Rome, whose crest is the Capitoline she-wolf (after the bronze statue portraying the legendary animal feeding the twins Romolus and Remus, founders of Rome), is the capital of the Italian Republic. It is the most densely populated city in Italy and among the main European capitals for territorial extension.

Rome is also the city with the world highest concentration of historical and architectural goods. Its centre, circumscribed by the perimeter of the Aurelian walls, which materialize and document an overlap of almost three thousands years of history, is the unique expression of an enormous historical, artistic and cultural heritage whose influence has spread all over the world; in 1980, together with the extraterritorial properties of the “Holy See” inside the city and San Paolo’s Basilica “outside the walls”, it has been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage. Rome, heart of Catholic Christianity, is the only city in the world to host a foreign State within its territory – the Vatican City’s enclave: for this reason it is often defined as capital of two States. More than 16% of world cultural goods are located in Rome (70% of the whole Italian territory).

With its 52,000 hectares of rural areas, Rome is also the “greenest” city in Europe. Beside the historical villas, there are many other green areas, and many cultivated plots of land in the outskirts. Protected areas covers an overall surface of 40,000 hectares, and with a surface of 517 square kilometers destined to agricultural use (about 40% of the total municipal territory) Rome is also the biggest agricultural municipality in Europe.

Today Rome is one of the most important tourist destinations of the world, due to the incalculable number of archaeological and artistic treasures, its peculiar traditions, the lyrical beauty of its panoramic views, and the majesty of its parks. Visitors and resident can enjoy plenty of museums (Capitoline Museums, National Gallery of Modern Art, the Vatican Museums, Galleria Borghese, and many others) historical buildings, churches, palaces, the monuments and ruins of the Roman Forum and the Catacombs. Roman fountains and its imposing acqueducts (water system) are also very distinctive elements of the city.

Rome is the third most visited city in the European Union, after London and Paris, and receives an average of 7-10 million tourists a year, which can double on holy years. The Colosseum (4 million tourists) and the Vatican Museums (4.2 million tourists) are respectively the 39th and 37th most visited places in the world. In 2005 the city registered 19.5 million of global visitors, up of 22.1% from 2001, and in 2006 Rome has been visited by 6.03 million of international tourists, reaching the 8th place in the ranking of the world’s 150 most visited cities. Rome has also been nominated 2007’s fourth most desirable city to visit in the world after Florence, Buenos Aires, and Bangkok.


Destination: Rome

“What’s Rome like for a long weekend away?” I’m often asked this, and I always answer the same way, “For a long weekend away it’s rubbish”. You see, coming to Rome only for a long weekend is frustrating, there’s just too much to see and do in just 72 hours. It would be like walking into a room and being presented with the world biggest free buffet, full of delicacies from all over the world, but only having enough time to butter a bread roll before being ushered out again. Beautiful site, great experience, but if only you’d had more time…

As a weekend destination, Rome really does have it all, we all know about the amazing beauty and charm of the main cultural sites, but seriously, you could spend a whole day having a tour around the Vatican museums and still want to go back for more in the morning. The first time I went into the Colosseum, I didn’t want to leave, it really is that magical. Book a tour of the Roman Forum and let your guide reconstruct Roman life as they walk you around those cobbled, ancient streets. You could easily get lost in your imagination and spend hours there.

As night time falls, it get’s worse. There are so many restaurants to choose from, so many dishes you will want to try as you pass through the bustling streets of Trastevere, mouth and eyes wide open as you spy other peoples dinners as they eat ‘al fresco’ on the outside tables as you make your way to your chosen restaurant. After dinner, you could head down to the river and enjoy a cocktail and the open air cinema, or you could pop along to Gregory’s Jazz Club at the top of the Spanish Steps. If Jazz aint your thing daddy-o, then there are always the bars and clubs of Testaccio, San Lorenzo or Pigneto.

And then there are the other pleasures. Sitting on the bench outside Caffe Peru (just off Piazza Farnese) having breakfast takes up at least an hour and a half. Not because the service is terrible, Salvatore the owner wouldn’t allow that, but because it’s the best place in Rome to sit back with a coffee and watch the world go by. How about a stroll through Villa Ada, one of Rome’s lesser visited parks? It’s absolutely beautiful. A day trip to Anzio? Tivoli? Castelli Romani? Where are you going to find the time?

No, a long weekend in Rome just isn’t enough. With two main airports that cater to both the main and low-cost airlines and thousands of excellent hotels and beautiful apartments to rent, you have no excuse not to come again and again. I should know, I came here for a long weekend 11 years ago and never left.


When In Rome Tours – Via Sebastiano Veniero 21

We’re moving! On July 9th 2012, we’re moving to bigger premises even closer to the Vatican Museums entrance! We’re more or less right next to the meeting point for Viator / Dark Rome Vatican tours which is the staircase connecting Via Tunisi with Viale Vaticano. They don’t have an office so if you would like to pop in to ours for a chat, a sit down and some relaxation time, you’re most welcome.

The new office covers approximately 130 square metres, comprising a reception area, customer service area, ample seating room, toilets, networked computers for customers to browse our website and book additional tours, plasma screens showing company / individual tour videos, and a costume area where you can dress up as a gladiator, a citizen of ancient Rome, and even a Roman Emperor for family photographs.

For details, please visit us at

New website coming soon!

Vatican Tourism

The Vatican City is the main destination of pilgrimage and religious tourist attraction in Italy. It was officially born on 11 February 1929, after the signing of ‘Lateran Pacts’ between the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy and the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Gasparri. The long standing dispute between the State and the Church came to an end with the creation of the autonomous government of the Vatican City.

The Vatican City is the smallest independent sovereign state in the world with a government, statutes and head of state of its own (the Pontiff of the Catholic Church). It covers an area of just 0.44 square kilometers, is located inside Rome, and as an autonomous State keeps its own laws, public institutions, coins and official press. Despite it’s size, it holds within it’s boundaries the residence of the Pope, the site of St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

The core of the Vatican City is St Peter’s Square and Basilica, where it’s possible to admire the ‘Palace of Governorship’ and the Vatican Gardens. Built in 1506 over St Peter’s tomb, Saint Peter’s Basilica is the world’s largest. 
In 1547 Michelangelo took over and simplified Bramante’s previous plan, increasing the scale. At his death in 1564, one of Michelangelo’s students, Giacomo della Porta, looked after the erection of the Dome following the master’s design. The beating heart of the Vatican City, St Peter’s square gathers thousands of believers and tourists, all fascinated by it’s powerful artistic and religious scenography.

The Vatican City is a popular destination for tourists, especially Christians wishing to see the Pope or practice their faith. Pilgrims will most often visit Vatican City at special moments in the liturgical year, such as Christmas, Easter or during important periods such as the proclamation of a holy year or the funeral and election of a pope. The business of Vatican Tours is one of the main sources of revenue in the economy of the Vatican City. Although less than a quarter of a square mile in area, in 2007, some 4.3 million people visited the Vatican Museums.

The practice of pilgrimage has ancient origins. It is deeply rooted in Christianity and holds a  profound spiritual value for believers who travel (by tradition on foot) from their homes to holy places. The term itself means ‘journey to join the sacred’, done for devotion or as a sign of penance, but also a simple and ancient version of modern tourism, or more precisely, religious tourism. The positive trend and number of pilgrims of the last few years prove that it’s popularity is increasing.


Five new Vatican tours online!

We’re developing our in depth Vatican tours at time of writing to incorporate the works of Bernini and Raphael as stand alone tours, with more in the pipeline. For now, our new Vatican tour options, namely ‘One day at the Vatican’, ‘Two days at the Vatican’, ‘Private Vatican Tour’,  ’Vatican tours for Schools and Colleges’ and ‘Vatican tours for Pilgrims’ can be booked online by visiting the When In Rome Tours website. Our long standing Vatican highlights morning, afternoon, and subterranean Vatacombs tours are now regarded as the best Vatican tours in Rome.

However, despite the fact that our modern, comfortable office premises are located just 150 metres away from the historic Vatican Museums gate, Vatican tours are but a small part of the full spectra of Rome tours and Italy tours we provide. We do of course have many years experience in Vatican tours, and our fully licensed guides know the Vatican city inside out, but the work we do is not limited to Vatican tour guides working in the Vatican city. We are currently working on tours in Florence, Venice, Parma and Sicily, all of which will become a big part of our work in 2011 and 2012.

We’ve restructured most of our Vatican tour prices this month, so you can book Vatican tours by person as opposed to having to book within ‘range’ tours, for example, 5-7 persons for a family of five (5), billed @ seven (7) persons rate. This is an important step for us as now our Vatican tour services are not only the best Vatican tours in Rome, but they also offer great value. We are fast approaching 100 reviews on Trip Advisor and our Facebook profiles are seeing alot of new members, alot more ‘likes’, alot more everything! Now is a good time to like When In Rome Tours, so thankyou very much for your continuing support!

Italy Shore Excursions

Perhaps 500 limo / bus tour companies send their drivers to the ports of Civitavecchia, Livorno, Venice, Palermo and Messina each morning offering all manner of tourism services to weary tourists, very much looking forward to see what they can of Italy.

We all know, and have already discussed the fact that bus tours arranged by cruise lines here in Italy and probably everywhere else in the World are a waste of time and money.

Limo tours offered by drivers who double as tour guides are the middle ground, in that tourists will be told what they are seeing in broken english, but no more. Is that really enough in a city as splendid as Rome, for example? A couple of anecdotes and some garbled history from behind the wheel your abiding memory of Etruscan, Republican and Imperial Rome? No, of course not. God forbid!

In an ideal world, every visitor arriving in Rome, Florence, Venice or Sicily on a cruise liner will have the good sense to book their tours of the cities they wish to see with a private, specialist agency. Not so much to benefit the tour agencies in Rome, Florence or elsewhere, more so to guarantee every visitor a lasting education as regards where they are taken and what is explained to them. Something they’ll never forget for all the right reasons.

It is unfortunate that the vast quantity of paid advertisements on search engines clutter the decision making process. Limo, limo, limo, limo. NO! Think, before you book. If you are happy to ‘explore’ Rome, Florence or the canal city of Venice by car, that’s your choice, but by now it is clear how much you’ll miss on your once in a lifetime trip to Italy.

For the best shore excursions, with highly experienced licensed tour guides ready to meet you in your destination city, send us your tour requirements by e-mail: or visit our website

Personal callers are always welcome at our Rome office. Via Santamaura 21 is just one block away from the Vatican Museums entrance.

Sightseeing in Rome

For the majority of visitors to Rome, an afternoon spent in the labyrinthine Vatican Museums is the absolute highlight of their stay. The Vatican tour they take must be as complete and fulfilling as possible, which is something we strive to achieve by offering four different Vatican tours. But what about sightseeing in Rome? Away from the vast collections of major works of art within the walls of the Vatican City?

A boat trip along the river Tiber from Isola Tiberina to the bridges of Duca d’Aosta and Milvio beside the Stadio Olimpico costs a couple of euros, and if you’d like to spend more time on board, two hour trips to the ancient port of Ostia can be taken from Marconi. Free time on terra firma is made available to see fine examples of ancient Roman life from as early as 1,400 BC, until the eventual decline of Ostia in the 5th century.

There are some beautiful historic gardens in Rome. In the stifling heat of summer when streets are packed with tourists, where better to go? Of course Villa Borghese in the city centre is known to all, like Zappion Gardens in Athens and Regents Park in London. In June and July, the landscaped gardens and wooded parkland around the Borghese Gallery and museum can become as busy as the city streets nearby.

Villa d’Este in Tivoli boasts perhaps some of the finest gardens in Italy, but distance from Rome is perhaps a stumbling block. Giardino degli Aranci on the Aventine hill, the Pincio overlooking Piazza del Popolo or the expansive Vatican Gardens, be sure to see all of them when in Rome.

Rome is a vibrant and culturally diverse city as much today as she was in the Imperial age. There is a constant flow of events for each and every one of us to become a part of.

In the coming weeks, When In Rome Tours will publish a ‘What’s On In Rome’ guide and news section, to make sure that the pastime of sightseeing in Rome, for our customers at least, is a memorable and enjoyable experience.