Article by Sofie
Two days in Italy’s capital is just enough time to leave you desperate for another taste of Rome’s delicious food and romantic atmosphere.
Rome is everything you can imagine and more. The peeling ochre facades of buildings with powder blue shutters line cobbled streets, where vespas wind through crowds of chic women and hunched widows with true Roman noses.
Every turn reveals more trattorias with red and white checked tablecloths serving hearty but simple dishes, their names scrawled on chalk boards to make passersby’s mouths water. Taxi drivers jump out and open the door for you when you reach your destination and olive-skinned police man stand to attention at every turn.
Here’s my full guide to two days in Rome. Let me know what you think!
Day 1 in Rome
When day breaks, grab a cornetto and an espresso from one of the many coffee bars: Caffe Sant’Eustachio or Caffe Cafe are firm favourites among locals. You won’t find a Starbucks here, and that’s definitely a good thing. Consume standing (you’ll be charged more for a table). This is how the Italians do breakfast.
Walks of Italy’s ‘Rome in a day’ tour
Time is of the essence when you’re on a weekend break, but it’s easy to see Rome’s main attractions in two days if you plan ahead and pack your walking shoes. Take a Rome day tour with Walk’s Of Italy who have an excellent reputation, in order to maximise your sightseeing time.
All local tour guides , have a impressive amount of knowledge about there city and can reel off dates, names and other information about Rome’s many ancient buildings.
If you’re not in to being on your feet all day, you can buy Big Bus Tour Tickets online before you go.
First stop was The Colosseum, an iconic symbol of ancient Rome. Once upon a time locals poured in through all 76 arches, but today only two are used. Tour groups can skip the queues and enter via the gladiator’s entrance. You can almost sense the anticipation the fighters must of had felt as they stepped out to face 50,000 spectators.
Mornings at the magnificent amphitheatre were for animal fights, lunchtimes dedicated to capital punishment, and gladiators fought in the afternoon. The depths of the Colosseum are filled with stone tunnels, which were used to build agitation in animals before their performance. Gruesome stuff.
Here, Rome’s past is so visible that it’s too easy to envision the era that made the city such an attraction for archeologists. Replace the hoards of camera-toting tourists with burly men in togas, and the crumbling formations spring to life. Although actually, the only women wore togas back in the day, were prostitutes!
The Pantheon was next, and you will gaze up at the open spherical roof in awe.
You will walk through quaint streets to discover more baroque architecture. Piazza Navona is an favourite spot. There, you’ll see the church of Sant’ Agnese by Borromini. The Fountain of Four Rivers or (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi ) in the middle of the square has an interesting story. It was built ten years later than the church by Borromini’s rival, Bernini, and the statue is designed to look like it’s recoiling from his fellow architect’s design in horror.
Next a gealto stop and there are 150 flavours to choose from at Della Palma Gelato di Roma. Gelaterias of note are Giolitti and Gelateria San Crispino.
Next was the exquisite Trevi Fountain, where Fellini’s lovers cavorted in ‘La Dolce Vita’. There are 280 fountains around Rome, but the Trevi Fountain is the most famous. Every night, around 3,000 Euros are swept from the fountain. Be sure to toss your own coin in and make a wish – legend has it, that secures your return trip to Rome. It’s a popular spot for proposals.
All of this exploring will make you work up an appetite , so don’t forget to stop at a pizzeria for rustic thin and crispy pizza with salty parma ham, mushrooms and olives, washed down with an ice cold glass of Peroni.
Visiting Vatican City
Next, a private transfer from the historic centre across the river to Vatican City, where you will have three hours taking in the vast collection of art in the museums.
One reason to visit Rome if you’re keen on ticking countries off your bucket list is that you can actually ‘do’ two countries in one day. Vatican City is the world’s smallest state, with a population of around 800, just nestled in the middle of beautiful Rome.
The queues are enough to put the keenest tourist off, but tour groups skip them – another reason to plan ahead. Inside the museums, you will see some of the most elaborate neoclassical paintings, the Raphael Rooms, ancient sculpture galleries and the stunning Hellenistic ‘Laocoön’.
There are nine miles of art on display at the Vatican museums so it’s beneficial to have a guide or a plan to hit the highlights, especially if you’re trying to make the most of a short trip to Rome. Lining each side of the long narrow museums are huge windows which spill sunlight into the halls.
Your Vatican experience will end with the crowning glory: Michelangelo’s frescos in the Sistine Chapel. Cameras are banned, as is talking, so no pics sorry!
Outside, you can catch the changing of the guards before ending the tour.
As the sun begins to set on your first day in Rome, it’s time to experience a real Italian Aperitivo hour. Most of the bars around Rome serve tasty snacks to accompany your sundowner. Try Antico Caffe della Pace, or La Bottega del Cafe in Monti. You will quickly learn there’s only one proper order: an Aperol Spritz.
Where to eat in Rome
In the evening, you could roll your sleeves up and take one of Walks of Italy’s pasta making classes, or drop in to an authentic Italian Eatery.
Did you know that the Ancient Romans used to force themselves to puke during meals so they could fit more in?
It may have been a long day, but it’s not timeto turn down. Groups of tourists and locals alike congregate at the various fountains like teenagers, and the revelry continues to the small hours.
Day 2 in Rome
In the morning head to breakfast at Caffe Bianco, and take your time over a saccottino al cioccolato. In Italian, a sacco is a sack, so this translated to “little sack with chocolate”. A chocolate croissant.
Getting lost in Cento Storico
Your first day in Rome was dedicated to squeezing in as many of the main attractions as possible, so spend the second day soaking up Rome’s true essence.
The three main roads leading to Piazza del Popolo from Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum feed off into some of Rome’s most picturesque streets. The baroque art, earthy leather shops selling handmade bags and vintage boutiques spilling their wares onto the street will keep you occupied for hours.
Next visit Spanish Steps, the Keats-Shelley memorial and Bernini’s Fountain at the foot of the steps which are all beautiful.
Dinner and nightlife in Trastevere
After freshening up at the hotel take the bus to Trastevere, the bohemian nightlife area for young and old across the Tiber river. Eat at Augusto! Settle down for a huge serving of perfectly al dente rigatoni in a tomato and pork sauce and a fishbowl sized glass of good red wine.
Afterwards, You can in indulge in a quintessential Italian pastime. ‘Fare una passeggiata‘ means to go for an evening walk, inTrastevere’s narrow streets which beg to be wandered. Via della Lungaretta is lined with bars, restaurants and boutiques. Ivy tumbles down from windows and pavement seating creates a buzz in the night air.
Traditionally, Roman husbands would kiss their wives at the end of each day. But it wasn’t for romantic reasons. It was to check if she hadn’t been necking wine all day!
Rome is definitely a city whose inhabitants take the time to enjoy their life (and of course, their food). You will leave with a deeper understanding of why it’s known as the Eternal City and a niggling need to return.
Where to stay in Rome
There are a number of backpackers hostels and luxury hotels around Rome, it just depends on your needs and budget.
More Rome travel tips
Taxis are expensive so take some time to learn the public transport system before you go.
Never order a caffe latte after breakfast time and if you do order one, don’t drop the ‘caffe’, or you’ll be served a glass of milk.
The Leonardo Express Shuttle from Fiumicino airport gets you to Termini station in 30 minutes.
Only buy gelato at shops displaying a sign that says ‘Artiginale‘ – that means it’s made fresh at the store.
You’ll need to dress modestly to enter the Sistine Chapel. Bring something to cover your shoulders and leave your hot pants at home.
Rome isn’t a coastal city so seafood isn’t a speciality. Instead, order creamy pasta dishes or try a Roman favourite: oxtail stew, or ‘Coda alla Vaccinara’.