Rick Steves Pocket Rome


By Rick Steves

With Gene Openshaw

Formats and Prices




$19.99 CAD



  1. Trade Paperback $14.99 $19.99 CAD
  2. ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD

Make the most of every day and every dollar with Rick Steves! This colorful, compact guidebook is perfect for spending a week or less in Rome:
  • City walks and tours: Six detailed tours and walks showcase Rome's essential sights, including the Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica, and the lively Piazza Navona, plus handy neighborhood breakdowns
  • Rick's strategic advice on what experiences are worth your time and money
  • What to eat and where to stay: Grab a quick lunch of pizza al taglio, people-watch as you sip wine on a sunny piazza and savor a multi-course meal at a neighborhood enoteca
  • Day-by-day itineraries to help you prioritize your time
  • A detailed, detachable fold-out map, plus museum and city maps throughout
  • Full-color, portable, and slim for exploring on the go
  • Trip-planning practicalities like when to go, how to get around, and more
Lightweight yet packed with valuable insight into Rome's history and culture, Rick Steves Pocket Rome truly is a tour guide in your pocket.

Spending more than a week in the city? Try Rick Steves Rome!



Map: Rome

About this Book

Rome—A City of Neighborhoods

Map: Rome’s Neighborhoods

Key to this Book

Planning Your Time

Daily Reminder

Rome at a Glance

Rome is magnificent and brutal at the same time. It’s a showcase of Western civilization, with astonishingly ancient sights and a modern vibrancy. But with the wrong attitude, you’ll be frustrated by the kind of chaos that only an Italian can understand. On my last visit, a cabbie struggling with the traffic said, “Roma chaos.” I responded, “Bella chaos.” He agreed.

Two thousand years ago, when the ancient city dominated Europe, the word “Rome” meant civilization itself. Today, Rome is Italy’s political capital, the heart of Catholicism, and the enduring legacy of the ancient world. As you peel through the city’s fascinating layers, you’ll find Rome’s monuments, cats, laundry, cafés, churches, fountains, traffic, and 2.8 million people endlessly entertaining.

About This Book

With this book, I’ve selected only the best of Rome—admittedly a tough call. The core of the book is six self-guided tours that zero in on Rome’s greatest sights and neighborhoods. Do the “Caesar shuffle” through ancient Rome’s Colosseum and Forum. Stroll from Campo de’ Fiori to the Spanish Steps, lacing together Rome’s Baroque and bubbly nightspots. Visit St. Peter’s, the greatest church on earth, and learn something about eternity by touring the huge Vatican Museum. Savor the sumptuous Borghese Gallery.

The rest of the book is a traveler’s tool kit. You’ll find plenty more about Rome’s attractions, from shopping to nightlife to less touristy sights. And there are helpful hints on saving money, avoiding crowds, getting around Rome, finding a great meal, and much more.

If you’d like more information than this Pocket Guide offers, I’ve sprinkled the book liberally with Web references. For general travel tips—as well as updates for this book—see ricksteves.com.

Rome—A City of Neighborhoods

Sprawling Rome actually feels manageable once you get to know it.

The historic core, with most of the tourist sights, sits in a diamond formed by Termini train station (in the east), Vatican City (west), Villa Borghese Gardens (north), and the Colosseum (south). The Tiber River runs through the diamond from north to south. In the center of the diamond sits Piazza Venezia, a busy square and traffic hub. It takes about an hour to walk from Termini train station to Vatican City.

Think of Rome as a series of neighborhoods, huddling around major landmarks.

Ancient Rome: In ancient times, this was home for the grandest buildings of a city of a million people. Today, the best of the classical sights stand in a line from the Colosseum to the Forum to the Pantheon.

Pantheon Neighborhood: The Pantheon anchors the neighborhood I like to call the heart of Rome. It stretches eastward from the Tiber River through Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona, past the Pantheon to the Trevi Fountain.

North Rome: With the Spanish Steps, Villa Borghese Gardens, and trendy shopping streets (Via Veneto and the “shopping triangle”), this is a more modern, classy area.

Vatican City: Located west of the Tiber, it’s a compact world of its own, with two great, huge sights: St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum.

Trastevere: This seedy, colorful, wrong-side-of-the-river neighborhood is village Rome. It’s the city at its crustiest—and perhaps most Roman.

Termini: Though light on sightseeing highlights, the train-station neighborhood has many recommended hotels and public-transportation connections.

Pilgrim’s Rome: Several prominent churches dot the area south of Termini train station.

South Rome: South of the city center, you’ll find the gritty/colorful Testaccio neighborhood and the Appian Way, home of the catacombs.

Planning Your Time

The following day-plans give an idea of how much an organized, motivated, and caffeinated person can see. If you have less than a week, start with the Day 1 plan—the most important sights—and add on from there.

Day 1: The Colosseum is the ultimate place to begin your tour of ancient Rome. Then continue to the Forum and Pantheon. After a siesta, have dinner on atmospheric Campo de’ Fiori, then take this book’s Heart of Rome Walk to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. If all you have is this one day, skip the walk and see Day 2’s sights in the afternoon and evening. Crazy as it sounds, many people actually “do” Rome in a day.

Day 2: See St. Peter’s, climb its dome, and tour the Vatican Museum. In the evening, join the locals strolling the Via del Corso passeggiata.

Day 3: See the Borghese Gallery (reservations required) and the Capitoline Museums.

Day 4: Take a side trip to Ostia Antica (closed Mon), the Appian Way, the Catacombs of Priscilla, or Tivoli.

Day 5: Visit the National Museum of Rome and walk through Trastevere.

Day 6: Visit the four churches of Pilgrim’s Rome and the Capuchin Crypt.

Day 7: You choose—South Rome sights, St. Peter-in-Chains, Museo dell’Ara Pacis, Victor Emmanuel Monument viewpoint, Trajan’s Column, shopping...or peruse the Sights chapter for more options.

These are busy day-plans, so be sure to schedule in slack time for picnics, laundry, people-watching, shopping, hiding from the summer heat, and recharging your touristic batteries. Slow down and be open to unexpected experiences and the friendliness of Romans. Budget time for Rome after dark. Dine well at least once.

Quick Tips: Here are a few quick sightseeing tips to get you started—for more on these topics and other ideas, see here. Consider the handy €34 Roma Pass, which covers admission to several sights (and lets you skip some lines), and also includes a three-day transportation pass. Reservations are recommended for the Vatican Museum and mandatory at the Borghese Gallery. Avoid lines at the Colosseum, St. Peter’s, and elsewhere by following my suggestions. Since Rome’s opening hours are notoriously variable, get the latest information from turismoroma.it and at tourist information offices (TIs) when you arrive. Take advantage of my free Rome audio tours, covering many of this book’s sights.

And finally, remember that Rome has hosted visitors for 2,000 years with the same level of inefficiency, improvisation, and apathy you’ll find today, so... be flexible. Buon viaggio!

Colosseum Tour


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Map: Colosseum



Views from the Upper Level

The Colosseum’s Legacy

Start your visit to Rome with its iconic symbol—the Colosseum. Fifty thousand Romans could pack this huge stadium and cheer as their favorite gladiators faced off in bloody battles to the death.

This self-guided tour brings that ancient world to life—the world of Caesars, slaves, Vestal Virgins, trumpet fanfares, roaring lions, and hordes of rabid fans. Prowl the arena like gladiators, climb to the cheap seats for the view, see the underground “backstage” where they kept caged animals, and marvel at the engineering prowess that allowed these ancient people to build on such a colossal scale.

For its thrilling history and sheer massiveness, the Colosseum gets a unanimous thumbs-up.


Cost: €12 combo-ticket includes Roman Forum and Palatine Hill; valid two consecutive days—one entry per sight. Admission also covered by the handy €34 Roma Pass ( see here).

Hours: The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill are all open daily 8:30 until one hour before sunset: April-Aug until 19:15, Sept until 19:00, Oct until 18:30, off-season closes as early as 16:30; last entry one hour before closing.

Getting There: Metro: Colosseo, or buses #53, #85, #87, and #175.

Avoiding Lines: Avoid long ticket-buying lines by getting your combo-ticket or Roma Pass in advance. Both are sold at the less-crowded Palatine Hill entrance, 150 yards south of the Colosseum on Via di San Gregorio. Roma Passes are also sold at the Colosseo Metro station’s tobacco shop, and combo-tickets are sold online at ticketclic.it. Armed with your combo-ticket or Roma Pass, you can bypass the Colosseum’s ticket-buying queue, and go directly inside to the turnstile. You can also skip the line with a guided tour. Everyone must first wait in line at a security check.

Tours: You can rent a dry but fact-filled audioguide (€5.50) or videoguide (€6). Or download a free Rick Steves audio tour ( see here).

Official 50-minute guided tours in English depart hourly (€5 plus Colosseum ticket). To join, tell a guard at the security checkpoint, who will usher you to the tour booth (bypassing the ticket line). Private tour guides lingering outside the Colosseum offer tours that let you skip the line (€25-30 including Colosseum ticket). A private company, CoopCulture, offers tours of the underground passageways and third level; reserve at least a day ahead (€8 plus Colosseum ticket, 1.5 hours, tel. 06-3996-7700, coopculture.it).

Caveat Viator—Tourist Beware: The Colosseum’s exterior attracts pickpockets, con artists, and modern-day gladiators. For a fee, these plastic-helmeted goofballs snuff out their cigarettes and pose for photos, then intimidate timid tourists into paying too much. €4-5 for one photo usually keeps the barbarians appeased.

Information: Tel. 06-3996-7700, archeoroma.beniculturali.it/en.

Length of This Tour: Allow an hour.

Restoration: A multi-year renovation project may affect your visit.

Endless lines in the Eternal City

Goofy gladiators get two thumbs down.


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To enter, line up in the correct queue: the one for ticket buyers or the one for those who already have a ticket or Roma Pass. The third line is for groups.

But before going inside, start by taking in the Colosseum’s famous...

Exterior M

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Built when the Roman Empire was at its peak in A.D. 80, the Colosseum represents Rome at its grandest. The Flavian Amphitheater (the Colosseum’s real name) was an arena for gladiator contests and public spectacles. When killing became a spectator sport, the Romans wanted to share the fun with as many people as possible, so they stuck two semicircular theaters together to create a freestanding amphitheater. The outside (where slender cypress trees stand today) was decorated with a 100-foot-tall bronze statue of Nero that gleamed in the sunlight. In a later age, the colossal structure was nicknamed a “coloss-eum,” the wonder of its age. Towering 150 feet high, it could accommodate 50,000 roaring fans (100,000 thumbs).

The Romans pioneered the use of concrete and the rounded arch, which enabled them to build on this tremendous scale. The exterior is a skeleton of 3.5 million cubic feet of travertine stone. (Each of the pillars flanking the ground-level arches weighs five tons.) It took 200 ox-drawn wagons shuttling back and forth every day for four years just to bring the stone here from Tivoli. They stacked stone blocks (without mortar) into the shape of an arch, supported temporarily by wooden scaffolding. Finally, they wedged a keystone into the top of the arch—it not only kept the arch from falling, but could also bear even more weight above.

The exterior says a lot about the Romans. They were great engineers, not artists, and the building is more functional than beautiful. (If ancient Romans visited the US today as tourists, they might send home postcards of our greatest works of “art”—freeways.) While the essential structure of the Colosseum is Roman, the four-story facade is decorated with mostly Greek columns—Doric-like Tuscan columns on the ground level, Ionic on the second story, Corinthian on the next level, and at the top, half-columns with a mix of all three. Originally, copies of Greek statues stood in the arches of the middle two stories, giving a veneer of sophistication to this arena of death.

Only a third of the original Colosseum remains. Earthquakes destroyed some of it. The pock-marks you see are the peg-holes for iron rods that stapled larger stones together. Most of the Colosseum’s missing stones (along with the iron rods) were carted off during the Middle Ages and Renaissance and re-used to make other buildings that still adorn Rome today.

Once you’re inside the structure, pass through the turnstiles. There may be signs directing you on a specific visitors’ route, but eventually you’ll be free to wander.

Interior M

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Entrances and Exits M


  • "The country's foremost expert in European travel for Americans."—Forbes
  • "Steves is an absolute master at unlocking the hidden gems of the world's greatest cities, towns, and monuments."—USA Today
  • “Every country-specific travel guidebook from the Rick Steves publishing empire can be counted upon for clear organization, specificity and timeliness."—Society of American Travel Writers
  • "Pick the best accommodations and restaurants from Rick Steves…and a traveler searching for good values will seldom go wrong or be blindsided."—NBC News
  • "His guidebooks are approachable, silly, and even subtly provocative in their insistence that Americans show respect for the people and places they are visiting and not the other way around."—The New Yorker
  • "Travel, to Steves, is not some frivolous luxury—it is an engine for improving humankind, for connecting people and removing their prejudices, for knocking distant cultures together to make unlikely sparks of joy and insight. Given that millions of people have encountered the work of Steves over the last 40 years, on TV or online or in his guidebooks, and that they have carried those lessons to untold other millions of people, it is fair to say that his life’s work has had a real effect on the collective life of our planet."—The New York Times Magazine
  • "[Rick Steves] laces his guides with short and vivid histories and a scholar's appreciation for Renaissance art yet knows the best place to start an early tapas crawl in Madrid if you have kids. His clear, hand-drawn maps are Pentagon-worthy; his hints about how to go directly to the best stuff at the Uffizi, avoid the crowds at Versailles and save money everywhere are guilt-free."—TIME Magazine
  • "Steves is a walking, talking European encyclopedia who yearns to inspire Americans to venture 'beyond Orlando.'"—Forbes
  • “…he’s become the unofficial guide for entire generations of North American travelers, beloved for his earnest attitude and dad jeans."—Outside Magazine
  • "His books offer the equivalent of a bus tour without the bus, with boiled-down itineraries and step-by-step instructions on where to go and how to get there, but adding a dash of humor and an element of choice that his travelers find empowering."—The New York Times
  • "[Rick Steves'] neighborhood walks are always fun and informative. His museum guides, complete with commentary about historic sculpture and storied artworks are wonderful and add another dimension to sometimes stodgy, hard-to-comprehend museums."—NBC News

On Sale
Jun 20, 2023
Page Count
232 pages
Rick Steves

Rick Steves

About the Author

Since 1973, Rick Steves has spent about four months a year exploring Europe. His mission: to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. Rick produces a best-selling guidebook series, a public television series, and a public radio show, and organizes small-group tours that take over 30,000 travelers to Europe annually.  He does all of this with the help of more than 100 well-traveled staff members at Rick Steves’ Europe in Edmonds, WA (near Seattle). When not on the road, Rick is active in his church and with advocacy groups focused on economic and social justice, drug policy reform, and ending hunger. To recharge, Rick plays piano, relaxes at his family cabin in the Cascade Mountains, and spends time with his son Andy and daughter Jackie. Find out more about Rick at http://www.ricksteves.com and on Facebook.

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