The 10 Best Experiences in Rome

Rome offers a wide variety of unforgettable experiences
Rome offers a wide variety of unforgettable experiences | © Britus / iStock
Photo of Nicholas Baker
11 February 2020

Rome is a major tourist destination for a reason – the streets of this bustling capital are literally lined with history and some of the greatest art, culture and architecture in the world. Experience the Italian capital with tours, classes and workshops that will give you an authentic Roman experience.

A survival Italian course in Rome

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Italy talking
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So, you’re planning on visiting Rome, but you’re struggling with your Italian? Fear not! This survival Italian course teaches you the most useful words and phrases, allowing you to interact with Rome’s residents as you explore the city. You’ll begin with a short lesson at a local café and then get the chance to try out your newly learned language skills in real life in the heart of the sprawling Testaccio Market. Whether you manage to haggle in Italian or not, you can still celebrate and cap off the evening at the included wine and cheese tasting. Lasting roughly two and a half hours, the course comes with a complimentary ‘Survival Italian’ booklet to help you during the rest of your trip.

Professional lab pasta experience in a pastificio

Restaurant, Italian
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Chef making fresh italian pasta
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If you’re looking to get more ‘hands-on’ with your Italian cuisine, then this professional lab pasta experience set in a pastificio (an Italian pasta factory) is just what you need. Here, you’ll learn how to make different types of pasta while gaining an understanding of the origins of this quintessentially Italian food. During the three-hour course, you and your fellow group members will make your own pasta sheets, ravioli and fettuccine, as well as traditional dishes such as carbonara, cacio e pepe and gricia. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.

Roman mosaic workshop

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© Carlo Bollo / Alamy

Roman art and architecture often feature beautiful mosaic tiles and patterns, creating masterpieces that last for centuries. Hosted in a family-owned mosaic studio, this experience provides you with the opportunity to work with local marble tiles to create a traditional Roman mosaic of your own. You will learn about texture, composition and marble tile cutting and hear stories about the history of the craft in Rome, all under the tutelage of a master mosaicist.

A sketching Rome tour

Art Gallery
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Colosseum or Coliseum in Rome, Italy.
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If you have an artistic eye, then a sketching tour of this inspiring city might just be what you need. The guided tour lasts about three hours and takes you to some of the most scenic spots in Rome, including the Piazza Mattei, Via Portico d’Ottavia and Teatro di Marcello. At each stop, you will have time to sketch, draw and paint a snapshot of your experience. A sketchbook, pencils, pens and watercolours are all included.

Take part in the public Papal Audience

Historical Landmark
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© Tiziana Fabi / Getty Images

Catholics or religious visitors are bound to enjoy the Wednesday Papal Audience. The once-in-a-lifetime experience gives visitors access to see the Pope and his cardinals as they address their followers in the majestic St Peter’s Square or in the grand Nervi Hall. As the free but extremely popular access is hard to get a hold of, it’s highly advised that you book the experience well in advance to avoid disappointment. The entire experience lasts three to five hours, and your pre-reserved tickets include assistance from a coordinator who will share insight into the history and secrets of the Vatican.

The Rome gladiator show

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Roman gladiator, wrestler and warrior of Rome
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Watch recreated gladiator fights at this incredible show. Set in an arena at the Gladiator Museum, just 2.5 kilometres (1.5mi) from the Colosseum itself, the 90-minute show also includes a guided tour of the museum’s various exhibits, including weapons and armour used by fighters all those centuries ago.

Traditional Roman family feast in Trastevere

Restaurant, Italian
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Restaurant Chilling Out Classy Lifestyle Reserved Concept
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Some of the best reasons to visit Rome are the food, the wine and the hospitality. And as it works out, this Roman family feast in the heart of Trastevere combines all three. Enjoy multiple courses with fellow travellers and swap stories as you share a meal and a glass of wine. With warm and inviting local hosts and dishes such as zucchini fritters with gorgonzola, spaghetti carbonara with bacon curls and mozzarella en carrozza, you’ll have an authentic Roman food experience you won’t soon forget.

Rome exploration on a Liberty scooter

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Couple looking at church painting from moped,
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Rome is best seen on two wheels, so do as the Romans do and zip through the capital on a 125cc scooter. Or, if you need a break from the city, venture out to the surrounding Lazio countryside and access parts of Rome you would never see from the tour bus. Scooters are available to rent for periods of 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours and seven days from Termini station, and include secure locks and two helmets.

Haunted Rome exploration game and tour

Historical Landmark
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Ponte Sant'Angelo
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In a city as old as Rome, there are more than a few ghost stories to be told. This haunted exploration game and tour will have you solving clues and discovering some of the city’s most popular ghost stories, all via your smartphone. Hear about the most prolific executioner in Rome, explore ‘the church of chained spirits’ and see the woman who was cursed to lose her hands. The game takes about 2.5 hours, and while the app is free, you’ll need to purchase the ‘quest’ and enter a code to unlock clues in this eclectic mixture of outdoor escape game and treasure hunt.

Ice-cream making in Rome for gelato lovers

Ice Cream Parlour, Italian
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Various of ice cream flavor in cones blueberry ,strawberry ,pistachio ,almond ,orange and cherry setup on dark stone background . Summer and Sweet menu concept.
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Italy is famous for its gelato, so instead of just buying some from a local store, why not try your hands at actually making it yourself? Taking place in a gelateria in the centre of Rome, this experience give you the chance to produce your very own gelato. The one-hour course is a quick and fun way to learn about one of Italy’s most famous foods.

These recommendations were updated on February 11, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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