Exiting Roma Termini, you'll begin to understand the magnitude of Rome's stature as a tourism giant. Attracting nearly 10 million people each year, travelers armed with Nikons and Nikes, seeking the history, architecture, food, shopping, atmosphere and climate they've been promised, buzz like bees around Rome's most popular sights, and eternal wonders like the Coliseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and St. Peter's Square will provide the framework for your visit, but there's much more to Rome than popular tourist attractions. Beneath the cloak of gawking visitors and street peddlers is a mysterious melting pot of the ancient and new, waiting to be uncovered. An endless labyrinth of curvaceous structures and open piazzas, you never know what will appear around any given corner. It could be a hidden cafe or a drinking fountain, a beautiful garden or an ancient ruin, the Pantheon or Zara, you just never know. Whatever you do, wherever you stay, no matter how long, save time to wander. Don't spend every last second with a map in front of your nose dictating your every footstep. In this expansive and mystifying place, finding your own favorite nooks will help you understand why the Eternal City is such a special place, and send you home with a story no one else could tell.
You're in Rome for the sights, and you'll find them here. It's easiest and most efficient to tackle Piazza Navona, The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps in one fell swoop, not only for their proximity to one another, but also for the easily navigable path leading from one sight to the next. Pristinely kept and spectacularly beautiful, this walk will be one of the longest lasting memories of your time in Italy.
Walk | The Heart of Rome
Corso de Rinascimento
Tucked on a quiet corner along Via de Pellegrino, fresh pastries are delivered to the counter each morning from a local bakery so you can enjoy a light breakfast and espresso at the bar before setting out on your daily adventures.
Café | Caffé ai Banchi Vecchi
Via dei Banchi Vecchi 6
Buy your ticket to the sculptures, galleries and chapels of the Vatican Museum online to bypass the crowd and expedite your journey toward the Sistine Chapel. Once you've admired the works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael, among countless others, exit the museum through the secret staircase and grab a ticket to the Chapel of St. Peters Church (elevator recommended), for the highest and most sweeping views of Rome you'll find. Peruse the church's ornate paintings and soaring domes before heading outside for a stroll through St. Peter's Square, one of the most iconic public spaces in the world.
Museum | The Vatican
A rule for foodies to live by in Italy: the fewer signs, posters and menus thrown at you on the outside of a restaurant, the better and more authentic the food on the inside. Greet the gregarious French waiter at the door and order the carbonara at this cozy trattoria with outdoor seating just outside Campo de Fiori.
Restaurant | Elle Effe
Piazza Pollarola, 32
Head to the underutilized Palantine Hill entrance, which hardly ever has a line, and buy an all-in-one pass to the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. Start up Palantine Hill's cypress-lined paths and end in the remains of Ancient Rome, where pillars of the world's first Republic have stood since the 7th century BC.
Ruins | Roman Forum
Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6
The one sight you don't want to miss in Rome, your pass allows you to jump to the front of the never-ending ticket line at the gate, and you'll be gazing upon the vast sarcophagus of gladiator battles past within minutes.
Venue | The Coliseum
Piazza del Colosseo, 1
Located at 58A Via del Pellegrino, our small but comfortable studio was on the same street as Campo de' Fiori, and less than a 5 minute walk from Piazza Navona, both among Rome's busiest squares. About twenty steps from Campo de Fiori, the hustle and bustle transforms into quaint, shady cobblestone streets, lined by small shops and apartments, with only a few straggling tourists in sight. As locals bike past and families trail into the local grocery market, the less ballyhooed side of Rome, the one that's rarely mentioned in travel guides but makes you feel more in tune with the local culture than any gelato or statue, begins to surface. Hotels may be more luxurious, but if authenticity, not to mention cost-consciousness, is what you're after, the character of a Roman home isn't easily replicated.
Stay | Airbnb
58A Via del Pellegrino
Home to Rome's quintessential outdoor market, stop by in the morning for an eclectic display of fresh produce, packaged goods, and textiles. Lively, though touristy, its the place to go to watch a football match, or enjoy a quick bite and drink in an energetic atmosphere.
Market | Campo de' Fiori
Piazza Campo de' Fiori
Settimio is one of those clandestine Italian restaurants you think only exists in the movies. The front door is locked and the shades are drawn, and with an unassuming facade, you might think you're at the wrong place. But ring the doorbell and upon swinging open the door the owner will give you a once-over, determining if you're fit to eat in his kitchen. Inside the small, no-nonsense dining room, the decor and food are equally simple, reflections of their staid, stoic approach. With relatively cheap prices and small plates, you'll want to order several dishes to share, just don't be alarmed if you see Don Corleone in the corner enjoying some spaghetti and vino on the house.
Restaurant | Trattoria Settimio
Via del Pellegrino, 117
Rome may not have the fashion clout of its iconoclastic cousin Milan, but walking the stony streets its easy to pick out the locals from the passerbys, and housing fashion giants like Fendi and Valentino, Rome is no amateur. With the tailored, effortlessly well-rounded "sprezzatura" that seems second nature to those from Lo Stivale, Romans offer a lesson in the importance of fit and quality. You'll want to shop where the locals do, whether it's vintage military garb at the flea market or splurging on a pair of handmade leather shoes, and with so many options, there's treasure to be found for everyone.
Shop | Via del Corso
Speakeasy | The Jerry Thomas Project | Vicolo Cellini, 30 | www.thejerrythomasproject.it
Restaurant | Verso Sera | Piazza del Biscione, 84
Wine bar | Cul de Sac | Piazza di Pasquino, 73
Vintage Shopping | Via del Boschetto | Piazza della Marina, 32
Pizza | V.I.P. Pizza | Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 165
Hotel | Hotel Raphaël | Largo Febo, 2 | www.raphaelhotel.com
Flea Market | Mercatino del Borghetto Flaminio
Rooftop bar | First Luxury Art Hotel Roof Bar | Via del Vantaggio, 14 | www.thefirsthotel.com
Hotel | Gran Melia Rome | Via del Gianicolo, 3 | www.melia.com
Bar | Stravinskij Bar | Via del Babuino, 9 | www.roccofortehotels.com
Hotel | Hotel de Russie | Via del Babuino, 9 | www.roccofortehotels.com
Restaurant | Hostaria da Nerone | Via delle Terme di Tito, 96