Things to do in Rome
Even if you just stick with the iconic sights— such as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Vatican—you wouldn’t have any problem figuring out things to do in Rome. And there are also plenty of other things to do in Rome underneath the city—seeing the ancient tombs, bones, catacombs and other archeological treasures. An outstanding private collection of the noble Borghese family went public when they lost their fortune in the late 1800’s; today it’s the world’s most perfect small art museum. The works at Borghese Museum & Gallery are immediately impressive and provocative, from ancient Roman mosaics of gory amphitheater scenes to the topless statue of Pauline Bonaparte by Canova. Annibale Gammarelli is a tiny boutique in Old Rome has been an official tailor of papal Cossacks since 1792, but today Roman dandies flock to this Sartoria per Ecclesiastici in search of knee-high socks in cardinal red, bishop purple, or sober black. Rumor has it that a leading fashion designer or two has also been seen in the shop, buying up yards of clerical brocade and silk damask. Cufflinks and gloves are among a selection of ecclesiastic accessories that are popular with fashion-forward types.
As the oldest paper producer in Europe (founded in 1264), Fabriano Boutique not only invented the watermark, but also supplied artists like Michelangelo, Raphael, and Goya. Today, the company’s chain of boutiques still stocks exquisite handmade stationery and cards, as well as leather-bound notebooks, desk accessories, and art supplies. What to do in Rome with kids? Treat them to plenty of gelatos. Gelateria dei Gracchi may look spare, but its fruit flavors deliciously follow the seasons and, grownups will love their chocolate-and-rum frozen sensation, which uses pure fondant rather than the usual cocoa powder.
Overlooking the Tiber River is the Ara Pacis Museum, which houses the eponymous Altar of Peace. The altar was built in 9 B.C. to celebrate Emperor Augustus’s victories in Hispania and Gaul and the subsequent Pax Augusta (Augustan Peace).
The Mercato di Testaccio is a real deal old-school indoor Roman market where locals come to pick up le spezie (the shopping). The market opens early, so shoppers can come for cappuccino and a pastry before browsing around.
Ferrari-philes will find all manner of merchandise here related to their favorite performance autos. The shop carries everything from logo-emblazoned key chains and T-shirts (starting at $45) to racy leather jackets to silver reproduction pistons from the 360 Modena Spider (about $850).
It’s a favored watering hole of the Roman leftist intelligentsia, but anyone is welcome at this funky Jewish Ghetto salon that shares its intimate square with the delightful Fountain of the Turtles.
Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, and Pierce Brosnan are among the fans of the classic, hand-tailored menswear sold here. The haberdashery has been creating made-to-measure suits since 1945.
When planning a visit to the winding streets of the Trastevere neighborhood, earmark time to meander these ancient gardens. Locally known as Orto Botanico, this land was first cultivated by Pope Nicholas III in the late 13th century, and is now owned by the Sapienza University of Rome.
Love it or hate it (most locals are in the latter camp), the glacial white marble monument to Vittorio Emanuele II in Piazza Venezia is the most central place in Rome for city views.
The Site: Contrary to what the book says, you can tour the spooky 1,900-year-old necropolis deep beneath the Vatican, a buried cemetery of narrow lanes threading pagan and Christian mausoleums.
The power of St. Peter’s Basilica has influenced world history for the past 700 years and is plainly visible in the lavishly decorated interior, which includes gold, marble, and statuary, including Michelangelo’s Pieta. All of it, however, directs visitors to the bronze statue of St.
Housed in the restored 16th-century orangery of Villa Borghese, the Museo Carlo Bilotti features a 22-piece collection donated by the eponymous cosmetics magnate and art collector.
Vintage aficionados gravitate to Le Gallinelle, which sells a very broad selection of vintage clothing, including antique kimonos, seventies evening gowns, and fifties and sixties costume jewelry in a turquoise chest of drawers.
This outpost of the popular Roman florist is a perfect place to pick up a bouquet or bonsai plant for your host (or jet-lagged arriving friend). Open daily 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.