Roaming around Rome
Rome was founded in 753BC, making it one of the most ancient cities in Europe and the only one to have a state within its boundaries, the Vatican. The Rome Metropolitan Area has a population of approximately four million. Rome is the capital of Italy, the seat of national government and an internationally popular tourist destination. Predictions for 2013 are that 6.7 million tourists will visit Rome, spending a total of $6.4 billion.
At the center of world affairs since ancient times, Rome has drawn people from around the world for two and a half thousand years and many have left their mark. The city is perhaps best known for its religious culture; it is difficult to walk far without encountering a religious building or artwork. However, Christianity is not the only religion in town; Rome has long had a thriving Jewish population and of the several catacombs (underground burial places) that are open to tourists, two are Jewish. Many other cultures are represented, both historically and currently. The Esquilino area is largely immigrant and visitors will be spoiled for choice when it comes to dining and drinking.
Cinecitta Studios, the biggest film and television production facility on the European continent, is located here. Romans love cinema, which continues to thrive in their city. There is also sport – soccer is almost a religion – cycling and basketball.
Naturally, Rome majors in food. Visitors will find all types, from the international delights of Esquilino, to traditional Roman fare served in establishments from pizzerias and family-run trattorias to high-end restaurants. Dive in and enjoy all that the city has to offer in terms of gourmet dining; Rome has frequent food festivals and a vibrant local cuisine based on regional produce.
Most iconic tourist spots are well worth braving the inevitable crowds to see. St Peter’s Basilica is definitely not to be missed, as are churches such as the Basilica of St John Lateran, which is the cathedral for the city of Rome, as opposed to the Vatican City; the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and the Church of the Gesu. The city’s catacombs are fascinating underground burial sites, some dating back thousands of years and often featuring ancient artworks. The Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Circus Maximus (essentially a chariot-racing circuit, which once held 250,000 spectators), the Roman Forum and the Piazza di Spagna all have lots to offer.
Tours of Rome are useful, because there is so much to see and do that it is difficult for a visitor to distinguish the essential from the trivial. Walking tours of the Vatican and Coliseum can save the traveler time spent waiting in line for tickets. It is also possible to take organized day trips from Rome to other parts of Italy, including Pompeii and Florence, which can be helpful for the historically-minded looking for an overview of the Renaissance or key events in the ancient world.
Rome is so popular with tourists because it genuinely deserves a visit. Anyone on a budget will quickly find many cheap hotels and things to see and do in Rome, while for those with a little more to spend the sky is the limit. One thing is certain, however, no one is likely to regret a trip to Rome.