When Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1579--1633), a lucrative art collector, decided to build a palace in Rome, his plans were big. His vision for the perfect palace was an abode that exuded over-the-top luxury and a fabulous park to go along with it. The result was the Casino Borghese where the Galleria Borghese is today. The Casino was orginally built to boast his lavish pieces of art and for elite social gatherings and parties. Today, the Galleria Borghese is one of the of the most important museums in Rome thanks to its rich collection of Baroque and Renaissance art featuring works by Bernini, Raphael and Caravaggio. BUS: 116, 490, 495, 49. TRAM: 19, 3. METRO: Flamino or Spagna.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Located in a prime position within the Borghese Gardens, the Galleria has a rich collection ranging from Baroque to Renaissance.
Maria's expert tip: You must make a reservation prior to going to Galleria Borghese. Reservations are made according to two hour time slots. You can buy your tickets for a specific day and time slot at www.ticketeria.it. Otherwise, reservations can be made calling 06.32810.
This area is not easily accessed by public transportation, but the walk up to the top on Via Giacinto Carini is well worth it. You are surrounded by lovely views of the Alban Hills. Make sure that you go to Villa Lante before you leave the area, where you can get the best view of the city. The Fontanone (as it's known to locals), which means 'the big fountain' is said to be the place where Romans go to mourn and cry tears of a love lost or broken heart. BUS: 115 or 870 to the top or 44 and 75 to Via Giacinto Carini.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: In the city center area, Janiculum Hill provides one of the best panoramic views of Rome.
Maria's expert tip: Head up to the hill late morning so that at midday you can hear the canon which fires daily at midday to mark the battle of Rome.
What was once the location of the brewery of famed Italian beer Peroni, is now the industrial space where Rome's uber sleek contemporary art museum, the MACRO is located. The museum recently underwent a massive makeover, giving it a stylish and modern steel and glass exterior design. MACRO often showcases light installations, contemporary and pop artworks by world-renowned and emerging Italian and international artists. The collection covers pieces dating back to the 1960s through today including exhibits of works by all of Italy's post world war two artists. The museum has another site which has been built where Rome's old slaughterhouse was housed in the Testaccio area. BUS: 80, 38.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: It's not all medieval or ancient roman artefacts in Rome and MACRO is a center of excellence for contemporary art in the city.
Maria's expert tip: Look for the remains of an ancient Roman house in the carpark.
One of the best preserved monuments and best examples of Ancient Roman architecture in the city is the Colosseum. It took nearly ten years to build one of the world's largest public venues: heroic arches, columns and windows that stood 160 feet high and a seating capacity of 50,000 which made this arena so immense and prominent. Construction of the arena was ordered by Vespasian in A.D. 72 and was inaugurated by Titus in A.D. 80 with combat games involving gladiators and animals. Aside from bloody battles, legend has it that Christians were also fed to the lions at the Colosseum. BUS: 87, 571. METRO: Colosseo
Recommended for Sightseeing because: A visit to Rome, really wouldn't be complete without a visit to the world's most famous monument.
Maria's expert tip: Make sure to check out the Colosseum at night. Companies like Walks of Italy run VIP and evening tours regularly.
Thanks to Fellini's Dolce Vita, the Trevi Fountain has served as a picturesque backdrop for Hollywood blockbusters like Three Coins in a Fountain and Roman Holiday and a dream come true for young women looking for love. Legend has it, throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, will ensure you a return trip to the Eternal City. The fountain is a dramatic aquatic marvel for visitors thanks to its vast basin ensconced between three tiny streets (the "tre vie,") with cascades of water that appear to be streaming from the wall of Palazzo Poli. Believe it or not, the Trevi Fountain is quite the money maker. Authorities say it rakes in some 600,000 a year, all of which is donated to charity.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: In 2015 Fendi paid a sizeable fee for the restoration of the fountain and if at all possible, it now looks even more beautiful!
Maria's expert tip: Make sure you know how to toss the coin in the right way. Toss the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder and your back to the fountain. Throw one coin in to make a wish and a second coin to guarantee your return to the eternal city.
Context Travel is an American tour company operating in cities all over Italy and Europe. What makes their 'tours' so special is that they're not actually tours but rather small walking seminars. Rather than using tour guides, Context uses professors, docents and experts in the field to lead the walks. Their walks are catered to the 'intellectually curious' or people who are interested in taking a class while on vacation rather than just following a typical tour guide with an umbrella. Context firmly believes in sustainable travel therefore, their walking seminars never exceed more than 8 people per group. Their seminars cover everything from Ancient and Religious Rome, Renaissance and Baroque Art, Architecture, Food seminars and even wine tastings. Context has a specialized wine walk lead in Rome by a professional sommelier. During the course, the sommelier takes the group to two typical enoteche where he/she teaches you about the history of wine making, seasonal wines and how to pair your wine with certain foods.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Context offer carefully created tours of the Rome that are unique with respect to your run of the mill city tours.
Maria's expert tip: Context Travel also leads walking seminars in cities across the world from New York to Beijing.
Imagine having your very own Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday experience riding around Rome on a Vespa! Scooteroma offer guided Vespa tours in Rome with a number of routes and itineraries or you can even create your own. Each tour is private and tailored to your needs and interests. Some examples of themed Vespa rides include a focus on cinema, street art and food. Annie, Giovanni and their team of experienced drivers will lead you on a trip of a lifetime, weaving through the chaotic streets of Rome and zip by her most famous monuments and attractions. Scooteroma ain't for the faint hearted but if it's fun you're after, they're your people.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Riding on a scooter around Rome with Annie and her drivers is one of the most unique and fun things to do in Rome.
Maria's expert tip: Scooter tours book up very fast especially in the warmer months, so be sure to book ahead.
As the name suggests, Personalized Italy offer a personalized tour operator service to travelers wanting to explore Rome and beyond in a unique way and without the mass tourist crowds. Some of their bespoke offerings include personalized shopping, photography walks and art, street art and architecture tours. Their Cosmatesque Walking Tour, the only tour of its kind in Rome, takes you on a journey through the medieval history of Rome by exploring the uniquely tiled floorings of churches and other sites. The team at Personalized Italy will work with you to create a Roman Holiday that you won't soon forget.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Personalized Italy are more than just a tour operator but they work with you to create personalized travel experiences you won't forget.
Maria's expert tip: Personalized Italy also offer customized experiences across regional Lazio through to Naples, Amalfi Coast, Tuscany and more.
Rome's number #1 rated food tour runs with loads of departures daily except for Sundays in two real Roman neighborhoods (Testaccio and Trastevere). On this four hour journey through the streets of Rome, you will get to enjoy about 10 authentic tastings (from tiramisu to buffalo mozzarella to pizza) at gourmet food stores, bars, a restaurant & fresh food market. You will get to know the Rome through its people, culture and cuisine in a truly unique way and the best part of the tour (aside from the unforgettable food!) is that it takes you to the parts of the eternal city that you wouldn't have ordinarily stumbled upon. The company also run a cooking class with a Roman grandma and a wine pairing dinner guided by a certified sommelier. BUS: 3, TRAM: 8. TRAIN: Ostiense, Trastevere.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Eating Italy remains the #1 rated food tour in Rome and a leader in culinary activities across Europe.
Maria's expert tip: Get in early because group sizes are small and tours and classes book out fast. And sign up to their newsletter through their website for discounts and giveaways.
Walks of Italy is an American company that specializes in small English-language led tours of major historical sights in Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Milan, Umbria, Pompei and the Amalfi coast. They feature tours on the Vatican Museums and the Roman Forum to the leaning tower of Pisa and the Uffizi museum in Florence. They also organize culinary tours and cooking classes. If you wish to visit the vineyards of Tuscany, they can arrange for a full day on a private farmhouse. The tour includes a full home cooked meal, wine tastings and lessons on truffles and even how to make cheese.
Recommended for Sightseeing because: Walks of Italy are the leader in Rome for intimate group walking tours where you won't be just a number in the crowd.
Maria's expert tip: Walks of Italy Tours have been featured in Rick Steves' guidebooks, USA Today and the company even earned some exporsure in Showtime's docu-film, The Borgias.