These tips and advice on the top sites in Rome are brought to you by Colin, a former resident and forever friend of mine, who helped me out when planning my recent 4 days in Rome (my very first time in Europe!) by providing these 5 top things to do in Rome.
(I’ve added my bits underneath Colin’s, in italics)
# 5 of Top 5 Things to Do in Rome
Cuccagna Pub and the cheapest bar in Rome sit adjacent to this well-known piazza.
In addition the beautiful fountain here (and the super cheap pub), Piazza Navona is a gathering spot for artisans, buskers, and strollers. It’s a great place to take some photos, and rest your feet while people-watching.
#4 of Top 5 Things to Do in Rome
Campo di Fiori
Famous open-air market; A bit touristy, a bit awesome.
The goods here might be a bit overpriced, but the salesmen are knowledgeable. I was steered away from black-colored pasta as it is not vegetarian (contains squid). Make sure to go in the mornings and any day but Sundays – otherwise you’ll be disappointed by an empty square!
#3 of Top 5 Things to Do in Rome
Timeless, priceless, stunning, even if you don’t care about the religion.
I was raised Catholic (but am not practicing and was never confirmed), and toured Vatican City with my Jewish fiance. While neither of us are Catholic believers, we both found the Vatican City museums to be fascinating! The tour provider advised that we would only need 2 hours (including the walk there and back), but we found this to be not enough time. I’d recommend budgeting at least 3 hours, to take in all the artwork and don’t forget the Sistine Chapel (very long lines!)
#2 of Top 5 Things to Do in Rome
Check out the Pantheon then go to the deli in the piazza (the sign reads “Salumeria”). The deli is to the right if you’re looking straight at the Pantheon. (Even if you’re not wild about meat, you’ll love the cheese.) I prefer getting a beer too and chowing down while watching tourists. Afterwards, find Giolitti’s, about a 5 minute walk from there, to get gelato. Be sure to get cream on top!
The Pantheon was free to visit on the day I toured (last Sunday of the month) and amazing. It’s still the largest concrete dome in the world. The little holes in the floor are where the water from the hole in the dome drains out when it rains.
#1 of Top 5 Things to Do in Rome
Peroni in Trastevere, before the party starts
Trastevere and the Gianicolo Hill
Buy a bottle of red wine, two glasses, and walk to the top of the Gianicolo Hill for sunset. It’s a fantastic view of the city and relatively uncrowded. After you’ve gotten all sentimental doing that, get wild in Trastevere – there’s a ton of bars and clubs and twentysomethings.
The sunset at the top of Gianicolo and the nearby fountain are absolutely stunning and now my new favorite place in Rome (especially since I got engaged there!). It was practically deserted when I visited and the perfect place for a bottle of wine as Colin suggests. Don’t forget to bring your wine opener (or don’t lose yours like I did!)
Colin advises spending any extra days on day trips – in particular, Florence, as it is easily reached by train, is less spread out than Rome, and has better museums.
Colin’s tip for Italian first timers: When ordering food, begin “Mi Piacerebbe…” it means “I would like…“
Advice provided by one of my dear hometown friends, Colin, who studied in Rome. Colin is an owner of The Commons Ale House, Santa Monica, California. He is renowned for expertise in beer, short but catchy phrases, Italian food, and politics oppositional to my own.
Colin is widely recognized as the ultimate purveyor of Top 5 lists.
Have you ever been to Rome? Would you recommend any other top Rome activities?