First things first – Breakfast!
In Italy a croissant is called a ‘Cornetto’ and is (in my opinion) the perfect sweet, flaky way to start your day. The morning is also the only time of the day that you can order a cappuccino and not be judged as a tourist for it, after this it’s espresso only if you want to fit in! It is the Italians opinion that the only things that drink milk in the afternoon are babies and calves!
The Colosseum is first on the list this morning. This 2,100 year old fighting ring lay in various states of disrepair for centuries until the start of the 1800’s when work began to restore the mighty ruin. Now at any time you can expect to see scaffolding where once might have hung mighty banners but the Colosseum is never entirely covered. There are many options for entry. From lining up and entering as a self propelled individual to signing up for a timeslot for the underground tour, you can choose the option that suits your budget and time restrictions. Right along side it (and included in any Colosseum ticket) is the Roman forums, an intricate warren of ruins whos construction spans several centuries and used to be the site of the governments of ancient Rome. it will take quite some time to cover all this history so leave yourself the whole morning and check out this post on how to skip the cues!
Trust me, after all of this you will be starving.
A trip to L’Archetto (Via Dell’Archetto,26), just around the corner from the Trevi fountain (newly restored and opened in 2015!) will solve this problem. Tucked down a side alley, this tiny restaurant has most of its seats on the cobble stone road and serves 100 different pasta sauces for only 9 Euro. Enjoy the sight of the constant flow of nuns letting themselves in to the neighboring convent as you eat.
You still have a bit of a walk ahead of you so reward yourself halfway with gelato at either Gelato del Teatro (Via dei Coronari, 65), serving exotic flavors such as red wine and dark chocolate or Gelateria della Palma (Via della Maddalena, 19-23. Right near the Pantheon) where 150 flavors of gelato are offered, you will be stuck for choice!
Crossing the river Tiber, look down river and maybe you can see the pointed tip of Tiber island? Since times Before Christ this island has been associated with healing and medicine. In ancient Rome great leaders including Julius Caesar were supposedly treated here and still today a hospital stands on the island.
Walking to a new country.
The walk up to St Peters Basilica itself is an experience, the huge dome starts tiny and gradually looms and looms until suddenly you are crossing the line on the ground that marks that you are entering into another country and wow, you are in Vatican city. A tour in here will take about 3 hours and cost around 30- 40 Euro but I think it is the only way to do it. The inside is huge and if you don’t know what you are doing you may end up spending most of your time wandering lost trying to find the things you have heard so much about, like the Sistine chapel. You will also be shown the Raphael Rooms, the Gallery of tapestries and the Gallery of the Geographical Maps, all amazing rooms containing works that will leave you with your mouth hanging open. All of the tours should finish at St Peter’s Basilica and from there I would recommend to purchase a separate ticket to climb to the dome. I haven’t managed to do it yet but I hear the view is unrivaled.
It is worth noting that in spring and summer the Pope holds audiences on Wednesday morning in St. Peter’s Square. Have a look at http://www.papalaudience.org/information for more information
Finding a calm oasis in the eternal city.
An amble downhill will lead you to Trastevere, the less touristy, calmer, suburb of Rome. On the right hand banks of the Tiber it is full of boutique shops for clothing, perfume, jewelery, books and so many bars offering craft beers and bizarre cocktails. The via della Lungaretta is a good place to start. Settle in for a drink and watch the passers by.
Instead of dinner, why not try aperitivo? Aperitivo is a practice of some bars to provide snack food when you order a drink in the early evening. Staying in Trastevere, Freni e Frizioni (Via del Politeama 4) is a mostly outdoor venue for the young hip things of the city. Their 10 Euro cocktails have exotic names and ingredients (Bob’s Lavender Bitters??) and their buffet is largely vegetarian but has enough pearl barley, bread and couscous to fill you up! If you feel like heading back in to the city, my favourite aperativo spot is Gusto (Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 9). They provide a buffet of fresh finger foods and salads, which you can go back to as often as you like, with the purchase of just one drink (around 10-12 euro). It is more than enough for dinner, and the cocktails are so good, you wont be stopping at one. Sometimes they also have live music, its a very popular spot so I would recommend trying to get there before 7 for a seat. Aperitivo will last until 10 and sometimes even later.
Your day in Rome is over and if it was successful you are now exhausted. If you still have the energy and have ended your night at Gusto’s you are very close to Piazza del Popolo, the peoples square, which is beautiful lit up at night and has a lookout at one end of it so that you can look over the top of the terracotta roofs of the city and wonder at what I think is one of the most lively and exciting cities in the world.
Preferred method of transport – Foot (unfortunately the public transport options in this city are not so great)
What are your suggestions for a day in Rome? Is there something else you consider essential viewing? Let me know!