It is known as one of the most traveled cities in Europe for a reason. Rome, Italy is a metropolitan filled with intriguing people, stunning architecture and delectable food.
Despite all of the good qualities, planning a trip to a city like this can be difficult. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Rome with my boyfriend and to make things easier for fellow travelers, I decided to share our daily itinerary. It will include the sites we visited and great places to get meals.
Note: We stayed in the area of Trastevere, a district located west of the River Tiber. Most of my food suggestions will be based here but I will also include great spots on the east side as well.
We decided to start off our first day like locals by grabbing a cappuccino and a pastry for breakfast. Almost every corner has a small store that serves great coffee and baked goods!
Giselda Forno in Trastevere has quick service, friendly staff and fresh-baked pastries.
Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè uses water from ancient aqueducts to brew their coffee and has delicious almond croissants.
cappuccino & chocolate croissant at Giselda’s
Next, we headed to the east side of the Tiber towards the Piazza Navona. On the way, we took a self-guided walking tour of the churches in the area. Our favorites were Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi, Basilica di Sant’Agostino and Sant’Agnese in Agone.
San Luigi dei Francesi
Before stepping into the piazza, we stopped by a corner store to buy black truffle cheese, nectarines, a small baguette and 2 Peronis. We munched on these yummy snacks while people-watching from a bench.
The Pantheon, located in the Piazza della Rotonda, is only a 5 minute walk away from the Piazza Navona. We arrived by late afternoon because that is when the crowds have thinned. The piazza holds an elaborately sculpted fountain and inside the temple, you can observe the Oculus in the ceiling of the dome.
The perfect beginning to our evening was at the Trevi Fountain. There were large crowds but when the sun set, the lights of the fountain were gorgeous. Per tradition, we went to the front and made a wish!
My one suggestion for dinner on the first night is Etablì, an eclectic lounge that serves traditional Roman food. It is right down the street from Piazza Navona and located near several other authentic bars and restaurants. My beau and I shared a bottle of Chianti and started with one of the charcuterie plates- if you decided to go, and the courgette (zucchini stuffed with sausage, potatoes, provolone, pecorino cream and pumpkin flower) is still on the menu, order it and you will not be disappointed.
We spent the second morning in Vatican City. I highly recommend that when you go, you arrive as early as possible to avoid long lines. Start at St. Peter’s Basilica (opens at 7 am) because there is no entrance fee. Next, head to the Vatican Museums. It is advised that you buy a fast-track ticket online beforehand- it can include a tour guide or you can purchase an audioguide once inside.
inside the Vatican Museums
The artwork inside the museums is diverse and beyond impressive. Towards the end of the tour, we were able to view the infamous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
After spending the first half of the day in the Vatican, we took the bus south to Trastevere. This charming area of Rome is filled with countless piazzas, ivy-covered trattorias and wine bars. When you visit, take your time walking the cobblestone streets and stop for lunch at one of the outdoor cafes.
La Renella – a traditional Roman Bakery that serves pizza and sandwiches on the go– take it to the nearest piazza, sit down and snack.
Trattoria da Lucia – a tiny establishment in one of the many alleyways that has great options for antipasto.
discovered on the streets of Trastevere
The Basilica di Santa Maria in this neighborhood is must-see. It is a 12th century church with an intricately decorated interior. We stepped inside for a moment of quiet and solitude, giving thanks for the opportunity to travel to such an intriguing country.
Piazza di Santa Maria
Towards the end of the day when the sun is setting, we visited the Ponte Sisto. It is a bridge that spans the Tiber and great for people watching. There is usually someone selling Peronis for 1 euro each so we were able to enjoy a cold one while taking in the scenery.
For dinner, we stayed in Trastevere near our Airbnb. It is well-known for its nightlife so by staying there, you have the option of going out to explore the different bars and microbreweries.
Ai Marmi– a low-key pizzeria that is very popular with locals. It serves thin-crust, Roman-style pizza with traditional toppings. Also very inexpensive which is great for low-budget travelers.
Casetta di Trastevere– great prices and an expansive menu. The pasta and pizza options are prepared in a classic Italian way.
pizza bombetta and penne all’ arrabbiata at Casetta di Trastevere
The beginning of the third day we spent discovering a part of “Ancient Rome”. We headed towards the Colosseum and on the way, were able to visit the Altare della Patria. This is a very large monument located in the Piazza Venezia that was built as a dedication to “unified Italy”.
Altare della Patria
The Colosseum is a 15 minute walk from there. This is another site that I would suggest buying tickets ahead of time- you can even get a joint one that includes entry to the Roman Forum (tomorrow’s adventure!).
The amphitheater is situated in the center of Rome and is a remarkable piece of architecture. We grabbed an audio-guide at the entrance so that we could learn about the construction of the building and details about the games that were held there.
the underground arena of the Colosseum
Spending your morning touring the largest amphitheater ever built works up an appetite. We made our way towards a delicious lunch destination for some much needed sustenance.
Roscioli – a salumeria and wine bar with a cozy atmosphere. Seating can be right at the deli counter, in the dining room or inside the wine cellar. They carry over 300 types of cheeses and charcuteries for purchase.
Once we had fully relaxed and filled ourselves with Italian cuisine, it was time to explore the city. I recommend that when you wander around Rome; you take your time, peak into every alleyway and follow your instincts around each intriguing corner.
On our self-guided walking tour, we got very lost but happened to pass by the Quirinal Palace Museums & Gardens. It is a great place to stroll through and unwind. The piazza it is held in offers great views of the city and a momentous statue.
the streets of Rome Piazza del Quirinale
Spend time wandering through this captivating city! You will most likely find a restaurant, a shop, a church or a ancient site that you and I have never heard of.
Dinner is an occasion in itself in Italy so we made sure not to rush through it. I advise ordering the house wine and trying multiple dishes. Don’t be afraid to eat anything your heart desires because you will be walking almost all day!
Osteria Barberini – a family run, intimate restaurant with a mix of Roman and Mediterranean cuisine. The menu features multiple truffle- incorporated dishes.
Da Carlone – a very low-key trattoria located in Trastevere with great pasta and pizza options. Order the carbonara– they are famous for it!
I saved my now-favorite site for the last day in Rome because it takes 2-3 hours to walk around. It is a gathering of ancient government buildings, fountains, statues, gardens and has great views of the rest of the city. I advise that you invest in a tour-guide or audioguide before walking around on your own.
inside the Roman Forum
views of Rome & the Arch of Titus
Once you leave the Forum, I proposing going to Trajan’s Market which is only a 15-20 minute walk away. It is a shopping center with markets that is based in a complex of restored ruins. The building has various levels as well as exhibitions inside.
After a long first half of the day, we needed a quick refreshment so we grabbed a light lunch of on-the-go paninis and then tried some Italian gelato!
Gelateria del Teatro – a very well-known gelato shop and for good reason! They offer a variety of artisanal flavors that are created from seasonal ingredients.
Fior di Luna – located in Trastevere, this gelateria has a lot of rich chocolate as well as natural flavors.
espresso & pistachio gelato
For the rest of the afternoon, we roamed around the city at our own pace. Any chance you get, you should visit any district that intrigued you the most. Or find a new one!
One option would be to invest in a “walking tour of Rome”. This eliminates the time spent planning your own course. Also, the guides are very knowledgeable and will be able to tell you facts about Rome that are rarely found in guidebooks.
The last dinner of our trip was at a very nondescript seafood restaurant with a low-key cuban vibe and good specials. Make sure that your last meal of a the trip is a memorable one! Here is a list of restaurants that were suggested to us by locals during our own time in Rome.
Da Enzo – make sure to book a table in advance because this place is busy almost every night! It is an unassuming eatery on the edge of Trastevere where you will find a menu full of Roman classics and some of the best cacio e pepe in the city!
Pizzeria da Baffetto– serves a limited variety of thin crust pizzas. It has a very Italian atmosphere with communal tables and wine served in jugs. There is usually people lining up outside but ‘all good things are worth the wait.
Our last night in Rome was spent on the Spanish Steps. We were there around midnight, which was very romantic and relaxing because there weren’t any large crowds. Sharing bottle of wine and some cherries to snack on, we sat on the top steps and reminisced about the magical days we had spent in Italy. A perfect ending to a perfect trip.