Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither can it be enjoyed in a day, let alone a week. Rome is a city that unveils herself over time, layers being revealed with every trip. We think that you need to return again and again to Rome to fully appreciate her – that’s our excuse, anyway!
We’ve all got to start somewhere, however. Welcome to our guide to three days experiencing the Eternal City, packed with everything that makes it great – art, fine dining, history, shopping and, of course, gelato. Come, live la dolce vita with us!
Start your day at the pretty Piazza del Popolo – make sure to get some pictures of the obelisk and fountains at its centre. The nearby church of Santa Maria del Popolo (Piazza del Popolo, 12) is ancient, built (supposedly) on top of Nero’s tomb because of his troublesome, noisy ghost! The current construction is medieval, with a gorgeous baroque interior full of art treasures. Highlights are the Chigi Chapel, with statues by Bernini and the Cerasi Chapel, with two stunning paintings by Caravaggio – two very famous local artists.
Then it’s off to the Baths of Diocletian (Viale Enrico de Nicola 79) the monumental bath complex commissioned by the eponymous Roman Emperor. It’s one of the first sights that many travellers have when coming into Rome and it’s well worth your time wandering through the complex. Tucked inside are a few ancient Christian basilicas – we recommend you pop into Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Piazza della Repubblica), if only to see some of Michaelangelo’s statues and the extraordinary meridian line laid out across the church, used to tell the time.
By now you will probably have worked up an appetite. Within 10 minutes, you have the delights of Come il Latte (Via Silvio Spaventa, 24/26), one of Rome’s hippest gelaterias and justifiably proud of their artisanal techniques.
Our recommendation for the afternoon is to head south from the gelateria. You may choose to brave the crowds south-west at the Trevi Fountain (Piazza di Trevi) or travel south-east to the National Museum of Rome (Largo Villa Peretti 2), a vastly underrated treasure house of some of the most beautiful Roman artefacts unearthed in the city. Both have plenty of small cafes and shops nearby that you might wish to duck into after you’re done.
Come evening, catch a taxi to Ristorante Capo Boi (Via Arno 80) for highly-acclaimed seafood and pasta in a lovely part of the city, largely free of tourists.
You’re in Rome – let’s do some shopping!
Heading north-west past the Trevi Fountain, you’ll find yourself at the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna). A tourist attraction in itself, this is where some of Rome’s premium luxury boutiques are located, such as Prada and Gucci. Head down Via Condotti for some of the best (and most exclusive) stores.
Once you’ve given your credit card a workout, caffeinate and grab some lunch at the Antico Caffè Greco (Via dei Condotti, 86), one of Rome’s oldest and most fashionable cafes. If the crowds get too much, duck into the Keats Shelley House (Piazza di Spagna 26), the home shared by poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley in the early 19th century. The museum that now occupies the house is very interesting, but a special treat exists in the balcony of the house. Here you have a wonderful view of the Spanish Steps, undisturbed by tourists!
After lunch, aspiring chefs might like to visit c.u.c.i.n.a. (Via Mario de’ Fiori 65), a ‘culinary temple’ that sells high-end, restaurant-grade kitchenware and utensils.
If you have the stamina for yet more shopping (and who doesn’t), travel southwest to Piazza Navona. another gorgeous open space. Nearby you’ll find Faraoni (Via dei Banchi Vecchi 137) a boutique where Luigi Faraoni and Silvia Grieco create delightful, intricate ‘micromosaic’ jewelry and household goods using enamel. Nearby you’ll also find Society Limonta Roma (Piazza di Pasquino 4), the showroom for Limonta luxury fabrics, including high thread-count linens.
All this shopping should have taken you into the mid-afternoon, so do as the Romans and head off for a drink. Two fantastic, authentic Roman wine bars in the area are Cul de Sac (Piazza di Pasquino 73) and Bar del Fico (Piazza del Fico 26). We particularly recommend Il Fico for the delicious aperitivo buffet they put on in the afternoons – it’s always wise to have something to chase down alcohol in the Roman heat!
If you’re looking for a culture fix instead of shopping, after lunch, head north from the Spanish Steps up to the Ara Pacis Museum (Lungotevere in Augusta). This is the site of a monumental Roman altar dedicated to Pax, the god of Peace, by Augustus, the first Roman Emperor. You are able to look at the extraordinary carvings of mythological figures up close – an experience quite unlike many museums.
Our dinner recommendation for the day takes us back near Piazza del Popolo. All’Oro (Via Giuseppe Pisanelli 23/25) is a Roman institution, beloved by Italian celebrities and politicians – a place to see and be seen. Lucky then, that the food is consistently delicious. We urge you to try the tasting menu – you won’t regret it,
With the sun climbing in the sky, be a little naughty and have a morning gelato. Gelateria del Gracchi (Via dei Gracchi 272). Then, having pre-booked tickets, it’s off to the Vatican Museums (Viale Vaticano). Don’t be put off by the long queues – those who have pre-booked can walk in fairly quickly. Entrance to the museums is, barring a papal audience, the only way to see the world-famous Sistine Chapel, but there are other treasures here to enjoy – Raphael’s gigantic ‘School of Athens’ and a number of Titians and Giottos.
Exploring the museums will take a few hours, so by the time you’re done, it will be past midday. Our suggestion is to head southeast and follow the course of the Tiber, keeping a lookout for a lunch spot of your choice. One of the charming shopping spots on this side of the river is Cereria di Giorgio (Via di S. Francesco di Sales, 85), the supplier of candles to Rome’s churches. In addition to their church candles, they produce a wondrous number of household scented candles – it’s a joy to wander about, inhaling the perfumes.
Heading along the Tiber will eventually bring you to Trastevere, one of our favorite Roman neighborhoods. We suggest you spend your afternoon walking the winding streets of this ancient part of the city. popping into churches and boutiques. This is a very photogenic area, so remember to bring your camera!
Close out your Roman getaway by enjoying a meal at Antico Arco (Piazzale Aurelio 7), a beloved centre of contemporary Italian cuisine in one of the city’s loveliest corners.
Where to stay
Planning on visiting the Eternal City with friends? Treat yourselves with an exclusive rental of this restored 16th-century Palazzo in the heart of Rome’s Jewish Quarter.