A Touristy Weekend in Rome:
the extensive guide
A weekend is never enough time to experience a city, but sometimes life gets in the way of letting us jet off to a new country. Rome is a city that you could easily spend months in, wandering through the ancient ruins, stopping at each gelato shop to sample every flavor; but for those of us that can’t live the jet-setter lifestyle, Rome is a city that can be discovered in a weekend; crunch time.
Rome is a city of history; once being one of the most powerful civilizations we have come to know, it is nearly impossible to walk through the city and not find yourself in awe of stumbling upon old ruins. The best way to see the Eternal City is: to plan it out. Do your research on what sites you want to spend the most time in, buy your tickets ahead of time and look at a map. I am a firm believer that life should be an equal mixture of planning and spontaneity, you without a doubt need to witness the Colosseum but if Pablo mistakes you for an Italian rock star you jump on the back of that Vespa.
I am always biased to the fact that Rome isn’t a city you will only visit once, especially if you throw your coin in the Trevi Fountain, wink wink. For once you’ve tasted gelato in the Piazza Navona or seen the elegance of every church you will already be planning your trip back. Rome is a city that captivates you and leaves you ‘wanderlusting’ for more. Spend a weekend seeing all the ‘touristy hotspots’ but then promise yourself to come back and get lost in the lifestyle of the Romans without a map or an itinerary.
Day 1: Ancient Ruins
Day 2: Vatican City & Trastevere
Day 3: Historic Roma & Piazza’s
Day One: Ancient Ruins
Arrive in Rome, depending on where you are coming from you might be jet-lagged and exhausted, but let me remind you that you are in the Eternal City and you can sleep next weekend. Check into your hostel, hotel, or Airbnb. Drop your stuff off, freshen up, and put on your walking shoes (no actually, booties and sandals are icons of the fashion world, trust me I get it but you’ll regret it. Throw on those New Balance or Nikes; you’ll thank me).
|In order to get over your jetlag focus on the time you eat. Don’t eat because your body is telling you to. In order, to help adjust yourself to the rhythm of the city, eat at the hours of those around you.|
Map of Rome’s Ancient Ruins:
The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill are located on in same archaeological areas and are included as one admission. Your admissions ticket allows you to see three of the great archeological sites: Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill over the span of two days. However, keep in mind that re-entry is not permitted. I would highly suggest taking a break in between them and getting a plate of pasta because these sites are something that you do not want to rush through and will require loads of energy, so why not carbo load with some of Italy’s finest flavors. (Potentially move this up to the beginning of the ruins through a tour guide (with a human or a headpiece) to digest that pasta and make room for more.
Lunchtime; eat some well-deserved gelato and pizza because you are awesome. Once you’ve gained feeling back in your toes, time to travel back in time to a period when emperors used the quarrel between legendary gladiators and animal to entertain thousands of Roman citizens, in one of the largest amphitheaters ever built: The Colosseum.
Day Two: Other Side of the River
On your second day in Rome, spend the day exploring the other side of the River Tiber: the Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo and Rome’s favorite neighborhood of Trastevere.
Italy is one of the strongest Catholic regions in the world, the strongest in Europe. Within the country of Italy is a country dedicated to the leader of the Catholic faith: The Pope. Each year around five million people visits the Vatican City, with the Sistine Chapel being the most visited room in the world. Most. Visited. Room. Five. Million. People. Clearly, you aren’t going to be the only ones visiting this sacred city during your travels. I cannot stress enough the importance of purchasing your tickets prior to your journey.
Planning your trip to the Vatican City: The main attractions that cause the influx of travelers and tourists each year within the Vatican City are St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum, and the Sistine Chapel. All three of which, deserve some much-dedicated time and attention to marvel at the detail. Touring the Vatican City isn’t just for those that are religious or Catholic. The Vatican City is a treasure trove of not only religious and cultural antiques but home to a vast collection of some of the most esteemed works of Renaissance art.
Traveling to the Vatican City: Via public transportation: take the Metro Line A to the Ottaviano- San Pietro stop. The Vatican City is technically its own country; in 1929, Benito Mussolini declared the Vatican City its independence from Italy. With that being said, you will not need a passport to enter the Vatican City, but if you plan to utilize the lockers you will need to provide some sort of identification (like a driver’s license).
Arriving in the Vatican City: The Vatican City geographically speaking is shaped like an awkward spiky circle with two entrances that are open to the public: the northern side and the southern side. Accessible through Viale Vaticano and the entrance through St. Peter’s Basilica via Della Conciliazione.
Tips to Remember While Exploring Vatican City:
- Buy your tickets in ADVANCE.
- Your knees and shoulders need to be covered in order to enter the church.
- In the hotter climates: ladies, bring a light scarf that can be worn as a shawl, wear long skirts or dresses that cover your knees. Gentlemen, avoid tanks and shorts.
How much time do you need in Vatican City? Depending on your style of travel and the number of people also visiting the Vatican that day, I would recommend at least half a day. Arriving at the Vatican City at 7:00 AM when St. Peter’s Basilica opens; then continuing onwards to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel.
Castel Sant’ Angelo
After you spend your day being moved passionately through the Vatican City, walk for about twenty minutes towards the river and find yourself at Rome’s Mausoleum of Hadrian, otherwise known as Castel Sant’ Angelo or Hadrian’s Tomb. Considered to be amongst some of the oldest man-made structures still standing today; completed in 139 AD the Castel Sant’ Angelo was designed for Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. In 400 AD the mausoleum was converted into a fortress and today is a museum. If you are tight on your schedule this is one museum I would just look at from the outside.
- Angel on top of the Castle: in 590, the year the plague annihilated much of the city, Pope Gregory I had a vision of Saint Michael the Archangel at the top of the castle proclaiming to all that the epidemic was ending. Therefore, an angel was crowned at the top of the castle.
- In 1277, a corridor was built that connected the castle to the Vatican City, so if there were ever an event of danger that the Pope could discreetly escape to the castle.
Trastevere is the neighborhood to get lost in, let your feet guide you through the cobblestoned streets and narrow alleys. Let your nose lead to into the pizzerias and trattorias. This charming Italian neighborhood of Rome will steal your heart and your appetite. Tourists, travelers, students, and locals have flocked to this area, creating a homely bohemian vibe; away from the tourist madness that herds around the Colosseum.
Day Three: Historic Roma
Day Three is dedicated to the heart of the historic zone of Rome. You’ve spent time exploring the ruins and architecture, and marveling through the wonders within the Vatican City. Today you are going to walk in the shoes of what life was like for a Roman citizen thousands of years ago, the beating heart of Roma herself.
Being one of the most exquisite fountains the world has gazed its eyes on, the Trevi Fountain began constructed in the year 19BC (timeout: holy shit – that is an old fountain). Personally speaking, the Trevi Fountain is my favorite fountain in the whole wide world. Granted I have seen every fountain yet, but for today, it is the most romantic and elegant fountain out there. I could sit there with gelato in each hand and marvel at the clear water and intense architecture all day long. Sadly, I am not the only one that wants to sit and eat gelato in front of the fountain, so snapping that picture of you tossing the coins is nearly impossible without getting another stranger in your photo.
With that being said, if you are soul-set on freezing that perfect coin toss photo, the best time to see the Trevi Fountain is either super early in the morning or super super early in the morning. I am talking about either 5:00-6:00 AM or 2:00-3:00 AM so whether you are a night owl, wandering streets after a few bottles of wine or an early riser trying to jump in front of the tourists. Those are the perfect times to see the fountain in all its glory.
Fun Fact: The name Trevi comes from the Italian word: Tre Vie – which means three ways since the fountain is the meeting point for three streets.
My favorite Piazza in all of Italy, due to the three exquisite fountains and its allure that makes you want to just sit. Sit and breathe, with a gelato in one hand and an espresso in the other and just people watch and daydream about life.
According to the Greeks, the word pantheon means ‘honor to all Gods.’ To this day, historians are unsure of the exact age of the Pantheon. Research had suggested that the Pantheon we witness today was built sometime between 118 AD and 125 AD; under the rule of Emperor Hadrian; and serving its main purpose to worship and honor all Gods. (I stress the ‘all Gods’ because this shows that the Pantheon was first and foremost a Pagan temple. The Pantheon itself is a building that continues to amaze tourists, historians and architects alike, being the best preserved Ancient Roman monument; the Pantheon has stood the test of time against invasions, gravity and time itself.
- The hole at the top of the dome (Pantheon eye or the Oculus) is the only source of light and the connection between man and god.
- The dome is actually larger than the dome on St. Peter’s Basilica; however, due to the materials used to build the exterior part of the dome, it looks as if it is flattened therefore unable to see the size difference.
- In the year 690, the Pantheon has been converted to a church (which conveniently enough saved it from being destroyed in the Middle Ages). The church is dedicated to St. Mary of the Martyrs but continues to be known as the Pantheon, separate from its religious meaning.
Entrance to the Pantheon is free. 8:30AM-7:30PM
Campo de’ Fiori:
The Piazza Campo de’ Fiori translates to mean Field of Flowers, and rightfully so because until 1456 this piazza was filled with wildflowers until Pope Callistus III decided to pave over the field and turn the piazza into a marketplace. Every morning (except Sunday) the piazza fills with freshly assembled flowers and delicious fruits and vegetables.
Piazza del Popolo & Piazza di Spagna & the Spanish Steps
Shopping, spaghetti, and stairs. These three attractions are located minutes apart from each other. Beginning at the Piazza del Popolo which translates to ‘The People Square,’ this square was the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire and found in the very center is the Flaminio Obelisk. After you enjoy some gelato and shopping on Rome’s finest avenue, continue walking towards the Piazza di Spagna, up the Spanish Steps to the Church of Trinita dei Monti.
Day Whatever You Have Left:
Get lost! Let your feet and nose guide you through the city. Forget the time and any reservations you might have had and just explore. Go down every alley, taste every flavor, stop in each bookstore, say Ciao to the locals! There is a lot to see and do and eat in Rome, each time you go it will be a different experience!
If you didn’t throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, go back and toss one in. I’ll wait. One weekend is never enough time in Rome, but if you plan out your days, wake up early, indulge in enough espresso, you might be able to get a teaser of the city. If you are still hungry for more, plan your next weekend back in Rome and take me with you!
Have you been to Rome before? What was your favorite part? Favorite restaurant? I would love to hear your stories about the historic and delicious city!
Until next time Rome ✌🏽