Rome offers innumerable activities for travelers. You could spend forever just exploring the ruins left by the caesars, learning about the intrigues surrounding the medieval popes, relaxing in the Villa Borghese gardens or just trying to find the perfect fried artichoke. Here, some free time recommendations you won’t find in any guidebook, straight from our on-staff travel experts.
Prosecco and portraits at Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is one of Rome’s best-known and busiest squares, which makes it prime people-watching territory. We recommend sipping a glass of prosecco and watching the world go by, or stroll by the fountain of the Four Rivers to see the works of the portrait artists who work nearby.
The Mouth of Truth
Legend has it that if a liar puts his or her hand into the Mouth of Truth, the mouth will bite the hand right off. Give your travel buddies a good laugh by reenacting the famous scene from Roman Holiday when Gregory Peck shocks a young Audrey Hepburn by hiding his hand in his sleeve.
Campo de’ Fiori
The “field of flowers” holds a lot of history—this was where philosopher, mathematician and poet Giordano Bruno was executed, and a statue commemorating him anchors the square. By day, the square is a commercial and cultural center of the city, and by night it’s a favorite hangout for young Romans.
The city’s many churches
There are more than 900 churches in Rome, and no two are alike. Most were built in a certain architectural style but have survived long enough to see one, two, three or more redesigns. Some churches house ancient relics, while others play host to robust modern-day congregations. Some (like St. Peter’s) are simply massive, while countless others attempt to capture the sublime in a more modest structure. Each church in Rome has its own story to tell, and if you can work up the courage to ask, there’s usually a priest or a nun around to tell it.
A picnic on the Spanish Steps
Take it easy with a picnic at another of Rome’s prime people-watching sites. Just swing by a local market to pick up the basics: a baguette, some salty Pecorino Romano cheese, maybe some prosciutto and olives. Don’t forget to grab a bottle of wine and some cups.
Fontana dell’Acqua Paolo
Quite simply, the Janiculum offers the most spectacular view of Rome. Getting up this large hill requires taking a tram and then a bus up to the American University in Rome or the Villa Sciarra. From there, it’s a short walk to the large white fountain that stands watch over the breathtaking cityscape.
Pizza Bianca and sunset over the Tiber
“Pizza Bianca” translates to “white pizza,” and in most places, that means substituting tomato-based sauce for pesto or a cheese-based sauce. In Rome, however, pizza bianca refers to a specific type of rustic bread topped with olive oil, salt and rosemary. Go Ahead’s own Fabrizio B., who was born 30 minutes south of Rome and has lived in the Eternal City for the last 25 years, says that no trip to Rome is complete without a sunset stroll across one of the Tiber’s bridges while snacking on a slice of pizza bianca.
What are your favorite ways to pass the time in Rome? Tell us in the comments!