Tourists use an iPad tablet in front of Rome's ancient Colosseum.
Tourists use an iPad tablet in front of Rome's ancient Colosseum.
Saint Angelo castle in downtown Rome by the River Tiber
Saint Angelo castle in downtown Rome by the River Tiber

Rome is a masterpiece packed with wonders, from some of the world’s finest art to exquisite cappuccino.

Treasure hunting

Rome has numerous great sights – St Peter’s, Piazza Navona, the Forum and Colosseum, Trajan’s Column, Castel Sant Angelo, the Trevi Fountain, the epic golden statue of Marcus Aurelius, the Pantheon, Piazza del Popolo – and they are so close you can see them all easily in a weekend’s strolling.

And, best of all, most of them are free. But there is always something new to discover, and during my latest visit I concentrated on treasures in Galleria Borghese, set in the Villa Borghese’s rarefied grounds.

It’s worth visiting just for the astonishing Bernini sculpture, Daphne and Apollo, and Venus wearing only a rakishly angled hat in Cranach’s Venus And Cupid With A Honeycomb. This is an admirable alternative if the Vatican is full.

Perfect pizza

One of the joys of visiting Rome is finding that my favourite restaurants from way back haven’t changed. 

You’re unlikely to be disappointed in any small family place in Rome. 

Location, location

If a stray meteorite ever took out Rome, they’d be able to rebuild it, from the biggest monuments to the most intimate avenue, thanks to the many films shot there. On our visit, I couldn’t help but picture Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn on a scooter. 

Poets’ corner

One of the most poignant places in Rome has nothing to do with imperial grandeur or centuries of great art and architecture. It’s where a doomed 25-year-old spent his last six months.

For me it was intensely moving to stand in the room where poet John Keats died of TB in 1821 while everyday life continued just outside on the Spanish Steps. 

Externally, Keats-Shelley House is unchanged from when Keats moved here in the vain hope of recovering. Everything in this small museum is in English, and there’s an excellent shop.