The Art of Slow Travel in Rome: What to See and Do
When in Rome, do as the Plum Guide experts do and take it slow.
You’ve seen all the movies; The Great Beauty, Roman Holiday, To Rome with Love, and now it’s finally time to see Rome for yourself. The eternal city is a thrilling place where beautiful churches, majestic monuments and menacing scooters pop up from every corner. We hate to break it to you but modern-day Rome will not be quite like what you’ve seen on the big screen. Honing your skills in slow travel in Rome, a place where espresso springs from the fountains, road rage is regarded as a cultural trait and hollering is the primary medium of communication, is going to be a challenge. Nevertheless, the city really looks like a big outdoor museum and if you follow our tips, you just might be able to have a peaceful vacation.
A walk around the Old Rome
Old Rome is unquestionably the most charming part of the city. Home to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Campo de' Fiori the old part of town is walkable and drenched in history. In general, we recommend that you always prefer to walk in a city whose traffic is -as you can surely imagine- completely unimaginable. Well, at least it’s not Milan. Choose one of Plum Guide Rome homes in the city centre and secure your peace of mind. Stroll through the old town’s scenic surroundings, make a few pitstops for an Aperol Spritz and toss a coin in the Fontana di Trevi in hopes that your next pizza slice won’t have figs as a topping (this is a thing, yes - consider asking before you order). Interesting fact: the coins from the famous fountain go to a local charity that benefits the homeless.
The Forum and the Colosseum
Just a few meters away from each other, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum are indisputably two of Rome’s must-visit attractions. These two deserve their own place on a list with slow travel in Rome activities, as visiting both will take no less than a whole day thanks to the hordes of tourists Rome attracts. The former is ideal for a romantic stroll through majestic temples, the Vestal Virgins statues and the world’s first sewage system. The latter will make for an excellent educational visit with the kids who can learn all about the glory of the Roman Empire including animal cruelty, slave fighting and mass public executions of plebeians. Will they not be entertained?
Visit a market
In the odd case you haven’t had your fair share of hustle and bustle, street tussle and pasta with mussel downtown, we strongly recommend you try one of the famous Roman outdoor markets. Cobblestone squares and medieval buildings set in place a fitting backdrop to food and clothing stalls swarmed by incompetently bargaining tourists at the city’s loudest corners. Start off at Campo de’ Fiori that runs from Monday to Saturday and is one of the oldest and most popular. Another option is Porta Portese in Trastevere, preferred by those looking for used items and knick-knacks. If you want to try some local delicacies or surprise your friends back home with a unique and imaginative gift (say, a chunk of cheese) try adding Mercato di Campagna Amica to your bucket list.
A day-trip to Ostia Antica
Escape Rome for a day and catch a train to Ostia Antica, the harbour city of ancient Rome. The erstwhile commercial centre of grain and slave trade of the empire lies on the banks of river Tiber close to Fiumicino. It’s much less crowded and way closer to Rome than Pompeii, making it an ideal choice for those of you who want to get a glimpse of Rome’s history without having to put up with know-it-all tour guides and the brainless questions of your tour buddies. In short, what was once a thriving port is now a large archaeological park due to the decline of the Roman Empire and a few not-so-mild cases of barbarian raids and malaria. It features a few temples, an amphitheatre, public baths, colourful villas as well as a museum for those that find their thirst for knowledge unquenched by all the rest.
Visit Vatican City
Visiting Vatican City is more fitting for your slow travel in Rome itinerary than any other activity on this list. After all, it feels like time in the Vatican has really been slowing down in the past few centuries. It might only span for about half a square kilometre, but Vatican City is more of a colossal art gallery than a sovereign state and has the capacity to keep you entertained for a whole day. The best part is that you won’t have to look at a map the whole time. The tourist routes inside the Vatican’s buildings, museums and galleries are quite strict and will inevitably guide you through all the major attractions in an IKEA store-meets-global religious superpower kind of way (please don’t sue us).
You can even trust our local experts and choose a Plum Guide Vatican home to spend your vacation close to one of the most sought-after locations in Rome.
Cinecittà and Cinecittà World
We started off this article by saying that you can’t really experience Rome the way you see it on the big screen (read the intro if you haven’t - we put a lot of effort in those). However, you might be able to experience the way the big screen evolved in Rome. The Italian Caput Mundi is home to the Cinecittà -the world-class 80-year-old film production studios that have given us seminal films like La Dolce Vita and Le Mépris- which are frequently open to visits. A few kilometres away from the studios you’ll find Cinecittà World, a cinema-themed amusement park with roller coasters, different thematic areas and several restaurants.
Planning your trip to Rome? Read our Rome long weekend itinerary to continue planning the perfect city break. Oh and you're in good hands if you're still looking for the ideal place to stay: Plum Guide is the definitive selection of the world's best vacation homes. Independent home critics personally inspect every property for quality –from the comfort of the bed right down to the art on the walls– so your high standards are met every time. Check out Plum's very best accommodation in Rome...you won't be disappointed.