So, you can’t physically go to Italy right now. That’s a bummer. But, thanks to the wonders of virtual travel, you can at least take the edge off your wanderlust. To guide you on your journey, we’ve compiled a list of virtual museum tours, books and movies set in Rome, and recorded walking tours to give you a taste of the Eternal City. Pour yourself a glass of wine and embark on this virtual tour of Rome and Vatican City.
Rome Virtual Museum Tours
From the world’s first museum to one dedicated entirely to Napoleon, you could spend hours wandering museums in Rome. Luckily, several have virtual museum tours so you can enjoy their collections of art and artifacts from home.
The 16th-century Quirinale Palace offers one of the most immersive virtual tours in Rome. As you click through the opulent rooms in Italy’s presidential palace, listen to audio commentary on historical significance, artwork, and furniture. As the former residence to popes and royalty and the current home of the Italian president, Quirinale Palace holds some interesting stories.
Travel back in time to the era of ancient Rome while exploring the ruins of Trajan’s Market. The Centrale Montemartini houses ancient Greek and Roman mosaics and statues in a former power plant. See gracefully carved marble figures posed in front of the knobs and dials of industrial archaeology.
Vatican Virtual Tours
Surrounded by Rome, the city-state of Vatican City serves as the Catholic Church’s headquarters and home of the Pope. Around 5 million people visit the Vatican every year, but on a virtual tour, you don’t have to worry about navigating crowds of tourists to enjoy its trove of spectacular art and architecture. Take a 360-degree virtual tour of the Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms.
You can even watch live streamed videos of Mass led by the Pope and accompanied by the choir’s angelic voices.
Virtual Walking Tours of Rome
Snippets of conversation in Italian drifts past and marble fountains gurgle teal water as you slowly walk the streets of the Eternal City from the comfort of home. A virtual walking tour of Rome filmed in 4K with binaural sound is almost like actually being there. You can take in iconic sites like Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps without even changing out of your PJs.
This Colosseum virtual tour takes you through one of the most famous buildings in all of Rome at a relaxed pace. Even better, text appears on the screen to provide interesting facts about what you are seeing without disrupting the natural ambiance—crowds of tourists and all.
Movies Set in Rome
Leave your reality behind as you take a trip to Rome thanks to the magic of movies. Experience the Eternal City on the silver screen in several Academy Award-winning and other critically acclaimed movies.
- The Great Beauty (2013) – An Italian art drama film that explores the lavish nightlife and beautiful landscapes of modern-day Rome. Winner of the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.
- The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) – The all-star cast of this thrilling drama about greed, murder, and impersonation includes Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
- Roman Holiday (1953) – A light-hearted comedic romance featuring Audrey Hepburn as a princess who slips away from her royal duties to sightsee as a commoner in Rome. She becomes entangled with an American reporter (Gregory Peck), and romantic hijinks ensue.
- Ben-Hur (1959) – Winner of 11 Academy Awards and starring a hunky Charlton Heston. An epic drama about vengeance set in ancient Rome with an iconic chariot race.
- The Two Popes (2019) – A thought-provoking film based on true events about the transition from Pope Benedict to Pope Francis.
Books Set in Rome
The Eternal City’s long and fascinating history lends itself to stories spanning the Roman era to modern day. Spend some time away from the screen and open a book for an imagination-fueled trip to Rome.
- Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr (non-fiction) – Join Doerr on his year-long stay in Rome as he juggles being a father to newborn twins and exploring the piazzas, temples, and ancient cisterns chronicled by Pliny, Dante, and Keats.
- I, Claudius by Robert Graves (historical fiction) – Written as a first-person narrative of Roman Emperor Claudius about the tumultuous reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula.
- Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous (fiction) – A murder mystery takes place in a culturally mixed community living in an apartment building in central Rome.
- Lucrezia Borgia by Maria Bellonci (non-fiction, biography) – The daughter of Pope Alexander VI navigates the dangerous politics of the Italian Renaissance.
- Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (fiction) – A bestselling mystery-thriller novel about secret societies, symbology, and the Catholic Church.
What is your favorite way to take a virtual tour of Rome?