Many of the world’s most beautiful cities are even more stunning at night — whether it’s New York, Paris or, one of our personal favorites, Rome. Visiting Rome by night is a time-honored tradition. We were reminded of this recently while reading a New York Times travel article, “Rome at Night.” In her 1965 guidebook, “Companion Guide to Rome,” Georgina Masson advises first-time visitors to explore Rome at night. As the Times’ article relayed: The first of her book’s walking tours starts where Rome began, the Capitoline Hill — where Michelangelo designed a piazza, she said, like a “stage set” — overlooking the nubby ruins of the Forum. “Seen by day it requires something of the knowledge of the archeologist and the imagination of a poet,” she wrote. “But at night … it is not nearly so difficult to picture the stately ranks of colonnaded temples crowned with the gilded statues and the basilicas rearing their great hulk against the night sky.”
We can’t decide, when it comes to exploring Rome by night, which part of the city is most gorgeous after the sun goes down. Walking in neighborhoods with views of the Colosseum, which is bathed in an exquisite golden light, is a must. St. Peter’s Square is breathtaking at night, as are the Spanish Steps and Tivoli Fountain. During the summer months, Tiber Island lights up, with cafes and clubs opening for the summer season, and the views of the city, and the bridges that cross the river, can make your eyes ache, they are that beautiful.
Another fun way to approach evening sightseeing in Rome is to head out on a piazza expedition. Yes, a piazza expedition! Pick a neighborhood, perhaps one near your hotel or one that’s mentioned in a guidebook, and take a stroll and see how many piazzi you can discover. You may find one that’s in all the guidebooks. Or one that is more obscure, but no less remarkable when exploring Rome by night. In the evening darkness, they are golden with street lights, and make for many an atmospheric evening.
Tell us, have you seen Rome by night?