I’ve been to Rome several times in my life, including twice just this year! It’s one of my favourite cities as it’s just so old and so completely different to London. If you’re heading there soon these are my top recommendations for making sure you have the best possible time.
1. Eat the best ice cream in Rome
Gelateria La Romana on via cola di rienzo has queues out the door every afternoon and evening, and with good reason. At just 1 Euro per scoop it’s so cheap, but tastes incredible. Order a cone, not a cup, which is filled with melted chocolate and topped with the most delicious flavours of gelato. It’s simply heaven! My favourites were the chocolate and pistachio, but there’s also plenty of fruity flavours to choose from.
2. Orientate yourself with a long walk on your first day
Starting at the Colosseum (it’s least busy in the morning), walk through Rome’s endless streets to the Altare della Patria, through Piazza Novana, the Pantheon, and Trevi fountain, ending up at the Piazza di Spagna. It’ll take a few hours, possibly even all day if you take your time. If that’s not enough then head over the river to the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican, walking past Rome’s best tiramisu at Pompi to enjoy on the way. This may seem like a lot of walking in one day but it’ll help you orientate yourself, get a feel of the city, and see which parts you’d like to revisit in more detail.
3. Enjoy your body weight in pasta and pizza
This goes without saying surely. When in Rome… it’s time to carb up. Whether it’s Roman style (sliced) or Napoli (whole), the pizza here is just incredible. I recommend Zigaetana near the Vatican, where I had my favourite pizza in Rome: a simple Margarita with rocket, tomatoes, and Parmesan added after baking – so fresh! Best enjoyed with a cold glass of wine of course, which brings me to my next point…
4. Spend a relaxed evening drinking wine
Wine is the drink of choice in Italy, and evenings in Rome are beautiful and definitely shouldn’t be wasted in bed! Il Sorpasso on via properzio is an incredible wine bar, packed with locals spilling out onto the street, wine glass in one hand, gesticulating with the other. It fills up from around 8-9pm every night without fail, so I recommend grabbing a table just before then, and not moving until well past sunset. After all, there are so many good Italian wines to choose from.
5. Explore Rome’s green side
See some greenery and go for a walk in Villa Borghese. It makes a nice change from walking around the city, and the view from the top is well worth the uphill climb! There’s also a small lake in the middle where you can hire a boat for 20 minutes. It seems touristy but it’s surprisingly fun and you can get some funny photos while you’re at it!
6. Go inside the Colosseum
If you’re going to spend money on seeing one thing in Rome, this has to be it. You’ll not see anything like it anywhere else in the world and it’s just so impressive. Beat the crowds by arriving early in the morning, and get a guided tour if you want to see the top level and really get a good history lesson while you’re there. The queue for tickets gets really long after lunchtime so book online in advance if you can!
7. Explore the Roman forum
Most tickets for the Colosseum will include entry to the forum, and as they’re right next to each other it makes sense to pair them up. Avoid going in the middle of the day though as there’s little shade and it gets hot!
8. Escape the Trevi crowds
The Trevi fountain really is impressive, and I’m always surprised by how much bigger it is than I remember. But during the day it’s a night mare to navigate, there’s just too many people to make it an enjoyable experience. At around 7am on the other hand, it’s deserted, even in the middle of the peak summer season. It’s worth waking up early just to get some good shots without anyone else in the way.
9. Marvel at the Vatican, either from inside or out
The Sistine Chapel is incredible, but trekking through the Vatican museums for hours might not be your thing – it sure isn’t mine! I find there’s only so much grandeur you can take in before it all starts to blend together and it becomes hard to appreciate. In that case, visiting the piazza and the basilica are sure to impress either way, just make sure to dress appropriately.
10. Hitch a scooter ride
This one might be tricky as for best results it requires befriending a nice, young (ideally attractive) Italian man. Ladies, if you’re blonde you should have no trouble with this at all, as from my experience the stereotype of Italian men liking blondes definitely holds up. But either way, being brave and just asking for directions should give you a fun experience like no other! The scooter is the transport of choice in Rome, and you’ll get a whole new appreciation for the city and the navigation skills of the locals – Roman people ride fast! Don’t worry though, this is how it’s done in Rome, so try to relax and enjoy it!