Rome Recommendations

Rome Colosseum

This is by no means a comprehensive guide to everything there is to do in Rome. This is just the places that I have gone and what I recommend to someone else going. For your convenience I’ll put a hyperlink glossary here so you can click and skip to the section of interest.

  1. Getting to Rome
  2. Transportation in Rome
  3. Where to Stay
  4. What to Do
  5. Eats and Drinks

Planning to include the Amalfi Coast on your Italy trip? Check out my recent post The Perfect Amalfi Coast 4 Day Itinerary

Getting to Rome

Flying into Fiumicino Airport, my recommendation is to take the train from the airport. It runs very frequently, and tickets are about 14 euros at the time of this writing.

My suggestion with buying train tickets in Italy is to skip the line at the machine and buy the tickets on Trainline. Please check out my post, Essential Resources for Italy Travel.

If you’re staying in Trastevere, I recommend taking the train to Roma Trastevere Station. If you’re staying more in the city center, you’ll want to take the train to Roma Termini

Transportation in Rome

By Car

Taxis are very common in Italy. To get one, I suggest you download and set up itTaxi (website here) beforehand. You can also use Uber, through which you can request a taxi or Uber Black. The taxi unions have a pretty firm grip on the industry in Italy, so Uber has only recently made it to Italy, and only in a couple places like Rome and Milan. Every driver will be a professional taxi driver, not an average Giuseppe wanting to make extra money on the weekends. 

By Foot and Bike

I’m a big fan of walking and taking rideshare rental bikes (Lime, Ridemovi). If you use a rental bike, I suggest you set up the app before leaving because the issues are easier to sort out in the AirBNB than on the street. Rome is walkable to an extent, but most attractions are a minimum 15-20 minute walk away. Ride at your own risk – if you’re not used to riding bikes in cities, Rome is a bad place to start.

Public Transit

Alternatively you can use public transit (tram, bus, and metro) which works well-enough. I suggest you use the MooneyGo app (previously called MyCicero) for buying tickets digitally, otherwise you have to buy them from a Tabacchi (small store with a “T” outside) or from a magazine stand. Between the metro and buses you can get pretty much anywhere in Rome – just know the buses rarely run on time. 

Check out Essential Resources for Traveling in Italy.

Where I Like to Stay In Rome

For booking accommodations, my go-to services are Hostelworld and Booking.com, and AirBNB (though AirBNB seems to be getting more and more expensive as of late). I usually prefer to stay in Trastevere due to its proximity to restaurants, bars, and being close enough to the historical sites. It’s also especially beautiful at night and always has lots of people out and great restaurant options. 

things to do in Rome - Trastevere at Night
Trastevere at night

If I’m on a tighter budget, I’ll stay in a hostel on the north-east side of town closer to Termini station (my favorite hostels in Rome are listed here).

Things I Have Done, and Think You Should Too

The usual spots are all worth seeing (Colosseum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, Roman Forum) – tickets for these can be found here. If you can afford it and have time, I highly recommend getting a paid tour to attach more meaning to what you’re looking at. My go to places for tours are GetYourGuide and Viator. For entrance tickets, I’m a big fan of one-stop-shops, so for that reason I like Tiqets.

Be aware that they are all extremely touristy and there will be people trying to sell something or scam you in some way; this is especially the case in Vatican City. I recommend getting tickets online ahead of time whenever you can. St. Peter’s Basilica is free to get in, so expect a very long line there. That said, I recently went to St. Peter’s Basilica on a Thursday in November at 7:30am and there was no line to get in. 

Piazza Venezia – people laugh at how much the Victor Emmanuel II Monument looks like a wedding cake, but it’s still stunning and is beautiful at night.  I love riding a bike through here at night, then continuing up Via dei Fori Imperiali to the Colosseum when there’s low traffic and the buildings are lit up. I suggest paying the €15 to take the elevator to the top and get a fabulous view of Rome – bonus if it’s at sunset.

View from Piazza Venezia
Night view from Piazza Venezia

After I leave the Colosseum, I like to go back down Via dei Fori Imperiali but before getting back to Piazza Venezia, take a left on Via di S. Pietro in Carcere, which winds up past the Forum and takes you to Campidoglio (capital hill for Rome).  There you’ll see a statue of Marcus Aurelius – pretty cool especially if you’re into stoic philosophy. Then go down the big staircase, take a left, walk until you see the mini-colosseum (Marcello Theater), daringly cross the street, and walk through part of the Theater.  From there navigate to the oldest Roman bridge (Ponte Fabricio) and continue on until you’re back in Trastevere, just in time for an aperitivo!

I also recommend you get a great panoramic view of the city at Belvedere del Gianicolo, or go for walk or bike ride at Villa Borghese then head down to Piazza del Popolo.

Lesser known attractions

Visit this intersection which was the site of an explosion which killed 25 people during WWII.  The evidence of the explosion can still be seen on the buildings.

Capuchin Crypt – if you’re into skeletons and are interested in learning about the Capuchin Friars.

Largo di Torre Argentina – not only is this the site of the Assassination of Julius Caesar, it’s also now a big sanctuary for ill cats, and if you look down you can often see cat’s just living life. 

If you’ve seen all the tourist spots in Rome and want to try something different, check out Tre Fontane Abbey (Abbazia delle Tre Fontane).

Cat sanctuary in Rome
They’re clearly well-fed

If you’re a craft beer fan and willing to venture out of the city, you should know that Italy is home to one of the world 13 trappist breweries in the world. Tre Fontane Abbey (Abbazia delle Tre Fontane) is about 45 minutes from the center with public transport. Take Metro line B from Roma Termini to Laurentina. After your visit, walk across the street to Parco degli Eucalipti, then finish off at Bobo’s Jungle bar, another hidden gem on the side of the road, for a nice aperitivo.

picture of church (left) and bottle of Tre Fontane beer (right)
Tre Fontane Abbey is truly a hidden gem

Eats and Drinks

Trastevere is, in my opinion, the best neighborhood to get lunch or dinner in Italy just based on the number of options in such a small area. You can call ahead and make reservations, which is always recommended, but also just walk and find a place you like. I highly recommend you go at night, because it’s very lively and has a quaint atmosphere.  

If Trastevere “proper” is too crowded for dinner, a much quieter area on the other side of the river is the neighborhood around Giardino Famiglia di Consiglio which has good options.

The one dish I say you have to try is “cacio e pepe”.  Bonus if you can get it in a parmesan crust bowl.  It’s a Roman staple which you can find just about anywhere, but how well it’s made varies.  I had mine at Trattoria Luzzi which is close to the Colosseum (no parm bowl here, but still great), and also at Rione 13 (linked below).

If you’re looking for a unique experience, a friend just recommended this dinner party at a couple’s home in Trastevere, saying the hosts were amazing and generous, and it was a great way to meet other travelers from the around the world.

Restaurants 

Rione 13 Ristorante – Probably some of the best carbonara and cacio e pepe I’ve had. Also the fried artichoke appetizer is great.

Antica Osteria Rugantino – A great spot for traditional Roman dishes with a friendly staff and quaint atmosphere.

Roma Sparita (reservations recommended) for it’s popular cacio e pepe in a parmesan bowl, as well as other roman classics. This is also where Anthony Bourdain went on the 2010 episode of No Reservations.

Roma Sparita
Roma Sparita tomato bruschetta, fried artichoke and wine, and cacio e pepe

Massimo’s Al 39 Restaurant – I went here with some guys I met at my hostel who hadn’t yet had Roman classics, so I made sure we went somewhere that had the staples. Massimo’s was simple but delivered.

Masto a Testaccio for a stellar meat and cheese plate

Meat and cheese plate
Antipasti at Masto a Testacchio

Trattoria Luzzi in a quiet part away from but close to the Colosseum. The place is popular with locals because it’s good, and tourists because it’s near the Colosseum. It’s very no-frills and inexpensive, but a solid choice. I like the cacio e pepe and carbonara.

I do not recommend you go to Tonnarello – it will have a line around the block and the food isn’t anything spectacular.

Bars, Aperitivi, and Other

Long Island Night Cafè is a great spot for a spritz and snacks. Instead of the usual chips/peanuts, they give an impressive spread of little warm sandwiches. I went here for the first time in November 2022 – definitely on my list now for a great value aperitivo. 

The Hole Trastevere is a great cocktail bar in a cool area, popular with locals.

Dram is a cool bar for live rooftop jazz and cocktails on the river.

Baccanale for craft beer options.

Gelateria La Romana – If you’re near Termini station and want gelato. Some local friends brought me here and, woah. It’s real flavors (you can tell when the banana gelato is banana-colored and not just yellow). If they ask if you want chocolate sauce from the tap put in the cone before they put the gelato on top, don’t be stupid. Say yes.

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That’s All For Now

I sincerely hope you found value in this article.  If you have recommendations of your own or have suggestions on what else you would like to see covered here, please write in the comments below. Additionally, if you’re planning a trip to Italy and need one-on-one support or guidance, check out my services page where you can get in touch with me.

2 thoughts on “Rome Recommendations”

  1. Anthony, with the information you supplied us with we were able to find and book an Airbnb in the city you recommended. Flights and place taken care of, now it’s time to plan our days. Thank you so much for the detailed information! I feel certain will be in touch before our trip.

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