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Since all roads lead to Rome, as the saying goes, finding a way to the Italian capital should be easy, no matter where you’re coming from. Rome-Fiumicino International Airport (FCO), also called Leonardo da Vinci Airport, is the main international airport, located about a 30-minute drive southwest of the city center. Take an express train from the airport to Rome’s main terminal Termini. Ciampino (CIA) Airport, also known as Giovan Battista Pastine Airport, is about the same distance from the southeast, and mostly services European and domestic flights. Once you’re in the city, driving can be challenging, with heavy traffic and pedestrian-only zones. Many local attractions are within walking distance, but the underground metro system may be a faster option. Buses, taxis, and rideshares are also plentiful.
Choosing the best time to visit Rome comes down to personal preference: the warmer months come with huge crowds, meaning you may find long lines and limited tickets around town; if you visit during chillier periods, there’s a more manageable urban flow. The good news about the latter option is that low temperatures seldom drop below freezing and there can be moderate days, even in January and February. May and September may be a sweet spot to catch the best of both worlds. As Rome is an urban hub, it isn’t hard to find a festival or major event in the city at any given time, but annual highlights include the Festival del Verde e del Paesaggio garden festival in May, the VinòForum wine festival in June, the Taste of Roma food festival in September, and the season-long Lungo il Tevere Summer Festival from June through September, with al fresco performances and films at heritage sites.
When in Rome, visits to the headline attractions are a requisite. There’s the Colosseum, the Forum, and Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel (opt for skip-the-line access for all three), as well as the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps, but the list doesn’t end there. Other ancient landmarks include Palatine Hill, the Baths of Caracalla, Trajan’s Forum, and the Circus Maximus. Perhaps go fountain hopping at the Fiumi and Barcaccia fountains, or tour the piazzas like Piazza Navona, Piazza Venezia, and Piazza del Popolo. Other highlights include the Villa Borghese house and gardens, the Castel Sant’Angelo fortress, and the grand Altar of the Fatherland monument.
As home to one of the world’s oldest Jewish neighborhoods, this area is filled with impressive sites such as the 19th-century synagogue and the Piazza delle Cinque Scole, as well as tasty eats―don’t miss the Roman-Jewish carciofi alla giudia (deep-fried artichokes) in the area’s eateries. But it’s also a place of reflection, such as at the memorial in Piazza 16 Ottobre 1943.
As proof that Rome isn’t just about its past, the MAXXI is focused on contemporary creativity of every kind. The site comprises the nation’s first museum of architecture, as well as a modern art museum that includes theater, dance, graphics, and advertising.