When we think of Rome, we remember: the many bustling Piazza’s each with their own feel, delicious pizzeria’s and endless people watching; we remember the beautiful churches hidden in unassuming buildings in side streets; and we think of the Gelato that tastes better than anywhere else!
Rome is such a monumental and romantic city thanks to its culturally rich history, impressive landmarks and delicious cuisine. It really is a city not to be missed. Here we have put together an itinerary which packs in our favourite sights and experiences that Rome has to offer in the space of 48 hours.
Day 1 – Discovery
Start your adventure in Rome by spending some time discovering the city. Take a walk through time and experience the wonders of Ancient Rome through to the delights of Renaissance Italy.
Morning – Unearthing Ancient Rome
Start the day early to beat the queues with a visit to perhaps the most famous and popular landmark in Rome: the Colosseum.
Built almost 2,000 years ago, the Colosseum was the largest amphitheatre ever constructed and was used for hosting gladiatorial games for the baying Roman public. We’d recommend taking either a guided or audio tour to fuel your imagination of the scenes that must have taken place all those years ago. The view inside the Colosseum is not to be missed and provides a great backdrop for that perfect holiday snap!
A stones throw from the Colosseum lies one of the most important collection of ruins in all of Rome and the next stop on our adventure through Rome. The Roman Forum is the centre of Ancient Rome. It is where people came together for all manner of things from glorious Emperor processions to visiting simple everyday markets. The Forum is surrounded by some of the most significant buildings of Roman times including many temples and the home of the Senate. Spend some time wandering through the ruins to get a feel for the heartbeat of Ancient Rome.
Top Tip: To cap off your Forum visit, climb up to the top of the nearby Capitoline Hill for a perfect view of the Forum below. The smallest of the seven hills on which Rome is built, Capitoline Hill now hosts a beautiful piazza and surrounding palaces designed by the iconic Michelangelo.
Afternoon – Experience Authentic Italian Cuisine
By now I’m sure you’ll have worked up a nice appetite from your mornings exertions. So from the Hill, make your way down towards Piazza Venezia. The Piazza marks the centre of the main thoroughfares in Rome and from here you can make your way along Via del Corso.
The Via del Corso is a traditionally straight road running for almost a mile through the centre of Rome. Just off this street are numerous side alleys and piazzas in which you’ll find fantastic local restaurants serving authentic Italian food. Venturing a little off the Main Street will unearth these gems and I recommend you try discovering this for yourself.
After lunch, continue wandering your way up the Via del Corso until you reach the Marcus Aurelius column which stands tall in Piazza Colonna. The column is fabulously ornate and sits in front of the Palazzo Chigi which is the residence of the Italian Prime Minister. For us, this Piazza marks a slight detour off the main road to the nearby Gelatoria Giolitti for some much deserved afternoon Gelato! The Gelatoria Giolitti, hidden down a narrow side alley, is one of the finest places in Rome to find authentic Gelato.
Top Tip: When you find yourself in a Gelatoria in Rome you’ll know the Gelato is good quality if their banana flavour is grey in colour and not luminous yellow!
Evening – Reveal Renaissance Rome
Time to make your way to another of Rome’s most famous landmarks, the Fontana di Trevi. The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s more modern landmarks having been designed and constructed in the Baroque style of the 18th Century. The fountain is best viewed at night due to the stunning illumination so try to arrive as the sun is setting to get a perfect view. The saying “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” is never more appropriate than here. So, with your back to the fountain, throw a coin using your right hand over your left shoulder, making a wish as you do so.
There should be just enough time for one more stop to finish a special first day in the city. Wind your way through the narrow alleys from the fountain until you arrive at Piazza di Spagna which lies at the foot of the Spanish steps.
The steps are yet another example of the Baroque architecture dotted throughout Rome and serve as a grand link between the Piazza and the church at the top of the hill. Climb up to the top, take a seat on the steps and relax for a few minutes, taking in the hustle and bustle of the Piazza below. The Piazza is surrounded by many lively restaurants which will provide a perfect way to finish off your first day in the City.
Day 2 – Cultural Exploration
Today is going to be all about exploring the cultural side of Rome through its churches, temples and museums. You won’t have to walk quite as far as yesterday, but starting your day early again is a must to avoid those pesky long queues.
Morning – Visit The Holy City-State
The first port of call today is technically not in Rome or even Italy for that matter! That’s right, you’re going to start the day with a visit to the Vatican City which is in fact its own country within the centre of Rome. The Vatican is the home of the Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church and is a truly historic location not to be missed on your trip. A visit to the Vatican usually entails two main attractions: the Vatican museums and St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Vatican museums display a collection of sculptures and artwork that have been assembled over a period of 500 years by the Catholic Church. Included in your visit is the Sistine Chapel which is famous for its Michelangelo painted ceiling.
The next stop is St Peter’s Basilica, a fantastically ornate building and a highlight of renaissance architecture in Rome. Take your time wandering around and admiring the breathtaking interior. Don’t forget to climb to the top of the dome for great views of St. Peter’s square below and of the rest of Rome. The climb can get quite tight in places so if small spaces is not your thing it might be worth giving this a miss.
Top Tip: If you happen to find yourself in Rome on a Sunday then St Peter’s square at noon is the place to be. Every Sunday the Pope holds the Angelus address from a window overlooking the square. Find a spot in the square and witness a truly unique experience.
Afternoon – Castles And Temples
Time for a spot of lunch, take a stroll to Da Romolo, a cosy restaurant located just off the Via Della Conciliazione. Not far from Da Romolo is Castel Sant’Angelo. This round fortress-looking building is very distinctive and you may recognise it from films such as The Da Vinci Code. The Castel was originally built by Hadrian to serve as his personal mausoleum but has also been used as a Papal residence and prison, housing the likes of the controversial Pope Alexander VI, more familiarly known as Rodrigo Borgia. The Castel is now a museum and also provides a great vantage point of the River Tiber below and the Vatican in the distance.
Time to seek out some afternoon Gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino. One of the most recommended ice cream spots in Rome, San Crispino is definitely worth the inevitable queues! We’d recommend taking your gelato just around the corner to the Fontana del Pantheon which sits in a Piazza opposite the Pantheon. Take a seat in the Piazza and enjoy the view.
The interior of the Pantheon may look familiar to those Da Vinci Code enthusiasts for pointing the way to Tom Hanks in the famous film. The Pantheon itself is a former Ancient Roman temple and is renowned for its large domed roof which has a hole in the middle. The structure really is quite spectacular and it remains one of the largest concrete domes in the world.
Evening – Lively Piazza’s
To conclude your Roman adventure, make Piazza Novona your final stop. The Piazza is a grand open area dotted with famous fountains, an obelisk, churches and palaces. It is built on the site of a former Roman games arena and is surrounded by bars and restaurants. The Piazza is a fun and lively place to have dinner, relax and reminisce about the action packed 2 days spent in Rome.
We hope you have been inspired by this 48 hours in Rome travel guide. Are you thinking about a trip to Rome soon? Let us know what you have planned by leaving a comment below.
The Rambling Travellers