They say all roads lead to Rome. The eternal city is home to one of the 7 wonders of the world, fascinating history, and breathtaking ancient buildings. This enchanting capital is everything you read about in all of those romantic novels. The city is a walking museum, congested, beautiful, and timeless all at the same time. Everyone should visit Rome at least once in their lives. Here is my personal travel guide to 4 epic days in Rome (this is ideal for first time visitors).
A love letter….Dear Italy, Amore Mio.. I’m not sure when this love affair started, I only know it will never end & I loved you before we even met. I lose myself, & yet when I am with you.. I find myself again. I feel most alive in your presence. Enamored by your beauty, seduced by your dishes, & lost in your way of life. Until we meet again, Ci vediamo presto.
HOW LONG SHOULD I VISIT?
The Italians have a phrase called “Dolce Far Niente” which translates to “the sweetness of doing nothing.” This sums up the Italian lifestyle perfectly. They value spending time with family and friends, enjoying long coffee breaks, evening strolls, and savoring meals made with love. When you’re in Rome, I recommend adopting this slower pace of life. There’s plenty to see and do, and four days is just enough time to comfortably fit all of the major landmarks, and give you time to experience all of its fascinating neighborhoods.
HOW TO GET AROUND ?
If you want to see Rome the way the locals do, then you need to explore it on foot. This is the best way to really experience all the city has to offer, from its major attractions to its hidden corners. Plus, walking is the best way to get around in Rome since most of the city is traffic-free. So put on your favorite walking shoes and get ready to explore Rome! For reference, I walked to most of the major attractions. The only time I used a taxi was to visit The Vatican, and to transport myself to and from the FCO airport.
PLACES YOU MUST VISIT ON YOUR FIRST TRIP
The Spanish Steps: The Spanish Steps are beautiful at any time of day, but especially in the early morning or late evening. In the morning, it’s a peaceful and serene spot, perfect for taking photos. And in the evening, the streets around the steps are all lit up, making for a very romantic experience.
The Pantheon: The Pantheon is one of the most awe-inspiring monuments in Rome. Built in the 2nd century AD, it is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings. This stunning architectural wonder is located in the heart of the city, is free to enter, and it is definitely worth a visit.
The Vatican: A visit to the Vatican is a must! Everything about this historic place is breathtaking, from the stunning architecture to the incredible art. I recommend taking the sunrise tour, as you’ll have the Vatican largely to yourself and avoid the long lines and crowds later in the day. I purchased my tickets from Walk Tours.
Trevi Fountain: The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s most iconic landmarks, and I was determined to make the most of my visit by staying in an airbnb right across the street from it. I was not disappointed – the fountain is even more beautiful in person, and I spent many hours just soaking up the atmosphere. Legend has it that if you throw a coin in the fountain you’re guaranteed to return, two coins you will fall in love, and three you will marry the person you fell in love with. I made sure to toss in 3! If you’re looking to take some amazing photos, I recommend visiting in the early morning right at sunrise. The city is absolutely beautiful at that time of day and the light is just perfect for photography. And if you’re looking for a truly magical experience, be sure to visit the Trevi Fountain at night when it is all lit up. It’s simply stunning.
Villa Borghese: Villa Borghese is a beautiful and peaceful garden in the heart of the city. You can rent bikes or a canoe to explore the grounds, or simply stroll through the gardens at your leisure. There’s also a lovely cafe on-site, but I recommend packing a picnic lunch to enjoy in the stunning surroundings. And be sure to visit the Villa Borghese Gallery while you’re there — it’s well worth the price of admission.
Travestere Neighborhood: This colorful district is known for its unique charm. You’ll find plenty of eclectic boutiques and trattorias to explore. I recommend taking a long stroll through the narrow cobblestone roads both in the evening and during the day for a different perspective. Travestere is a great place for lunch, apertivo, and dinner. I will add that my favorite time to visit Travestere is in the evening when it’s all lit up and comes alive.
Roman Forum + Colosseum + Palatine Hill: The Colosseum is one of the 7 wonders of the world. Even if you’re not a history buff, a visit here is well worth your time. I recommend purchasing a ticket to visit both the Colosseum and Roman Forum in advance. It took us about 3 hours to see the Roman Forum, Colosseum, and Palatine Hill. Of course, the time spent here all depends on your personal pace. It can be longer or shorter depending on the type of tour you chose. I purchased self guided tour tickets from the website “GET YOUR GUIDE.”
WHERE TO EAT ?
Pizzeria Da Baffetto: This pizzeria was recommended to me by Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentii on their show “In Italy” and it did not disappoint. The pizza here is thin and crispy. I visited Da Bafetto twice for lunch during my 4 days in Rome and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a traditional Roman pizza experience. Be prepared to wait in a small line during prime lunch hours.
COFFEE / BREAKFAST
Antico Caffe Greco: This iconic and sleek cafe is located right next to the Spanish Steps. Antico Caffe Greco is a bougie cafe serving the softest croissants, lattes, and other devious Italian breakfast options. This place is a bit pricey compared to other cafe’s in the area, but I will say that quality of the coffee’s and pastries are worth the extra euros.
SUNSET / APERTIVO
Oro Bistrot Roma: After a long afternoon of exploring the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, we stopped by Oro Bistro Roma for an aperitivo (aperitivo is a pre-meal drink; cultural ritual that takes place between 5-8pm) This chic rooftop bistro was the perfect place to relax and take in the stunning panoramic views of the city. Oro Bistro Roma would be a romantic place to visit for a sunset dinner.
Dal Bolognese: Dal Bolognese is a chic and elegant upscale restaurant located on one of Rome’s most beautiful pizzas, Piazza del Popolo. This restaurant is frequently visited by politicians and celebrities. You’ll want to book a reservation in advance. Dal Bolognese was my favorite meal in Rome. This is the perfect place for a girls night or date night.
Roscioli Ristorante: Roscioli is a charming Michelin star restaurant located in a cheese shop. You will be impressed by the atmosphere, the music, and food. Visiting Roscioli will feel like a culinary adventure. Be sure to book a reservation in advance. If you only have time for one meal in Rome, this is the place. I highly recommend the carbonara.
When in Rome, one must try the gelato! There are gelato shops on almost every corner, but how can you tell which one has the freshest gelato? Here’s a secret: as a rule of thumb, stay away from the gelato that is colorful and piled up really high. This is a sign of artificial flavors. The best gelato will not be on display; instead, the shops will feature a menu with the flavors of the day. A few of my favorites to check out are: Giolitti, Come il Latte, and Otaleg!
Hotel Valadier: Located inside the Hotel Valdier, you’ll discover a hidden gem, a beautiful jazz bar. This place is truly a step back in time — it feels like you’ve been transported to a scene right out of The Great Gatsby. The drinks, ambiance, and live music all create the perfect atmosphere for a great night out in Rome.
WHERE TO STAY ?
Trevi Fountain AirBNB: If you’re looking for a breathtaking view of the Trevi Fountain, look no further than this traditional Roman apartment. Located directly across from the iconic landmark, this airbnb is centrally located and perfect for those looking to be in the heart of Rome. The space is large, clean, comfortable and airy, with traditional Roman decor and furnishings giving it a real sense of character. I stayed here for four nights, and felt like a true local.
Hotel de la Ville, a Rocco Forte Hotel: Set atop the Spanish Steps, is Hotel de la Ville, Rocco Forte hotel that’s right in the center of Rome’s buzzing piazzas. The hotel is known for its contemporary and vibrant designs, and its rooftop terrace restaurant is a must-see for dinner. You’ll be surrounded by fairy lights and romance with an unbeatable view of the Vatican
Hotel Eden: Italian sophistication is on full display at Hotel Eden, a luxurious property hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Rome. While the hotel is just 10 minutes from the Spanish Steps, its location allows guests to enjoy beautiful views of the ancient city. Be sure to splurge on a balcony room for the ultimate experience.