What Is The Best Way To See Ancient Rome

Rome has been a major city on the international stage since ancient times and continues to play a major role in world history. Today, visitors from around the world flock to the city to experience its many cultural, historical and architectural wonders. But if you’re looking for the best way to experience ancient Rome, look no further than its numerous archaeological sites. From the Colosseum to the Pantheon, Rome is home to some of the most impressive ancient relics in the world, with each offering its own unique insight into the city’s past.

Though the ancient sites of Rome can be explored independently, many visitors find that the best way to see them is with a tour guide. Professional tour guides are trained to provide insight into the history and significance of each site, while also providing interesting stories and anecdotes about its inhabitants. They can offer invaluable advice and highlight features that you may have overlooked, making the experience much more meaningful than exploring alone.

For those looking for a more comprehensive experience, there is also the option of taking a multi-day tour. This can provide a much greater understanding of the city’s entire history, from the Roman Republic to the fall of the Empire. These tours typically include visits to lesser known sites as well as the more popular attractions. They can also offer the opportunity to explore the city on foot, providing a closer look at the architectural styles and other notable features.

If you want to explore the city’s impressive museums and galleries, a guided tour can also be a great option. Rome is home to some of the world’s most renowned art collections and archaeological exhibits, and with a knowledgeable guide at your side, you will be able to gain a greater insight into the history and significance of each piece. As well as art and archaeology, many tours also cover Roman life, providing an enlightening look at everyday customs, cuisine and culture.

Whichever way you choose to explore Rome, it is important to remember to stay safe. Always be aware of your surroundings and be mindful of pickpockers, as they are rife in the city. And while it can be tempting to stay out late and explore the city’s vibrant bars and restaurants, always ensure that you remain in well-lit and populated areas.

Selene and Iconic Photographs

The Italian photographer and film maker, Giuseppe Selene is often celebrated for the iconic photographs that he produced in the 1950s and 60s. He captured timeless images of the city’s daily life, from farmers and fishermen working to Europe’s most elegant people walking through the cobblestone streets. He also documented the crumbling grandeur of ancient monuments, such as the Colosseum, the Palatine and the Forum. Though vintage in style, these images have become ingrained in the collective memory of Rome and hold just as much power today.

Selene’s work has been likened to that of masterful painting. He combined the pictorialist style of photography with more modern techniques, creating a truly stunning image that often looks more like a painting than a photograph. Selene’s images of Rome exude the beauty and culture of this often overlooked city. He celebrates anonymous and symphony of everyday life that can be so easily dismissed, yet is the essence of great photography. As such, visiting any of the spots he captured can provide great insight into the timelessness of true art.

Exploring Beyoun the city walls

Ancient Rome was an impressive and sprawling city that extended beyond its walls. The remains of grand villas, monuments, thermal baths and gardens, can still be visited today. For example there are a handful of monumental villas built by wealthy patricians and emperors outside the city walls. The Villa d’Este, located north of the Tiber, is one of the most famous and was commissioned by Pope Gregory I in 1550. It was built in the Renaissance style and has exquisite gardens with mystical fountains, as well as impressive walking trails.

Another popular villa is the Villa Adriana, about 26 km from Rome. It was built in the 2nd century by Emperor Hadrian and was said to be a symbol of his power. Today, the villa covers 120 hectares and has more than 40 buildings and monuments within its grounds. Visiting this grand estate offers an insight into the extravagance of the Ancient Roman period and provides an unparalleled outdoor experience.

Farther away, roughly 50 km, is the town of Ostia Antica. This is the site of the old port of Rome and is home to one of the best preserved sets of ruins anywhere in the former Roman empire. Its range of public and private monuments offers the opportunity to appreciate the old city in its entirety and includes impressive decorations, frescoes, mosaics and public baths.

Vespa Tour

The thrill of exploring Rome on a Vespa gives you the chance to unearth many of the less visited places with ease and breathtaking speed. The Open-Breath Vespa Tour is one of the most popular choices for tourists. This two and a half hour tour encompasses the best-known monuments, squares and historical sites of the city. What’s more, the experienced guides offer interesting anecdotes and stories that are often overlooked. The tour includes stops at the Roman Forum, Pantheon and Piazza Navona as well as popular restaurants, cafes and piazzas, which you can visit with stops along the way.

While the tour can be thrilling, safety is always the primary goal. Participants are provided with safety helmets and the vehicles are well-maintained for an unforgettable experience. For those not keen on the Vespa option, there are also alternative sightseeing tours available by car, boat and even bike.

Local Experiences

For an alternative way to experience Rome’s rich past without leaving the comfort of the present, locals recommend exploring the many neighborhoods and living spaces beyond the tourist traps. Rome is a hotbed for culture, fashion and design and its many lively neighborhoods offer a taste of the future, while still paying homage to the city’s old-world charm.

The neighborhoods of Trastavere, Testaccio and Monti are particularly worth exploring. Here, artisanal gelato shops, dimly-lit wine bars and off-the-beaten-path local eateries offer exceptional culinary experiences and timeless boutiques display the heights of Italian fashion. Exploring these hidden gems is a sure way to immerse yourself in the vibe of contemporary Rome and understand the city in all its complexity.

Walking Tours

If you’re looking to explore Rome without having to follow a prescribed itinerary, then a walking tour may be the way to go. Most of the main sites are within walking distance of each other and the city’s many steps and cobblestone streets offer a great way to discover hidden gems and get to know the city on a more intimate level.

For those seeking a more structured experience, there are many organized walking tours available. These often include guided stops as well as interesting stories and historical anecdotes from experienced tour guides. From the arcades of Piazza Navona to secret piazzas off the beaten track, these tours provide a unique experience and the chance to see Rome through the eyes of a local.

Ancient Art and Architecture

One of the best ways to appreciate the ancient architecture and artwork of Rome is to simply observe. Many of the churches, galleries and museums that house the city’s most impressive works are free to visit and they offer the perfect opportunity to experience Rome’s artistic past.

The Vatican Museums and their Pinacoteca Gallery house some of the world’s finest works from classical antiquity and the Renaissance period, while the Palazzo Barberini is home to a wealth of 17th century sculptures, frescoes and paintings. Alternately, Rome’s many churches offer the chance to witness some of the city’s best Baroque and Renaissance artwork.

For a more contemporary approach to art and architecture, Rome’s many art galleries offer a great chance to view the works of emerging designers and established names. From the MAXXI Museum in Flaminio to the National Gallery of Modern Art, these galleries offer a great insight into the creative spirit that continues to pervade the city.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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