here).
Restaurants to the south of the Hotel Columbia (post here).
Rione XVII – Sallustiano (map here).
– a cheap trattoria, gelato, pinsa, to the north of the hotel (post here).
And down in the old town…
Muncicipio I (Centro Storico) in general (map here).
– Getting an early start (post here).
– Famous cafes (post here).
– Famous gelaterias (post here).
– Bernini fountains and statues (post here).
– More fountains and statues (post here).
Rione IV – Campo Marzio (map here).
– A good restaurant and some things to see around the Spanish Steps (post here).
Rione V – Ponte (map here).
– Oldest restaurant in Rome, and two others (post here).
Rione VII – Regola (map here).
– Campo de’ Fiori market, Galleria Spada, Largo di Torre Argentina cat sanctuary (post here).
Rione X – Campitelli (map here).
– Part 1 of a walk around the Capitoline and Palatine Hills; Altare della Patria, Basilica di Santa Maria Scala (post here).
– Part 2 of a walk around the Capitoline and Palatine Hills; Piazza del Campidoglio, Trajan’s Column, Arco di Settimio Severo (post here).
Rione XI – Sant’Angelo (map here).
– A great restaurant in the Jewish Ghetto (post here).
Rione XII – Ripa (map here).
– A nice lunch on the Isola Tiberina (post here).
– Archaeology including the Bocca della Verità, weekend farmers market (post here).
Rione XIII – Trastevere (map here).
– Sunday market and lunch. (post here).
Rione IX – Pigna (map here).
– A great meal by the Pantheon (post here).
– A church, a square and other stuff to see (post here).
Rione XX – Testaccio (map here).
– General intro (post here).
– My favourite restaurant (post here).
– Good restaurants (post here).
– Eating and shopping at the market (post here).
And in other Municipi outside the Centro Storico…
Municipio II – (map here).
San Lorenzo – alternative student district (post here).
Normentano – an Art Nouveau architecture walk (post here).
Municipio VIII – (map here).
Ardeatino – a walk and a lunch on the Via Appia (post here).
Garbatella – a great restaurant (post here).
Garbatella – an architecture walk (post here).
EUR – an architecture walk (post here).
Municipio X – (map here).
Ostia Antica – famous ruins of the Roman port (post here).
Ostia Lido – restaurants and architecture by the seaside (post here).
Some general tips:
The cost of bottled water is generally exorbitant in the tourist areas in Rome so a great tip is to drink from a ‘nasone’ (big nose!) public water fountain. Just take a plastic bottle with you and keep filling it up. Here’s a map of nasoni around the city. And an article about their history.
You’ll probably end up doing a lot of walking in the medieval and classical parts of the city, so come prepared. This is because taxis are really expensive and the city has a limited metro system. I’m guessing this is mainly due to all the hills and also the archaeology, which prevented the construction of stations in the ancient centre. Buses are good for getting around but tend to be very crowded and in the past, were prone to catching fire!
Thinking of getting a sightseeing pass? In 2018 I bought the Roma Pass for €28 presuming that I would be able to get in free to several other tourist sites, but it turned out that it often just gets you a discount. I’m not convinced that it’s worth buying one unless you really are going to spend your whole weekend sightseeing. You need to visit one of the most expensive museums, make three reduced-entry visits, and also use public transportation frequently, in order for the pass to save you money. I understand the Vatican has a different 72-hour pass, called the Omnia Pass, which will allow you to jump queues there, but it’s much more expensive. Please comment below if you have any experience of it.
Hope you enjoy reading about my experiences. Please do let me know in the comment sections if you found any of it useful. Wishing you a wonderful time in this fantastic city!