October is an ideal month to visit Rome. Temperatures are still quite comfortable, with the average daytime temperature being 17ºC. High temperatures of 22ºC are not unusual, making for very pleasant and comfortable sightseeing. The generally pleasant, dry weather in October is ideal for exploring the city on foot.
Villa Borghese is the largest public park in Rome, situated just north of the Spanish Steps. It’s well worth exploring this park which offers a pleasant refuge from the often hectic streets in the city. The park features a lake, temples, fountains, statues and several museums. The area started as a vineyard in the 16th century. In 1605 cardinal Scipione Borghese, a nephew of Pope Paul V, turned the vineyard into a park.
Landscaper Domenico Savino da Montepulciano designed a very formal park with geometric shapes, the first such park in Rome. The park was later laid out in a more natural way. At the end of the 18th century an artificial lake was created in the middle of the park In 1903 the city of Rome obtained Villa Borghese from the Borghese family and opened the park to the public.
An impressive sight in Rome is the Circus Maximus which was the largest stadium in ancient Rome. Popular chariot races were held here for almost a millennium, dating back to the 6th Century BC when Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth King of Rome, created a track between the Palatine and Aventine hills. At one point the Circus could seat 250.000 people, one quarter of Rome’s population.
The first permanent starting gates were created in 329 BC. In 174 BC the gates were rebuilt and seven wooden eggs were placed on top of the spina, the central wall in the arena. The eggs were used to count the number of laps; after each lap one egg was removed. In 33 BC seven bronze dolphins were added to the spina for the same purpose.
Every visitor to Rome should make sure to visit the Forum. The Forum Romanum was the centre of life in Imperial Rome, evidenced by the many remains of triumphal arches, temples and basilicas. The Forum was the centre of activity and the political heart of Rome for more than 1000 years until the fall of the Roman Empire. Here, triumphal processions took place, elections were held and the Senate assembled. To today’s visitor the Forum can look like a disorderly collection of ruins to the uninitiated, but with some imagination you can see the Roman Empire come back to life. Remains of many buildings from different periods are visible; the forum was littered with temples, basilicas and triumphal arches.
Whatever the weather, there are countless sights worth visiting on a city break to Rome. It is certainly well worth taking advantage of pleasant autumn conditions to wander around the superb remains of the Forum, the imposing and impressive Circus Maximus and the beautiful park of the Villa Borghese.