So it's your first time in Rome? While exciting, it can also be a little daunting. This living, breathing museum of ancient history is packed full of things to do, but with a little planning you will get to experience the main sights – just enough to get a taste and plan your return trip.
"Rome wasn't built in a day," so a couple of days in the city won't even let you scratch the surface. But the historical center is quite compact and getting around is easy; all you need is a map, comfortable walking shoes and camera to capture all of the beauty.
Transport is fairly straightforward to navigate, with stops of each route listed at each bus stop, and la metro (subway) only has two lines: A (red line) and B (blue line). Tickets can be purchased at stations, an edicola (newsstand) or tabacchi (cigarette shop).
Start big: head to the Colosseum. It’s easily accessed by foot from the city center or by metro B (stop: Colosseo). Skip the queue by taking the Guided Audio Tour and prepare to walk in the footsteps of gladiators in the largest amphitheatre and most recognizable monument in the world. Next up, the Roman Forum for a stroll through the temples and ruins of the ancient world where you’ll feel the real might of the Roman Empire.
Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum — Photo courtesy of HeartRome
See the monument to Emperor Vittorio Emmanuale II (colloquially known as 'the wedding cake'; it’s big and white!) as you walk through Piazza Venezia to the Trevi Fountain. You must throw two coins in – one to make a wish, the other ensures your return to Rome. Next, enjoy the breathtaking view of the city from the top of the Spanish Steps.
For a gelato stop, Vice or Fatamorgana – two of Rome’s best, are in this area as are the shopping strips Via Condotti (designer wear) and Via del Corso (high street brands like Zara).
It's worth climbing every one of the Spanish Steps — Photo courtesy of HeartRome
Start early at the Vatican to see Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, where you can climb to the top of the cupola for an unrivalled view of the city. Stop for lunch around Campo de Fiori, Rome’s oldest market and head to Roscioli bakery for pizza by the slice, or their wine bar Salumeria Roscioli for a more leisurely lunch.
View from 'la cupola,' the dome of St Peter's — Photo courtesy of Margaret Napier
In the afternoon, stroll through Piazza Navona to admire the famous Bernini fountain and the street artists. Take a five-minute walk to the Pantheon (originally built as a temple for all gods and remains the best-preserved building of ancient Rome), then finish up at Sant’Eustacchio for one of their famous coffees.
Eat like a Roman
Oh! And you came to Rome to eat, right? Head to a trattoria for a real taste of cucina romana (Roman food). Despite many tourist traps in the center, you can find some hidden gems like Armando al Pantheon (Pantheon area) or Nonna Betta in the Jewish Ghetto for Roman-Jewish delights.
True Cucina Romana at Da Enzo in Trastevere — Photo courtesy of Eating Italy Food Tours
The lively quartiere (neighbourhood) of Trastevere is a must, with its winding cobblestone streets, bars and restaurants (try Ai Marmi for real Roman pizza or Da Enzo for cucina romana). Or with your days packed full of sightseeing, leave food to the experts and join an evening food tour.
Whatever you decide to do in Rome, just remember to stop for a moment and take it all in. It is, after all, one of the great cities of the ancient and modern world. So take a breath, smile and embrace la dolce vita (the sweet life) - it sums up the eternal city just perfectly.