Rome is one hell of a city but I’m going to be straight forward with you: if your best plan is to see Colosseum, Pantheon and Fontana di Trevi, you better stay home, order some pizza, watch The Great Beauty and go sleep early.
If you DO go to Rome, listen up: pack your dancing shoes, prepare for sleepless nights and hold on to your wallet. And for the sake of your mental health: avoid the beaten paths. The city centre is overpopulated with tourists and it’s pretty hard to stay out of the crowds. If you meet locals around here, it’s mostly because they are trying to sell you selfie sticks or fake roses.
First things first: if it’s possible, visit Rome during the spring or autumn months. There are less visitors and weather is mostly sunny, but doesn’t exceed 25°. Also, the activity of pickpockets is a bit weakened. Hostels are generally a bit more expensive than in other corners of Europe, so you might be better off checking out Airbnb or – if you like company of the locals – Couchsurfing.
The Spanish Steps – You might know these as one of the most famous catwalks in the world or the meeting place in William Wyler’s Roman Holiday, but every night of the year, there is a huge outdoor multi – cultural party taking place. You can meet young travelers from all over the world as well as local artists and musicians here. If you can sing or play any musical instrument, bring it on!
Fountain diving – Refreshing? Yes. Fun? Sure! Legal? Absolutely not. Thirty years ago, my friend’s grandma got arrested for urinating in the fountain. Last year she came back and… well, history repeats itself. Although I call that a spirit, please: don’t urinate. Diving is enough, trust me.
We tried the waters in Fontana dell’Acqua Paola which is located in Trastevere (beautiful district through the day, sinister pub hell through the night), near The Monument to Garibaldi at Janiculum Hill.
Ideal place for your last night in Rome. Charming surroundings, wonderful view and no pesky tourists. Buy a bottle (or two) of wine and head up this marvelous hill! Unfortunately, you’re sure to meet there groups of drunk high – school girls and boys on the run from their solicitous parents, too.
If you are more of an indoor type or you are visiting Rome through the winter, don’t worry, there is a wide range of clubs, pubs and restaurants waiting only for you. Dance ‘till you drop in Goa with its dreamy, cabaret-like décor or in trippy Big Bang. For nice meal, delicious drinks and good vibe at any given time of the day I highly recommend circus-themed Bar del Fico.
Now, I have no idea why is that so, but if you wander along the shores of Tiber, you are most likely to meet… no one. You can stroll down any stairs by the river right in the giant, pumping heart of Rome and you find solitude and peace. And – promise this will be our little secret – right under Pont Sant’Angelo, facing the famous Castel Sant’Angelo there is an unlocked pier. One of these nights, take there the girl or boy of your dreams and thank me later.
In the beginning of the 20th century, The Montemartini Centre was the first public plant to produce electricity for Rome. Nowadays the building serves as a museum, exquisitely combining industrial archeology and ancient art. If I caught your attention, don’t hesitate and go check out the whole Ostiense district.
This quarter was an industrial area during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. A few remnants of that era survived till this day – beautiful, yet ghastly Gasometer is probably the most famous of them.
From Cleopatra to Gangs of New York, Liz Taylor to Leo DiCaprio, these are one of the most famous studios in the world and a must-see for everyone, including film freaks as well as common television consumers. Cinecittá was built in 1937 by Mussollini (for propaganda purposes, of course) and since then has been the largest cinematography hotbed in Europe.
No matter if you are into Fellini, costume fashion or huge sets architecture, check it out.
Museum of Purgatory
I’m not really sure why this tiny, odd thing even exists and why would anybody want to see it. However, if you charm your lovers by mentioning all the obscure places you’ve visited, this might add up to your weaponry.
The museum (if you can call collection of up to twenty objects a “museum”) is located in a small gothic church called Chiesa del Sacro Cuore del Suffragio. It consists of things – mainly prayer books – with scorched handprints supposedly made by souls in purgatory which are asking their families to pray harder for their salvation. Ahem.
Keyhole at the Knights of Malta headquarters
Still not obscure enough? Go up Aventine hill and peek through the keyhole of the gate of Villa del Priorato di Malta. You will get beautiful view on the distant dome of St. Peter’s Basillica, framed by precisely maintained bushes. I’m just wondering how the knights feel about all the weirdoes peeking through their keyhole. How would you?
There is a law in Italy which dictates that if there are five or more cats living someplace, you can’t move, chase or hurt them in any way. Therefore, estimated kitty population in Rome is something around 300,000 and many of them live in ancient monuments, even Colosseum.
Largo di Torre Argentina hosts remains of four temples and Pompey’s theatre. Julius Caesar was killed in its Curia, but upon visiting this place it seems that nobody cares. Cats are the real attraction here and, oh my, there are about 350 of them at any given time.
Films to watch before visiting: La Dolce Vita, Roman Holiday, The Great Beauty, The Bicycle Thief, Rome: Open City