Weekend in Rome
Rome is a romantic city with a sensational past. Hundreds of architectural and artistic masterpieces adorn a space that seems too small for so much grandeur. The fountains, churches, sculptures, squares, temples and ancient theatres always demonstrate a mixture of majesty, harmony and elegance. You will find magnificent works of art at every turn when you enter the rioni, or districts, of the historic city centre.
Follow out weekend itinerary for Rome to ensure you see the very best bits in the shortest time possible.
Itinerary day 1
This is one of the must-sees for any trip to Rome because of its sculptural fountains – including Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers –, emblematic buildings and a lively atmosphere. Discover its shops and savour some local delicacies in the bars and cafés.
Fontana di Trevi
Pope Urban VIII commissioned this fabulous fountain. It occupies the whole wall of the adjacent building and is reminiscent of a temple façade, populated by cavorting mythological beings and horses who seem to jump right out of the water. Made famous by the film industry, today almost every visitor to Rome stops by to toss a coin into the water in the hope they will one day return to the city.
Armando al Pantheon
To begin your trip well, we suggest you visit one of the most famous and distinguished restaurants in the Eternal City. Chef Armando Gargioli, who opened the establishment in 1964, continues to offer top-notch traditional Italian cuisine for the cream of Roman society.
Itinerary day 2
Where better to start your second day than at the Colosseum, where Rome staged gladiator fights, naval clashes and battle recreations – ‘bread and circuses’ to appease the Roman people.
Next to the Colosseum, and the Capitoline and Palatine hills, you will find the Roman Forum. This was the epicentre of power in Ancient Rome from the 8th century B.C. onwards, and was where military parades, speeches, executions and public trials were held.
Close to the Roman Forum you will find the largest stadium in Rome. It is so enormous that even to day there is little to rival it. The Circus Maximus had capacity for 300,000 spectators, and it hosted races, sports competitions, hunts and, most importantly for the Romans, races between quadrigas (chariots with teams of four horses). With up to twelve chariots participating, the races were so prestigious that even Emperor Nero took part. Today, the old track is a wide and tranquil public park.
L’Antica Birreria Peroni
Some fifteen minutes from the Circus Maximus, heading past the Fora, you will find this famous brewery. Opened in 1906, it is dedicated to this popular drink, as well as preparing some delicious Italian dishes to accompany it. Using traditional recipes and methods for both its beer and food, this brewery-restaurant serves authentic Italian dishes that are a great option for lunch at a decent price.
On the Palatine Hill you will find the Domus Aurea, Nero’s enormous palace complete with artificial lake, swimming pools, woodland, and a recreated country estate of vineyards and pastureland. Of this ostentatious, 300-room construction containing innumerable treasures, Nero exclaimed: ‘finally I can begin to live like a human being’.
National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II
Piazza Venezia is dominated by the National Monument to Víctor Manuel II, a contentious structure among locals due to its extraordinary size and striking appearance. In the vicinity you will also find Trajan’s Column and Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo, as well as several palazzos and museums.
Dating from the 2nd century, the Pantheon is a true architectural wonder of the world. Its concrete dome is the largest of its kind without any reinforcement. As you wander through its interior you cannot help but appreciate the grandeur of Rome and its majestic buildings.
This district is the city’s hub for nightlife and social activity. You will discover a plethora of traditional stores, markets, craft shops and souvenir shops. But there are also churches, such as the Basilica of Santa Maria, in the square of the same name, and which now marks the epicentre of the neighbourhood.
Pizzeria Ai Marmi
For dinner we recommend Pizzeria Ai Marmi. You will need to queue a little, but the very reasonably priced pizza prepared in a wood-fired oven is to die for and well worth the wait.
Itinerary day 3
Every visit to Rome should include a trip across the Italian border into the microstate of the Vatican City, located right in the centre of the Italian capital. This unusual state is almost more populated by priceless works of art than it is by people. Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante all worked here in their day. The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square, and St. Peter’s Basilica and its dome, are some of the absolute must-sees. There is plenty more to explore, though: the Vatican Museums, the Necropolis and the gardens are all unparalleled attractions.
This fortress is among the most popular sights for anyone visiting Rome. It was originally the mausoleum of the prosperous emperor Hadrian, but was later used as a fort due to its robust construction. In times of trouble, it was where popes would take refuge, leading to the construction of a palatial apartment and the reinforcement of its defences. The Castel is open to visitors and houses a museum with contemporary ceramics, paintings, sculptures and weapons on display.
After the splendour of the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo, you may feel you deserve an equally sumptuous meal. With two Michelin stars, Il Pagliaccio will certainly live up to your expectations. Headed by chef Anthony Genovese, it specialises in the fusion of traditional Italian cuisine with other styles from around the world. Its influences include Japan, Malaysia and Thailand.
To commemorate his victories in Gaul and Hispania, Emperor Augustus ordered the construction of this Carrara-marble altar to the goddess of Peace. All four walls are covered in intricate reliefs, and there is a small door in one side through which the priests would enter to make their sacrifices.
Piazza di Spagna
If you walk ten minutes east from the Ara Pacis, you will reach Piazza di Spagna. This is one of the most popular squares in Rome, and is where you will find the famous Spanish steps and a fountain created by Bernini’s father.
The Baths of Caracalla
The famous baths commissioned by Emperor Caracalla are definitely worth a visit. In their heyday, they were the social and recreational centre of Ancient Rome. The baths were hugely popular and were decorated with beautiful frescoes, mosaics and statues. The site that remains today is still impressive and awe-inspiring. Many of the sculptures have been removed from their original locations, and a number of the marble baths themselves were repurposed to form the bases of some of the best fountains in the city.
Piazza del Popolo
This is one of the most beautiful and famous squares in Rome. Everywhere you look you will see fabulous churches and fountains with mythological scenes exquisitely sculpted in marble. Stop for a moment on the terrace on the Pincian Hill to contemplate the city from above.
One of the most spectacular green spaces in Rome is Villa Borghese: an enormous public park with a biopark housing giraffe, bison and lions.
Le Jardin de Russie
We suggest a romantic dinner for your last night in the city, and Le Jardin de Russie is just the ticket. This charming and elegant restaurant serves exquisite international cuisine. You can even book a table in its enchanting and carefully manicured garden surrounded by an ornate balustrade.