Past, present, future – the eternal city
There are few cities with as eclectic a mix of architectures and as rich a past as Rome. Walking the streets of the Italian capital is like flicking through the pages of a real-life history book where you seamlessly move from one era to another. From the monuments of the Roman Empire, to the Renaissance and Baroque edifices, all the way to the modernist projects of the Mussolini reign, Rome’s historical significance never ceases to amaze.
But Rome is not only about the past; it’s a city strongly anchored in the present and open to the future. It has fashionable bars, great gigs, world-class restaurants and generally all that’s needed to have a good time. Plus, the Lazio capital is less than three hours’ flight from most UK airports and the perfect destination for a short city break.
The Romans called Rome Caput Mundi – the capital of the world – and for hundreds of years it literally was. Although, it cannot claim this title any longer, Rome has for a long time been the engine room of a truly pan-European power, the Roman Empire. Visiting the city helps to some extent understand the roots of European identity.
When to go?
It depends a lot on how much heat you can take. July to September are the hottest months with high averages of around 29°c, which can make sightseeing uncomfortable. May and June can be good compromises with temperatures of around 22-25°c and low precipitations. However, high averages rarely go below 12°c, so don’t hesitate to beat the crowds and enjoy a Roman winter.
How to get there?
Rome is served by two airports: Fiumicino and Ciampino, which is associated with low-cost carriers. BA and Alitalia run daily flights to Fiumicino from Heathrow. easyJet uses Fiumicino for its flights from Gatwick, and Ciampino for its flights from Bristol and Newcastle. Jet2 has a Leeds-Fiumicino and Manchester-Fiumicino route, while Ryanair flies to Ciampino from Dublin, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Stansted.
The School of Athens, one of the Renaissance’s most famous paintings and the best-known work by Italian artist Raphael, is not to be missed. People from all over the world come to Rome to see Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, but The School of Athens is also well worth the trip. Both chef-d’oeuvres can be found in the Vatican.
When it comes to food, try to get away from the tourist hotspots where restaurants are overpriced and the quality below average. There is a huge amount of culinary gems in the city for those who bother going off the beaten track.