Rome transforms at night. Going down Corso Vittorio Emanuele, one of Rome’s main shopping streets, during a rainy November night in November, I felt momentarily disorientated, hardly able to believe it was in the same city. Certain parts of Rome take on a whole new atmosphere, and with the golden street lights shining in the wet sampietrini (cobblestones), it feels even more magical. Roman ruins resemble vast film sets, while shadowy alleyways in the centro storico become portals to other worlds. If you want to discover another side of Rome, save your exploring for after dark.
Join our Vatican Tour at Night to experience the Vatican Museums without the crowds. The museums aren’t open to the general public after dark, but on our exclusive group tour you’ll get to visit the sculpture galleries, the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel in a much more peaceful atmosphere. The grand courtyards of the Vatican Museums, such as the Belvedere Courtyard, are even more impressive at night.
Via dei Fori Imperiali
This street is lined with some of the most monumental ruins in the city. Starting from Piazza Venezia, you have Trajan’s Forum on your left, the Roman Forum on you’re right, and the Colosseum rising up at the end of the road. Although you can’t go inside at night, a walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali gives you a fantastic view of the ruins, especially now that the lighting has been improved. Keep an eye out for special events, too, such as “Viaggio nei Fori” - special screenings of films about Ancient Rome projected on the ruins of Trajan’s Forum.
For many visitors on our Rome Night Tour, Piazza Farnese is a new discovery. It may be less famous than squares such as Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome. It’s particularly atmospheric at night, as it’s dimly lit and relatively quiet, with only a couple of bars and restaurants. Come here for a cocktail while gazing up at Palazzo Farnese - now the French embassy - and the imposing fountains in the centre of the square, which were made from Roman basins.
There’s no better place for a night-time stroll than Trastevere. This neighbourhood is always lively in the evening, as it’s full of bars and restaurants, and young people hanging out on the steps of the fountains in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere and Piazza Trilussa. Popular bars include Freni e Frizioni - famous for its substantial aperitivo - and Bar San Calisto, which seems to be stuck in a timewarp. If the centre of Trastevere is too chaotic, trying exploring around the edges, east of Viale Trastevere or towards the Gianicolo.
Piazza del Campidoglio
It wouldn’t occur to many people to come here at night, as the Capitoline Museums are closed. But late at night is the perfect time to visit the piazza, as the lack of people means you can truly appreciate Michelangelo’s masterful design. Without the crowds, you’ll be able to admire the beautiful symmetry of the piazza, before heading to the other side of the hill to enjoy panoramic views of the Roman Forum. In the words of the architect David Mayernik, “”It’s the nexus point where ancient and modern intersect, and seeing it illuminated at night, with Michelangelo on one side of the Palazzo Senatorio, and the Forum, the Colosseum on the other, is a haunting experience.”
~by Alexandra Turney~