Solo Traveller's Guide To Rome - Things To Do Alone
By Alessandro Costetti, a curious photographer and nature enthusiast who switched the gothic grandeur of London for the art, architecture and culture of Rome’s ancient magic.
Edited by Holly Stark
When planning a solo Italian adventure and travelling to Rome alone, it’s important to see everything you want to see. Whether you’re taking the plunge with your first ever solo trip or are already a keen independent traveller, discover how to get the best out of your visit, uncover the best when visiting Rome alone and enjoy a solo travel Rome guide that encompasses the ideal mix of Rome’s rich and turbulent history, modern design, architecture and nightlife. Rome’s traditional restaurants and magical cultural spots provide some great things to do in Rome alone. Navigating independently is no trouble at all as Rome’s attractions are accessible on foot, by bus (however unreliable they may be) and by underground metro (most recommended.) Regardless of how you travel, make this trip for you and relish in the eclectic mixture of period buildings which interconnect different eras. Whether your priority is globally influential art, impressive sculptures, colourful markets, the food scene or quirky neighbourhoods, you won’t be stuck for what to do in Rome as you peel back its many layers. So long as you’re travelling with an open mind, you will be sure to have fun.
If you find yourself wondering “is Rome safe at night?”, there’s no need to worry. In Rome’s historic center, such as via Veneto, Campo de’ Fiori, the Spanish Steps area, the Trevi Fountain area, and Trastevere, you should not be worried as you’ll be in good hands. Each of these areas are usually always crowded until late in the evening, with restaurants often being open after midnight and lots of bars and cafes with people milling about. You can walk safely and feel free. That being said, Rome is a major city and capital, and with all major cities, there are areas that are not safe, especially for women at night, so it’s best to avoid them. Be aware of pickpockets and don’t walk alone in Termini (train station area) and Tiburtina (also a station) late at night.
Campo de’ Fiori Piazza
If I was spending a day by myself in Rome, my ideal day would involve strolling through the city centre; whether the Spanish Steps and Borghese Gallery, the Trevi Fountain and The Pantheon, or Trastevere (great at night) via Piazza Navona. Wherever my steps head, a great walk is through ancient alleys and narrow lanes and parts of Rome much favoured in the evening for somewhere to grab a bite to eat. I’d pass through Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori market, a market is home to flower stalls, cafes, and people. In the center, find a tall plinth topped with a brass statue of Giordano Bruno; a 16th century philosopher who was burned at the stake for his forward-thinking and belief in an endless universe. Head in the morning to enjoy the best of the market; colourful vegetables and fruits, cheese stalls, fabrics, accessories, aromatic spices, limoncello, balsamic vinegar and traditional boxed cakes. The market is great for eating in Rome alone and on the go; soaking up the vibrant Rome sights and experiencing Rome like a local. Close to Campo de' Fiori piazza is Antico Forno Roscioli where you can taste incredible pizza by the slice. The bakery is home to freshly baked, traditional, crispy Roman pizza with generous toppings, pizza alla romana and focaccia romana. See the bakers at work, crafting huge, long pizzas at lightning speed. The pizza is incredible and the most popular and best places to eat in Rome.
The hidden gem of a neighbourhood, Monti, is a must-see for any Rome solo travel itinerary. The urban village, originally a working-class neighbourhood close to the city centre, is an eclectic mix of both bohemian and classical; home to family-run trattorias, quirky vintage and indie shops, classy wine bars, cultural museums and archaeological sites like Trajan’s Market (the world’s first covered shopping mall) and Nero’s Domus Aurea Palace. With traditional Roman piazzas and narrow back streets, the area is great for exploring. Vias Nazionale and Cavour are the area's main commercial strips. In the evening, the area is full of energy; with cafes, bars, restaurants, and locals and tourists. If you’re seeking things to do in Rome at night alone, artsy Monti has a good vibe, is really central, and is a great place to stop by. A short walk from the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia, Monti is the perfect spot to indulge in a little dolce far niente (pleasant idleness.) Order a coffee or glass of wine at one of the nearby cafes, then perhaps sit on the Piazza della Madonna dei Monti fountain steps and watch the world go by.
Visiting the Jewish Ghetto is a must when travelling to Rome alone. As the oldest Jewish settlement in Europe, dating back to the 2nd century B.C., the area is home to a striking synagogue, kosher bakeries and Jewish-Roman trattorias where you can taste the incredible Roman Jewish cuisine. The famous, distinctive local dish carciofo alla giudia is a must-try when eating in Rome alone. The traditional crispy fried artichoke of the Jewish Ghetto is at the historic and culinary heart of Rome. The ghetto was finally abolished in 1870 but the dish lives on, being a speciality of Roman Jewish cuisine. Alla giudia means “Jewish-style” in local dialect and the dish is not to be missed for any foodie in the city. Walk your full tummy off in one of the loveliest, most atmospheric areas and learn about the rough, tragic and turbulent Jewish history in Rome. The compact neighbourhood has very pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets, hidden corners and ancient ruins; great for a solo stroll. It’s usually most convenient for people to visit before, or after, they’ve visited Trastevere which is just over the river, Campo dei Fiori in the west, the Capitoline Museums in the northeast, or the Mouth of Truth which is south. It’s also easy enough to get to from the Roman Forum, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.
Giardino degli Aranci (the Orange Garden)
Explore this beautiful garden scented with oranges which boasts one of the best sweeping views of Rome’s skyline of towering basilicas, domes, arches and obelisks. Find a spot on the little terrace looking down over the glistening Tiber River and watch the sunset over St. Peter’s Dome as the city slowly becomes illuminated. Soak up the beautiful spot loved by locals. Rome has no shortage of paradisal, green spaces with beautiful vistas and the Giardino degli Aranci (the Orange garden), also known as Parco Savello, is no exception with its majestic Roman umbrella pines; an absolute must-see when seeking an organic break from the busy Rome streets. To get there, take a short walk up from Circo Massimo on the idyllic Aventine Hill. At the top you’ll find a fountain by Giacomo Della Porta, which previously lived in the Roman Forum before making its eventual way to this spot after a stop on the lungotevere. Bring a book and enjoy the orange groves. The garden is great for solo travel Rome in the evening, providing an ideal break from the chaos of the streets below.
Musée Hendrik Christian Andersen
Home to towering statues and crazy beautiful paintings, the Musée Hendrik Christian Andersen is a great place to visit for art lovers travelling to Rome alone. Norwegian artist, Hendrik Christian Andersen was around twenty years old when he moved to Rome in the late 1890’s. Cultivating strong bonds with the artistic city, Anderson lived in the neo-Renaissance villa, Villa Hélène, which became both his home and his art studio. The sculptor left his palace and statue collection to the Italian Republic, who then made it available to the public. The museum is a great place to unwind and you can get a glimpse at Andersen’s unique and complex personality reflected in the sculptures sizing and idealistic elements. The collection has over two hundred sculptures of various sizes and media, over two hundred paintings, and some three hundred graphic works; centred around Andersen's utopian concept of a great 'World City'; destined to be the international headquarters of a laboratory of artistic, scientific, philosophical, religious and cultural ideas.
MAXXI is a contemporary art museum in the Flaminio neighborhood of Rome; a great spot to check out a futuristic building in the historic capital. The building itself is a major architectural work designed by the Iraqi-British architect Dame Zaha Hadid; the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Short for Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo (National Museum of the XXI Century Arts), MAXXI is the first Italian national institution devoted to contemporary creativity. As well as being a fascinating museum of art and architecture, at the heart of MAXXI is the ambition to be an experimental space for cultural experiments and innovation, and to be place for the study, research and creation. Home to a rich program of activities: exhibitions, workshops, conferences, shows, projections, and educational projects, the museum is not to be missed when travelling solo in Rome; and the Flaminio neighbourhood is super nice; with beautiful buildings. Quartiere Flaminio lies north of the center of Rome, where the Tevere makes a big bend as if it were trying to circle back towards the city center. Don’t miss it.