Rome the Eternal is 25 centuries old and constantly reinventing itself. The glories of Ancient Rome, the pomp of the Renaissance Papacy, and the futuristic architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries all blend miraculously into a harmonious whole. You can get Wi-Fi in the shadow of 2,000-year-old ruins. It’s this fusion of old and new and the casual way that Romans live with their weighty history that make this city unique.It's not the Roma your mother knew. No, in many ways it’s better! Much of the historic center has been pedestrianized or has had its access limited to residents, public transport, and taxis, so you can now stroll around areas like the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps without having to dodge a constant stream of traffic. A radical change for Italy is that smoking is now banned in all public places, including restaurants and pubs. And central areas such as Monti, Testaccio, and San Lorenzo have become gentrified or arty-chic, so you can extend your sightseeing range to spots your mother wouldn’t have dreamed of visiting.Multiculturalism Spend a day in Rome's Esquilino neighborhood and you'll see just how cosmopolitan the Eternal City is becoming. Once famous for its fruit and vegetable market at Piazza Vittorio, the area has fast become a multiethnic stomping ground, with a vast choice of Chinese, Indian, African, and Middle Eastern restaurants. The now world-famous Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, made up of 16 musicians from North Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Italy, got its start in this ramshackle district just steps away from Rome's Termini station and now performs at festivals around the world. It's worth noting, too, that Rome, the stronghold of Roman Catholicism is also home to Europe’s largest Islamic mosque. Near the elegant Parioli district, north of the city, it opened its doors in 1995 and welcomes visitors of all faiths.A new metro line Romans are anxiously awaiting the completion of the new Metro C subway line, which will cut through the city center at Piazza Venezia and link with both the A and the B lines at Ottaviano for St. Peter’s and the Colosseum, respectively. Expected to considerably ease on-surface traffic congestion, the new line progresses slowly because every time a shaft is sunk in Roman ground, some important archaeological site comes to light and all work halts while it is investigated. The planned station at Piazza Torre Argentina, in fact, had to be canceled due to the wealth of material uncovered. Rome also has a new bridge. The grandiose new “Ponte della Musica” bridge by Tiber River has now “bridged the gap” between the worlds of sports and music and arts: it connects the Foro Italico area (home to Rome’s stunning Stadio Olimpico and Stadio dei Marmi) with the Flaminio district (where the Parco della Musica and the MAXXI museum are located). Designed by British star-engineer Buro Happold, the eco-friendly ponte can be used by pedestrians, cyclists, and electric buses.New rails Italo, Italy’s first private railway, now gives rail travelers an alternative to the state-run Trenitalia. Italo leaves from the newly restructured Tiburtino station (not from Termini) and connects most of Italy’s major cities. Its technological gem is the high-speed Frecciarossa 1000 (Red Arrow 1000), which can reach a top speed of 225 mph. For shorter journeys, you’ll have to settle for the regional rail network where, alas, things haven’t moved forward much in decades. In compensation, fares are cheap.Politics Romans love to talk about politics, especially national politics and it should be interesting to see how the Italians embrace their new young prime minister, Matteo Renzi. When he was sworn in, in February 2014, he was just 39 years old (and previously the mayor of Florence). His center-left politics should be the talk of the town in coming years.
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Things You Can't Miss
Linger on the Spanish Steps, throw coins in the Trevi Fountain and watch the sun set over red-tiled roofs from Janiculum Hill near Garibaldi’s statue.
Rome’s Left Bank, including the old Jewish quarter, is artsy, trendy and great for people watching.
AA World Travel Library/Alamy
From the morning market to the evening party crowds, this is Rome’s liveliest square. Nearby: antiques and fine craftsmen on the Via Giulia.
LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH/Alamy
Buy a drink at any enoteca and enjoy a light meal during Rome’s version of the happy hour. Finish with gelato from Vice or Giolitti.
Masterpieces by Caravaggio, Botticelli, Raphael and Bernini are housed in a magnificent Renaissance villa. Rent rowboats at the park’s man-made lake.
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