Rome is one of the most stunningly beautiful and atmospheric cities on the planet. When you touch down, you can’t help but be catapulted back in time, and you’ll be overawed by the rich display of historical and cultural attractions on offer. Rome is a city that is packed to the rafters when it comes to character, and there’s so much to see and do. This is why making plans before you go is essential. You don’t want to miss a thing, and luckily for you, we’ve put together an idyllic mini break itinerary to enable you to see the sights in style.
Trevi Fountain by Benson Kua
Start your day bright and early with a leisurely stroll to the Trevi Fountain. This staggeringly beautiful fountain has recently been restored to its former glory, and it truly is a sight to behold. If you visit early, you can marvel at the architecture and engineering without hordes of tourists for company. From here, it’s a short walk to the Spanish Steps, where you can test your calf muscles out and climb to the top for wonderful views of the city below. At the top of the iconic staircase, you’ll find Trinita dei Monti church with its traditional twin steeples. At the bottom, lies the bustling Piazza di Spagna where you’ll come across plenty of designer shops and cafés and bars if you fancy a spot of lunch. There are also endless gelaterias if you have a sweet tooth. You’ll be bowled over by the range of flavours on offer, so be bold and venture out of your comfort zone. There’s nothing wrong with having an ice cream a day when you’re on holiday. When in Rome, after all.
After lunch, make your way to one of the stalwarts of the Eternal City, the Pantheon. This giant temple has been converted into a church, and it is one of the best preserved and most iconic buildings in the city. The Pantheon is breathtaking from the outside, but the interior will blow your mind. The domed roof and stained glass windows shed dappled light on the marble and tile floor, and there is a series of unique alters to explore. It’s well worth listening to an audio guide or buying a book to accompany your visit so that you can learn more about the history of the building and its significance through the ages.
Today is the day you’ll celebrate two of Rome’s most redeeming features, its history and its food. In the morning, make your way to The Colosseum and walk in the footsteps of emperors and gladiators. This is a magical place where you can feel history oozing from every orifice, and it’s worth booking a tour so that you can find out everything there is to know about this ancient wonder. Your ticket also enables you to visit the neighbouring Forum. The Forum has been preserved incredibly, and there is a dazzling array of ruins on offer. You can see where important decisions were made, where the wealthy landowners and senators lived and gain an insight into life in Ancient Rome. You’ll get the best views of the Forum from Palatine Hill, which stands 40 metres above the ancient ruins.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to enjoy some local cuisine courtesy of Rome food tours. Your trip will take you on a culinary journey through the city, and you can taste traditional delicacies and fine wines to your heart’s content. During the tour, you’ll find out about Italian dishes, the importance of food to Roman families, and the evolution of popular recipes through the ages. You’ll visit some of the city’s most treasured eateries, and you’ll return home with a full stomach and a smile on your face.
On your final day in Rome, catch a cab, stretch your legs or take the metro to Vatican City. The Vatican Museums is a collection of displays and exhibits, the most famous of which is the Sistine Chapel, which was painted by Michelangelo in 1508. Expect queues as you approach the chapel, but be patient. The wait will be worth your while. The museums also house sculptures, artefacts and works of art by Leonardo and Caravaggio. Within the vast complex, you’ll find separate museums devoted to the Etruscans and the Egyptians, as well as a gallery of tapestries.
Perhaps the highlight of a trip to Vatican City is a tour of St Peter’s Basilica. Dominating the skyline with its iconic dome, this is the Papal seat, and it is also one of the world’s largest churches. The church dates back to the early 1500’s. Crowds gather here in their hundreds and thousands, so it pays to arrive early to beat the queues. It’s wise to give yourself plenty of time to wander around at a gentle pace. Inside, the magic continues, and you can marvel at the precious metals, the incredible windows and the ornate detail.
As the sun sets on your time in Rome, round off your break in the only way possible with a delicious meal, a shot of limoncello and of course, one last scoop of gelato. Avoid the tourist hot spots and anywhere that has multiple languages on the menu if you’re after an authentic experience. The suburbs are the best place to be for an affordable, good quality meal. Areas like Trastevere and Trieste are famed for their food and lively nightlife. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to look out for bars and restaurants that are full of locals.
If you’re planning to embrace la dolce vita and live it up in Rome, it pays to have some plans in place before you go. This is a city where there’s something to see at every street corner, and there’s no time to waste. Tick the big-hitters off your list, take some tours, and then wander off the tourist track if you have time. Soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the food and drink, and take the best history class you’ll ever have.