With its layers upon layers of architecture and art—spanning from the ancient to the renaissance to the baroque to the contemporary—and one of the biggest patrimonies of priceless icons in the world, Italy’s capital is nothing short of a living museum. It is exactly this rich history coupled with its trendsetting pulse that make this city worth visiting again and again. It’s a city of newly popular neighborhoods showcasing ethnic restaurants and stylish one-off stores, small bars featuring cutting-edge and biodynamic wines and microbrews, contemporary museums and art galleries opening in formerly derelict (and now transformed) spaces, and artisanal restaurants that have made a religion out of local and sustainable ingredients. Even many of the classics are among the monuments to get new life with the investment of city fashion houses—the Trevi fountain, Colosseum, and Spanish Steps all received facelifts recently. Add in one of the most popular Popes in history, and it’s easy to see why Rome is currently one of the world’s most dynamic destinations.
Best Time to Go
Spring (April to June) when the temperatures are mild and dry, vegetables like fava beans and artichokes are in season, and lines to museums are less monumental. While it gets crowded during Easter week, the festivities are fun, and give visitors the opportunity the possibility to see Pope Francis give his Easter Sunday address. In the fall (September to November), the extreme heat of summer has dissipated, restaurants reopen after their August vacations, and cultural institutions and museums launch their most important shows.
Leonardo da Vinci, more popularly known as Fiumicino airport (FCO) is your point of arrival and departure. Either take an official taxi from the kiosk outside the terminals (cost should be around 45 euros), the Leonardo Express train (which departs within the terminal and takes 30 minutes and costs 14 euros per person), or a shuttle bus service like Sit Bus Shuttle. Alternatively, arrange a transfer with your hotel directly, though it’s likely to be pricier.
Use the metro to avoid congestion of Rome’s center. Named the Metropolitana, the system runs every 7-10 minutes, from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. Tickets are available at station vending machines, newsstands, and tabacchi (tobacco shops)—look for a brown sign with a white T.
Can’t Leave Without
1. Touring the new MAXXI, the city’s contemporary art museum, and a new Roman icon by late star-architect Zaha Hadid. (4/A Via Guido Reni; 39-06/320-1954; fondazionemaxxi.it)
2. Sipping an aperitivo next to an ancient work of architecture, at spots like Salotto 42. (42 Piazza di Pietra; 39-06/678-5804; salotto42.space)
3. Visiting the Vatican City. With one of the most popular Popes in place in quite some time, the Papal center has taken on even more significance.
Deserves the Hype
Deserves the Hype Standing by the Colosseum, the largest amphitheater ever built, looking east onto the Forum, gives one an instant sense of just how much, and how impressively, the Romans built in their namesake city. The icon is even more impressive following its recent restoration funded by luxe goods company Tod’s and its CEO, Diego Della Valle.
Local Dish to Try
Nothing beats a rigatoni alla carbonara, the cheesy, eggy treat of a dish made even more decadent by the chunks of crispy guanciale (pork jowl). Try it out at Armando al Pantheon (31 Salita de’ Crescenzi; 39-06/6880-3034; armandoalpantheon.it). Cariofi Alla Giudea (deep fried artichokes) are also a must, and we love them at Giggetto, in the City’s Jewish Ghetto neighborhood (21A-22 Via del Portico d'Ottavia; 39-06/686-1105; giggetto.it).
Local Drink to Sip
An Aperol Spritz (Aperol, Prosecco, and a splash of soda) or the stronger Negroni (gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari) are the city’s drinks of choice, and best enjoyed alongside stylish Romans under the ivy-draped walls of the G-Bar at the G-Rough hotel. (69 Piazza di Pasquino, 39-06/6880-1085; g-rough.com)
If you want to avoid a wait, and ridiculous surcharge, join the locals at the marble bar tops for a cafe, instead of sitting at a table—you can save that pleasure for a longer aperitivo time.
WINTER: Christmas decorations go up after Thanksgiving, and add even more to Rome’s already considerably romantic atmosphere. It’s also the time to grab special presents for people back home—hats from Borsalino, kids toys from Citta del Sole, and kitchen ware for chefs at C.U.C.I.N.A.
SPRING: Take a stroll around the city food markets like Campo de Fiori. Fava beans, zucchini flowers, and artichokes are only some of the gorgeous seasonal produce on offer.
SUMMER: Roman temperatures can be sweltering come July and August so hide away during peak hours in one of the city’s museums, like the Galleria Borghese. (5 Piazzale Scipione Borghese; 39-06/32810; galleriaborghese.it)
FALL: One of the loveliest seasons to visit the Italian capital, this is the time to take long walks around the city. Highlights include Via Giulia (dotted with antique stores), Via dei Coronari, or up into one of the city’s hills.