There is no definite understanding of how Rome was founded. A common myth is the story of Romulus and Remus, twin brothers and the offspring of the god Mars, At birth there were abandoned near the river Tiber and supposedly carried by the river into the wild where they were raised by a she-wolf, a woodpecker and eventually rescued by a shepherd. In the story Romulus eventually kills Remus and builds a city in his own name – Rome – on the Palatine Hill.
What we know for sure is that with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom began the Republican era. The new Roman Republic fought and conquered the surrounding cities. In 390 BC, the city was successfully invaded by the Gauls. Later, between the third and second centuries BC, Rome fought against it’s rival Carthage, capturing and eventually destroying city and thus taking control of the Mediterranean.
Only with Julius Caesar in the first century BC, did the city begin to grow significantly, especially toward the Campo Marzio, to the north of Capitol, so that its control was extended as far as Britannia. Caesar was never crowned emperor, a title which, however, fell to his adopted son Octavian who took the throne under the name of Augustus. It is often said, “Augustus found a city of bricks and left one of marble”. Later emperors also added new monuments, temples and triumphal arches to ancient Rome.
With the decline of the Roman Empire, the city lost importance and eventually fell into ruin. Pope Gregory I, creator of major reforms for the people, took over rule of the city which soon became the capital of the Papal States, which remained active until the nineteenth century. The church and the popes, much like the emperors before them, became ever richer over the centuries. The city of monuments and churches was later called the “capital of Christendom”, and the home of the Basilica di San Giovanni Lateran, the most important church of the world. By the nineteenth century, the Pope’s power had lessened along with its state. On 20 September 1870, Garibaldi’s army, which had the task of uniting Italy under the crown of the Savoia, entered the city through a breach opened in the walls at Porta Pia and, that same year, Rome became the capital of the new Italian state.
What to do in Rome
There are so many things to see in Rome, and it would be impossible to list them all on this page!
Here are some of the most famous places to visit:
Rome’s most intact ancient monument; a massive sphere designed as a pagan temple by Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 125, it remained the world’s largest concrete dome until the 1990s. The Pantheon houses the tombs of painter Raphael and 19th-century Italian king Vittorio Emanuele II. Tip: Go when it’s raining and watch the drops shower through the oculus, the hole in the dome’s top.
One of the few ancient Roman sites visitors can tour for free. Start at the Capitoline Hill, for its great introductory view of this nexus of imperial Roman life. The forum stood at the centre of imperial Rome. Remains of temples to Roman gods, public baths, imperial arches, basilicas, and Roman senate are all visible to this day.
One of the richest and most important collections of world art, housed in one of the smallest sovereign states in the world.. Seat of the Catholic religion. Highlights include St. Peter’s Basilica, with its “Pietà” by Michelangelo, a lifetime’s worth of masterpieces in the Vatican Museums – from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel to Raphael’s masterpiece “The School of Athens” and papal tombs. Don’t miss the tomb of St. Peter, under the Basilica
Ancient Rome’s civic open-air theater, site of gladiator fights and other competitions. A huge structure and now the city’s most recognizable symbol
This elliptically-shaped piazza on the site of an ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium is one of modern Rome’s premier gathering points. The famous baroque fountain – Fountain of the Four Rivers by Gian Lorenzo Bernini – dominates the piazza, along with the baroque church Sant’Agnese in Agone, designed by Francesco Borromini and Girolamo Rainaldi. Tip: Do not miss the chance to try the legendary chocolate tartufo (chocolate-truffle ice cream) at the Bar Tre Scalini, a local institution.
The Altar of Peace, an ancient marble altar table surrounded by carved-marble walls and site of sacrificial offerings to Roman gods, was built during the rule of Emperor Augustus. The new museum-gallery designed by award-winning architect Richard Meier now encloses and protects the altar.
Piazza del Campidoglio
On top of the Capitoline Hill, one of Rome’s seven hills, sits this piazza designed by Michelangelo. The site includes the Capitoline Museums along with a spectacular view of the city and the Roman Forum, which lies behind the piazza. Tip: Look out for the oldest existing Roman equestrian statue, of Emperor Marcus Aurelius on horseback.
Rome’s only island, in the Tiber River (currently the site of a maternity hospital) offers fine views of Trastevere, a great spot for a picnic. In the warm summer months this area is a centre for long strolls along the river alongside open-air cinemas, riverside bars and entertainment late into the night.
The largest baroque fountain in Rome and terminal point of one of Rome’s ancient aqueducts. Designed in the 18th century by Nicola Salvi, with influences from Bernini, the fountaint depicts the Roman God of the Sea – Neptune – being guided by Tritons. The monument is a famous centrepiece in the films Roman Holiday, La Dolce Vita and, more recently, When in Rome. Tip: Tossing a coin into the fountain is said to bring good luck and means that one day you will return to Rome.
How to get to Rome
“All roads lead to Rome!”
Getting to Rome by plane
There are two main airports in Rome: Rome Fiumicino international airport and Rome Ciampino low cost airport. Both are located outside the city, about 45 min away from the city centre.
Getting to Rome by car
Coming from Florence or Naples: Motorway (Autostrada) A1
If you have time consider taking the Via Aurelia between Rome and Florence, the ancient Roman consular road for breathtaking scenery!
Coming from the east coast : Motorway (Autostrada) A24
Getting to Rome by train
Rome is well connected to the main Italian cities as well as less touristy and remote places throughout the country thanks to Italy’s extensive high speed and regional railway network.
Main train stations in Rome:
- Termini Station, central hub of public transport in Rome for both trains, buses and metros (Metro A and B)
- Tiburtina Station (Metro B)
How to get to NH Collection Roma Vittorio Veneto
From Fiumicino Airport:
The hotel is located 30 km from the airport. You can take a Leonardo Express train to Stazione Termini.
From Termini Station:
NH Collection Roma Vittorio Veneto is located three kilometers from Termini Station. You can take a bus (line 910) and get off Via Puccini, or you can take the underground (Line A) and get off at Piazza di Spagna, following signs for Villa Borghese (about 10 minute’s walk).
From Fiumicino Airport:
The fixed fee to the centre of Rome from Fiumicino is €48.00 including all supplements.
From Ciampino Airport:
The fixed fee to the centre of Rome from Ciampino is €30.00 including all supplements.
Taxis are handy way to get around Rome but it is important to ensure that the driver connects the meter before starting your ride. This is not necessary where there are fixed fees, such as from/to the airports.