Food and drink Italy Journal Things to see and do

Tips for a wonder-filled break in Rome

The Coliseum, Rome

Rome is a wonder of the world. Literally! Every corner you turn there is an architectural wonder, a gastronomic wonder, a religious wonder, a wonder of ancient Rome, or a view to wonder at (romantically or otherwise). However, if you are only visiting for a short break be sure to not try and cram in too much. If you do, things will pass by in the blurr, you’ll wear yourself out, and you will not appreciate one my favourite things to do in Rome – wandering the cobbled streets of the Centro Storico or Trastevere areas drinking coffee (or prosecco), snacking on arancini, and stumbling across yet another enchanting church.

Here are my tips for a successful short-break in Rome:

  • Pick five things to visit - max – and save the rest for next time. And put on your comfy shoes as you’ll do a lot of walking.
  • If you there is a restaurant you particularly want to try do not leave it to chance. Book ahead as Rome’s restaurants get booked up and very fully all evening. Many restaurants close for the afternoon between lunch and dinner.
  • At snack bars it costs more to sit down at a ‘tavolo’ and less to stand at the ‘banco’. Do as the Romans do and drink your espresso, or morning aperitif, standing at the bar.
  • The cafés in Campo di Fiori are much cheaper and have a less touristy feel than those in Piazza Navona.
  • Eat: aracini, fresh pasta, saltimbocca, rabbit, pizza with brassola, gelato.
  • Drink: coffee, frascati, prosecco
  • Watch out for national holidays when many museums and shops are closed.
  • The Trevi fountain and Spanish steps, although worth visiting, are so popular they are hard to see through the masses of people permanently gathered there. You could try going in the middle of the night or very early morning, or in winter!
  • Don’t eat around Trevi either. The better restaurants are on the narrow cobbled streets of Centro Storico or Trastevere. A couple of my favourites are: Trattoria al Bractiere on Via della Chiesa Nuova, for fresh pasta, and Il Leoncino on  via del Leoncino for pizza.
  • If you’re rushed, you can avoid the lines and get a really good feel for the Coliseum and Palatine Hill from outside the cordoned off area.
  • Try to visit the Vittoriano during the changing of the guard, which happens every day around 5pm.

The Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel

  • To avoid the lines at the Vatican, don’t go on a Monday (when all the other museums are closed), Easter, or school holidays. Mid-week is best, and when I visited early November there was not no queue at all.
  • The buses no. 62 and 64 go all the way to the Vatican (buy your ticket form the machine before you get on and then stamp on board. Valid for one hour after that).
  • If you only go to one museum make sure it’s to see the Sistine Chapel – it is NOT over-hyped!
  • The ‘110’ audio bus tour is only 18 euros for a 48-hour hop on hop off ticket. Catch it at the bus station next to Termini.
  • Don’t get a taxi from the airport as they seriously over charge you (and many unlicenced taxis operate). The train from Fuiciano takes 30 minutes, runs every half and hour, and costs 14 euros.
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