To attempt to describe a city with 3500 years of history is no simple feat.
Rome remains one of the best-known cities in the world, crystallized in the many collective images created over time.
Imperial Rome, with its incredible pomp and devastating falls, Medieval Rome, and Papal Rome.
But also the carefree Rome of the Dolce Vita or the genuine and evocative Rome immortalised in Italian Neorealist cinema.
An enormous open-air museum that city residents are often unacquainted with, given the sheer quantity of works of art, churches and cathedrals, buildings and squares that Rome has to offer.
As in antiquity, the city is still divided into seven hills: Campidoglio, Palatino, Quirinale, Viminale, Esquilino, Celio and Aventino. These are in turn divided into districts and rioni (subdistricts) that often reveal unique characteristics and identities.
You need only consider the EUR and Olimpico districts, with their monumental Fascist architecture or the Garbatella, with its middle-class condominiums and their closed-in gardens and walls frescoed with the colours of the Rome soccer team, or the smaller Pigneto, a district that in recent years has become one of the most vibrant zones and, in a certain sense, the city’s most Bohemian district.
The Gianicolo affords an extraordinary view of the city. From there, visitors can head down to Trastevere, wander through its alleyways and absorb some of its vitality, while yet another breathtaking panorama awaits at the Colle del Pincio and its lovely park.
Probably no other city in the world, not even the most ancient cities such as Istanbul or Athens, can boast such a high level and immense variety of works of artistic interest.
Whether you are strolling along the Imperial Fora or crossing the Milvio or Flaminio Bridge, you can’t help but feel a part of the centuries-old history of this city.
Some of Rome’s most famous squares are Piazza dei Trevi with its famous Fountain, Piazza Navona, considered by many to be the most beautiful square in the world with its statues and the wonderful Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini, and its treasure-filled churches, such as the Church of Santa Maria della Pace, home to Raphael’s fresco of the Four Sybils, to cite one example.
When visiting ancient landmarks such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon or the Roman Forum, it is impossible not to feel overwhelmed and archaeology enthusiasts cannot overlook visiting Palatine Hill, once the residence of emperors and aristocrats, where the Domus Aurea, the Domus Augustana, the Domus Flavia, the Casa di Livia and the Palace of Settimio Severo are still intact.
Of the literally hundreds of churches, it is impossible not to mention the Cathedral of San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran), founded in the fourth century and considered to be the first Christian church. The more courageous among you may embark on a visit to the catacombs or to the Capuchin Crypt, entirely decorated with human bones.
Rome may not have the same quantity and variety of museums as other Cities of Art, however the Borghese Gallery is second to none when it comes to the magnificence of its art collections.
Created by Cardinal Scipione Borghese at the height of the Renaissance, it is most certainly one of the most valuable private collections of all time, boasting paintings and sculptures by Caravaggio, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Bernini, Giorgione, Rubens and many other artists.
And as if this were not enough, we mustn’t forget Vatican City. St. Peter's Basilica, with its overwhelming dome and huge square is the ultimate example of monumental architecture and the home of hundreds of masterpieces, including Michelangelo’s Pietà, the Baldachin and Bernini’s monument to Pope Alexander IV.
The Vatican Museums, which include the Sistine Chapel frescoed by Michelangelo, the Raphael Rooms and the Borgia Apartment, host one of the most important collections of art in the entire world. Then there are the Etruscan Museum, the Pio-Cristian Museum, the Egyptian Museum, the Pio – Clemente Museum, a Picture Gallery and a collection of modern religious art by artists such as Ernst, Carrà and Bacon.
What about contemporary art? Just take a look at the programmes for the Palazzo delle Esposizioni programme or for the two recent Macro and Maxxi artistic spaces and you will be sure to find something interesting and original.
And last but certainly not least is the Cinema, which has always found a solid following: as well as the Casa del Cinema, the Eternal City is dotted with Cinema Clubs and Fan Clubs that spoil any enthusiast for choice, making it difficult to decide from such a wide-ranging, full programme.