The 'Eternal City': a living history of Western Civilisation from its birth, through the Renaissance to the modern day in an unbroken thread of 3,000 years, this Italian holiday offers a breathtaking abundance of art, architecture, monuments and ruins.
The Papal audience takes place at St Peter's each Wednesday, unless the Pope is absent.
Italian food may have spanned the globe but there’s far more on offer than just pizza and pasta. Roman cuisine is rich and varied, from traditional and earthy dishes originating in the meat markets, through the classic spaghetti alla carbonara, to more than one hundred different flavours of ice cream. Pecorino romano and ricotta are the city’s favourite cheeses, while a platter of delicious antipasti will reflect whatever is in season at the local markets.
A bruschetta topped with tomatoes or artichoke makes a quick snack; for a real Roman experience try visiting the authentic area of Trastevere, full of trattorias and pizzerias offering alfresco dining opportunities during the long summer evenings.
Local wines to try include the crisp white Frascati, and the Est! Est! Est! wine, taking its name (‘Here it is!’) from the words written on a wine shop door by a medieval papal messenger sent to find the best one in town!
In one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, the shopping will not disappoint. As to be expected, Italy’s top designers are out in force, mostly around the Via Condotti at the bottom of the Spanish Steps - Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and more - but part of the appeal of shopping in Rome is finding treasures to take home that are uniquely Roman and not available elsewhere.
Best buys include leather goods, in particular gloves in rainbow colours from tiny boutiques in hidden corners, ceramics and handicrafts, not to mention gorgeous, handmade stationery. Or try the Sunday morning flea market at the Porta Portese for something different.