Rich history, magnificent architecture and grand beauty – it is almost impossible to visit Rome and not to fall in love with this Eternal City! It is true that all roads lead to Rome. Feel like a Roman strolling down the cobblestone roads and meet the city. Since we know there is so much to see but so few vacation days, we created this guide in order to help you cover major city highlights and spend the best Italian weekend ever.
Wake up early and seize the day, but take it easy and have a traditional Italian breakfast of espresso and some pastry; usually, it is cornetto, Italian variation of croissant which will particularly please those ones with a sweet tooth. When you are ready, it is time to start the sightseeing with the symbol of ancient but also modern Rome, the Colosseum. The Colosseum is an ancient amphitheater used for gladiator contests and other public spectacles that could gather up to 80,000 people; to compare, Stadio Olimpico, the main sports facility in Rome today, can hold little less than 73,000 people. Since Colosseum is one of the busiest sights, you should keep in mind buying the ticket online. The same ticket includes visiting Palatine and Roman Forum. In case you find yourself in Rome on the first Sunday of the month, the entrance is free of charge.
Roman Forum is situated right next to the Colosseum. The Forum used to be a city center with tall buildings, arches, pillars and columns and it represented the greatness of this town. Even today when it is in ruins, it still shows that remarkable architecture. It used to be a beating heart of the city for centuries.
After exploring Ancient Rome, you would want to visit the place where the city was born. Palatine Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome and it overlooks the Roman Forum. In this place full of history, you will probably hear some of the city legends; the most interesting one is about two brothers, Romulus and Remus, that were nursed by the wolf. Romulus founded Rome after killing his brother. He chose Palatine Hill for his place of settlement, built a wall, established the government and of course, named the city after himself.
Baths of Caracalla are a vast complex used for bathing that could accommodate up to 1600 bathers in time.
Our next stop will be a lively neighborhood of Trastevere, on your way don’t forget to make a stop at the Mouth of Truth. It is said that if you put arm inside the mouth of this massive stone figure, it will bite your hand off in case you are a liar, so watch your fingers!
Trastevere neighborhood is a great place to be after the whole day of sightseeing and busy attractions. Located a bit away from all the noise, it is less touristy and crowded. It is familiar for its narrow streets lined by age-old houses. Family owned restaurants can be found on every corner of the neighborhood and right there you can enjoy delicious food, probably the best in Rome. Food in Italy means so much more than simply preparing a meal, it is the passion and tradition of which they are very proud. Respect the tradition and enjoy a proper three-course meal.
Wake up early because the Vatican City is planned for the second day. No visit to Rome is complete without visiting the main attractions of it: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. It is recommended to buy the tickets online because you don’t want to spend hours waiting in line. By skipping the line and starting the day in the Vatican Museums, you will get the chance to enjoy the whole collection in peace. It will take hours to admire almost 20,000 pieces of art, but the paintings and sculptures by Raphael, Caravaggio, Bernini, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci deserve it. Even though Sistine Chapel is a part of the Museums, it is that magnificent that has to be highlighted. It is Michelangelo’s masterpiece, frescoes on the ceiling and altar are the most famous paintings inside. They depict scenes from the Bible. Note: you are not allowed to take any pictures inside and Museums are closed on Sundays.
Your next station is St. Peter’s Basilica, the biggest church in the world and the one that is recognizable in the city’s skyline. If you want to climb the Dome, a good idea would be to do it before entering the church due to a shorter wait. After 551 steps, you will get a spectacular view of the town. There is an option of paying little extra in order to take an elevator that covers the first 320 steps. The Basilica itself is designed by Bramante, Michelangelo and Bernini. An interesting fact is that all the popes were buried here, including the first pope – St. Peter! It is important to dress properly when visiting the Vatican, which means no shorts, miniskirts or bare shoulders.
Early afternoon is the right time to have a coffee; we recommend to have some espresso and don’t even try to order a cappuccino after 11 a.m. if you don’t want to be criticized. There are some more tips when ordering a coffee in Italy; never ask for a coffee-to-go because Italians drink it al banco or at the bar. You should also drink your coffee first and then pay at the register.
After a short coffee break, pay a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo. The castle is quite unique because of its structure and angel on top of it. It is one of the oldest buildings in Rome and it has lived several different lives until it got its final purpose, a museum.
The rest of the day you could spend in shopping. The most popular shopping streets in Rome are Via del Corso and Via Condotti. Via del Corso is a massive boulevard filled with stores, both superstores and small family-run shops. Via Condotti is the street where you can find all the luxury brands.
After a long day find a bar, have a drink and simply enjoy that special atmosphere of dolce far niente.
It is the last day of your stay and you still have a lot of things to see and do in this ancient town!
Central Rome or Centro Storico lies on Tiber river and it is so charming. We start the day at Piazza Navona, one of the Rome’s most treasured squares. The square is famous with its three fountains – Fontana del Moro, Fontana di Nettuno and Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi; the last one is the masterpiece made by Bernini. This is a beautiful and historic place with a lively spirit, there you can find artists, musicians and magicians offering all sorts of entertainment. Piazza is also the right place to try two Italian specialties. The first one is definitely gelato, the creamy and tasteful ice-cream. Gelato comes in different flavors but to Italians, pistachio ice cream is the most important one; it is sad that if gelateria sells good pistachio ice cream, all other flavors must be great. Gelateria dei Gracchi is our recommendation to try this dessert. Another thing to try while you are there is Aperol Spritz, light and sparkling cocktail. Rome is definitely best enjoyed with a glass of Aperol in your hand.
Continue your tour and head towards Pantheon, the best-preserved monument of ancient times. It was built 2000 years ago as a temple but later it was converted into the church. Entry is free of charge.
Trevi Fountain, probably the most famous fountain in the world, is one of 1,352 fountains in Rome and it is breathtaking. Make sure you respect the tradition: toss a coin into the fountain in order to return to Rome one day. You should stand with your back to the Trevi and toss a coin over your left shoulder. A coin or two, just to make sure…
Spanish Steps were built in 1725 to connect the Spanish Embassy with the church – Trinita dei Monti. The stairway is famous for the scene with Audrey Hepburn from the Roman Holiday movie and ever since people come here to get their Audrey moment.
Behind the steps, there is the third largest park in Rome but also the most picturesque one. Villa Borghese is a historic park that contains few museums and even a Zoo. Borghese Gallery is a work of the architect Ponzio and inside you can find one of the world’s largest private collection of Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, Rubens and many more. When you are done admiring the art, the park has an artificial lake and many open areas to take in the green. In case you get hungry, next to the park there are several pizzerias so don’t miss out on your chance to say yes to the world’s best pizza.