But a new interactive tool transports you back to the city's glory days.
The online aerial tour, created by researchers in Indiana, soars over the entire metropolis as it appeared in the fourth century AD during its historical heyday.
It takes in 61 stops, including the famous Colosseum where thousands of bloody gladiator battles were hosted as a form of public spectacle.
Viewers can also see the Pantheon, the Baths of Caracalla and the Mausoleum of Augustus, the largest circular tomb in the world.
The flyover – which lasts one hour and 52 minutes – was made by Indiana company Flyover Zone, led by digital archaeologist Professor Bernard Frischer.
'With the virtual tour we hope to make it easy and fun for the public to learn about ancient Rome and its cultural heritage,' he said.
'Teachers can use this and other tours to take their students on virtual trips to the cultures they are studying.
'History enthusiasts can explore major historical sites without leaving their homes, tourists can prepare for their trip to Rome, deepening their knowledge of the places they will visit and keep their memories alive once they return home.