Discover the best of Ancient Rome

Wherever you go in Rome you will find reminders of the glorious ancient Roman Empire, the "Caput Mundi" – in Latin, the center of the world – that laid the foundation for Western culture. Here we offer a route that will guide you through the most interesting archaeological sites, ruins, and museums that will bring Imperial Rome to light for you. It’s a perfect two-day self-guided tour but if you have time take three for a deeper immersion.

The Roman Forum Core

We recommend that you start you journey from Piazza Venezia where the Altar of the Fatherland, built to celebrate Italian unification, dominates. From here, visit the Domus Romane of Palazzo Valentini (Via IV Novembre 119/A, a short walk from the square): you'll be amazed by the splendid remains of a patrician house of the imperial age, rich with mosaics, wall decorations, polychrome floors, and paving blocks.

Then, take the majestic Via dei Fori Imperiali, a triumph of ancient Rome. To the left you'll find the Trajan Markets and Forum, and also the Augustus Forum. To the right, you’ll experience the heart of the Roman Forum, the political, religious, and commercial core of the Roman Empire. Walk in front of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, and just ahead on the right you will access the archaeological area with the Combo Ticket for the Colosseum .

The path goes up the Palatine Hill, with amazing excavations and stunning views, and then down into the ruins for a continuous succession of wonders such as the Arch of Titus, the Basilica of Maxentius, and the Temple of Saturn . The area is quite wide: plan to spend at least an hour and a half exploring the many remains and to appreciate the views from the hill.

The largest Arena

Once outside the Forum on Via dei Fori Imperiali, it's time to enter the engineering wonder of the Colosseum, skipping the line with tickets in hand!

Try to imagine the atmosphere of the largest amphitheater in the world, where over 50,000 spectators watched all kind of matches, including bloody battles between gladiators and animals, and even mock naval battles!
For an even more fascinating experience, choose one of the most comprehensive visits, such as the Guided Visit to Third Level and Undergrounds – to get the best view of Rome and to understand how the machinery within this incredible ancient theater worked. Thanks to alluring lighting and professional guidance, you will discover every detail of the history, magic, and operation of the amphitheater.

If you're looking for a typical meal in the area, try I Clementini (Via S. Giovanni in Laterano 106, 300 meters from the Colosseum) with its rustic surroundings and traditional dishes such as pasta alla carbonara or Roman mixed fry.

Nero's Dream

Just behind the Colosseum, on the slopes of the Oppio Hill, you’ll find the Domus Aurea (Golden House in Latin) , Emperor Nero's final resting place. Built of brick and concrete in the few years between the fire and Nero's suicide, the extensive gold leaf that gave the villa its name was not the only extravagant element of its decor: stuccoed ceilings were faced with semi-precious stones and ivory veneers, while the walls were frescoed.
It is well worth a visit for its glitz and because its structure was a model for future residential construction. But the charm of the visit also comes from being able to see restoration work in progress. The new philosophy of "open for restoration" helps you understand the challenges of restoring the archaeological site and its paintings. Please note that space is very limited and demand is strong, so act now to catch some of the few available openings!

Towards the Mouth of Truth

There's much more waiting for you! Take Via San Gregorio from the Colosseum up to Piazza di Porta Capena and you have two choices. The first, to the left, is visiting the Baths of Caracalla . These are Rome’s most sumptuous and best-preserved baths.

The second option, to the right, is the Circus Maximus . This huge area (621 meters long) was dedicated to horseraces. Located just behind Circus Maximus, towards the Tiber, is the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Here you will find The Mouth of Truth, the ancient marble mask that became famous thanks to the 1953 Roman Holiday film starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck: don't miss a photo!

A little further to the left, take the uphill road Clivo dei Publicii to reach two perfect places for a relaxing stopover: the Rose Garden , rich with flowers and plants, and the Orange Garden, little known to tourists, with its amazing view over Baroque Rome and the Vatican. Get there easily by choosing the City Sightseeing buses or one of our guided tours, such as the Classic Rome Private Guided Tour or the fun Rome by Vespa Tour for a full immersion into Italian lifestyle!

Forum Boario & Museums

The route ends just ahead crossing the Forum Boario , an ample space featuring the temples of Hercules and Portunus. Proceeding on Via Petroselli you'll find the remains of the theater of Marcellus and the Forum Holitorium , which houses the three temples dedicated to Janus, Spes and Juno Sospita up to Octavia's Portico. From Piazza di Monte Savelli admire the remains of the "broken bridge" over the Tiber river, cross the Fabricio bridge to reach the Tiber Island or go down the stairs for a walk along the river. The Tiber Island is home to the legendary Trattoria Sora Lella, and around the corner you'll find a super ice cream shop!

Complete your itinerary with a visit to the the National Roman Museum . Spread over four buildings - Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, the Crypta Balbi, and the Diocletian Baths - the museum’s collection includes unique works such as the famous Discus Thrower statue. Don't miss the beautiful Ara Pacis , altar symbol of Augustan art, as well as the extraordinary and recent excavations of the Necropolis of Via Triumphalis, inside the Vatican City. And don't forget that the Vatican Museums not only host the Sistine Chapel but hundreds of basic works from the ancient Empire.