The ongoing appeal of Rome - the eternal city

There's a well-known saying, 'see Rome and die', which sums up neatly just how satisfying a holiday in the Italian capital can be. Air France offers very competitive fares on regular flights to Rome from major South African airports including Johannesburg and Cape Town . Rome is one of Europe's oldest cities and boasts around 3 million inhabitants. The journey duration to Rome can be as little as 14 hours and the city is one hour behind South African time. You can travel to Rome via Amsterdam or Paris, making for an interesting study in contrasts, but Italy's largest city has more than enough to keep you occupied, even over the course of a long stay. Italy is part of the Schengen area, but for travel regulations relating to the country, it's best to consult the relevant Air France pages and the website of the Italian embassy in South Africa. Rome holds a special appeal for lovers of architecture and art - in fact, the entire historic centre of the city is a designated World Heritage Site. Rome plays host to many different building styles, from Ancient Roman to Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and even Fascist! The Pantheon, the Piazza del Campidoglio, Piazza Navona, the Palazzo Barberini and the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana are all excellent examples of a range of these styles. Another one of Rome's great architectural gems, St Peter's Basilica, is also the centre of the world's smallest state, the Vatican City, and thus of the Roman Catholic world. Although the focus in the Vatican Museums is very much on the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel, the Collection of Modern Religious Art - which includes works by Van Gogh, Chagall, Gaugin, Dali, Bacon, Kandinsky and Picasso - is well worth lingering over. And don't forget to make time for the Castel Sant'Angelo, originally built to house the tomb of the Emperor Hadrian. This building has had a varied history, being used as a fortress, Papal residence and prison.

Take a journey with a difference through the history of Rome - don't miss these festivals!

History can be communicated in many ways, and in Rome, one way in which this is done is through the many festivals held throughout the year. Many of these commemorate important historical events, and include:
  • The Anniversary of the founding of the city of Rome (21st April)
  • Liberation Day (25th April)
  • Republic Day (2nd June)
  • Feasts of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (29th June)

If you've booked your airplane ticket during the midsummer period, you may find that you'll appreciate a day trip away from the city. Hiring a car will give you a great deal of flexibility, but some favourite out-of-town destinations are accessible by public transport. Hadrian's Villa is located at Tivoli, 18 miles from Rome. Built by the Emperor Hadrian as a retreat during the early 2nd century AD, this large complex features an artificial grotto, pools, a maritime theatre, sculptures and mosaics. Another oasis of calm, this time within the city walls, is the Protestant Cemetery. This peaceful site is best known as the last resting place of the famous British Romantic poets Keats and Shelley.

Useful websites to consult before your stay in Rome

You may find the following websites useful in planning your trip and making the most of your time in Rome once you arrive: