Few cities are as immortalised in international folklore as the Italian capital; even fewer are able to live up to hype. Yet standing beside the Coliseum in Rome, or gazing up at the roof of the Sistine Chapel, or simply taking in the stunning panorama from one of the seven hills, you might start to feel the hairs on your neck stand on end. Two thousand years ago, this was the centre of the world, and its ancient walls seem drenched in every second of history since.
Time is far from standing still here, as the busy city streets are stages for the animated urbanites to act out daily soap operas where raw emotion is never far from fizzing to the surface. Romans are a passionate people with plenty to be proud of and the inspiration that surrounds them ensures that they keep a lively contemporary cultural scene, from extensive art collections and to exquisite Italian food and lively music scene spanning everything from opera to electro-rock.
Where to stay
Just a few paces from the Spanish Steps sits glamorous Hotel Eden, affording unbeatable views of the city. The cardinal’s house, Teatropace 33, includes a spiral stone staircase and high ceilings. The Rome Radisson is also another high quality hotel with a central location.
Where to eat
Friendly Dar Poeta makes pizza exciting pizzas that are popular with the local. Checchino is a remarkable modern take on more traditional Roman food. Le Pain Quotidien may be a chain but it has a great menu and atmosphere.
What to see
Re-enact a gladiator battle in the heart of the Colosseum, toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain, explore the rich history beneath the Pantheon’s dome or the catacombs and then visit the holy Vatican City and the remarkable Sistine Chapel.