capital of Italy and former cradle of the Roman Empire, Roma
is the exquisite embodiment of La
Dolce Vita and a proud
culmination of thousands of years of history. No other city has had
such a profound impact on Western Civilization.
is home to over 3 million people and UNESCO World Heritage landmarks
at every turn. To walk the city blind, sans guidebook, is to stumble
on glorious magnum opuses like Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum,
monuments of Capitoline Hill and Palatine Hill,
Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica.
the star attractions however, beats the heart of a feisty, urbane
metropolis. Amid a flurry of Piaggios, piazzas and lively espresso
bars, Rome is a triumphant destination. Here are some alternatives to
consider on your next visit.
Catacombs of Rome
than three dozen ancient burial sites proliferate under the streets
of Rome. From the spectacular Vatican Grotto and Necropolis
under St. Peter’s Basilica to the papal tombs of Callixtus, another
world lurks deep below the city. Other catacombs of note include the
Jewish burial sites of Vigna Randanini and Villa Torlonia and the
impressive Catacombs of
Domitilla, with over 15 km of caves and channels.
Future and Testaccio
most recent annex to the superb municipal Museum of Contemporary Art
of Rome (MACRO) envelops a former industrial slaughterhouse in the
newly-hip ‘hood of Testaccio.
A paragon of urban redevelopment, the sleek MACRO
refurb job is as avant-garde as the art inside. Testaccio is also
home to some of the best restaurants and hotels
in Rome and
main drag Via di Monte
Testaccio is where club heads gather until the wee hours.
to Villa Borghese
the overall aesthetic of Villa Borghese gardens whispers country
English manor, the brilliant park is decidedly Roman. The 80-hectare
site contains some of the best museums in the city, from the gorgeous
Galleria Borghese to the National Museum of Modern Art, complete with
works by Mondrian, Picasso, Braque and Pollock. Additionally, the
Villa Borghese contains a peripheral gem in the fabulous 16th
century Villa Medici, home of the French Academy in Rome. From the
Villa, visitors can easily descend the iconic Scalinata
della Trinità dei Monti
(Spanish Steps) and amble down fashionable Via Condotti.
grand ensemble of monuments in Rome can detract from some of the most
character-rich enclaves in the city. Take Trastevere for instance.
The former medieval district is a veritable village within the
capital and a premier hub of restaurants, student bars and
nightclubs. Landmarks like the Church of Santa Maria, Church of Saint
Cecilia and Villa Farnesina make Trastevere worthwhile. The linchpin
attraction however is the massive weekly flea market held from Porta
Portese to Viale di Trastevere.
Short Trip to Tivoli
ancient must-see town of Tivoli is a short 30 km ride from Rome. The
trip is a bona fide time warp to a bygone, erstwhile era, with
magnificent architecture intact and clear views of the bucolic
Two key UNESCO World Heritage Sites draw the lion’s share of
attention. The first is the Roman archaeological complex of Villa
Adriana. The site covers a square kilometre and is still under
excavation. The second UNESCO inscription in Tivoli is elegant Villa
d’Este, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. The nonpareil
palace gardens and fountains draw scores of Rome city-dwellers in the
hot summer months.
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