The 7 Best Things to See in Rome for Design Lovers

a pizza restaurant in Rome

As one of the most historic cities globally, Rome is a treasure trove of architectural marvels, artistic masterpieces, and inspirational designs that span several centuries. From ancient ruins to the Renaissance’s grandeur, the Eternal City is a living museum, the best things to see in Rome are waiting to be explored!

Design enthusiasts will find themselves amidst a perpetual feast of shapes, structures, and styles that continue to influence the world of design today. As we journey through Rome, we’ll discover not only the prominent landmarks but also the less-traveled roads where design takes on an intimate, intricate character.

The Best Things to See in Rome

Among the bustling streets and popular tourist spots are some lesser-visited areas. These hidden gems in Rome often escape the notice of visitors, offering a unique perspective on the city’s design landscape.

These places, known only to locals or those who make an extra effort to uncover them, showcase Rome’s ongoing romance with artistic expression and architectural innovation. They prove that Rome’s design elements are not just relics of the past but are continually evolving narratives, breathing life into its ancient bones.


The Pantheon: Mastery of Ancient Engineering

A testament to ancient innovation, the Pantheon stands as one of the best-preserved buildings from Ancient Rome. Design aficionados will marvel at its architectural genius, with the spectacular unreinforced concrete dome, which remains the world’s largest of its kind.

The oculus at the dome’s center and the harmonious proportions present a mystical convergence of engineering and art, making the Pantheon a must-visit landmark for enthusiasts of design and architecture.

St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican: Renaissance Splendor

No visit to Rome is complete for design lovers without exploring the Vatican City. St. Peter’s Basilica, a Renaissance masterpiece, is a collaboration of designs from legendary artists such as Bramante, Michelangelo, and Bernini.

The awe-inspiring dome, lavish interiors, and the intricate details embedded in every corner exemplify the pinnacle of Renaissance design and creativity. Additionally, the Vatican Museums house an extensive collection of art and historical pieces, offering a journey through different eras of artistic expression.

Trastevere: Rustic Charm and Authenticity

While not a single site, the district of Trastevere is a design lover’s dream. For those who appreciate the quaint charm of narrow lanes, ivy-clad buildings, and the patina of age, Trastevere is the place to be. This neighborhood, with its bohemian vibe, presents a stark contrast to Rome’s grand monuments.

Here, design takes a rustic, earthy form, seen in artisan shops, local studios, and authentic Roman trattorias. Wander through its narrow alleys to find quaint homes adorned with intricate designs, charming boutiques, and artisanal workshops.

The area’s appeal lies in its authenticity and the romantic disarray that tells stories of everyday Roman life.

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MAXXI: Rome’s Contemporary Side

The National Museum of 21st-Century Arts, or MAXXI, designed by Zaha Hadid, is Rome’s dedication to contemporary art and architecture. With its futuristic design, the museum defies Rome’s traditional architectural norms, making it a special point of interest for modern design lovers.

The fluidity of spaces and innovative use of materials at MAXXI reflect the ongoing global dialogue in design, emphasizing that Rome is not just a city living in its past but is a part of the contemporary world’s artistic innovations.

Quartiere Coppedè: Whimsical and Eccentric

A hidden gem within the city, Quartiere Coppedè is a small, often overlooked area that offers a fantastical break from Rome’s classical scenery.

Designed by architect Gino Coppedè, this neighborhood is a bizarre and delightful mix of Ancient Greek, Roman Baroque, Medieval, and even Art Nouveau design elements. The eccentric and somewhat surreal architectural details provide a unique experience, emphasizing Rome’s diverse artistic journey through time.

Villa Farnesina

Built in the early 16th century for Agostino Chigi, a wealthy Sienese banker and the treasurer of Pope Julius II, Villa Farnesina was envisioned as a grand suburban palace.

The villa is characterized by its harmonious proportions and classical design. It’s a two-story structure, with the upper story featuring a central loggia that offers panoramic views of the surrounding gardens and the Tiber River.

What truly sets Villa Farnesina apart is its interior decoration and is one of the best things to see in Rome for design lovers. The villa boasts some of the most exquisite frescoes of the Renaissance era, including:

  • Galatea’s Triumph: It depicts the nymph Galatea on a seashell chariot being pulled by dolphins, surrounded by other sea creatures and celestial beings.
  • The Horoscope Room: Another stunning chamber in the villa is the Sala dell’Oroscopo, which translates to “The Horoscope Room.” It features frescoes that depict Agostino Chigi’s horoscope, with each astrological sign represented in beautiful detail.
  • The Loggia of Cupid and Psyche: This space, also decorated by Raphael and his students, presents a series of mythological scenes depicting the love story of Cupid and Psyche. The ceiling, divided into several panels, showcases various gods and goddesses against a bright blue sky, creating an illusion of looking up into Olympus.

The Colosseum

And not forgetting one of the most famous sights of Rome, The Colosseum! An iconic symbol of Roman might and grandeur, the Colosseum showcases ancient Rome’s design and engineering prowess.

Its colossal arches and maze-like internal corridors offer a fascinating insight into the architectural sensibilities of ancient Rome. Made primarily of travertine limestone, tuff, and brick-faced concrete, it could accommodate approximately 50,000 spectators.

The amphitheater is an ellipse, spanning approximately 189 meters in length and 156 meters in width. Its walls stand at a staggering height of around 48 meters. The entire structure consists of four main floors, with the first three floors having arched entrances and the fourth floor containing small windows.

A visit to the Colosseum offers a deep dive into history, a reflection on the transience of power, and an appreciation for architectural and engineering genius.

Rome, with its rich tapestry of historical and contemporary designs, is a dream destination for design enthusiasts. From ancient Rome ruins to modern museums, the city offers an unparalleled journey through the annals of design history.

Whether you’re an architect, an interior designer, or just someone who appreciates beauty, Rome promises an experience that will leave you inspired and in awe.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help to pay the editorial costs of writing a blog. For more information, please read my full affiliate disclosure here.

I also use Artificial Intelligence Image generators to create some of my images. These are to show you examples of my ideas and inspiration when I cannot produce the real images myself.

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