26 Oct 48 Hours in Rome
Place: Rome, Italia
Cost: €220 per person (not including airfare or the emergency cab ride to the airport)
You won’t see it all, but you can do Rome in two days. Arrive very hungry with very comfortable shoes on. This itinerary is heavy on the walking and heavy on the eating. You can get by in most places speaking English, but it helps to learn some basic Italian phrases before visiting Roma. When in doubt, “prego” means whatever you want it to mean. Lastly, if you’re flying Ryanair you might fly into one airport in Rome and out of another, so don’t be us and take the train to the wrong airport after a €7.50 liter of wine:
Night 1: Land in Rome
Check in at your Airbnb in the Ostiense neighborhood where we stayed, or anywhere within walking distance of the downtown attractions (Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, etc.). Then cross the river to Trastevere for a delicious first Italian dinner. We devoured the fried artichoke, rosemary focaccia, gnocchi with clams, veal escarole and a bottle of vino at Cajo & Gajo, and there are many great restaurants in the same area. Stroll through the Piazza Santa Maria before turning back toward home. For a nightcap, enjoy your first gelato at Gelateria La Romana. Favorite flavor: Biscotto Della Nona.
Day 1: Vatican Museum, Saint Peter’s Square, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps
This is a big, mind-blowing day, but it’s absolutely doable with gelato stops along the way. In the morning, grab an Italian breakfast (a cappuccino and a croissant) and take the bus to the Vatican Museum. All non-express buses in Rome are free! You can buy Vatican tickets online in advance to skip the line, or the wait is usually less than an hour. Note: if you have a choice, a weekday might be slightly less crowded. You’ll spend at least three hours looking up at the ceiling with your mouth hanging open, and can easily spend longer if you’re an ancient art/history buff. A general €16 ticket includes all of the museums plus the Sistine Chapel.
Once you wipe your drool and stop seeing gold stars, walk ten minutes to Pizzarium, which is honestly the most religious experience we had in Vatican City. It tops many “Best Pizza in Rome” lists for good reason.
Belly happy, walk twenty minutes or bus to the Necropoli di San Pietro to see where Big Papa Francis addresses the people. We skipped the interior of Saint Peter’s Basilica, but you can buy a ticket to tour the inside.
Then, walk 15 minutes east across the river to Gelateria del Teatro, and let us pray. Favorite flavors: pear with caramel, red wine and chocolate, pumpkin, and Sicilian wine cream.
You’re a short walk from the Pantheon, and touring the inside is free. This is arguably the most stunning interior in Rome:
The Pantheon is just a hop and a skip from Trevi Fountain, followed by the Spanish Steps where we landed right at sunset. Warning: this is extremely romantic.
Day 2: Testaccio Market, Colosseum, Roman Forum, Museo Sacrario Delle Bandiere
We had ourselves a nice lie-in, then walked ten minutes to Testaccio Market for the customizable brunch of the angels around 11. The sheer size of the fruits and vegetables will blow your mind. You can casually drink a latte and mange on fresh bread, fresh-squeezed juices, pizza, pastries and the like while you seek out your next bites. The #1 at Mordi e Vai is a slow-roasted pork sandwich on fresh bread dipped right in the pork au jus. #Blessed.
When you’ve had your fill and stuffed your bag with road snacks, it’s a thirty-minute walk to the Colosseum. You can buy a general ticket or guided tour spot in advance, but it shouldn’t take more than thirty minutes to wait in the line if you show up ticketless. Note: not sure how this affects the line, but there is free entry on the first Sunday of every month!
If taking lots of selfies against a backdrop bursting with gruesome history makes you hungry, stop for another gelato. If not, the Roman Forum is a close walk away. You can catch views of the exterior for free, or purchase a ticket to tour the forum and the grounds. Then, for another no bulls*** pizza lunch that won’t let you down, walk to Pizza Florida where ample gourmet pie and Peroni for two = €8.
Scoop up some blueberry cheesecake, carrot cake, or chocolate hazelnut at FataMorgana Monti for dessert, then walk fifteen minutes to the Museo Sacrario Delle Bandiere, one of the most breathtaking buildings in Rome. This area is full of history and stunning views (shocker):
If you have another night in the city or rise and shine earlier than we did, a museum tour of your choice could be squeezed in on this day. Instead, we ordered a liter of vino della casa rosso in a lovely square, took the train to the wrong airport, found an Italian cabbie who drove very, very fast, and (barely) made our flight. It was the perfect way to say ciao.