The Perfect Weekend in Rome
Collected by Katie Parla , AFAR Local Expert
A mere three days in Rome may feel overwhelming, but with some strategic planning, you can visit many of the Eternal City's iconic sites. Take gelato breaks between cultural destinations and rent a bike to get outside the center and enjoy the city's public parks. The best people watching is in cafes or in squares like Piazza Navona or around Trevi Fountain. The best shopping is on the avenues leading to the Spanish Steps, a great way to get in two Rome-perfect activities in one afternoon. Art and history fans should make time for the Vatican Museums.
00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy
The Roman Forum is where ancient Rome began. The sprawling archaeological park gives us just a hint of what the Roman Empire once was—a dominant and diverse society. The Forum itself was the political, social, religious, and commercial focal...
Piazza degli Zingari, 4, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
A 10-minute walk from the Forum, Gelateria Fatamorgana sells Maria Spagnuolo’s edible works of art. Each flavor is made from all natural ingredients, without chemical additives or artificial flavors, and many are lactose free. Spagnuolo’s...
00184 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy
No matter how many postcards you've seen of Rome's iconic Colosseum, you just don't get it until you pass beneath its crumbling arches. Built by Emperor Vespasian in 72 C.E., the huge amphitheater held 50,000 spectators and marked its...
Via Labicana, 95, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
In 1857, the prior of the Basilica di San Clemente thought there might be something underneath his 12th-century church, already renowned for its relics and striking mosaic of the Crucifixion. When he excavated, he found not only the original,...
Piazzale Napoleone I, 00197 Roma RM, Italy
Encompassing early 200 acres of rolling parkland, Villa Borghese is Rome's verdant heart and everyone's favorite place for an afternoon walk. The vast gardens are criss-crossed with picturesque paths, where visitors can meander past ancient...
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
The Baths of Caracalla, a third-century bathing complex located near the Circus Maximus, was the center of social life for tens of thousands of Romans who would gather there—around 10,000 at a time—to exercise, bathe, and relax....
Via Beniamino Franklin, 00118 Roma RM, Italy
The "new" Testaccio Market opened in a modern building next to the Ex-Mattatoio (former slaughterhouse) in the summer of 2012. The space was much larger than the original market, which meant there was plenty of room to grow new businesses,...
Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma RM, Italy
The Galleria Borghese, which is set in the large public Villa Borghese park, was born in the 16th century as the collection of Scipione Borghese, a powerful Cardinal and nephew to Pope Paul V. The Cardinal amassed an enormous number of ancient...
Via Garibaldi, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
The ancient Romans used aqueducts to carry water from distant springs into central Rome. As the empire decayed, so too did these ambitious public works. When Rome experienced a renaissance—not to mention a population boom—in the modern...
Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
Often called the Spanish Steps, Rome's famous scalinata (monumental staircase) is the centerpiece of Piazza di Spagna. Built in the early 1700s, the steps connect the piazza (now a busy shopping area) with the Trinità dei Monti church...
Viale Vaticano, 00165 Roma RM
There is a staggering amount of artwork on display here. It is said that if you stood at each piece for just one minute, it would take you four years to see everything. Created by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the museums have expanded...
Piazza di Pasquino, 69, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Via Dandolo, 51, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Via Giuseppe Giaocchinio Belli, 59, 00193 Roma RM, Italy
Casually chic, L’Arcangelo is a small bistro styled like a yesteryear living room: Think credenzas, leather banquettes, and framed photos. The gorgeous wooden bar serves up chef Arcangelo Dandini’s creations in a friendly,...
Via Rialto, 39, 00136 Roma RM, Italy
An out-of-the-way bistro pretty much worth the flight to Italy on its own, Secondo Tradizione flips the traditional osteria on its capo. Experience paper tablecloths and chalkboard menus with gallery lighting, an exposed kitchen, and a Michelin...
Viale di Trastevere, 53, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
A Trastevere institution since 1933, Ai Marmi (the official name is Panattoni, but no one calls it that) is exactly what you’d expect in an Italian neighborhood pizzeria—zero frills, lots of character, and authentic, thin-crust Roman...
Via di S. Teodoro, 74, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Every Saturday and Sunday on Via S. Teodoro, tucked just off Circus Maximus, Rome's best farmer's market takes place. It's run by Campagna Amica, an Italy-wide organization that promotes local, sustainable agriculture—so all of the products sold...
Vicolo Cellini, 30, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
At this speakeasy-inspired cocktail bar near Chiesa Nuova, hipster bartenders pour and shake American classics like Manhattans, Sazeracs and Old-Fashioneds in a smoky lounge. To gain admittance, make a booking and come armed with the secret...
Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 14, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Quietly inhabiting the lovely Via dei Banchi Vecchi, Il Goccetto (not to be confused with the Italian pro-marijuana organization by the same name) is a secret hidden in plain sight: a cozy, wood-paneled wine bar with 18th-century ceiling...
Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy
Chef Daniela del Balzo is full-immersion Roman, and she shares everything she knows at this intimate cooking school on the Aventine hill. For travelers who love Roman or even Neopolitan cooking, nothing beats a personal lesson from a local, and...
Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Even with Segway tours rolling through and street performers loudly competing for audiences, the 15th-century Piazza Navona somehow retains a shred of grace and elegance in modern Rome. Calm Renaissance palazzi face the piazza’s centerpiece,...
Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
Fontana di Trevi is, as it should be, one of the most visited landmarks in Rome. Seeing it is worth the blind stumble through narrow stone streets and alleyways. But do so at night (and in the rain, if possible) to be rewarded with...
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