Welcome to our 48 hours in Rome itinerary, a two days guide to get a first glimpse of the Eternal City.
Rome is one of the most incredible cities you will ever visit. Everywhere you go, remnants of the city’s great history surround you. There is an incredible amount of things to see, do and learn about in Rome, together with amazing food and cute vintage shops. But what to see first if you are in Rome for 48 hours only? With our itinerary, you will spend one day discovering the secrets of the Roman Empire and one day living the Italian capital like a local!
DAY 1: DISCOVER THE ANCIENT ROME
9 a.m. Travel through time while soaking in the heritage of the Roman Empire
Start your first day in Rome soaking in the beauty of the iconic symbol of the city: the Colosseum, the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire. Its significance to the people of Rome still reflects in the words written in the 7th century AD by Bede: ‘as long as the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall; and when Rome falls, the world will end’. Surviving several earthquakes, modern day pollution and traffic vibrations, the Colosseum still stands mighty.
Being able to seat close to 50,000 spectators, it was the premier venue for wild beast shows and bloody gladiator combat. During the inauguration games (that lasted 100 days and nights) about 5000 wild animals – rhinos, crocodiles, bears, elephants, lions, tigers and giraffes – were slaughtered. Visiting the inside of the amphitheatre, you can see the underground chambers and passageways where the gladiators and animals waited for battle.
Your travel through time continues in the beautiful gardens and remnants of the opulent palaces of the Palatine Hill, ancient Rome’s most exclusive neighbourhood. Then continue to the Roman Forum, the centre of Roman public life, where the buildings, temples and monuments constructed were serving as a political, commercial and religious hub.
Heading towards Piazza Venezia you will walk past the remains of the Imperial Forums, a series of public squares and majestic buildings built by several different emperors between 46 BC and 113 AD. From there, the signs for Via del Corso will lead you to the Pantheon. Built in 27 BC (Yes, 27 BC!!!) by Marcus Agrippa, this temple is famous for its extraordinary dome, the largest free-standing vault ever built. With a 9 metre opening in the dome, the Pantheon is considered the most important achievement of Ancient Roman architecture. Also Will’s favourite place as you can picture how ancient Rome would have actually looked.
1 p.m. Take a break and eat a superb carbonara in Rione Parione
This information overload has made you hungry? Head to Il Corallo, Via del Corallo, 10-11, for a superb spaghetti alla carbonara, a creamy egg-based sauce dotted with pieces of succulent guanciale – cured pork jowl – and a healthy dash of black pepper. After lunch take a walk around Rione Parione, with its cobblestone alleys and picturesque cafes, until you reach Piazza Navona. Built over the 1st-century Stadio di Domiziano, it was paved over in the 15th century and for almost 300 years hosted the city’s main market. Its grand centrepiece is Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, a fountain featuring an Egyptian obelisk and muscular personifications of the rivers Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata, the representation of the papal authority throughout the world.
3 p.m. Enjoy the best ice cream while getting discovering the Trevi Fountain’s secrets
A quick stroll from Piazza Navona and you will arrive in front of Giolitti, Via Uffici del Vicario, 40, the oldest gelateria in Rome and the best gelato in the world! While enjoying this masterpiece of flavour walk towards the breathtaking Trevi fountain, standing at the junction of three roads and marking the end point of one of Rome’s earliest aqueducts, Aqua Virgo. Its location leads to its name: Fontana di Trevi – from the Latin word trivium – literally means Three Street Fountain. The construction of the fountain began in 1732, with Palazzo Poli serving as a backdrop. Like all great pieces of art, the fountain tells a story. In the centre: Oceanus. His chariot is being pulled by two sea horses – one wild and one docile, like the opposing moods of the sea – led by two Tritons. Left of the arch is the statue of Abundance, while the statue of Health stands on the right.
8 p.m. Taste some traditional food in the Jewish Ghetto
End your first day in Rome with a stroll down the Jewish Ghetto, one of the best attractions in Rome and also one of its least-known. Established in 1555, the Ghetto has grown into a beautiful neighbourhood where Jewish culture and Roman architecture live side by side. Highlights of the area: the ruins of the Teatro Marcello, also known as the Jewish Coliseum, the Bocca della Verità or Mouth of Truth (open from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18) and the beautiful Turtles Fountain in Piazza Mattei. Stop for dinner at Sora Margherita, Piazza delle Cinque Scole 30, one of those places without a sign on the door, where you instantly feel home. The menu doesn’t offer much selection but it doesn’t matter: order a Carciofo (artichoke) alla Giudea and Cacio e Pepe, made with tonnarelli pasta and topped with salty pecorino cheese, plenty of black pepper.
DAY 2: GO LOCAL IN ROME
9 a.m. Shopping in Rione I Monti
Start your second day in Rome with a quintessentially Italian feel in the Rione I Monti. With its cute vintage shops and cobblestone alleys, the I Monti itself is the perfect place to get lost in. To check out one of Roman’s favourite meeting spots head to Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, just off the famous Via dei Serpenti. Here, at any time of the day, you’ll find locals sitting on the steps of the fountain and chatting.
1 p.m. Eat with the Locals in Trastevere
Lunch like a local? Trastevere, Roman’s favourite neighbourhood, is the place to be. Pick a takeaway starter at I Supplì, Via di San Francesco a Ripa 137, a local secret named after its speciality: fried rice-ball mixed with ragù and mozzarella and cooked to perfection. Then head to the charming trattoria Da Teo, Piazza del Ponziani 7a, to try the saltimbocca, ‘jump in your mouth,’ slices of veal topped with prosciutto crudo and fresh sage, then marinated with white wine. It is classic Roman cooking at its best. After this challenging amount of food lie down in the sun along the river while observing the locals in their daily activities or make your way over to Santa Cecilia in Trastevere and experience the more laid-back atmosphere of this side of Trastevere.
6 p.m. Watch the sunset on the Eternal City from the Orange Trees Garden
Around 6 pm cross the Ponte Palatino and climb up Aventine Hill to soak in the beauty of the city at sunset. Peek through the Keyhole of the Knight’s of Malta for a great view of St. Peter’s Dome before meandering to the Giardino degli Aranci, the Orange Tree Garden, one of Rome’s most romantic, peaceful and scenic gardens. Take a seat at the ledge, overlooking the Eternal City and the winding Tiber river, and watch the domes in the distance lighting up slowly as the sunset colours the sky with hues of red, orange and purples.
8 p.m. Enjoy Roman specialities in the foodie neighbourhood Testaccio
At 8 pm head down to foodie neighbourhood Testaccio for dinner where the locals eat. Here you have many different options. For a delicious Roman-style crispy pizza go to Pizzeria Da Remo, Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice 44. Be sure to start with fritti, mouthwateringly fried appetizers. Looking for a good amatriciana? At Da Bucatino, Via Luca della Robbia 84, this tomato-based pasta with crispy guanciale (cured pork jowl) is served with bucatini – thicker, hollow spaghetti – in true Roman style. You didn’t make it in time for a cacio e pepe at Sora Margherita last night? We’ve got you covered! Felice a Testaccio, Via Mastro Giorgio 29, makes one of the most famous renditions of this dish!
TIPS FOR VISITING ROME:
- Two (actually three) birds with one stone! Entrance to the Palatine is included in the combined ticket for the Colosseum and the Roman Forum – valid for 2 days. But make sure you book a guide or rent an audio guide to discover more about the heritage of the Roman Empire.
- Watch your belongings. In crowded places like the Trevi Fountain, Termini Station and the metro stations, people will be brushing up against each other and being alert will make sure no one walks off with your valuables.
- Rome must be visited once during the day and then again at night. As dusk falls, the Eternal City becomes especially charming. Illuminated by moonlight, cobbled piazzas seem more romantic, ancient monuments more stirring and ancient ruins more stimulating to gaze upon.