6 Specific Things To Do in Rome
The exciting and enticing historical city of Rome is one that relentlessly draws me near, and I'm not alone. Every year between 7 and 10 million visitors find their way to the bustling city centre to lay their eyes upon the world-renowned sites that this captivating city has to offer. With a city as large and historic as the Eternal City, the lists of what to do are endless - so to make matters simpler, I've compiled a short list (with great difficulty) from what I've found during my time living in this wonderful city that I'll always call home. If you're currently drifting through the streets of Rome (lucky!), planning a trip or simply dreaming of a Roman getaway - bear these ideas in mind and you'll be sure to leave this city with a satisfied belly, stunning happy snaps, unforgettable memories and a perpetual yearning for more - you've been warned!
1. Find Giolitti
No, he's not the fictional best friend of Geppetto, father to the rambunctious Pinocchio. He’s not even a ‘he’, he’s an ‘it’. And this ‘it’ happens to be the best, most revered gelateria in central Rome. There are a few gelaterias in Rome (gross understatement, try walking 5 metres without crossing one, just try) but there are only a handful that vie for the people's choice title of 'King of the Ice-Cream' every summer, and Giolittiis always a serious contender. Personal preferences come into play, as they always do, but you don’t become the first Google search result when ‘gelato’ and ‘Rome’ are placed side by side by accident. Giolitti first opened its doors in 1900 and from those humble beginnings it now offers an array of ice-cream flavours, sundaes and cakes. They've been known to hit the ice-cream spot for famous faces including the Obamas, Cameron Diaz and the infamously despised Italian politician, Silvio Berlusconi. 2.50 euro will easily get you a scoop of creamy world-renowned ice-cream and a deliciously crispy cone. Get your tasty treat to go (and save yourself a service fee), walk down an inconspicuous side street, perch yourself on an unfamiliar doorstep and enjoy your ice-cream peacefully, just as the Italians do.
Where: Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40, Roma, Italy
2. Row Your Boat
While there is a river that runs right along the city, I’d hazard a guess that few would advise taking to the murky waters of the Tiber with a rowboat. But in central Rome, in an enormous, enchanting park by the name of the Villa Borghese, there is a little known garden with an even lesser known lake. In the centre of this quaint little garden, encased by greenery, is a gleaming emerald lake. At the head of this lake is the construct of some not-so-ancient ruins called the Temple of Asclepius. Commissioned at the hands of the noble Borghese family, as with the entirety of the Villa Borghese gardens, these ruins and the stunningly beautiful lake surrounding it are wonderful examples of excess. In the summertime locate the lake and find a romantic wonderland tucked away. You can rent a small boat for a few euro and drift through the glistening waters alongside ducks, surrounded by the natural (and not so natural) beauty of this magnificent garden.
Where: Viale del lago, The Villa Borghese, Rome, Italy
3. Lead the Glamorous Life
While Via Dei Condotti is the epitome of luxe and excess in Rome (with the likes of Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo lining it’s perfectly cobbled street), for many of us walking away with a bag full of these pricey goodies is ever-so-slightly out of reach. Thankfully there is a middle-ground called Piazza Navona. This artistic and fanciful hotspot sits in Central Rome, across the way from the Pantheon and a stones throw away from Campo Dei Fiori. Wander around this renowned square admiring the unique street performers and colourful artworks before taking respite in one of the famed and extravagant cafes. At minimum you'll be sure to fork out an extraordinary 5 euros for a cappuccino (and then some for the table service, of course) but your coffee will come out beautifully brewed; likely at the hands of a tail coat wearing waiter with exceptional manners and a brilliant smile. With an incredible atmosphere and the best people watching money can buy, have yourself a taste of the sweet life for less than the price of a Louis Vuitton suitcase, much less.
Where: Piazza Navona, 00186 Rome, Italy
4. Early Morning Stroll to the Trevi Fountain
They’re called the golden hours for a reason, but as you rub sleep from your eyes at 5.30am you might have difficulties coming to grips with the concept. Nevertheless, drag your bed wrangled limbs from their slumber and down to the Trevi Fountain to catch a glimpse of a spectacular view that only few see. For a city as loud and chaotically busy as Rome is, it can be hard to imagine it standing still at any point during the day or night - but it certainly does happen. Unfortunately, it happens during the wee hours of the morning. At any given time of the excitable day, tourists surround this monument gleefully tossing coins and joyfully taking happy snaps with their hands in the air. While seeing the fountain during the hype of the day is a sight to be seen in itself, the sounds of the excited chatter and vivacious spruiking can overwhelm the gushing intensity of the fountain - the very reason you squeezed your way through the masses of visitors in the first place. Wander down to the Piazza di Trevi as the shops start to open and the delivery vans pass through the narrow streets and find yourself a rare moment of solitude at a site that welcomes thousands of visitors every day.
Where: Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Rome, Italy
5. Eat Oranges in a Secret Garden
There are very few places in Rome that are devoid of raucous noise. While this is not altogether a bad thing, there’s nothing quite like getting in touch with a new city and doing so in blissful harmony. Not far from the ‘Mouth of Truth’ (or ‘La Bocca Della Verita’) is an inconspicuous walkway surrounded by greenery, lined by ancient Roman walls. Follow this fairytale-like footpath and eventually you’ll locate the not so well-known Garden of Oranges. Named as such for the citrus fruit trees that grow in all four corners, this wonderfully low-key oasis is the perfect respite for the heavy mind, body and soul. Lay your weary bones on the soft grounds of the Giardino Degli Aranci and let the chirping of the birds overhead and the rhythmic trickle of the fountains lull you into a peaceful afternoon slumber. With fresh fruit and a glorious view of this historic city to boot, what more could you possibly ask for?
Where: Via di Santa Sabina, 00153 Roma, Italy
6. Gape at Private Views
If you’re on the track towards the haven of oranges, you’re also on the right path to the most private, and arguably most interesting, view of the city. Continue on down the cobbled footpath until you reach the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. Observe a tall and imposing door with an innocuous peephole and quite possibly a few gawking tourists. The doors lead to the garden of the Knights of Malta and the view consists of perfectly manicured shrubbery that draw the eye to a central point, the iconic dome of St. Peter's Cathedral. The beauty of this spot lies in its limitations, it can only be viewed one at a time.
Where: Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, 00153 Roma, Italy (Via di Santa Sabina)