How to spend a weekend in Rome

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Rome is a perfect destination for a long weekend. Here, you’re really spoilt for history, sights, food and culture but picking the best bits and taking it slow reveals many local charms and intimacies more quickly than in many capital cities.

I stayed in Casa Fabbrini – a 16th century townhouse B&B huddled down a cobbled cul-de-sac in Rome’s Centro Storico which is both steps from restaurants and sights and offers a rest bite from its full busyness.

The morning can be spent in and around Piazza di Spagna. Here, climb the large and beautiful Spanish Steps where at its peak see the layout of Rome’s lively skyline.

The 135 gleaming steps rise from Piazza di Spagna to the landmark Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti. Although named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, the Steps were actually financed by French embassy. No resting your legs here however. Since 2018 it is forbidden to sit down to protect the steps being damaged- or you’ll get an angry whistle from an Italian police officer. At the top of the Spanish Steps is the 16th-century Trinità dei Monti church. Here, the dolce voices of an Italian choir in the church added to the splendour of the views.

Here, the dolce voices of an Italian choir in the church added to the splendour of the views

Drop down and swan through the Via Condotti which hosts a multitude of designer boutiques and flashy restaurants. This takes you down to the Trevi Fountain which unsurprisingly is jammed with tourists snapping shots of the gorgeous blue water under amazing Baroque architecture. It is worth however shuffling through to throw a coin and admire its real wonder. Take a breath from crowds and stop for a traditional Roman Cappuccino and Cornetto in many cafés nearby.

Take a visit to the Modern Art Museum for its offer of the interesting works reflecting on the Italian experience through modern changes (and the air con).

For dinner eat al fresco in one of the many nice restaurants down Centro Storio’s yellowy cobbled streets many of which serve up good food and atmosphere. Antica Enoteca is a decadent bar for late drinks on a corner.

Day Two                                                                                                                                      

Go for a stroll in Villa Borghese park which romantically forms a heart shape and is a wanted nature fill. The panoramic views are enough to justify a visit but there’s actually lots to dig into. The Borghese Gallery boasts some of Rome’s best artworks dating back to Ancient Roman Times (and a nice coffee stop). At the (replica of) ancient temple of Aslepius you can stop at its lake and even rent a row boat.

In the afternoon walk down to the Jewish Ghetto. It is less visited but should top itineraries. As one of the oldest Jewish community in Europe, it is central to the history of the city as well as the Jewish faith. Learn about this relationship at the Jewish Museum which offers a free tour of The Great Synagogue, the largest in Rome, in English as well as historical information and artefacts brimming out of its seams. The neighbourhood itself it something to lull on. Its cafés and restaurants have given it a reputation for culinary excellence. Ba’Ghetto offers some of the best kosher Italian dishes and historic Pasticceria Boccione’s torta ricotta e visciole (cake with ricotta cheese and sour cherries) proves it’s queue worthy.

In the afternoon walk down to the Jewish Ghetto. It is less visited but should top itineraries

Trastevere area is the go to for a late lively night in Rome. It encompasses a few pretty squares and lots of small eateries if you want to sustain some romance; but its primarily known for its fun dancing bars and young atmosphere.

Day Three

A visit to Rome feels incomplete without a poke around the Vatican. Be prepared for long queues in hot sun and constant approaches from tour guide sellers, but St. Peter’s Basilica is worth persisting for. Its breath-taking, ornate interior centres around the Papal Altar at which only the Pope celebrates Mass. The dome is a dizzying masterpiece. Here too, Michelangelo’s Pietà finds its home and the crypts hold 148 tombs (catacombs) of the popes. Wander around the surrounding neighbourhood and discover some understated charms away from the tourist hot spots.

Go to the colosseum late. It closes at sunset so explore this wonder in the subtler late afternoon heat away from mass crowds. The district around hosts some cool spots for the evening as many of the bars and restaurants in Rome’s Monti neighbourhood feel more authentic. Ai Tre Scalini is a local’s classic since 1895 for an aperitivo under its sweeping vines over the street.

Image credit: Oliver-Bonjoch via Wikimedia Commons

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