Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it’s not to visit in a day. Follow #vacanzeromane to see how endless and timeless Rome really is, but if you have but a weekend or a few days for the città eterna, this is what to absolutely do and the “grazie, però no”.
1. The Spanish Steps and Trinita dei Monti
Piazza di Spagna is high on the must list, but what you are really looking for is the scalinata (the Spanish steps) in fiore, and the classic climb up to Trinita dei Monti. Take your time in the Piazza della Trinita dei Monti and then some more time to visit the little white church and Instagram the view from the terrace.
The liveliest neighborhood in Rome is not a secret to tourists any longer; still, only the savvy and the returning travelers are familiar with Trastevere, so go for it, especially after sunset, when the local vibe is particularly catchy. Eat like a Roman the true caccio e pepe and wander the cobbled streets from the river (Ponte Sisto, Piazza Trilussa) up to the Santa Maria in Trastevere and Porta Settimiana and all the way to Piazza di San Cosimato.
3. The walk from Popolo to Trinita dei Monti
Walking is everything in Rome, although transport is good and Uber works perfectly. What I call “the walk” is a walk that you have to take, even if you are on the clock and feel you don’t have time to soak in the romance. Let your hair down, hold hands and walk from Piazza della Trinita dei Monti to Terrazza del Pincio via Viale Della Trinita/ Viale Gabriele d’Annunzio and then down the stairs to Piazza del Popolo. The whole walk is a huge, green promenade over Rome and takes you away from the crowds and the sadistic merchants in Spagna. If you have the time, spend a few hours in Villa Borghese – or go for a picninc.
4. The night walk
Rome is on the shortlist for the most beautiful cities in the world anyway, but old Rome at night – that nearly does the trick. Here is your itinerary: Fontana di Trevi – Via di Pietra – Piazza di Pietra/ Tempio di Adriano – Piazza della Rotonda/ Panteone – Piazza Navonna – Ponte Sant’Angelo – Castel Sant’Angelo – Via della Concilliazione – Piazza / Basilica San Pietro. I much prefer this itinerary reversed, starting from the Vatican and finishing the walk at Trevi, cause the crowds get thinner after 11pm – it’s up to you, as long as you do it anyway.
One of Rome’s aristo green hills, Gianicolo is for #thehappyfew who want to escape tourist routes completely. With a great view over the city, a select residential area and the exquisite Doria Pamphili domain, Gianicolo is Rome from a different perspective. A stone’s throw away from the Vatican and just up the hill from Trastevere, it is a good haven of serenity to keep for yourself.
Collosseo, Capitoline Hill and the view over the Roman Forum, Area Sacra di Largo Argentina, Panteone and its oculus, Basilica di Santa Maria sopra la Minerva, Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiori, Fontana di Trevi, Castel Sant’Angelo, Basilica di San Pietro with Michelangelo’s Pieta.
7. The don’t’s
If you are here for the first time or for a citybreak only, do not waste the Rome experience by dining near “the landmarks” or by queuing to “see the landmarks”. Book online anything you are dying to visit and never, ever give into the “tourist offers”, “guided tours” or “cut the line” harassment. You should know that there are always big lines to enter the Collosseo and the Vatican Museums, but you are much happier if you give up on visiting these as a first timer.
What you should know about the Vatican is that you can only visit Cappella Sistina/ The Sixtine Chapel as part of the Vatican Museum complete/ short tour, and the quickest you can do it is within 2-3 hours, with previous online booking. Check here the types of tickets, and book your ticket here, not with various agents.
What you should also know is that you will have to temper your expectations regarding any Sixtine epiphany, because, however splendid and utterly unique it may be, the Chapel is so crowded with visitors that you can barely have room to breathe or move, at all times. The best tip you’ll ever get on this topic: go for a night tour.
As for the San Pietro Basilica, entrance is free but lines can vary, from a decent 10 minutes to a whole 3 hours. Do not plan your visit to the Basilica on a Wednesday morning or early afternoon, as you will be in for a surprise; The Pope is holding open audiences in the Piazza San Pietro on all Wednesday mornings, so both the basilica and the piazza are closed until noon – except for the papal audience. If you wish to attend, make sure you are present at one of the entry points in the piazza between 7-8 am, to pass the security check.