Rome is magnificent. In all my travels, I have not visited a place that has so fully lived up to its reputation as one of the world’s iconic cities. Its sights are mind blowing, its food divine, and every street corner looks like a postcard – Rome is, in my opinion, the most beautiful city in the world. It receives a huge amount of tourists but its history, culture and legacy means it stands above other cities whose identity has become defined by tourist trade.
We spent four massively enjoyable days in Rome eating incredible pasta and pizza, drinking delicious red wine and visiting sights which despite their worldwide recognition, weren’t even the slightest bit overrated. This is what we did in Rome.
(Also, the photographs in this blog, along with many others of Rome, are available to purchase on my Etsy shop).
Dined in the Jewish Ghetto
When we arrived in Rome we made our way to an area known as the “Jewish Ghetto,” the traditional home of Rome’s Jewish community since 1955. Despite the negative connotations associated with the word “ghetto,” the Jewish Ghetto is as picturesque as everywhere else in Rome, with fountains, plazas and dusty coral coloured buildings with balconies. The area’s Jewish heritage can be seen in its beautiful synagogue, carvings of Jewish symbols like the Star of David and the menorah on its walls, and the distinct fusion of Jewish and Italian food served in its restaurants. We dined tucked into well known Jewish/Italian fusion dishes like carciofi alla giudia “deep fried artichokes,” and fiori di zucca (fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella) which were incredible.
Drank in the streets of Trastevere
After we finished our meal in the Jewish Ghetto we headed along to Trastevere, an area famous for its nightlife. Trastevere has lots of bars but we found most people were just hanging out in the streets and piazzas (the balmy July weather probably contributed to this). We decided to join them, buying beers from a man who was going around selling them from a cooler. Sitting on the steps of a piazza sipping our cold beers amongst the lively crowd was wonderful. It was a cheap way to spend the evening too – a bottle of beer from the man with the cooler was only one euro which was much much cheaper than they cost in the bars.
Visited the Colosseum
On our first full day of sightseeing in Rome we started with one of the most famous landmarks in the world – the Colosseum. It always feels odd visiting a place that is so recognisable and you’ve seen millions of times on postcards, brochures and tv; you wonder if it can possibly live up to its expectation. For me, it absolutely did. I loved wandering through the stone corridors, seeing the pits the gladiators and animals were kept in and imagining the baying crowds watching them fight. The Colosseum is a obviously a spectacular building too and I really enjoyed accidentally coming across it or spotting it at the end of the a street as we walked around Rome.
Visited the Roman Forum
Our Ancient Rome education continued as we made our way to the Roman Forum, the remains of the ancient city centre of the Roman Empire. We didn’t actually pay to go inside, instead we just wandered around to a viewing platform where you could pretty much see all of it. We looked at the remaining columns and archways and in our minds tried to swap the tourists for the Romans wandering around in their togas.
Visited Il Vittoriano
Afterwards we visited Il Vittoriano, a huge white marble monument built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. Apparently a lot of Romans hate it as they think it is garish but I thought it was very impressive. Also, you get an awesome panoramic view of Rome from the top.
Visited the Pantheon
Next on our itinerary was the Pantheon. The Pantheon is a former Roman temple, now a church, built around 126 AD created by the emperor Hadrian. It is very imposing, with enormous pillars and a domed ceiling on the inside which is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the entire world. Quite impressive when you consider how long ago it was built!
Visited Piazza Navona
Afterwards we went to Piazza Navona, a gorgeous long narrow square filled with beautiful statues and fountains but now also filled with hawkers and tourist tat. Nonetheless, it was an attractive place to sit and rest our weary feet for a bit.
Ate pizza in Pizzeria Da Baffetto
Pizzeria Da Baffetto is one of Rome most famous restaurants. Located in the Centro Storico, it serves Roman style pizza which is different from the better known Napoli pizza because the dough is thin and crispy instead of thick and doughy, which I actually prefer. We had to queue for a while to get in as the restaurant is so popular but it was completely worth it. I opted for pepper, onion and mushroom on my pizza and it was delicious.
Drank in Campo Di Fiori
Campo Di Fiori is a square lined with bars and restaurants. Similar to our Trastevere experience the night before, some people were just sitting around in the centre of the square drinking bottles of beer. One of the things I particularly enjoyed about these nightlife settings in Rome was even though it was late at night and alcohol was being consumed, it was a laid back, child friendly environment – the table beside us had very young children with them right up until midnight. It also made me laugh to see stylish people drinking bottles of Tennent’s Super lager which appeared to be very trendy in Rome – quite the opposite in Scotland!
Visited Piazza Del Popolo
The following day’s sightseeing began with Piazza Del Popolo, another one of Rome’s many impressive squares, which dates back to between 1811 and 1822. As the Piazza Del Popolo is situated at the start of the the most important route to the north it was the traveller’s first view of Rome upon arrival. The most striking feature of the Piazza Del Popolo is the Egyptian obelisk in the centre.
Visited the Spanish Steps
Then we visited one of Rome’s most famous sights – the Spanish Steps. We walked up and down them and visited the Trinata dei Monti Church at the top and the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom. The area around the Spanish Steps seemed to be peak location for touts and flower sellers trying to get the attention of tourists.
Visited the Trevi Fountain
We then headed to another iconic Rome sight – the Trevi Fountain. Several people had told me they found it underwhelming but I completely disagree; I thought it was magnificent, despite the mass of tourists and tat stalls around it.
Dined in Da Lucia, Trastevere
For dinner that night we headed back to Trastevere to a fantastic restaurant called Da Lucia. It was a cosy traditional Italian trattoria with thick white tablecloths, wooden panelling, pots and pans hanging from the ceiling and framed family photographs. We ordered pasta dishes, tiramisu and cheese, all of which was to die for. A detail we loved was that the red wine was served in short tumbler glasses instead of wine glasses. We decided to copy it and to this day we often drink our red wine from tumblers when we’re in our flat.
Drinking In Trastevere
After dinner, we headed out into the streets of Trastevere and, as we did on our first evening, bought bottles of Peroni, found a spot amongst the crowds on the steps of the piazza, took a seat and sipped our beers whilst listening to the buzz and occasional shouts of conversation. Is there anything better than al fresco drinking on a summer night (especially in Rome?). Not that I can think of.
Visited St Peter’s Basilica
On our third and final full day of sightseeing, we visited Vatican City, home of the Pope and the Catholic Church. St Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world and where the Pope gives his masses, is absolutely awe inspiring, without a doubt one of Rome’s most impressive sights (my Catholic upbringing has absolutely no bearing on my opinion as it has very much lapsed, or, more accurately, collapsed). The basilica building and St Peter’s Square outside is momentus and inside the basilica is maybe the most lavish place I have ever been; every inch of the walls is covered in intricate engravings, statues and gold plating. The basilica also boasts a domed ceiling created by Michelangelo, the Pietà, one of Michelangelo’s most famous statues, and a 29 meter high bronze canopy over the papal altar created by Bernini. We spent ages walking around St Peter’s Basilica taking it in, our eyes dazzled by all the gold, carvings and jewels. It also showed us how seriously rich the Catholic Church must be!
Watched the sunset from Parco Savello
Afterwards we headed to Parco Savello which had a great view of St Peter’s Basilica. It was an excellent spot to watch the sunset and see the outline of the Basilica’s dome against the orange sky.
Went drinking in Pigneto
After we left the park we went to an area called Pigneto to the east of the city centre. It was grittier and more hipster than other neighbourhoods we’d visited, with anti fascist graffiti scrawled on the walls and young studenty types sitting on the pavements of the streets drinking bottles of beer. The bars were very busy, even though it was a Monday night, and we took a table outside and soaked up the colourful atmosphere.
Dined in San Lorenzo
On our last day we decided to indulge one more time in Rome’s incredible culinary scene before we headed to the airport. An area we hadn’t yet been to was San Lorenzo so we decided to go there and dine in Pommidoro, a traditional Italian trattoria . Tucking into yet more amazing food and red wine was the perfect way to end an unforgettable four days in Rome.
If you also love Rome, and would like to purchase some Rome wall art, check out my photography on my Etsy Shop