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In Rome, history is everywhere, from well known monuments like the Colosseum to lesser-known treasures hidden beneath your feet. However, there is more to Rome than ancient history. Here are five things to do in Rome which will give you a better understanding of ‘the eternal city’.

Basilica di San Clemente

With so many beautiful, ancient buildings on every street, it’s easy to get historied-out. But one place that is definitely worth seeing is Basilica di San Clemente, a church like no other. Here you will discover that Rome is built in layers, from ancient times until the present day. Basilica di San Clemente has four different levels from different times in history. There is a first century Pagan temple, an ancient Roman mint, mosaics from an early Christian church and the church which currently sits on the site. Tours are available in English or you can conduct your own self-guided tour using the provided brochure.

Drink coffee in Rome

Rome has no Starbucks for a reason: Italy is the home of espresso coffee. Rome offers an ideal opportunity to experience Italy’s coffee culture at an authentic cafe but don’t blow your cool by ordering a coffee with milk after 10am (it’s a breakfast drink). Most locals drink their coffee standing up at the counter but at an atmospheric coffee shop, it’s worth paying extra to sit at a table and watch the world go by.

Drinking coffee, Roman style
Drinking coffee, Roman style

See Rome in style

It’s a good idea to do some sort of tour when you arrive in Rome to help you get your bearings. However, instead of doing a boring bus tour why not travel in style in an original Fiat 500?  Rome 500 Experience is a 3-hour tour which shows off some of Rome’s highlights, such as the Colosseum and The Forum, and lesser-known treasures like an ancient Roman ‘dump’ filled with amphora. This tour also includes a visit to Eataly, a three storey train station which has been converted into a mega-market filled with delicious Italian food, from pasta and pizza to an in-house brewery and dedicated chocolate gelato outlet.

Specialty chocolate gelato shop at Eataly
Specialty chocolate gelato shop at Eataly

Do a Rome food tour

It’s not enough to eat great Italian food (although it’s certainly a very enjoyable thing to do). If you want a deeper understanding of Rome’s food culture, it’s worth signing up for a foodie tour. Walks of Italy offer a family-friendly walking tour which starts with a visit to a local market in the heart of Rome, followed by the chance to make your own pizza and a visit an iconic Roman coffee shop. Specialist tours focussing on one favourite food item, like coffee or gelato, can also be found online. We also did a great food tour of Trastevere.

Outside Antica Norcineria Viola on a foodie tour
Outside Antica Norcineria Viola on a foodie tour

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See the Vatican

Whether you are Catholic or not, it’s hard not to be impressed by the treasures housed in the Vatican. Here you can see one of the world’s greatest art collections at the Vatican Museums, including the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. You can also climb St Peters Dome for stunning views of Rome and experience the architectural beauty of St Peter’s Basilica. You will need at least a day to fully experience this city-within-a-city.

Disclosure: The writer was a guest of Rome 500 Experience, Take Walks and Eating Italy. She bought a lot of gelato and coffee during her stay in Rome, all in the name of research of course.

If you are heading to Rome and looking for some other things to do, we really enjoyed touring the Colosseum and also our food tours around Campo di Fiore and Trasevere. If you have been to Rome before and want something a little different, check out these Rome hidden secrets.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.