How To Spend A Weekend In Rome

So now that I have covered everything food related in Rome, let’s talk about the sights. Rome is the most beautiful city I have ever visited and that’s saying something. It completely blew me away with its incredible architecture and overwhelming amount of history. I went for a long weekend which was just enough time to cram in a handful of the highlights in this incredible city. Buckle up guys, I am about to smother you with recommendations!

Step Back In Time

Rome is by far the most historic city I have ever had the pleasure to explore. You can’t turn a corner without seeing an ancient sculpture or monument. The ultimate trifecta of historic locations is the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill which are all within 5 minutes walk of each other. All three are amazing in their own way, but for me the highlight was the Roman Forum which I spent hours strolling through and exploring. It is hard to grasp what it looked like in ancient times when you’re on ground level so I recommend climbing up the steep steps to the top of Palatine hill and looking over the whole thing. It really puts it into perspective.

Top tips: Be sure to prebook your tickets for these attractions. I recommend the Roma Pass which gives you access to all three for two days. Ignore the tour guides who try to lure you in outside the ruins, they make claims that the queues are hours long when in fact they take about 15 minutes to get through.

Say Hey To The Pope

You can’t visit Rome without hitting up the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel. You can easily spend hours and hours roaming through these incredible sights and taking in the amazing artwork and history. The highlight for me was seeing The Final Judgement painting in the flesh and learning more about it – it is truly spectacular.

Once you’ve finished up at the Vatican I recommend walking back towards the city centre via two more sights; St Peters Basilica and Castle Sant’Angelo. The Basilica can only be described as epic and it is set in the beautiful Piazza san Pietro which is surrounded by high columns topped with numerous sculptures. The castle has a lot of history behind it but the highlight for me was the views from its top floor across the whole of Rome and the river. They are gorgeous and a great opportunity to grab a breath-taking photo.

Top tips: Be sure to prebook Vatican tickets to avoid queueing for hours; and if you do book tickets, make sure they are early in the day to avoid the crowds. I also recommend grabbing an audioguide at all the sights mentioned in this blog post to really get to grips with everything you’re seeing as it can be hard to take it all in without some guidance. (If you are on a budget though, there are free audioguides for most of the sights in Rome available online!). Finally, be sure to wear appropriate clothing as they have strict policies in religious places which means no exposed shoulders or knees.

Go To The Park

One of the highlights for me was the incredibly beautiful park surrounding Villa Borghese. It is full of lush greenery, monuments, statues and fountains. You can hire pedal-powered carts to get around but I recommend walking to be able to take in the surroundings. There are buskers playing amazing music and benches in the sun which you can lounge on with a gelato in hand. At the centre of the park is the museum of Villa Borghese itself which I recommend heading into – but be sure to book ahead as access is limited and you can’t just walk in. Finally, head to the il Pinco viewing point within the park which overlooks Piazza de Popolo and the whole of Rome, giving an awesome view of the city.

Top tip: Take your own water bottle. There are free fountains in many streets and parks where you can fill them up with fresh drinking water. A great money saver!

Be A Tourist

When you to go Rome for the first time, there are some tourist-y spots which just have to be seen. My top three favourites were the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. I have to admit, they are busy as hell and you need to have patience to deal with the crowds, but they are worth it. All three are absolutely beautiful and I recommend viewing them at both day and night. Rome is littered with spotlights and lamps which allow the statues and monuments to be lit up in the most spectacular way. Seeing these sights at different times of day allows you to have a whole new perspective on them.

Top tip: All three of these sights are totally free so just rock up to them. However they are super busy and prone to pickpockets so make sure you have a zipped bag and keep it close to your chest. Don’t forget to make a wish at Trevi Fountain and throw in a coin using your left hand to make it come true!

Eat Your Way Across Rome

Italians know how to do food and you could literally spend your whole trip in a food coma in you wanted to! They are known for their coffee, ice cream, ham and cheese boards, pizza and pasta so make sure you give them a go. I always recommend eating local and supporting small family-run restaurants when you can. The best way to find good food in Rome is to head down the back and side streets. It is here that you can find the hidden gems of the city which are often less busy, provide faster service and produce even more delicious food. The only exception to the rule is if you are in a particularly tourist-y area and need to grab a gelato then look for the outlet with the biggest queue as that is always a good sign!

Top tip: Be sure to look online prior to your trip to Rome and pre-book any evening meals you plan on taking, as the best restaurants tend to be fully booked well in advance. For a comprehensive guide to where to eat in Rome check out my previous blog post.

Stay Central

When looking for a hotel, location is key. Most of Rome is within walking distance of each other so try and find a spot which is central. I stayed at Babuino 181 which is right off the Piazza del Popolo. I had a stress-free stay and I absolutely loved the quiet rooftop balcony where breakfast was served overlooking the busy streets of Rome.

Top tip: Ask the reception staff at your hotel for nearby food recommendations, since they’re locals they tend to know the best spots!

Get Lost

My final recommendation and in my opinion the most important one, is to embrace the Italian relaxed pace of life and chill out. Get lost in the beautiful city of Rome. Wander down the small streets. Delve into little known boutiques. Browse the Campo di Fiori market. Drink coffee in local cafes. Find all the Piazzas from Navona to Popolo, perch on a bench with a gelato and watch the world go by. Basically, take it all in. Rome is an incredible place with surprises around every corner. You can’t walk more than 10 minutes without coming across another beautiful basilica or fountain. Set aside some time to get lost in it all. You might just find your own hidden gem.

Top tips: Walk everywhere. Rome is a small city and almost everything is within walking distance, so be sure to wear comfy shoes and a nice thick pair of socks to prevent blisters. Oh and don’t forget a map to find your way home!

And finally…

Enjoy! Rome is a beautiful city which I recommend everyone visits if they get the chance. We only scratched the surface of what it has to offer and will definitely be returning to see more sights such as the Roman catacombs and the Baths of Caracalla. I hope that this post has inspired you start planning your next adventure.

Lots of love,

Zanna xxx

April 25, 2016

Posted In: Travel

Leave a Comment

A Food Lovers Guide To Rome

Now I know I only spent four days in Rome, but it is safe to say that I pretty much ate my way around the city! I managed to hunt down the best gelato, coffee and pizza in town and uncover some hidden gems along the way. Be prepared for a serious food coma…

Healthy

Let’s start off with a couple of token healthy restaurants which I guess I have to include since I’m a fitness blogger! My ultimate favourite find was Ginger, a small restaurant on a back street near to the Spanish Steps. It was crammed full of locals which is always a good sign. Serving up delicious fresh fruit platters, huge salads crammed full of goodness and amazing juices and smoothies (among with a whole host of other delights); this is the place to go if you need a nutritous meal. I loved it so much that I went back twice.

I also managed to find a vegetarian restaurant called il Margutta just off Piazza de Popolo which boasts an impressive buffet selection including every salad under the sun! They also make a mean smoothie (my favourite was the cacao, banana, date ands coffee concoction) and serve matcha lattes for when you’re feeling obnoxiously healthy.

On the slightly less healthy end of the scale, we found a gourmet popcorn shop called Fol, again near to Piazza de Popolo. They offer a selection of fresh popcorn in a wide array of flavours from strawberries and cream through to dark chocolate orange. Admittedly, they’re smothered in sugar but they taste pretty damn amazing! Head in and try and sample, I bet you’ll leave with a bag full of goodies!

Drinks

When you’re spending all day on your feet wandering the streets of Rome, you need regular caffeine boosts! My personal favourite coffee spot was Caffe Ripetta on a back street near Palazzo Borghese. They have an extensive menu and I adored the “espresso with nut syrup” which basically tasted like creamy amaretto-y coffee. Lush. Another great spot for a daytime drink is Salotto 42 in Piazza de Peitra. It is a small bar with outdoor seating which overlooks il Temple di Adriano, a spectacular sight. They serve fresh coffee and delicious smoothies and the atmosphere is buzzing.

For an indulgent evening drink, head to the Stravinskij bar inside Hotel de Russie. They have a beautiful candlelit outdoor seating area (which also has a resident cat… a personal highlight for a crazy cat lady like me!). The surroundings are gorgeous and I recommend using it as an excuse to dress up. I warn you though, their cocktails are lavish and luxurious …and come with a price tag to match!

Traditional Italian

By Day:

For the best pizza in town, head to PizzaRé or Gusto. I recommend trying a topping which features courgette flowers which are surprisingly tasty. If you’re looking for an epic meat and cheese board, head to the specialist team at I Pizzicaroli who certainly know their salami from their proscuitto. Plus they have a cute little alcove outside their restaurant where you can sit away from the hustle and bustle of the city. For fresh traditional Italian food head to Babette. They have an amazing buffet and their homemade bread is the best I tried. Request to sit outside as they have a hidden terrace out the back, but it gets full quickly so book to guarantee a seat.

By Night:

Ahhh dinner, the best meal of the day! In Italy they don’t just have starters, mains and desserts; they have antipasti, first courses (usually pasta), second courses (usually meat) and then desserts. It can be a bit much to handle so Ant and I shared antipasti and first courses and then had our own meats before heading out into town for gelato each night.

If you’re near the Pantheon, I recommend heading to De Armando el Pantheon and trying their mozzarella and anchovy brucetta which is heavenly. Nearby there is also Roscioli which was my favourite restaurant of the whole trip! Their pasta carbonara is insanely good and you have to try the mozzarella hamburger which is basically layers of meat and cheese layered up! They also have a deli which I recommend purchasing high quality olive oil and balsamic from. Finally, if you’re around Castle Sant’Angelo then head to L’arcangelo which is a cosy family-run restaurant serving up incredible traditional Italian food. Their gnocchi is to die for and the steamed pigeon is surprisingly delicious. All three of these restaurants require advanced bookings since they’re so popular so be sure to call ahead.

Gelato

Finally, let’s talk about ice cream! I had it once or twice a day while I was in Rome and made it my mission to try as many different gelato outlets as I could. I’m not gonna lie, it is hard for ice cream to be disappointing. Who couldn’t love a scoop of sugar and cream?! I did have my favourites though.

All my top picks were near the Pantheon. I recommend trying the Snickers flavour from Ciuccula, the White Chocolate from Venchi, the hazelnut from Cambiovita and the Nutella from Giolitti (which literally tastes like pure nutella out the jar!). Of course I recommend supporting local gelato shops before chains, but I simply have to mention the Lindt shop, again near the Pantheon. Their Lindor flavour ice cream is the best thing since sliced bread! It is important to note that in the gelato shops you pay first and then take your receipt to the counter where they serve up the ice cream.

Happy Eating!

If you’re heading to Rome, have an absolutely amazing time and be sure to indulge in the local treats guilt-free. An important part of a healthy lifestyle is having a balance and allowing yourself to enjoy not-so-healthy meals on occasion. Life is for living and food is to be enjoyed, so have that third scoop of gelato and sod the diet!

If you have any recommendations for Rome then leave them in the comments below,

Lots of love,

Zanna xx

April 18, 2016

Posted In: Travel

Leave a Comment