I’m Alessandra – I was born and raised in a small town in Puglia, in southern Italy. I moved to Rome in 2007 when I was 19 and have never looked back.
I’ve always been a sensitive child with a strong predisposition for creativity and art. It took me a while to understand that photography was my great love and passion in life. At the age of 19, I bought my first camera and since then I have never stopped photographing the world around me.
Other artistic disciplines such as painting, music and dance captured my attention for a while too. However, after some time my interest waned. I was no longer as passionate as I was at the beginning. Photography has been the one thing that has stayed with me over the years.
And there is no better place on earth to capture than Rome!
Wandering around the Romantic Streets of Rome
Rome to me is the most beautiful city in the world. It’s full of history and culture. Every corner of Rome is unique – literally an open-air museum.
When you’re feeling a little bit down or have had a tough day, you just need to wander through the streets of the city centre. You will immediately feel better. This city is a cure-all for the eyes and spirit. I’m in love with Rome.
I’ve explored many places in Rome over the years. This includes several visits to each of the museums and main attractions. That being said, there is still so much more that I need to see. I have a list of places to visit which (despite my previous commitments) continues to increase on a daily basis.
Favourite Place in Rome – Piazzale Caffarelli
Piazzale Caffarelli is a hidden terrace next to Campidoglio. It’s my favourite place in the whole city. Although it’s located right in the heart of Rome, not many people actually know about its existance. That’s why I like it so much.
From here you can enjoy a wonderful view over the rooftops of Rome. Get away from the tourists and traffic and see the Eternal City in peace.
10 Best Things To Do in Rome
Rome has so many famous monuments that it’s difficult to identify places that are not excessively “touristy”. As I always say – you need to come to Rome twice. The first time to see the classics. The second time to get lost in its streets and enjoy the city without a plan or list of sights to see.
For this reason, the places I am going to recommend might seem a bit banal but they are absolutely worth it if this is your first visit to the Italian capital. Another piece of advice I would give is to go out exploring at dawn. It’s a totally unique experience as Rome is silent and without any crowds.
So without further ado, below are my top 10 recommendations:
1. Explore the Colosseum and Via dei Fori Imperiali
The number one attraction of Rome is, of course, the Colosseum. Built in the year AD 72 under the empire of Vespasian, the Colosseum was home to an array of different exhibitions including exotic animal displays, recreations of battles and gladiator fights (as seen in the movie ‘Gladiator’).
2. See the Vittoriano and the View from the Terrace
The Vittoriano is a massive marble monument built to honour Italy’s first king – Vittorio Emanuele II. Inside the building you can find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as the Complesso del Vittoriano gallery. The 360-degree view from the Terrazza delle Quadrighe is also spectacular.
3. Toss Coins into the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome. It was designed by Nicola Salvi and built by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762. The fountain stands at 85 feet and at its centre is Pietro Bracci’s statue of Oceanus. Those who toss coins into its waters are said to return to Rome.
4. Visit the Dramatic Castel Sant’Angelo
The Castel Sant’Angelo structure, built in AD 135-139, was the burial place of the Antonine emperors until Caracalla. It was then converted into a fortress in the 6th century. Today it is home to the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo with its collection of paintings, sculptures and memorabilia.
5. Marvel at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican
The holiest of all Catholic shrines in the world can be found inside the walls of the Vatican. St. Peter’s Basilica is visited by tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every month. Make sure you check out this shrine as well as the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums on your visit to Rome.
6. Wander around the Piazza del Popolo
This large urban square known as Piazza del Popolo is located between the Pincio and the banks of the Tevere. All sorts of attractions can be found at the square such as churches, monuments, fountains and marble buildings. A perfect place to wander around and take in the unique Roman vibe.
7. Discover the Villa Borghese Gardens and Terrazza
If you’re looking for the best gardens in Rome then look no further than the Villa Borghese Gardens. This lush environment is considered to be the lungs of Rome. The Villa Borghese Gardens are located close to the Piazza del Popolo making for a great day out visiting both of these destinations.
8. Take in the Exquisite Art of the Borghese Gallery
The Borghese Gallery is housed in a beautiful mansion and is recognised as one of the most prominent art museums in the world. This gallery features collections by Cardinal Scipione Borghese as well as artwork by Caravaggio. The mansions gardens are worth a visit too.
9. Shop at the Wonderful Campo de’ Fiori
Every morning from Monday to Sunday the Campo de’ Fiori (‘field of flowers’ in English) hosts a flower and fruit/vegetable market. Over the years it has become one of the most beloved parts of Rome. At night the market transforms into packed terraces of people enjoying the scene.
10. Roam around the Trastevere Neighborhood
Taking a trip across the Tiber River to the charming neighborhood of Trastevere is a must-do. This place has an authentic and medieval atmosphere to it. Trastevere was once a rough working class district. The neighborhood now offers some of the best hidden gems in all of Rome.
How to Eat your Way through Rome
Many people come to Italy (and Rome in particular) just for the food and I don’t blame them. The food in Rome is superb. We have a lot of delicious cuisine to choose from – appetizers such as supplì and fiori di zucca, and pasta dishes like carbonara, amatriciana and cacio e pepe.
The second plates of coda alla vaccinara and tripp are just as delicious. And you can’t forget the pizzas too. My favorite dish is spaghetti alla carbonara!
If you’re looking for the best carbonara in Rome then I recommend checking out a restaurant called “ai Balestrari” in Via dei Balestrari. Another beauty is “da Gino alla Villetta” in the funky neighborhood of Trastevere.
Essential Tips for your Visit to Rome
Rome is a loud, friendly, beautiful and imperfect city. It’s staggeringly beautiful but at times it can be a difficult place to live and navigate. That being said, it’s still the type of place that can easily surprise you and a place which is very easy to fall in love with, warts and all.
To make the most of your visit to Rome you need to surrender to the city in some ways. Learn Italian in Rome. Let yourself get lost. Explore every corner. Get carried away by its beauty and try to live each moment to the fullest. The real essence of Rome is to be found in its hidden side streets and cobblestone alleyways.
In my opinion, the best area to stay in and base yourself at is a place called Prati. Another good spot is Tridente – the area between Piazza del Popolo, Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Venezia. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any amazing hotels to recommend but you should be fine in these areas.
As I said before, Rome is a city that easily surprises you and one which is easy to fall in love with. I hope you get the chance to fall in love with her too.