The Eternal City is lavishly endowed with iconic culture, style and romance.
How can you possibly fit Rome into two days? Well, if you really must, every waking minute will be filled with unforgettable sights – an intoxicating mish mash of historic grandeur and chic city living Italian-style. Go in spring (March to June) or autumn (September to October) for optimum chance of comfortable sunny weather during your two days.
There are regular (and some cheap) flights to either the international Fiumicino airport (30km from centre) which has a train service into the city every 30 minutes,or the smaller Ciampino airport 15km south east of the centre which has regular shuttle buses.
Even if you threw your guide book in the bin and ambled along random streets in centro storico (historic centre) you could effortlessly stumble across ivy-clad facades, historic churches, statues and fountains. If you want to fit more sights in you might prefer to hop on the metro, bus or tram. If that sounds like a logistical effort, you can quickly get your bearings on a two hour bus tour operated by Trambus, departing from Stazione Termini.
Visiting the Vatican City is a must-do if you’re a first timer to the city so go online to book your tickets in advance to save waiting time. Rome has oodles of beautiful churches but St Peter’s Basilica is the Godfather of all of them with its grand structure and stunning artistic features. There are arguably even more hush-inducing sights at the 15th century Sistine Chapel where you can crick your neck upwards with hundreds of other tourists to marvel at Michaelangelo’s depictions of Genesis. Other notable artworks include the Last Judgement and Botticelli’s Temptation of Christ.
Back over the River Tiber, Piazza Navona is Rome’s main square and a good place to base yourself around. Here you can take a seat and admire its fountains including Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. Within centro storico you’ll also find the 16 Corinthian columns of the Pantheon, an ancient temple dedicated to the classical gods, now a church on Piazza della Rotonda. Further south (take the Metro to the Colosseo stop) the Colosseum is another surreal site from 2000 years ago, where gladiators fought for the Roman Emperor’s dubious pleasure.
For retail and food therapy take a stroll down Via Del Governo Vecchio, off Piazza Pasquino, which has a great selection of eateries and charming boutiques. Once you’re suitable re-charged it’s a good time to walk up to the stylish Tridente neighbourhood and take a seat on the well-worn Spanish Steps for a photo opportunity. The nearby Keats-Shelley House has some fascinating artefacts in tribute to the doomed Romantics. You can move seamlessly from poetry to film by heading east to the Trevi Fountain which gave Anita Ekberg a refreshing late night thrill in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. The 1721 creation features a stunning sculpture of Neptune’s Chariot. Don’t forget to throw a coin in.
Trastevere is a magical place to relax in once you’ve got enough sights under your belt. Its lanes and houses are picture-book pretty, and an easy mix of locals and visitors enjoy the main square Piazza Santa Maria. My favourite spots for some pastoral peace away from the mopeds and urban hum are Gianicolo Hill (also in Trastevere) from where you can see dreamy panoramas across the city’s sun-baked rooftops, and the parkland of Villa Borghese which has bicycles for rent if time is of the essence.
In the evening
Enjoy a nap or a leisurely bath before heading out as most Romans don’t tuck into dinner until 9.30pm (unless you prefer to join the younger crowd and enjoy spun out drinks and canapés). You’ll probably be satisfyingly tired from cramming everything in during the day so enjoy a slow-paced Italian feast over a bottle or two, preferably outdoors in the mellow evening air. Make the effort to smarten up for dinner. Safe bets are Piazza Navona, Via della Place and Trastevere for wine bars and cafes, while San Lorenzo has the cutting-edge nightlife. Whatever your choice, be sure to have a coffee and croissant before turning in.
Food and drink
Eat pizza with your hands and let the melted mozzarella ooze down your chin, and plunge a single fork into your spaghetti and chomp through the dangly bits without shame. Roman dishes are rustic and seasonal although combinations and presentation become more imaginative the higher up the price scale you go. It’s worth dragging yourself away from the carbs and trying some of the local dishes which make ingenious use of meats and local vegetables like courgettes and artichokes, all expertly seasoned. Seafood is fresh from nearby Lazio. Even the most disciplined dieters can follow Audrey Hepburn’s example and cool off with a sweet icy gelato.
This article was originally published at http://www.travelbite.co.uk