The city of Rome, the Italian capital, is situated on the River Tiber in the central part of Italy. Dating back to 753 BC, it is a beautiful city that is steeped in history. Places to visit include the Colosseum, the famous Trevi Fountain, the Roman Steps, Villa Borghese Park, the Roman Forum, the Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps.
Italy has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and warm, dry summers with an average daytime temperature of 30° Celsius. This makes its beaches very popular in the summer.
If you take advantage of Rome car hire, you can pick up your vehicle at one of the two airports - Rome Fiumicino (FCO), which is 45 kilometres away, or Rome Ciampino (CIA), which is 12 kilometres to the south. The Autostrada del Sole is the major road and connects to the ring road (Grande Raccordo Anulare) surrounding the city, from where it is easy to enter Rome.
Most of the sights are accessible by public transport. The Colosseum is a huge amphitheatre dating back to AD 80 where you will see men in traditional gladiator costumes commemorating its use for gladiator fights. The Roman Forum was the centre of ancient Rome and was used for ceremonies and business, legal and social gatherings.
Every visitor to Rome should see the beautiful baroque Trevi Fountain that dates from 1762 and was designed by a group of artists that included Pannini, Salvi and Brachi. According to legend, if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain you will return to Rome one day. Very near the fountain is San Crispino, which has arguably the best gelato in Italy. You can enjoy the dolce vita with great food, coffee and pastries in one of the many street cafes scattered throughout the city. With pizza, pasta, cheeses, biscotti and Italian wines on offer, life is good for lovers of food and drink in Rome.
A lovely garden to visit is the Villa Borghese Park, home of Cardinal Borghese. The villa contains a stunning art collection on view to the public by appointment. The Piazza Navona has luxurious cafes, where you can sample the excellent tartufo ice cream dessert and three imposing Baroque fountains.
The Spanish Steps take you from Piazza di Spagna to the church of Trinita dei Monti and are ideal for people-watching. Another area worth visiting if you have a vehicle from a Rome car hire company is the medieval town of Tivoli, which features Hadrian's Villa and Cardinal Ippolito d'Este's pleasure palace with its hundreds of gravity-powered Baroque fountains.
The Vatican City is a state in its own right. The capital of the Catholic Church, it features the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica and needs at least one or two full days to be appreciated in all its glory. St Paul's basilica, commonly known as St Paul's Outside the Walls, contains the remains of St Paul.
If you make use of car hire in Rome, you can explore further afield and visit the picturesque ruins of the Ostia Antio port. The many Mediterranean beaches, such as Ostia Lido, Sperlonga, which has very soft sand and Terracina with its warm waters are also options when travelling by car. You could also visit Naples, the beautiful coast of Amalfi or the historic city of Pompeii, buried by volcanic ash in AD 79 subsequently excavated.
Umbria, which is called the 'Green Heart of Italy', has beautiful vineyards and is a major wine-producing region of the country. You could also drive to Assisi, the birthplace of St Francis. His basilica is a World Heritage Site. Perugia has long been the artistic centre of Italy and Raphael painted some of his best-known works there. The city of Orvieto rises above the almost-vertical cliff faces and has a secret labyrinth of caves and tunnels beneath its surface only recently opened to public view.
Travelling by car will open up the countryside around Rome to you and give you the freedom to stop anywhere for as long as you please without having to keep to an itinerary.
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