Things to Do and See – Last Minute City Breaks

Still, we will make an effort. Below, we present to you the most significant monuments and sights of Rome – at least the ones you don’t want to miss during your short city break to the Eternal City.

The Flavian Amphitheatre or “Collosseum”

You cannot claim to have been in Rome if you haven’t seen up close the city’s most known emblem, the Flavian Amphitheatre or, as it is best known, the “Colosseum”.

This vast amphitheatre could accommodate as many as 55,000 seated spectators and was specially designed to host Rome’s most spectacular shows, from gladiatorial battles to animal hunting, execution of criminals and other bloody spectacles.

It was built by the Flavian Emperors in 72 AD. The designation “Colosseum” was given to it by a colossal statue of Nero the used to stood close by the location where the amphitheatre was built. Today it dominates the “Piazza del Colosseo”. Entrance costs no more than 12 Euros, including a short exhibition. Should you want to explore it without exhibition you can have a discount. You can also easily find guided tours at approximately 20.00 Euros per person.

Caesar’s Forum

Caesar’s Forum is the oldest of Rome’s forums, i. e. public squares or market places that served as assembly places for public or private businesses.  Designed initially by Julius Caesar in 46BC it was concluded by his adopted son and first Roman Emperor, the great Augustus. It was actually made up by a rectangular long square, dominated by statue of Caesar.

Area Sacra di Torre Argentina

Area Sacra di Torre Argentina is an area including 4 of Republican Rome’s most important temples as well as what remains of Pompey’s great Theater, the first monumental theater in Rome.

The Arch of Constantine

Constantine’s Arch was constructed to honor Constantine the Great for his famous victory against Maxentius that paved the way for becoming the sole monarch of the Roman Empire and establishing Christianity as the official religion of the state. What’s interesting is that this arch is actually constructed with parts of older Arches, like the ones of Trajan and Hadrian. For most Christians this event and the respective monument marked the beginning of the Christian Era in Europe.

Circus Maximus

One of the most spectacular facilities of the ancient times, the Circus Maximus hosted Rome’s favorite sport, the chariot racing, among other shows, such as animal hunting. It could accommodate the staggering number of almost 250,000 seated spectators.

The Palatine Hill

The Palatine Hill is Rome’s most historically significant and famous of the 7 hills of ancient Rome. From there you can have an excellent view of the a large part of the city.

According to Roman tradition, the Palatine Hill was Rome’s beating heart and the place where Romulus actually founded the city. In the same region, you can also see the wonderful remains of the private palace of Tiberius, one of the most famous Roman Emperors.

Imperial Fora

With the phrase “Imperial Fora” we refer to a number of public squares designed and constructed by several Roman Emperors, which strived to surpass their predecessors by erecting even more spectacular monuments. All these Fora came into existence during the golden era of Roman supremacy, sometime between the middle of the 1st century to the middle of the 2nd century. The Imperial Fora include:

  • The Forum of Augustus – built by Rome’s first and most famous Emperor. Inside it you can marvel one of Rome’s most important Temples, dedicates to Mars.
  • Trajan’s Forum – a truly magnificent monument that rises several feet above the modern surface. Unfortunately little of its old glory remains intact.

The Mausoleum of Augustus

This marvelous monument was erected by Augustus in order to serve as his family Tomb. It is rightly considered as an architectural marvel.

The “Isola Tiberina”

The Isle of Tiber is an actually a small island in the centre of the river and is of immense historical value for the development of the ancient city.

Pantheon

That is a truly incredible architectural marvel that you must surely visit. It initially served as a Roman pagan temple and was later used as a Christian Church. Anything we can say here would be little for this spectacular monument. Just do your best to visit it. Entrance is free, even on Sundays, but if your short city break coincides with a public holiday, takes care to visit it in the morning.

Mouth of the Truth (Bocca della Verità)

The famous “Mouth of Truth” adorns the portico of the Church of Santa Maria since the middle fo the 17th century. It Is actually a fractured marble depiction of the river god and took this peculiar designation because of a tradition which claimed that a liar would lose his hand if he placed it inside the opening. Would you dare to try the test?

The Cestia Pyramid

The “Cestia Pyramid” is actually the burying place of “Caio Cestio Epulone” a prominent member of the Roman aristocracy. Its height is more than 30 metres.

Caracalla’s Baths

Also known as the “Antoniane”, this complex of marvelous buildings was built during the first decades of the 3rd century AD by the notorious Emperor Caracalla, son of Septimius Severus. They could be used simultaneously by more than 1.500 people, who came here to take their baht and enrich their social life. The buildings included libraries, gymnasiums, gardens and almost anything need for a Roman of that time to joyfully spend his leisure time.

The Tomb of Cecilia Metella

Cecilia Metella’s tomb served also as a fortress.

The Vittoriano

This monument took its name by Italy’s first King, Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoia.

The Vicus Carparius & the Trevi Fountain

A wonderful archaeological area just a few metres away from the renowned Trevi Fountain.

The Vatican

The Vatican City nothing more than a walled district of Rome of no more than 500 m2, but also the smallest state around the world, ruled by the Bishop of Rome, i. e. the Pope.  It was founded in 1929. Despite your religious beliefs, Vatican is a sight worth seeing, encompassing world-renown monuments such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums.

Museums

Here is a list of Rome’s most intriguing museums and art galleries.

  1. The Ara Pacis Museum.
  2. The Borghese Gallery: one of the world’s greatest art collections.
  3. The Capitoline Museums.
  4. The Doria Pamphilj Gallery is a magnificent art hosting masterpieces of artists if the caliber of Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, Bernini, Breughel the Elder and Hans Memling.
  5. The Museum and Crypt of the Capuchins.
  6. The Museo della Civiltà Romana.
  7. The Palazzo Altemps, with several excellent pieces of art.
  8. Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, a museum of classical art.
  9. The Vatican Museums.
  10. Villa Farnesina.
  11. Villa Giulia.

Football clubs

  • The Società Sportiva Lazio, mostly known simply as “Lazio” to football fans was founded in 1900 and is considered among Italy’s most successful football clubs. It has won 2 Italian championships and several other trophies, as well as the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.

Lazio’s home stadium is the Stadio Olimpico. Its long-standing rivalry with Roma transforms the city each time the two teams meet. If your short city break coincides with a match between them, don’t fail to go – it will be a once in a lifetime experience.

  • The Associazione Sportiva Roma, known to football funs simply as Roma was founded in 1927 and is considered the most famous club of Rome. It has won 3 Italian championships and several other trophies, including some distinguished European successes. It is ranked among the famous “7 Sisters of the Italian football”.

Roma’s Home stadium is the famous “Stadio Olimpico”, which it uses along with its most hated rival, Lazio. It is the second bigger stadium in Italy. You can visit the stadium and have a tour.

Festivals

If you are already planning a short city break to the “Eternal City”, you should know the several public holidays, during which shops, banks and businesses are closed. In contrast all clubs, bars and restaurants are usually open. The most important public holidays in Rome are

  • New Year’s Day- 1 January.
  • Epiphany- 6 January.
  • Easter Monday.
  • Liberation Day- 25 April.
  • May Day- 1 May.
  • Patron Saints’ Day- 29 June.
  • Feast of the Assumption- 15 August.
  • All Saint’ Eve – 1 November.
  • Immaculate Conception – 8 December.
  • Christmas Day- 25 December.
  • Boxing Day – 26 December.

Except for them, several other festivals fill the streets of Rome with joy and vibe quite frequently. Of them, the most important are:

Giornate FAI

An excellent opportunity for a short cith break, because the Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano (FAI) persuades institutional and private owners of historic properties to open their doors to the public for free. Check the internet for the next scheduled Giornate FAI.

Settimana della Cultura

One week in Spring the state-owned museums and monuments provide frre entrance to all visitors.

21 Apr – Natale di Roma

Rome’s birthdays and the city is alive all stor of festivities.

Summer – Roma Incontra il Mondo

Musicians from around the world meet and present a spectacular musical event.

October – Cinema – Festa Internazionale di Roma

Rome’s most famous film festival.

19 Mar – Festa di San Giuseppe

A previous public holiday, the feast of St Joseph remains popular. In the run-up to the feast, the city’s pasticcerie are piled high with deep-fried batter-balls called bignè di San Giuseppe.

March – Maratona della Città di Roma

Rome’s annual Marathon.

March – April – Festa di Primavera – Mostra delle Azalee

Upon the arrival of spring 3,000 vases of azaleas are arranged on the Spanish Steps.

March/ April – (Holy Week & Easter)

Tourists and pilgrims flood into the city during the Holy Week, especially in St Peter’s square for the open-air mass.

25 April – Festa della Liberazione

A festival commemorating the liberation of Italy by Allied forces at the end of World War II.

April/May – FotoGrafia

Rome’s annual photography festival.

1 May – Primo Maggio

On the first of May, trade unions organise a free rock concert, which is traditionally held in front of the basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano.

May – Italian Open

If you like tennis, may is the perfect time for your short city break.

June/August – Jazz & Image Festival

June/September – “Roman Summer” Festival

During the Roman Summer festival parks and courtyards come alive with concerts from local bands, films are presented on outdoor screens late into the night, and cultural events such as readings and gastronomic events take place in several spots around the city.

June / mid September – Cosmophonies

Held in ancient Roman theatre of Ostia, “Cosmophonies” is an international festival of theatre, dance and music.

June – Festival delle Letterature

Held in the basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum, this literature reading event gathers some of the most important figures of modern literature.

June/ August – International Chamber Ensemble

A festival dedicated to symphonic music and opera.

June/ August -Fiesta

This Latin American-themed festival brings hundreds of thousands of people into the city. During the Fiesta Festiva, Latin American as well as rock, pop and hip hop bands rock the crowds.

July / August – Cineporto

A rather popular summer film festival.

July / August – Stagione Estiva del Teatro dell’Opera

A magnificent Opera festival staged in a charming background of ancient ruins.

July/ January AltaRomAltaModa

Twice a year, Rome’s most important fashion event.

July – Invito alla Danza

An magnificent dance event.

10 August – Notte di San Lorenzo

On the night of 10 August, all Romans lie down and watch the shooting stars as the cross the heavens.

September – Enzimi

A spectacular music, theatre and arts festival.