by Whitney Simon
Rome is one of the most iconic cities in the world and one of the most visited in Europe. It is not surprising that most travelers will, at some point, make their way to this city. When you do, let this be your guide.
Timing: Rome is never a bad idea, but it’s always best to avoid the hot and crowded summer months and the rainy winter months. Aim for September-November or March-May if possible.
Location, Location, Location: From high-end hotels to low key AirBnBs, you won’t have an issue finding a home base for your time in Rome. Some of my favorite neighborhoods include Trastevere for a hip vibe, the city center for easy access to tourist hot spots (i.e the Pantheon, Colosseum, etc.) and around Villa Borghese for a more upscale feel.
Getting Around: Buses, trains and taxis are easily accessible throughout Rome, but the best way to see the city is to walk. There is nothing better than roaming Rome. If you opt to take a taxi, it is important to know that you have to catch one at a taxi stand, hailing isn’t standard in the city.
When in Rome
The best advice I can give to those planning on visiting Rome is to allow yourself at least 3 nights in the city. Personally, I feel there is no such thing as too much time in Rome. I mean come on, it was the bedrock of civilization for centuries, the food is unbeatable and the wine is cheaper than water. Assuming you’ve taken this advice, I’ve included my recommendations on daily activities below:
City of Rome
Photograph by Whitney Cross
Experience the charm and the bustle of the city when you first arrive. Take time to wander the city’s small alleys and cobblestone streets, and give yourself the freedom to stop for gelato, grab a drink in a piazza or explore a random church.
Tip: be sure to keep a scarf or shawl on you at all times–most churches ask that shoulders and knees are covered.
Tour the Pantheon
I said it. The T-word. I’m not the “tour type” and I’m guessing you aren’t either, but Rome is a city that calls for tours. The amount of history and significance this city represents would never be done justice without the support of expert guides. Angel Tours operates a free tour of the Pantheon every day at 7pm that can serve as a painless introduction to the world of tours. The sarcastic humor and impressive wit of Angel Tours’ guides make them my preferred tour company for all Roman touring.
Grab a Bite
End the day by grabbing dinner at Maccheroni just around the corner from the Pantheon. They’re known for their Carbonara and their house red will not disappoint.
“The food is unbeatable and the wine is cheaper than water.”
Take the morning to stroll between sites such as the Trevi Fountain (remember: throw a coin from your right hand over your left shoulder to ensure your return to Rome), the Spanish steps, and Piazza Navona.
Visit the Colosseum and Forum
There are few experiences quite like seeing the Colosseum for the first time. Joining a tour (yep, I said it again) can afford you skip-the-line privileges and access to both the Colosseum and the Forum.
Tip: plan your visit around sunset to get a glimpse of the sun sinking below the city from the top of Capitoline Hill.
I get it. It sounds weird. I’m recommending it anyway. Osteria Del’ Anima (tucked away on the back-side of Piazza Navona) has my all-time favorite pear pasta. Regardless, this dish is one I wouldn’t pass up during your time in Italy.
Rome is where I fell in love with Night-Seeing, a word I’ve made up to encompass my love for sightseeing at night. As if this city doesn’t ooze charm and romance as is, see it at night. Visit the Trevi Fountain and wander around St. Peter’s square to be able to soak in the sheer beauty of this city without the crowds that swarm the sites during the day.
Colosseum in Rome
Photograph by Whitney Cross
It’s official. You’ve added another country to your list! It may be the smallest country in the world, but, girl, it packs a punch. Again, I would highly recommend a tour. I would pay a pretty penny to simply skip the line to get into the Vatican Museum, but being able to understand the history throughout the museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica is invaluable. You guessed it, the Angel Tours option is my recommendation.
Tip: if that shawl/scarf hasn’t come in handy yet, it certainly will at St. Peter’s. Dress code is strictly enforced.
Grab a Bite
On your way back to Italy from Vatican City, be sure to stop at Duecentogradi for a panini that will change your life.
Seize the Day
This is it. Your last day in Rome. Take the time to squeeze in those sites you haven’t seen yet. Want to go to the market? Find new Piazzas? Drink espresso or eat more gelato? Now is the the time. This is when I get my final Frigidarium fix, the gelato spot that stole my heart in 2012 and never let go.
Wine and Dine
The last night is when I start planning my future as Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun. The end-of trip scaries are no joke. In order to fend them off, be sure to make your last night one to remember. One of my favorite places in Rome to make this happen is Piperno’s, a restaurant tucked away in the Jewish Ghetto. You’ll likely need a reservation and be sure to ask for the patio if weather allows.
Not ready to part ways with Negronis, pasta and gelato? Consider pairing a Roman holiday with stops in Florence and the Amalfi Coast to experience more Italian charm.
Have other Roman favorites I missed? Be sure to leave them in the comments below!
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