Find the Best Things to Do in Centro Storico

About Centro Storico

For tourists looking to be in the cuore (heart) of it all, the best place to be in Rome is in the centro storico. Indeed, the historic center of the city is where a chunk of the Eternal City's main attractions are located. The best part is that most of it can be covered on foot. From taking that postcard perfect photo in front of the immense Pantheon to enjoying the lovely street café scene at Piazza Navona, the centro storico has it all!

See & Do

A chunk of the Eternal City's main attractions are in the heart of the centro storico. From Rome's best preserved pagan temple-turned church, the Pantheon to the best display of Baroque art at Piazza Navona; there are an endless amount of things to see and do in the historic center of Rome.

For a free glimpse at some of the world's magnificent artwork and architecture on display, church hopping is a good way to spend your day sightseeing. Step foot in the Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio and you'll think your eyes are playing tricks on you. What appears to be a dome from the inside, is merely an optical illusion, a cleverly painted frescoed dome that substituted the original cupola that never got built. Other beauties include the Santa Maria del Popolo Church which includes fine work by Bernini and Caravaggio, and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

For a sublime example of the Eternal City's most beautiful piazzas, visitors have plenty to choose from in the centro storico: Piazza Venezia, Piazza Navona and Piazza di Spagna (where the Spanish Steps are located) to name a few. Last but not least, there's the resplendent Trevi Fountain that served as a backdrop for many a Hollywood blockbuster film. Legend has it if you throw a coin in the fountain, your return to Rome will be granted!

Eat

In Rome, there are a slew of great trattorie, pizzerie and outdoor café scene, especially in the centro storico. While there's great selection of restaurants to choose from in the historic center, there's also a bunch of tourist traps as well. Therefore, one has to be very careful when choosing a place to eat. 

When it comes down to starting off your day right, there's nothing more important than finding that perfect place to have a cappuccino. Whether you're looking for a spot where you can be lazy and lounge the morning away people watching or just a bar where you can get a quick coffee before you hit the sights, there is no shortage of cafés and bars to choose from. 

One of the most popular cafés to have both coffee and a drink before dinner is Caffè della Pace near Piazza Navona. This historic bar has often been a backdrop for movies and commercials thanks to the lush ivy that drapes over the building and its wonderful outdoor seating area. For a scene that's a bit quieter with delicious tarts and cakes, check out Caffeteria d'arte al Chiostro del Bramante and Caffè Novecento. Otherwise, if sitting down is not important for you, a great place to grab a good cup of Italian Joe is Tazza d'Oro. Here, you'll have one of the best coffees in Rome and the place is always bustling inside!

Hai fame (hungry)? For some pizza on the run, before you head on over the Pantheon, check out Da Remo's pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice). Remo makes the best pizza with salame, pumpkin and/or pancetta. The calzones aren't too shabby either! If you prefer to sit down and have a pizza, check out Re Cafè and Da Baffetto.

Last but not least, there's dessert to think about. If gelato is what you're after, the best places to hit up are Il Gelato near Piazza Augusto Imperatore and Giolitti near the Pantheon. Giolitti is a historic gelateria that features all of the classic flavors. Meanwhile, Il Gelato serves up flavors that will tantalize your palate (over 100 different flavors to choose from)! Otherwise, why not try some of the best tiramisù you'll ever have in your life at Bar Pompi, near the Spanish Steps?

Party

Looking to paint Roma red? The centro, is definitely the place to do it. From pubs to clubs, the historic center of the city offers a wide array of nightlife for all tastes.

Pubs

Believe it or not, pubs are quite popular in the city center. Tourists love to go to pubs because they often broadcast American and/or British sports games. Pubs are also popular places thanks to its pub grub and live music. The most popular pubs in the centro are the Abbey Theatre, Scholars Lounge and Trinity College. All three broadcast American football, basketball and baseball games. They also feature live music on certain nights and even showcase game nights or pub quizzes.

Happy Hour -- Aperitivo Time

Aperitivo, the Italian happy hour is a huge social event in the center of Rome. Lots of  new cafès, bars and lounges are always sprouting up like mushrooms trying to compete to be Rome's next 'It' girl. The poshest places around town for drinks are Fluid and Salotto 42.  Though, as the nights get balmier, locals flock to the Residenza di Ripetta where the aperitivo is al fresco in the Giardino di Ripetta (their terraced garden) is fichissimo (so cool)!

Dance Clubs

Some of the hottest dance clubs can also be found in the centro storico. Though the scene is much smaller, than say, Testaccio where the hub of Rome's nightlife is located; there are several clubs contending for a prime spot on Rome's movida scene.

For an international crowd of pretty people and a great mix of dance, house and Top 40 music, check out La Maison and Shari Vari Playhouse. After dining at its Hostaria, head on upstairs to its discoteca, La Cabala. It's situated in a medieval palazzo and is considered to be one of Rome's flashiest nightclubs. Make sure to dress to impress.

Stay

The selection of hotels that you have to choose from in the centro storico of Rome are endless. Whether you're looking to live like a local or you need VIP services to pamper you during your stay, accommodations in this area offer something for everyone no matter your wallet size.

Budget conscious travelers with a boutique sense of style might opt for a room at Relais Palazzo Taverna. The rooms here are tastefully decorated and include modern comforts all at affordable prices. Another perk? Its location (near Piazza Navona) is superb as all of the main attractions are at your fingertips.

For VIP services such as a world renowned SPA, sassy design and parties hosted by international jetsetters, the Aleph hotel is where you want to be. 

For those looking for a low-key B&B type of atmosphere, Daphne Inn and Residenza Domizia are both centrally located and offer the modern comforts of home. 

Shop

You've checked into your hotel, dropped your bags and even tossed in a coin into the Trevi Fountain -- now it's time to shop! Some of the best retail therapy can be had in the centro storico. From haute-couture boutiques to department stores to vintage shops and street markets, there is something for everyone!

Most of the best shopping is concentrated around Via del Corso near the Spanish Steps. If you're looking for high-end fashion, you'll want to hit up Via dei Condotti. It's considered the Rodeo Drive of Rome. In and around this street, you'll find high-end fashion names like Fendi, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and various others. For smaller, more exclusive haute-couture brands, one can check out streets such as Via Frattina and Via del Babuino for the best boutiques. Divas that day dream about Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner reliving the Dolce Vita days of Rome, can pick up a pair of stylish retro sunglasses much like the stars used to wear from DolceRoma.

Perhaps, you prefer shopping for fresh food or just want to browse through one of Rome's famous street markets? The most famous of all is the Campo de' Fiori market. Not only can you pick up the best and freshest produce and flowers, but you can also witness vendors turn the sale of an eggplant into a theatrical performance! The market is open Monday through Saturday and is definitely worth at least a stroll. Looking to pick up some funky kitchen utensils to take home with you for your cucina (kitchen)? Check out the cooking specialty shop, C.U.C.I.N.A. near the Spanish Steps. It has everything you're looking for!