Roman Forum, Aventine Hill & Testaccio
What are you going to do?
Archeology, sweeping views and authenticity define this walk. Take your time to explore the Roman Forum: These ruins once stood at the heart of a vast empire. Ancient streets that have been here since time immemorial pass through the remnants of important temples. The center of ancient Rome is like an enormous open-air museum.
Palatine Hill, where the remnants of two villages of the Iron Age were found, overlooks the 500-yard-long Circus Maximus. Today it is a bleak-looking wasteland, but with a little imagination you can picture chariots racing past like in the classic film Ben Hur, with 300,000 spectators cheering them on.
Climbing Aventine Hill on a hot and sunny day in Rome can be taxing, but the phenomenal view from the Orange Garden makes it all worthwhile. Be sure to peek through the mysterious Knights of Malta keyhole in the central portone (doorway) at Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta.
The working-class Testaccio neighborhood has yet to be discovered by tourists, but the vibe is great. Besides clubs and restaurants, this area holds several surprise attractions. Who would expect to find a pyramid in the middle of Rome or a hill constructed from Roman potsherds?
The neighborhood was once dominated by a large slaughterhouse, now a modern museum: the Mattatoio. Workers were often paid in part with undesirable cuts of meat: offal, heads, and tails. To make this meat palatable, housewives had to be innovative and creative. Make sure to sample typical Roman dishes such as coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail) or trippa alla romana (tripe in
tomato sauce with cheese and mint).