Top 5 sights for first-timers
This ancient stadium is such an iconic sight you may feel you’ve seen it already, but nothing prepares you for the impact of this majestic amphitheatre, still standing 2,000 years on, in the heart of the modern city. Here Romans bayed for blood as they watched the free shows that featured gladiator fights and wild beasts versus slaves and Christians.
Piazza del Colosseo
Once an ancient Roman temple, this breathtaking building remained amazingly well preserved because of its conversion into a church in the seventh century. Its age apart, it’s an incredible piece of architecture, and still has the world’s largest unsupported dome, which is open to the sky via its remarkable oculus.
Piazza della Rotonda
St Peter’s Basilica
The world’s second largest church and the mightiest in Christendom, St Peter’s Basilica not only resonates with the power, splendour and significance of the Catholic Church, but is filled with masterpieces, from Michelangelo’s Pietà to his dome (which you can climb for great views).
Piazza San Pietro
Bursting with treasures, this collection of museums shows the wealth of the collections of the Church, with its most famous splendours including the Sistine Chapel, featuring décor by Michelangelo, and a suite of rooms painted by Raphael.
Galleria and Villa Borghese
The bijou art collection of the Galleria Borghese is nevertheless one of the city’s finest, with works by Caravaggio, Titian, Bernini and more. The rococo palace is also surrounded by bucolic parklands, perfect for summer picnics under dappled sunlight.
Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5
Top 5 sights for old hands
Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
A wonderful, yet off-the-beaten-track museum filled with superlative ancient sculpture, mosaics and frescoes, including completely frescoed ancient Roman rooms.
Largo di Villa Peretti 1
Basilica San Clemente
This 12th-century church stands above the cavernous rooms of a fourth-century one, its frescos dimly visible. Descend deeper into the earth and on the floor below is second-century pagan temple, with its carved altar.
Via di San Giovanni in Laterano
Galleria Doria Pamphilj
A superb private collection of art, with works by Raphael, Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian and more. The paintings are housed in a lavish rococo gallery that provides sumptuous surroundings decked in gold leaf and mirrors.
Via del Corso 305
Rome was famously built across seven hills. This peak is not one of the seven, but nevertheless is one of the highest in the city and offers the finest views across Rome’s gleaming domes, church spires and tiled rooftops.
Basilica di Santa Sabina
Up on the Aventine Hill, this is a wonderfully graceful and atmospheric church, simpler than the city’s many fussily decorated baroque concoctions. It dates from the fifth century, incorporates ancient Roman columns and stands alongside a fragrant orange-tree garden, Parco Savello, with views down over Rome and the Tevere River. A short walk away from here is the remarkable peephole in a mysterious door on Piazza Cavalieri di Malta – go and take a look.
Piazza Pietro d’Illiria 1