Rome Vacations in the Historical Center
For your Rome vacations, discover the Eternal City, which has so much to offer; fascinating museums, historic monuments, exciting piazzas, heavenly food, fantastic shopping and crazy traffic.
Located on the Tiber river within the Lazio region of Italy, Rome’s history goes back over two and a half thousand years.
The architectural and archaeological sites scattered around the city of Rome have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Dine at the Angelino Ai Fori Restaurant on your Rome Travels
Archaeologists continue to uncover new treasures.
When visiting the Forums and Colisseum, the Angelino Ai Fori restaurant is great place to take a break at the end of the day because of its location and fantastic views of the ancient ruins across the Via dei Fori Imperiali and dining under the vines is fun and romantic.
The Districts Famous Places for Your Rome Vacations
Rome is blessed with so many fascinating and exciting districts and it can be overwhelming to find your way around the Eternal City on your Rome Italy travel.
I have featured the various districts in parts to make it easier to plan your days touring around Rome. This page, the Historical Center, is Rome Part 1:
Rome Part 1: Rome Vacations in the Historical Center
- The Historical Center – (Centro Storico)
- Ancient Ruins of the Roman Forum – Foro Romano
- Capitoline Hill – Campadoglio
- Colosseo – Colosseum, or the Coliseum
- Palatine Hill – Palatino
- The Aventine Hill – Aventino
- Testaccio – Monte Testaccio
- Vatican City
- St Peter’s Basilica
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Campo dei Fiori in Old Rome
- Esquilino – San Giovanni
- Piazza Navona
- The Pantheon – at the Piazza della Rotonda
- Il Tridente – North Center of Rome
- Spanish Steps – at the Piazza di Spagna
- Villa Borghese
- Via Veneto and Quirinale in the Modern Center of Rome
- Roma Termini and the Nomentano District
- The Gardens and Museums of Villa Torlonia
- Visit the Famous Squares in Rome
- Explore the Appia Antica and Catacombs
- Day Trips from Rome
- Finding the Famous Seven Hills of Rome
Historical Center – Centro Storico on Your Rome Vacations
The Historical Center actually includes the districts between the Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Venezia, the Colosseo and the curve of the Tiber River.
Enjoy the Roman Forums on Your Rome Italy Travel
This is where you will find most of the architectural glory of ancient Rome, with its Renaissance palaces, Baroque squares, and glorious fountains, artsy craft shops in winding cobblestone alleys, magnificent boulevards, unique craft shops and charming trattorias with cozy street-side patios.
Ancient Rome and the Colosseo are the most visited areas of the Eternal City where you tend to find overpriced and touristy restaurants and heavy traffic, which often ends up in a complete standstill.
A Glorious Fountain near Piazza Venezia
On the other hand, the Aventino – Testaccio areas were the river port of Ancient Rome, and being off-the-beaten-path, have some of the best places to sample traditional Roman specialties on your Rome vacations.
The Piazza Venezia
The Piazza Venezia is a glorified traffic circle with the colossal, gleaming white marble Vittorio Emanuaele ll Monument, built to commemorate the short-lived House of Savoy.
The Impresive Vittorio Emanuele II at Piazza Venezia and Capitoline Hill
This piazza becomes a center point for your Rome vacations as this spot is surrounded by the many famous sites of Rome.
On the Steps of Vittorio Emanuele II at Piazza Venezia on my Rome Travel
If you are facing the Vittorio Emanuele ll Monument, on the right hand side of the piazza is the Palazzo Venezia, which at one time was occupied by Mussolini and the venue where he delivered some of his favourite speeches from the balcony.
Back View of the National Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
The Palazzo Venezia is now home to the Museo Nazionale del Palazzo Venezia and holds periodic special exhibitions.
The Via del Corso runs straight between Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Venezia for nearly a mile and you will walk along this street many times on your Rome vacations.
Enjoy the Scenery on Your Rome Vacations – Palazzo Venezia
Off the Via del Corso south of Via del Tritone is the picturesque Piazza Colonna with its colossal Colonna di Marco Aurelio. The statue of St. Paul stands on the top of the column. Note, don’t mistaken the Piazza Colonna with Palazzo Colonna below.
This area is the center of political life with the Palazzo Chigi (the prime minister’s residence) to the right of the piazza, and behind it, the Piazza id Montecitorio, the Italian parliament building.
Palazzo Colonna and the Galleria Colonna
Not far away and north from the Piazza Venezia, on Piazza dei Santi Apostoli, 66, visit the charming Galleria Colonna on your Rome travel within the huge 15th century Palazzo Colonna.
It has sumptuous rooms which display beautiful works by Pietro da Cortona, Francesco Albani, Scipione Pulzone, F. Salvati, Annibale Carracci, Giambologna, Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto and many more.
The Capitoline Hill
One of the most sacred parts of the ancient city and one of the seven roman hills, the Capitoline Hill (Campadoglio) is set on a magnificent piazza with its distinctive star pattern designed by Michelangelo and still serves as the civic government for the city of Rome.
Wander Around Capitoline Hill on Your Rome Travel
The Campadoglio is located in the streets behind the Piazza Venezia and next to the Roman Forum.
Here in the spacious Piazza di Campidoglio you will find the twin Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, the home of the Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolino) which house antiquities and works of art.
Statues, Museums and Star Pattern Piazza of Capitoline Hill
On your travel to Italy, take a walk to the top of the steps of Capitoline Hill in Rome to see two imposing statues set up by Michelangelo, the twin warriors, Castor and Pollux, that frame his magnificent staircase.
Admire the Grand Palazzos and Statues of Capitoline on Your Rome Vacations
During your Rome vacations, look for events put on by the city of Rome held here in the open air on the Capitoline Square or serenades in Villa Giulia and Pamphili Park in the romantic setting of the grand palazzos.
Visit the Ancient Fori Imperiali on Your Rome Vacations
Via dei Fori Imperiali is the majestic road that runs in a straight line from the Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum.
Here is where you will find the spectacular ancient forums of Rome. The expansive Fori Imperiali is a vast collection of public squares, basilicas and temples built by the emperors of the first and second centuries, located across the street from the Roman Forum.
The Trajan’s Market – Rome Travel Ideas
This collection includes the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Caesar, the Forum of Nerva, the Temple of Peace, the Forum of Trajan, Trajan’s Column and the Trajan’s Market.
Further down Via dei Fori Imperiali, past the Colosseo Metro and across from the Colosseum, is the ill-kept park of Nero’s Domus Aurea.
The Roman Forum on Your Rome Vacations
Stroll through the sunlit ruins and arches of the Roman Forum (Foro Romano) in the midst of clover and lush greenery and enjoy the oasis that the ancient Romans created.
You have to enter from the Via dei Fori Imperiali and walk past the Basilica Aemilia, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, and cross the Via Sacra at the Temple of Julius Caesar and the Arch of Augustus.
Explore the Roman Forum on Your Rome Italy Travel
In the Roman Forum you will find the Lapis Niger, the black stone above Romulus’s grave, the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Vesta, the Temple of Romulus and so much more. Make time to enjoy these antiquities on your Rome vacations.
The Arch of Constantine
Located between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, the Arch of Constantine is one of the best-preserved imperial monuments, built by Emperor Constantine 1st to commemorate his victory over his rival Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD.
This imposing triple arch is decorated with a variety of sculptural fragments which were taken from older Roman monuments rather than original creations.
The Palatine Hill
The Palatine Hill (Palatino) is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and one of the most ancient parts of the Eternal City.
The Palatine Hill is located south-east of the Capitoline Hill and from here you can see the Roman Forum beneath it to the north and the Circus Maximus to the south.
One of the Exquisite Statues on Via dei Fori Imperiali
On your Rome vacations, take a walk past the Colosseo down Via di San Gregorio and enjoy the beauty of the ruins and lush vegetation of the Palatine Hill.
The views of Rome are breathtaking and the views of the palaces of the emperors Augustus (63 BC – 14), Tiberius (42 BC – 37) and Domitian (51 – 96) are spectacular.
Recent excavations indicate that this area has been inhabited since around 1000 BC.
More Ancient Ruins – Trajan’s Forum Includes Trajan’s Column and Trajan’s Market
Another marvellous ancient structure to see on your Rome vacations includes the Trajan’s Column, located at the Trajan’s Forum beside the Trajan Market buildings (Foro di Traiano and Mercati di Traiano), just across from the Roman Forum.
It took nearly 10 years of restoration to bring this jewel to its splendid former glory. The column, carved in Carrara marble, displays magnificent reliefs of the Emperor Trajan’s military campaigns all along the 200m (656 feet) long frieze.
The inside of Trajan’s column is hollow and can be entered by a small doorway at one side.
On your Rome travels, you can climb a spiral stair of 185 steps to get to the top for a magnificent view of the Forums.
See the Ruins of Trajan’s Marketplace and Apartments on Your Rome Travel
Thought by some to be the world’s oldest shopping mall, the Trajan’s Market was once a thriving commercial center which held 150 shops selling everything from food to fabrics.
Several levels can be visited by the public via the entrance is Via Quattro Novembre, 94.
Trajan’s Ruins Located near the Via dei Fori Imperiali
This structure has multi levels and it is believed that the upper levels housed offices for the Emperor Trajan while the lower level had the shops and apartments.
Visit the Colisseum on Your Rome Vacations
This beautiful, 2000 year old classical arena is the largest amphitheatre built in the Roman Empire with 80 gates, and in its heyday could accommodate up to 50,000 spectators.
Include a Tour of the Colisseum in Your Rome Travel
The famous Colisseum (Colosseo) arena was used for a number of blood-thirsty spectacles such as violent gladiator games, mock sea battles and animal hunts.
This building is colossal and to really appreciate its size make sure to climb all the way to the top level.
Rome Vacations in The Aventino and Testaccio Hills
On the western end of the Circus Maximus, Via di Valle Murcia climbs to the spacious gardens and courtyards of the Aventine Hill.
When you reach the summit, head through the iron gate to a gorgeous park where orange trees frame a sweeping view of the Tiber and southern Rome.
South of the Aventine Hill is the district of Testaccio, which has managed to maintain the unique charm of old Rome and is known for its cheap and delicious trattorie and lively nightlife.
Here you can also find the Monte Testaccio, a 2,000 year old hill which originally began as a dumping ground for terra-cotta pots (known as testae or fragments of broken amphorae).
Rising up over 40 metres (131 feet), today the hill of pot shards has become a lush, dark green splendour over the drab surrounding streets.
The Circus Maximus
Once a playground for more than 300,000 Romans to watch chariots careening around the quarter-mile race track in about 600 BC, the Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo), east of Aventino – Testaccio, is now a grassy valley between the Aventine Hill and the Palantine Hill.
But it’s worth taking a walk here to see where the chariot competitions were once held while you are here on your Rome vacations.
The Bocca della Verità at the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin
In the north end of Circo Massimo, under the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin is an enigmatic, grotesque marble face known as the “Mouth of Truth”.
Visit the Mouth of Truth for a Lie Detector Test on Your Rome Travel
This sculpture is said to act as an ancient “lie detector” and allegedly snaps its jaws shut if it detects you are not being truthful.
When you travel in Italy, take this opportunity and try out the skills of the “Mouth of Truth”.
The Pyramid of Cestius at Porta San Paolo
In the Roman times, Caius Cestius had this pyramid designed and built to immortalize him in this luxurious tomb of tightly fitted marble blocks.
This colossal pyramid is located near the forbidding, castle-like Porta San Paolo in the south end of the Aventino – Testaccio district.
Explore the Baths of Caracalla on the Caelian Hill for your Rome Vacations
East of Aventino – Testaccio and south of Circo Massimo, the Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla) is one of the largest and best preserved baths in the city with beautiful mosaic floors.
The size of this former luxurious health club is mind-boggling with a capacity of at least 1,500 bathers.
Before the destruction by the Goths in 537 AD, the Terme di Caracalla housed hot and cold baths, lecture rooms and libraries, and a gymnasium and massage rooms.
Include a Tour of the Baths of Caracalla in Your Rome Vacations
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