Rome holds a special sentimental value as this was the first-holiday destination for my husband and I. Spending a weekend in Rome is a brilliant choice, as the Eternal City is full of romance, great food, beautiful vista points, culture and history. We put together a few tips on how to plan your Rome itinerary. We visited Rome several times since our first visit. We chose to spend a weekend in Rome so we can pack all the best highlights in two days.
So why Rome? Because at every single turn you will find something interesting to photograph and admire. It's not just the Italian food which captures your imagination, but the Italian culture which is intense, yet romantic and laid back. Rome has this paradox about its streets where you can feel alive yet relaxed at the same time.
You can spend several days in Rome and still have plenty to discover, we thought a weekend in Rome is a lovely introduction to the Italian capital city.
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Weekend in Rome
According to the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Rome is the place for foodies. Spend one weekend in Rome and we can assure you that you'll be back for more pizza, pasta and wine. But beyond the epic gastronomy and lovely Italian food, Rome is a city of history. It's also where you can visit the Vatican, independent city-state enclaved within Rome itself. It's a magical city where locals are intense, passionate yet welcoming the Italian way.
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The Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre in the world and seen as one of the greatest works of engineering and architecture. It can hold around 80,000 spectators. It is still well preserved and we recommend getting a tour so you can learn more about its history and get access to otherwise off-limits places around the Colosseum.
Here's a fun fact. The Colosseum is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre because it was built during the Flavian dynasty. It is now one of the most visited attractions in Italy and it is the symbol of Rome.
Either way, make sure you purchase your tickets in advance as otherwise, you will spend hours in a very long queue. Get the combo ticket with the Palatino and Roman Forum as well.
Palatino & Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is a beautiful piece of historical significance and a true glimpse into the founding of Ancient Rome. We loved it even more than the Colosseum with its beautiful ruins and open space. The Forum was essentially the market place of the city but it later became more than that: a gathering space for celebrations, trials and of course, gladiatorial games.
Did you know that the Forum was buried deep down and it wasn't until 1898 that archaeological excavations discovered what we can see today?
The Palatine Hill is home to the Lupercal Cave. This is the famed cave where according to the folk tales the twins Romulus and Remus were found by Lupa the wolf, the she-creature who raised them. The Palatine Hill was also a high-class residential district. Due to its strategic elevated location, the rich believed they have access to cleaner air.
Have Italian Pizza
You know you are in Rome when you sit down at an Italian pizzeria and order your very first Italian pizza. It's unlike anything else you've tried before. The pizza base is thin and perfectly done in the wood over. Toppings on Italian pizza are not as prominent as what you tend to find in other countries. They are, in fact, perfectly balanced. A few things to note, perhaps, if you wish to enjoy pizza the Italian way. In Italy, there is no added sauce on the pizza. You should eat as it comes. Pizza doesn't come cut in slices for you. You are meant to get a fork and a knife and eat it bit by bit. You can cut it into slices and use your hands, nobody is going to look at you funny.
Pizza has different toppings depending on the region it comes from. For example, Neapolitan pizza is what you know as Pizza Margherita. It was believed that Pizza Margherita was created in the name of Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy and the three ingredients tomato, mozzarella and basic were meant to represent the colours of the Italian flag. However, this pizza existed long before in Napoli.
The Pantheon is one of the best-preserved Roman buildings which has been in continuous use. It is a former temple which is now used as a church. Initially, the temple was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa but later completed by Hadrian, although we cannot be certain of the exact date of construction.
The Pantheon is managed by the Italian government. It attracts over 6 million people a year.
Did you know that the word Pantheon comes from the Ancient Greek "Pantheion" which means to all gods?
Fontana Di Trevi
Throw a coin and make a wish, Fontana Di Trevi has been featured in so many romantic movies. In fact, this is such a statement, it is estimated that over 3000 EUR is being thrown in the fountain every single day. The money is used for a good cause, however, as, according to an article in the BBC, the coins are used to fund food for the poor.
Coins are meant to be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder, so make sure to follow the rule if you want for your wish to come true.
I think one of the most formidable things about Fontana Di Trevi is how big and impressive it really is in real life. I'm not sure why, but when seen in movies, it always looks so much smaller. But in real life, the foundation is gorgeous, big and looks incredible. The details are perfect and the statues look majestic, making this one of the most exciting places to visit in Rome.
Italian Pasta and wine
You tried Italian pizza, how it's time to have another proper Italian meal. Indulge in a large plate of pasta and serve it with a flavoursome glass of Italian Pinot gris on the side.
Pastas are divided into two broad categories: dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca). Most dried pasta is produced for commercial purposes whereas fresh pasta is traditionally produced by hand. You can also purchase fresh pasta in a supermarket which is done by large scale machinery rather than by hand. However, when you enter a small family-run Italian restaurant, you are pretty much guaranteed to sample the real fresh pasta, made with love by the owner.
There are 310 specific forms of pasta known by over 1300 documented names. So when visiting Rome, you will have a wide variety of pasta to pick from.
Rome is known for amatriciana, carbonara, cacio e pepe and gricia (like carbonara but without eggs).
Did you know that Fettuccine Alfredo is a famous type of pasta abroad, but not considered traditional in Italy and mostly unheard of in Rome?
The Vatican City is a city-state enclaved within the city of Rome. With an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of 1000, it is the smallest internationally recognised independent state in the world by both area and population. It is ruled by the Bishop of Rome-the Pope.
It is free to enter the Vatican city but accessing the museums costs money. We recommend getting tickets in advance to avoid queuing on the day. The Vatican museums are incredibly popular so ensure you arrive as early in the morning as possible. Be patient, as there is normally a dedicated queue to those who purchased tickets online as well.
You will also have to go through security checks before entering St. Peter's Basilica.
The Sistine Chapel
As part of the visit to the Vatican City, you cannot skip entering the Sistine Chapel. Although mainly known for its frescos that decorate the interior, there is more to the chapel than meets the eye. However, the Sistine Chapel can get very busy even during early hours so spending time around its rooms can be a bit challenging. However, when in Rome, one must allocate time to seeing one of the world's most renowned frescos on the Sistine Chapel ceiling: The Last Judgment by Michelangelo.
Did you know that the whole of Vatican is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site?
Gelato in Rome
Is there anything better than Italian pizza and pasta? Yes, Italian gelato! Gelato is a frozen dessert made with milk and sugar and it's known to contain lower fat than another type of frozen desserts. It's quite dense, as it contains over 70% less air and more flavours than other desserts, which is why you recognise its distinctive taste. It's rich, delicious and I'm pretty certain, is addictive with its yumminess. It is believed that gelato is credited to an Italian chef named Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli.
Well Mr Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, we all thank you for the awesome dessert you created which is now enjoyed all over the world. Italy is known to have over 5000 modern gelato parlours, so you know you'll have plenty to pick from during your weekend in Rome.
Piazza Di Spagna
Piazza Di Spagna was a spectacle of colours for me. A common meeting point for locals in Rome, Piazza Di Spagna is the perfect place for people watching. It's also pretty great for evening photography, especially when going up the Spanish Steps located right by the square.
The Spanish Steps also known as the Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti in Italian, are a set of 135 steps climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Trinità dei Monti. At the top you can see the Trinità dei Monti church.
The steps are particularly famous as they have been featured in literature, movies, music and art.
Who doesn't love a cup of strong Italian espresso? In Italy, espresso is drank standing, sometimes accompanied by a quick dolci. Some of the best espressi I ever had were in the most random Italian coffee shops.
Coffee is a ritual in Italy and should be taken seriously if you want to immerse yourself in the local culture. Coffee is enjoyed several times a day. Your coffee will be accompanied by a glass of water to cleanse your palette before and after you drink your espresso. Espresso is used as a digestif post-meal or in the afternoon for a quick break.
According to Italians, cappuccino or caffè latte should only be ordered in the morning hours to avoid indigestion. Throughout the day, you should have an espresso or macchiato.
I saved the best for last: the Pincian Hill in Rome. During our weekend in Rome, we discovered this place and fell in love with it. We think the Pincian Hill is the best place in the city to admire the sunset and take panoramic photos over Rome's rooftops.
The hill came to be known in Roman times as Collis Hortorum (the "Hill of Gardens"). Its current name comes from the Pincii, one of the families that occupied it in the 4th century AD. Around the Hill you will find many beautiful villas and gardens, perfect for a relaxing walk prior to the sunset.
To capture the best pictures, make sure to check when the sun sets during your visit to Rome. Time your arrival about 30 minutes prior to the actual sunset to have some time taking pictures with the best golden light.
Where to stay in Rome
Rome is a large and vast city. We believe the best place to stay in Rome for first-time visitors is Trastevere. It's not the cheapest but it's a beautiful neighbourhood, close to all the attractions in Rome. It's perfect for a romantic weekend in Rome and considering you'll be staying just around 2 nights in the city, staying in a central location makes a lot of sense.
Thank you Lottoland for sponsoring this article. We were very thrilled to write about a weekend in Rome as this is one of our favourite European cities which we visit on a regular basis. All opinions are our own and we have full editorial control over this article. For any questions about time spent in Rome, please contact us or leave a comment below and we will reply as soon as possible.