The exact borders of Rome’s Centro Storico, or historic center, is the subject of much debate among Romans and visitors. Officially, however, it’s the area inside the ancient Aurelian Walls plus Vatican City, and it encompasses some of the city’s most famous sights.
UNESCO designated the “Historic Center of Rome” a World Heritage Site in 1980, declaring the area inside the Aurelian Walls (plus Vatican City, just outside the walls) as the city's Centro Storico. Many consider the smaller area covering what was once the ancient Campus Martius (now the location of the Campo Marzio rione, or quarter) as the true Centro Storico, however. Regardless of how you measure it, the Centro Storico, home to the Pantheon, Temple of Hadrian, the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Piazza Navona, and Campo de' Fiori, is one of the most important neighborhoods in the Eternal City. The Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum and Colosseum, and Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps are just outside the narrowest interpretation of the Centro Storico, as is Vatican City across the Tiber River.
Because of its narrow streets and pedestrian-only areas, the best way to visit the Centro Storico is on a walking or electric-bike tour that includes Rome’s most important sights. Many Ancient Rome tours also cover some or part of the Centro Storico, as do night tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Rome's Centro Storico is a great place to get a taste of Italian nightlife—the area is filled with restaurants, bars, and clubs.
- There’s a lot to cover during Centro Storico walking tours, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and a sun hat.
- The cobblestone streets of the Centro Storico may be a challenge for wheelchairs and strollers, but the squares are wide and flat.
- The lion's share of Rome's most popular attractions are located inside the confines of the Centro Storico, so be sure to bring your camera.
How to Get There
The Centro Storico can loosely be defined as the area of Rome's city center that’s sandwiched between Piazza Venezia/Via del Corso and the Tiber River. Take the 64 bus from the Termini station to the Piazza Navona stop.
When to Get There
Rome is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, and the Centro Storico is where most visitors head. To escape the wall-to-wall crowds, visit the capital city during winter, or low season (excluding the December holidays).
The Centro Storico is situated close to a number of other interesting neighborhoods, including trendy Trastevere just across the river, bohemian Monti to the east, and elegant Prati to the north.