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Rome has so much culture and history that it’s hard to know just how to pack everything you want to see and do (…and eat and drink) in one weekend. Of course, it would be wrong to take your first visit to this magnificent city without seeing all the tourist hot spots, but it would also be a shame to miss out on seeing the modern local life and culture. Here, I’ve made up a list explaining how best to plan your few days in this beautiful city, and popped in a few of my favourite recommendations for whatever time of day you need.
For a Roman, breakfast looks like a quick coffee and a pastry. Specifically, a frothy cappuccino and a warm cornetto, and it should be consumed standing up in a café. And let me tell you, caffeine, sugar and carbs are exactly what you need to kick start your busy day in Rome. To take full advantage of your day, aim to grab breakfast in an area where you plan to sightsee. Here, are three great places that tick all the boxes:
Caffe Delle Commari sells only cornetto and is located right by the Vatican, making it a perfect, and quaint, little breakfast stop to do before or after a tour of the Vatican City.
Barnum is a cool little café right in the historical centre, near the popular Campo de Fiori market and only a five-minute walk from Piazza Navona.
I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza, also near the Campo de Fiori market, can be found hidden down a little side street and is the most charming place to enjoy a cappuccino and freshly baked pastry. Enjoy it standing like a local or choose to sit in the sweet tearoom.
Post-coffee and pastry consumption ought to be best utilised by exploring all the bucket-list tourist locations. This is because the most convenient way to get around Rome is by foot, as most of the popular attractions are clustered together in traffic-free zones (otherwise, the metro or a taxi is your best bet). The morning is also the best time to visit the most popular sight-seeing spots as they are a little quieter at this time. You can visit the Vatican City, Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps … need I go on? Some photographers like to head to some of these spots as early as 6 am to avoid the crowds!
For lunch, I recommend grabbing a slice of pizza or a cheese and meat ciabatta sandwich from a local bakery. There are quite a few dotted around all over Rome, especially near the tourist spots so they shouldn’t be too hard to find. However, if you’re looking for a speciality joint then Panificio Bonci is famous for their gourmet pizza-by-the-slice, and also sells beautiful breads and other baked goods. Also, The Forno is a lovely bakery to grab some bread, biscuits and of course pizza. For only a couple of euros, you’ll be served a delectable crunchy, thin, pizza slice that will hit the spot! Otherwise, Ginger is a healthier option, perfect for a quick lunch and some al fresco dining. Take a seat and enjoy some people watching over a nutritious pick-me-up.
Italians have impeccable style and we are lucky to be able to purchase from the archives through Rome’s amazing vintage shops. With a beautiful variety of stock, including second-hand designer pieces, vintage shopping in Rome is one of a kind. For a shop to pop into try, Flamingo Vintage Shop, King Size Vintage, Pifebo or Blue Goose Vintage. But for something truly unique, take a trip to Porta Portese, a well stocked, large weekend market with affordable vintage finds, antiques, and more.
Of course, taking a peaceful wonder around art museums is a must-do in Rome as well. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome and the Borghese Gallery and Museum are just a couple of the most famous art museums to visit.
Finally, take in the entire city from one of Rome’s beautiful viewpoints. Usually situated in some pretty and unique locations such as the top of the Dome of the Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City and the Terrace of Castel Sant-Angelo. Alternatively, If you want to rest a little, you can always go to one of the pretty parks or gardens around town. I would recommend Palatine Hill and Orange Garden where you can spend some time relaxing with a drink and an ice cream while enjoying the view of the city
Now, to narrow down restaurants in Rome to just a couple of recommendations is an impossible task. Especially as Rome has so many delicacies such as Cacio e Pepe, Bucatini all’ Amatriciana and of course Carbonara and Roman Style Pizza. Plus, you’re spoilt for choice and it certainly isn’t difficult to find a restaurant serving delicious food on your own accord by foot (so by all means, give that a go!). But, if you’re looking for something more contemporary and unique then here are my three best suggestions:
Barred is a contemporary, Roman restaurant with a specially curated selection of comfort dishes made with seasonal, fresh ingredients. Easy to spot by the neon lights adorning the interior, this restaurant provides some modern Roman culture you didn’t know you needed.
Seu Pizza Illuminati is widely recognised as one of the best pizza places in Rome. With a contemporary, modern feel, the chef Pier Daniele Seu serves up delicious gourmet pizzas that are baked to perfection.
La Tavernaccia is a family-run trattoria serving up local, classic food that won’t let you down and provides the best romantic atmosphere to make you feel as if you’re in an Italian movie.
In the evening, head to a bar and enjoy the company of your travel buddies with a drink (soft or alcoholic, but we all know which option is preferable). There is nothing quite like sitting outside at a table and taking in the picturesque surroundings, architecture and atmosphere of Rome and talking over your busy day with company. Here are my top three recommendations:
Baja is a restaurant and cocktail bar situated on a boat. With the decorative fairy lights that reflect beautifully off of the Tiber river, this location is astonishingly serene, romantic and the perfect oasis away from the bustling city.
Hotel Butterfly has a beautiful garden bar/restaurant, where you’ll find yourself sat in a dazzlingly lit garden full of secular trees and magnolias. The food and wine is delicious, of course, but what tops off this unbelievable spot, is the music and live performances that play there every night until late.
Circolo defli Agrumi is a young, lively spot where live DJ’s play in the outdoor garden space with trees lit up with neon lights. Also to be found on the banks of the Tiber River, this space is open for a cool and casual drink in the early evening and stays open until 3:30 am for those who want a bit of a boogy.
Le Jardin de Russie, officially on the Michelin Guide 2020, is the spot to sip on a sophisticated tipple amongst the stunning and classy surroundings. This is the place to take your nicest dress and enjoy a peaceful and romantic evening over cocktails with your loved one.
This guide aims to be the perfect little go-to for your weekend in Rome without overwhelming you with all the places there are to visit. Consider noting down these spots as dependable places to visit should you be too spoilt for choice.