Rome in 2 days? Sounds like a rush … however, the news is it can be done. And you needn’t spend all day “gladiating” tourist hordes in the Colliseum.
Neighbourhoods with fewer tourists:
- Trastavere “west of the river” (Google Maps)
- Around Via Serpenti (south from Via Nazionale) and Via Baccina (east of the Forum). My favourite cafe, La Bottega del Caffe, is at the intersection (Google Maps)
- La Bottega del Caffe, Piazza Madonna (where Via Baccina and Via Serpenti meet, the nytimes appear to like it too)
- Cafe Baretto on Via del Boschetto (parallel to Via Serpenti)
- Cul de Sac near the Pantheon
- Cafes at Piazza Santa Maria in Trastavere
Hikes and hills
- The seven hills are very central, easy to saunter between, and hence fairly busy (just print out a map before you go since maps are rare on the ground, and incredibly they are not all marked on tourist maps).
- Also, we found 2 really pleasurable hikes up above the urbanity. Firstly, the ridge to the west of the central city – Monte Giancolo from Trastavere to the Vatican (the last bit is in an incredibly surreal subway, access via the underground car park. Secondly, the ridge to the east, just head north from the top of the Spanish Steps (the further you go, the quieter it gets).
View from Giancolo hill
Place to stay
- The Beehive, an absolute oasis close to Rome Terminus station.
The touristy but absolute must do’s (take a deep breath, and alternate with a hike)
- The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (simply stunning). Make sure you get the view of the Circus Maximus (which is otherwise not worth going closer to since its a scrubby dog park). Buy a combo ticket for Forum + Colloseum.
- The Colloseum (combo ticket with the Forum, but buy from the Forum for a shorter line).
- Views from the Capitoline Hill
- The Pantheon
- The Vatican complete with bizarreness effigies of women in childbirth around the main altar (you’ve got to give it to the catholics, they really do bizarre well)
- For even more bizarre, go the crypt of Santa Maria della Concezione (I won’t say any more except that I absolutely guarantee you won’t be disappointed)
The quietest photo ever taken of the Vatican from St. Peters Square (seriously)
The travelators in the bowels of the Vatican (where the nuns go on the run?)
The quietest photo ever taken on the Spanish Steps (seriously)
Guide book and maps
- One thing to watch is the poor quality of maps and signage through Rome. I really recommend Lonely Planet’s Best of Rome (please buy from your local bookstore, not from Gigantazon). It actually manages to meet the claim on its front cover “the ultimate pocket guide and map” – it truly is portable unlike some of its thicker cousins, and has the best map I saw.