Rome: An Overview of the Ancient City
Many experienced travelers who head to Italy strategically avoid Rome and the associated tourist herds and ancient ruins. The logic goes that the ancient city is crowded, expensive, and not worth the hassle. The truth is, however, that while one won’t find the tranquility of the Tuscan country side nor the exquisite beaches of Calabria and Sicilia, Rome is well worth a few days of exploration and is full of surprises and worthwhile attractions including Renaissance buildings and fountains, great museums (such as the Galleria Borghese), and beautiful squares (not to mention the unbeatable nightlife). So, maybe the nuanced European traveler has it wrong as Rome does have the power to surprise!
The best way to see the city, and unlike New York and Paris, is to do as much walking as possible, especially given the unreliable transportation. Walking the Roman streets is also where you’ll unearth unexpected finds such as the wonderful aroma of artisan bakers and bargain handmade leather goods (head to Via del Governo Vecchio for unique items and very good shopping). Explore further and you’ll find tiny trattorias with nonna and zia cooking in back kitchens or neighborhoods like Pigneto, Rome’s answer to Bushwick, Brooklyn – an enclave of cool in the eternal city, according to the New York Times.
A great way to understand any city is to taste the local food and wine by way of a “wine and food tasting tour.” Most food and wine tours include local foods (sometimes dinner or lunch and/or small snacks paired with wine and/or Apéritifs ). CityWonders, for example, offers a Rome Wine and Food tasting tour including a private sommelier and tasting room, multiple varietals of wine, and local delicacies specially chosen to match the wines.
Rome, or the eternal city, is one of Europe’s oldest organized communities (or urban centers) and with 3,000 years of history it’s full of pizzerie, world class art, bars, cafes, osterie, trattorie, enoteche, and, of course, gelatarie like Giolitti. Roma, as the locals say, includes a population that love to drink and eat and debate soccer, film, and fashion until the late hours of the night. If you’re religiously inclined, or just curious, Rome includes the Catholic Church’s independent city-state, the Vatican, which is home to the imposing St. Peter’s Basilica and, of course, the Pope. So, maybe the discerning traveler has it wrong; Rome is worth a visit!