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Rome, the cradle of the Roman empire, is full of history. But Rome is also the capital of modern Italy, known for designer products and a trendy population. That mix of old and new is what makes the Italian capital a city fully focused on the future, whilst it nurtures its rich past at the same time.
Like the Acropolis is the main monument in Athens, the Colosseum is exactly that in Rome. Originally, this amphitheater could seat 70.000 people. They could 'enjoy' often bloody fights between the gladiators, which sometimes also opposed wild animals. Occasionally a show is given in the Colosseum, but they don't end up as definitive as they used to in Roman times.
The Forum Romanum was the heart of ancient Rome. Unfortunately, no more than ruins are left of the old power center of the Romans. One of the best kept remains is the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus. The Temple of Venus (goddess of love) and Roma (the goddess of Rome) was the largest temple in the ancient city.
Another well preserved building from Roman times is the Pantheon. Built as a temple in the 2nd century and now used as a Roman Catholic church.
From a much later date is the Trevi fountain which is fed by a spring. The water is supplied by an aqueduct. The fountain with the sculpture of Neptune is world famous: if you throw a coin over your left shoulder in the fountain, it brings you good luck. And what happens to all that money? It is collected by the city council and donated to charity.
Everyone who visits Rome wants to sit on the Spanish stairs at least once. The stairs run from the Piazza di Spagna (Spain Square) to the church Trinitá dei Monti. Hence the name the Spanish steps. But that name is slightly misleading, because the construction was paid for by the French ambassador...
Rome is not only full of history, but full of museums too. In the Villa Giulia you can admire Etruscan and Roman art. A famous art gallery is the Villa Borghese, which houses the art collection of the likewise named family.
The Vatican is not actually a part of Rome, because it is an independent city, but is often mentioned in the same breath with the Italian capital. The St. Peter's Square and Saint Peter's Basilica is definitely worth a visit, but the biggest attraction is the Sistine Chapel with the famous frescoes of Michelangelo.
Like the Vatican, the Trastevere district is located on the other side of the Tiber. It is the most popular entertainment district of Rome with bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
Of course you have to order a cup of coffee in one of the coffee houses in Rome. Do mind that the price is much lower when you are standing at the bar than when you sit down. The price for a coffee at a table can be quadrupled compared to drinking a coffee at the bar!
Haven't got enough from the many historic buildings in Rome itself? Then you should definitely visit the Castelli Romani with your rental car. The route takes you past 13 fortified towns southeast of Rome.
Thirty kilometers northeast of Rome lies the city of Tivoli. This is where the rich nobility of Rome built their country cottages. Undoubtedly, the finest example is Villa d'Este, which isn't only a beautiful Renaissance building, but is also surrounded by beautiful gardens with more than a hundred (!) fountains. Even in the Roman times Tivoli already attracted the attention: Emperor Hadrian made a villa there in the 2nd century.
Forty kilometers north of Rome lies the beautiful crater lake of Bracciano (Lago di Bracciano). Part of the lake water is transported to Rome, partly for watering the gardens of the Vatican. You can sail, fish, waterski and of course swim here in the crystal clear water.
It is difficult to find a free parking space on the street in the center of Rome. You can park at a solid blue line, but you need a parking card which you can buy from vending machines or at kiosks. A better alternative are the parking garages near the Centro Storico.
You can also park your car on one of the P+R sites (parcheggio di scambio) that are further from the center, but close to subway stations. So, so you can easily travel to the center by public transport.
Rome has two airports, the main Leonardo da Vinci Airport, mostly reffered to as Rome Fiumicino Airport. The airport is located 26 kilometers southwest of Rome and is easily accessible from the ring road around the Italian capital. Take the exit to Fiumicino (A12) and follow the signs.
The other airport, Rome Ciampino Airport, is mostly used by budget and charter airlines. Ciampino lies 15 kilometers southeast of Rome. From the ring road take the exit 23.