1 Day Itinerary: the best of Rome

By Go City Expert

Are you counting down the days until your anticipated arrival? Are you devouring information about the Eternal City like your life depends on it? Well, we’ve made it simple: we’ve come up with the perfect 1 day itinerary so if you dedicate just 24 hours to sightseeing and experiencing Rome by this quick-fire bucket list then you can rest assured that you will leave satisfied. Make sure you've had a hearty breakfast and got some good walking shoes on before you head to the cobbled streets... Morning: Head straight to Rome’s oldest and longest standing landmark, the Colisseum, and start your day on a high. This near 2000 year old building has seen its fair share of history and is one of the best places to learn about the importance of the Roman culture. From gladiator fights to miniature naval races (yes, who knew!) this building has been through it all – even destructive earthquakes that are partly to blame for its half crumbled state. Alongside the Colisseum is the impressive expanse of the Roman Forum where you can walk along the ancient cobbled streets and up the Palatine Hill to survey what used to be the hub of all Roman activity. As an old marketplace, the Roman Forum is one of the most transforming areas in Rome and you can really send yourself back in time as you walk along the marble pillars and ancient ruins. Mid-morning: Past the Vittorio Emmanuele monument (or the wedding cake as the Romans call it) and further into town you’ll get to another one of Rome’s most iconic buildings, the Pantheon. This building is free to enter and it will take your breath away as you marvel at the unique concept and religious history behind it. Built as a temple to the ancient Roman gods in 126AD it is one of the best preserved buildings in Rome and has been in constant use since the 7th century – and to this day it’s a place of worship and even marriage! It’s large opening, or oculus, is exactly 43m from the floor, and 43m in diameter – a mathematical feat and with no cover or window, it remains open all day, every day. Ever wondered what happens when it rains? There’s a small drainage system implanted into the mosaic flooring below. Definitely a sight to behold, and well worth a visit even if it rains to see it with your own eyes! Lunch: Next up are the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain so wind your way through the cobbled streets of bustling central Rome and just follow the crowds towards this resplendent urban oasis. Built in 1732 this Baroque masterpiece is one of Rome’s most picture-perfect landmarks with its turquoise water and contrasting marble façade. Designed by Bernini, Nicola Salvi and Pietro Bracci it is Rome’s largest baroque fountain – and without a doubt the most impressive. Legend has it if you throw a coin into the fountain you are guaranteed a return to the city. Did you know that as a prank, someone once added red food colouring into the water and turned the fountain blood red? Needless to say it didn’t go down very well with the state officials... A stone’s throw from the Trevi Fountain are the Spanish Steps – which boast the widest staircase in Europe and some say is one of Rome’s most romantic spots. Take a small picnic or find a café and get a take away panino and proper Italian coffee and go and sit on the steps to recharge and take in your surroundings. At the top of the steps is a viewing point where you can overlook the terracotta roofs of Rome and survey the stunning historic scene. Afternoon: Walk off lunch and stroll through the verdant Villa Borghese park, one of the most relaxing places in Rome. This heart shaped park is a quiet refuge from the vivacious Roman life, perfect if you want a bit of R&R. Within the landscaped lawns, sprawling greens and classic buildings is one of Rome’s best galleries, Borghese Gallery. A must-see if you’re an art buff and love a bit of Renaissance culture – and even if you’re not, there’s really nice restaurant where you can stop for a refreshing glass of wine should you need a pick-me-up. Mid-afternoon: Continuing in the realm of art appreciation, take it up a notch and head to St Peter’s Basilica, a masterpiece in itself, and it’s the perfect way to end your afternoon. The colonnade-lined square and the impressive marble façade doesn’t even measure up to what is beyond the huge bronze Holy Doors. Step inside this huge cathedral and be mesmerised by the sheer scale of gilt religious decoration, such as Bernini’s Renaissance architecture and the 30m high bronze pavilion, the Baldacchino. If you’re after a view to remember, you must go up into the Dome where you will get breathtaking views all across the city and into the Vatican. Evening: After that exhausting day, what better way than to reward yourself with good local cuisine and Italian wine. Walk along the Lungo Tevere to Trastevere one of Rome’s most trendy districts and chose from a selection of pizzerias to gelaterias. Take a seat in one of the tables in the piazza where you can watch the world go by and reflect upon the Rome you’ve just discovered! With the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card you can visit St Peter’s Basilica with a free audio guide and get VIP fast track entry to skip the long queues – a huge advantage in the summer! The Colisseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill are also included in the Roma Pass package and you can visit them as two out of your five free entitled entries. Want to find out more about how you can make your trip to Rome that extra bit easier? Click here.

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7 Must-Do Local Experiences in Rome

It’s so easy to get swept away in the tourist traps in Rome and forget about all the local culture and nuances unique to the city. Life in Rome is far more interesting than what meets the eye, and to live like a real local is to live a rich and authentic life, true to their roots. We’re encouraging you to put down the guidebook, go off the beaten track and try experience life as one of them. From where to have the best espresso, to the place where everyone hangs out, stay one step ahead and blend in like a true Roman with these 7 must-do local experiences in Rome. Get a real caffeine fix In true Roman style, coffees are taken standing up in a non-descript coffee shop-come-tobacconist. Very unassuming, these little holes in the wall offer up some of the most delicious coffee with no nonsense service and guaranteed cheap prices. You’re not paying for a table and you’re served in true local fashion: upright among the pastries and cigarettes. One of the best places to get your caffeine fix among the historic sites is Sant’Eustachio Il Café around the corner from the Pantheon. Order an espresso and never a cappuccino after 10am otherwise they’ll spot you a mile off. Food shop like a local Forgo the plates of pasta at every corner just for one day and head to one of Rome’s many mercati rionale (local markets). One of the best ones to go to for a mix of everything is the Nuovo Mercato Rionale Esquilino. It’s been around since the 1800s and traded even during the Fascist years, and thrived during the Second World War. Now, you can find everything from Chinese noodles, to unpronounceable locally grown vegetables, as well as all manner of tins and jars from around the world. Make sure you take loose change, get your bargaining skills up to scratch and can pack a picnic for lunch! Weekend with the Romans During the summer months, the city centre of Rome starts to thin out as tourists replace the locals. They know better than us and escape to the seaside where many of them have holiday lets and apartments in the coastal town of Ostia. In the ancient times, Ostia was Rome’s main port, now it’s a holiday destination for Romans to escape for some sandy beaches and warm seas. Simply jump on a local train from Piramide station, pack a towel and while away the hours under the hot sun. Ditch the water bottle Most people freak out at the thought of drinking from taps and unbottled sources. In Rome, it’s the other way around. You won’t see a Roman buying a bottle of Evian or imported water, instead they’ll head to a natural spring fountain down a back alley. There are hundreds of ancient fountains in Rome, spouting water through elaborate carved features, or fire-hydrant looking things, so the next time you get thirsty, here’s your answer. The water is pure, clean and comes straight from the reservoirs outside the city - and it’s cold! So if you have a bottle, make sure you refill it from a fountain and save that €1.50. Need for speed Rome is a city where taking taxi’s is not the done thing. It’s a big tourist faux-pas to hail a taxi in Rome and you’re more than likely going to be overcharged and be stuck in traffic for longer than you need to be. If you want to get around quicker than on foot, but don’t fancy the metro, then hire a Vespa. It’s the go-to vehicle in Rome and everyone has one. It’s a great way to nip between the cars and see the sights of Rome on your own agenda, plus you’ll get a real thrill experiencing Roman driving along the way. We recommend you wear a helmet at all times... Hang out with the locals San Lorenzo, around the corner from the main University (La Sapienza), is the go-to spot for young Romans to hang out in breaks between classes, or meet up after work. You’ll find the Piazza dell’Immacolata brimming with 20 and 30-somethings at all times of day, whether it’s sipping their morning coffee, having their panino at lunch, or sipping a relaxing Peroni in the evening. The area is full of bars, pizzerias and quirky book shops – the perfect place to really get to know how life as a young local is. Blend in with the crowd and sit out on the square steps after dark enjoying impromptu performances and live music. Pasolini’s place Pasolini is one of the best things to have come out of Rome and the iconic Italian intellectual had plenty of influence over Roman culture at the time, also leaving behind a real legacy. The city is littered with Pasolini hot spots, but one of the best places to visit to pay homage to this brilliant writer and director is Necci Bar in the Pigneto quarter. It was here that he cast for his film Accattone, whose scenes were mostly shot in the area. Pull up a chair at one of the outdoor tables, take it all in and really feel like a true Roman. Sometimes there’s nothing worse than being considered a ‘tourist’, so go undercover and blend in with the locals with these seven ways to experience the real local Rome. Spend summers with them out in Ostia, and haggle with them for locally sourced vegetables at the busy market. This way you’ll get to know what life is like as a true Roman – even if you are just a tourist!
Go City Expert
Sicilian pastry

Blogger's Best Sicilian Pastry Shops in Rome

Rome is a foodie’s paradise, and it's no wonder bloggers flock to the city to sample the delicious sweets, savories and local delicacies. This month, we wanted to indulge our sweet tooth, so we got in touch with some local food bloggers to tell us which are their favorite pastry shops in Rome for some of the best cannoli, brioscia and granite. Make sure you leave room to try them all! Le Sicilianedde Viale Parioli, 37, Rome Giuseppina from Delicious Italy says... “In summer at Le Sicilianedde, the classic granite Siciliane are served in various sizes and are extremely popular with Romans and tourists alike. Where gelato is concerned, the pistachio di Bronte is as genuine as it gets in Rome while the cannoli with fresh ricotta are delicate and enjoyable all year round. "You will also find cassata, Sette Veli and Frutta Martorana which are the traditional marzipan sweets in the shapes of fruit and vegetables. Le Sicilianedde pastry and gelato shop is next door to the larger coffee bar and tavola calda selling other classic Sicilian food products such as arancini, should you wish a change to savoury.” I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza Via dell’Arco del Monte, 98, Rome Maite from Fabulous Cooking Day says... “I love the homegrown nuts and ingredients shipped directly from Sicily, like almonds and pistachios, for example. If you’re a fan of almonds, make sure you order the Olivette di Sant Agata, and for an intense pistachio taste, opt for the simple dry cake with very few ingredients aside from flour, eggs, honey and pistachios. You can’t miss the strong nutty flavors!” Pasticceria Ciuri Ciuri Via Leonina, 18/20, Rome Alida from My Little Kitchen says... “Situated in the heart of Rome this little shop has a really large selection of Sicilian pastries, ice creams and desserts. Once you try them you will be unable to walk past without sinking your teeth into one of their cannoli. It’s one I always go back for - and recommend to those who haven’t tried!” Pasticceria Siciliana Svizzera Piazza Pio XI, 10, Rome Igor from RomeCentral says... “You can’t beat a good cafeteria and pastry shop. Although I like sweet Sicilian cakes and pastries, you also can’t beat a salty rice-and-mozzarella-filled arancino ball.” Mizzica! Via Catanzaro, 30, Rome Rick Zullo from Rick’s Rome says... “Mizzica is probably the only place in Rome where you find the homemade “brioscia,” which are large sweet rolls served with gelato and granita. The Sicilians will often have this for breakfast in the summertime, so if you find yourself down in Sicily, ask for a coffee-flavored granita with panna (whipped cream) and a brioscia and you’ll fit right in.” Claudia from Gourmet Project also says... “There is no way I leave Sicily without having a Briosche & Granita. Every time I go this is the first thing I look for: it can be my breakfast, snack, even lunch... but I must have one. At least one! I usually go for the almond granita, but lately, pistachio flavor has won me over. "When I’m not in Sicily and miss the sun, beaches and food, I make sure I go to find my fix of brioche and granita at Mizzica in Rome. You can’t beat it for a bite of Sicily. It’s right near Piazza Bologna, open late and fiercely traditional. Don’t miss it out and thank me later!” If you want to explore more of Rome's food culture, read our other blog posts about the best gelaterias and the best food and wine in Rome.
Go City Expert

The Ultimate List of Unusual Places to Visit in Rome

Go off the beaten track and get to a new perspective on the city with our guide to Unusual Places to Visit in Rome! Rome is famous for its grand architecture, mysterious ancient ruins and magnificent parks. As well as the famous attractions, there are heaps of unusual and quirky places to visit that aren’t in every tourist guide. Why not take some time to escape the crowds and explore these weird and wonderful hidden gems, with this guide from the team at the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Pass? 1. Cat lover? Explore Torre Argentina, the Roman cat sanctuary where you’ll find cats lounging around the ruins where Caesar was murdered. Home to over 300,000 felines, Rome is a cat lover’s paradise. 2. Mooch around San Lorenzo, a laid-back, bohemian district of Rome. Home to street parties, pop-up cafes and a great mix of bars, this is the best spot for a cheap beer and an evening boogie. 3. Head to the ‘crypt of pelvises’ at the Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts to see the bones of over 4,000 friars decorating the walls. 4. Make your way to the impressive architectural museum, Centrale Montemartini, housed in a former power plant located in Ostiense. The architecture provides a great contrast with the Roman and Greek statues, busts and friezes. 5. Heard of Aventine Hill? A perfect spot for an afternoon picnic, don’t forget to look through the keyhole in the large door in the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta for a special view. 6. For an eclectic mix of architecture, check out the Quartiere Coppede. It’s an unusual area of Rome where you’ll find a mix of Ancient Greek, Roman, Baroque, Mannerist, Medieval and Art Nouveau architecture. 7. Head to the EUR, the Esposizione Universale di Roma, located right at the edge of the city. The combination of ancient Rome and modern design was designed for a world fair in 1942 that never happened. 8. Be amazed by the Dome Illusion at the Jesuit church of Saint Ignazio. Built in the 17th century, original plans included a beautiful dome, but money ran out. Instead they hired a painter to create the illusion from within the church. 9. Sift through trinkets, clothes, books, jewellery and much more at the unique Porta Portese Market. This Roman flea market is the perfect place to find a good deal on some unusual gifts. 10. Visit the first paved road in history, Appia Antica. Starting at the Baths of Caracalla this road has been dubbed the ‘Queen of Roads’ as construction began centuries ago in 312 BC. 11. Explore the mysteries of the Mithraeum at Circus Maximus. Once the underground sanctuary of a centuries-old cult, this temple was dedicated to Mithras. Accessible by appointment only. 12. Pay your respects at the resting place of celebrated English poets Shelley and Keats at the Roman Protestant Cemetery. This cemetery built in the 18th century was intended for foreign non-Catholics, who were not permitted to be buried in Roman soil. 13. Fancy yourself a good liar? Visit Bocca di Verita (The Mouth of Truth) and risk getting your hand bitten off. The Mouth is a stone disk with a yawning humanoid face used as a lie detector dating back to the 1st century CE. Eagle-eyed movie fans will recognise the sculpture from the classic Audrey Hepburn film "Roman Holiday". 14. Another beautiful park can be found at Villa Doria Pamphili. It’s Rome’s largest park and houses gorgeous gardens plus a huge villa. 15. Brave the city of the dead in the Vatican Necropolis. Hidden beneath St Peter’s Basilica lie the tombs that may even hold the remains of St Peter himself. 16. Visit the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola to see the splendid oil paintings by Andrea Pozzo from 1685. Prepare to be fooled by the ceiling fresco, which creates the illusion that the building is vaulted. 17. Did you know there was an ‘Egyptian’ pyramid in Europe? Well, there is, and it’s the 2000-year-old Pyramid of Cestius in Rome housing the tomb of Remus. 18. Visit the Vegan Cat Café, Romeow, to make some furry feline friends. Sit back and enjoy the wonderful selection of vegan cakes, pastries and hot drinks. 19. Explore the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, as a usually quiet alternative to St Paul’s at the Vatican. Just as vast and magnificent inside, this is a great place to go for some peaceful observation. 20. Hidden away in a small basilica in Rome lies the supposed skull of St Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, surrounded by flowers. Romantic date? 21. Throughout Rome you can find quirky and interesting street art. Ostiense is particularly known for unusual street art and murals. 22. Visit the Porta Alchemica, an Alchemist’s ‘magic door’ hidden within a Roman park. 23. For some alternative architecture, head to ‘the Monster House’, otherwise known as the Zuccari Palace. It features a monstrous stone faces that appears to be eating away at the palace structure. 24. Explore the MAXXI Museum (National Museum of the 21st century arts) to view a collection of local and international pieces from recognised artists. 25. Take a tour round the extremely unusual House of the Owls. Not an animal sanctuary, but a gothic house with art nouveau decorations, it’s not a place that’s featured in your typical guide books. 26. Along the road of Appia are the Catacombs of San Sebastian – supposedly the first use of the term catacombs. It is also home to a set of marble footprints that are thought to be Jesus’s from his walk to Rome along the Appia Road. 27. Squeamish? At the Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi, you can see the embalmed hearts and organs of 22 popes. 28. For another strange experience, head to the Ospedale delle Bambole, the hospital for dolls. Somewhat creepy and definitely very weird, this is a hospital where antique dolls are given treatment and new lease on life. 29. Witness the skull claimed to be that of St John the Baptist on display at the San Silvestro in Capite church. 30. Visit an ancient Roman prison, the Mamertine Prison and see the unusual cross in the chapel, hung upside down since St Peter is said to have been crucified that way. 31. The Keats-Shelley Memorial House is a must-visit for English literature lovers. The museum was the last home of John Keats and was also sadly where he passed away after contracting tuberculosis at the age of 25. 32. Explore one of the only two Jewish catacombs open to the public, out of the seven in Rome. The catacombs Vigna Randanini were discovered in 1859. 33. Wander the scattered ruins of an ancient Italian ghost town set in amongst thick forest, the Natural Monument of Galeria Antica. Rebuilt several times over the course of centuries, it was finally abandoned in 1809, after an outbreak of malaria caused the last residents to flee. 34. Head to the Campo de’ Fiori for a peculiar market built around a statue of Giordano Bruno, an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, and cosmological theorist, his statue is built on the site of his execution by fire. Wander around the market and sample some of the exquisite olive oils and balsamic vinegars. 35. Visit the Sweating Cenotaph at the Archbasilica San Giovanni located in Laterano, that is supposedly able to predict the death of the pope. A large stone covered in inscriptions and images, it’s said to sweat heavily if the death of a pope is approaching. 36. The Museum of Roman Ships at Fiumicino is the perfect place to find out more about ancient Roman seafaring. 37. Discover ‘Little London’ and a street designed in the style of a typical English urban street dating back to 1909. 38. Fancy yourself a worthy gladiator? Enrol for a day at Rome’s Gladiator School to experience a historic reenactment. 39. Climb to the top of Gianicolo Hill and listen out for the sound of cannon fire that resonates around the city every day at midday. This tradition dates from when the battle of Rome was won in 184. 40. Witness ancient Roman houses brought to life in the Palazzo Valentini using state-of-the-art technology. 41. Take an Italian cookery class or wine and food pairing class. This is a perfect activity for a couple or solo traveller to meet some local people and learn more about the Roman culture. 42. Hang out in the Piazza Madonna dei Monti in the Monti district, grab a slice of yummy pizza and a cheap bottle of beer and just chill out. 43. Sending postcards? Head to the Vatican City to use some of the coolest stamps you’ll come by. 44. Check out the Stadio dei Marmi with impressive statuary from the 1920s, used to evoke classical sporting arenas. 45. Take a Vespa Tour in the evening or at night and feel like you’re in a movie. 46. Visit the Trevi Fountain at night to escape the crowds in the day and see it when beautifully lit up. 47. Climb to the top of Rome’s highest point, Monte Mario, and experience the spectacular views from above the city. Although a bit further out, this is well worth a visit. 48. Explore the Shrine of Pope Joan, close to the Colosseum and potentially the only female pope in the history of Catholicism. 49. Head to the Metropoliz Museum of the Other and the Elsewhere located in an old abandoned Roman salami factory. Contact the museum for opening times. 50. Check out Monte Testaccio, the hill made up completely of amphorae – ancient Romans regarded it as a simple garbage dump. 51. Explore the secret passageway that allowed the Pope to quickly escape raiders in the 16th century. The Passetto di Borgo looks like any other old wall but in fact hides an escape route. 52. Visit the ‘great sewer’, Cloaca Maxima. Supposedly one of the oldest sewer systems in the world, it demonstrates the forward-thinking and ingenuity of Roman city planners. 53. Discover your pasta making skills and take a class with a local chef. 54. Jump on a Segway and take a tour around Rome – see all the the great attractions without having to worry about sore feet. Don’t forget your helmet though! 55. Thrill-seeker? Try out the Tandem Paragliding experience and fly over one of three cities just outside of Rome for an unforgettable experience. 56. For a spectacular view and food to die for, pop in to La Pergola restaurant to enjoy views of St Peter’s Basilica while you chomp down on the signature carbonara. Molto buono. 57. For a chilled out evening of authentic pizza and a lively atmosphere, make your way to the laid back district of Testaccio. Pizzeria Remo serves Roman-style flat pizzas and is extremely popular with the locals, so turn up early to grab a table. 58. Check out the Meridian Line of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs. The basilica built in the 16th century is home to a beautiful and intricate meridian-aligned sundial. 59. Experience the mystery of Lacus Curtius, once believed by the Romans to be the gateway to hell. Located in the Roman Forum it now appears to be just a simple stone slab however, before it was filled in a huge chasm existed. 60. Chocolate lover? Head over to Said, half restaurant, half chocolate factory. The restaurant works to produce the perfect combinations of sweet and savoury with dishes such as bitter chocolate ravioli. Image via Gregory's Jazz Club 61. Jazz night, anyone? Gregory’s Jazz Club serves up some of the finest scotch with a super-friendly atmosphere making it the perfect place for a cosy evening. 62. Go back in Italian automobile history and cruise down the streets of Rome in the original Fiat 500. 63. Hidden down a narrow side street, the Arch of Gallienus is often missed by tourists and even locals. The arch marks the location of one of the ancient Roman gates that stood at one of the Seven Hills of Rome. 64. Admire the huge sculptural piece La Resurrezione that sits behind the main stage of the Paul VI Audience Hall. 65. Out of 900 churches in Rome, there is one that stands out from the others: Saint Catherine was the first Russian Orthodox church built in the city. 66. With an authentic look and feel, Ristorante da Meo Patacca is the best place to try some traditional Roman dishes while listening to wonderful live music. 67. The Purgatory Museum is filled with extraordinary artefacts and strange books with handprints burnt into them by souls trapped in purgatory – definitely an unusual experience. 68. Home to over 40 underground burial chambers throughout the city, it would be silly not to check out some of the Catacombs of Rome. 69. If you fancy a bit of a thrill, take a spooky Ghost Tour and discover some of the Roman mysteries that still haunt the city today. 70. Visit the quirky Pasta Museum to learn about all the different varieties of Rome’s famous staple food. 71. Join the locals to watch a traditional puppet show at Giancolo Belvedere and enjoy a fun activity for the whole family. With so many unusual things to do in Rome, where will you go? And don’t forget to check out the OMNIA Vatican & Rome card, which can save you time and money on attractions big and small. Wishing you a good trip!
Megan Hills

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