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Having flown to Rome strictly on a pasta craving, booking my ticket on a Thursday and arriving two days later on Saturday, I can confirm that it is a good idea to fly to Rome for pasta. BUT, the city is so much more than just pasta. It’s culture, history, art, gelato, the list goes on. If you’re planning a trip to Rome of course, you have to eat the pasta, but there are so many other things to do too! Here’s my complete guide to Rome complete with the best places to go for pasta, art, history, and more.
A Complete Guide to Rome
For a more visual look at Rome, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlights reel by searching “#ppinitaly” and “Italy” highlights
Getting Around Rome
To state the obvious: Rome is history. With historic buildings and sights scattered throughout the city, arguably the best way to get around is on foot. It’s so impressive that you can turn a corner and be right in the middle of ancient columns and structures; it’s truly something that you have to see for yourself to understand how incredible it is. Just make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes!
But, if the weather isn’t great or you aren’t up for walking around Rome there are definitely other ways to get around! While I didn’t take to public transport, I found that the easiest way to get around was on scooter – you can rent them all over Rome and easily zip to where you want to go; or by using Uber or a taxi. To compare prices, I recommend downloading both Uber and itTaxi for the best deal.
If you’re arriving to Rome from the airport, FCO, the cheapest way to get to the city is by train. You’ll want to purchase your ticket in the airport (or at the station) and head outside across from terminal 3 where you can catch your train. Prices vary based on where you’re going but from FCO to the Trastevere neighborhood, the cost is about €8 and takes about 30-minutes to an hour depending where in the city you’re going. If you’d rather save the hassle and take a taxi, expect the price to be around €50 and take 30-minutes to one hour depending on traffic.
Where to Stay in Rome
Depending on what kind of experience you’re looking to have, there are a couple of areas I’d highly recommend in Rome. If you want to be right in the center of the action and near the tourist sites, I suggest staying near the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, or the Colosseum. Of course, these areas will likely be a bit more expensive and touristy, so keep that in mind.
If you’re looking to stay in a more local, trendy neighborhood, still near the tourist sites; I’d suggest Trastevere. Trastevere is a bit west of the main attractions in Rome, but has some incredible bars and restaurants. I stayed in this Airbnb and would recommend it for solo travelers or two people (it was quite small and not suitable if you have a lot of belongings with you). It’s perfect if you’re looking for something a bit quieter, but still a short walk (10-30 minutes) to the best restaurants and sites in Rome.
For a more luxurious stay, I’d suggest a hotel near the Spanish Steps as this is where some of the most beautiful streets in Rome can be found along with major fashion houses like Chanel, Dior, etc.
The Best Restaurants in Rome
You truly can’t go wrong in Rome, with the most incredible restaurants scattered throughout the city. Below you’ll find my favorite Italian restaurants for pasta, pizza, and even the Roman specialty – artichokes.
ARMANDO AL PANTHEON
For being so close to a major tourist attractions, I was incredibly impressed with the food at Armando al Pantheon. Serving traditional Roman food, and having been open since 1961, this restaurant is truly a Roman staple. I suggest making lunch reservations so that you can sit outside and see the Pantheon; however, I went for dinner and sat inside and would still recommend it.
Located in the Testaccio Market, you CANNOT miss this incredible pizza place. While I was sitting at CasaManco, eating too many slices of pizza to count, a local came up to me (I made sure to ask if he was from Rome) and told me, “This is just the best pizza in Rome. You can’t find anything better”. And I fully take his word for it.
I am under the impression that the pizza changes daily – even hourly depending on the demand – but if you can get your hands on the “erotica”, I highly recommend it.
By far the best gelato I’ve had in my life, Giolitti is rumored to be the oldest ice cream parlor in Rome. Opened in 1890 by the Giolitti family, Giolitti was once the supplier of the Italian royal family.
With shops located throughout Rome, you absolutely can’t miss this thoughtfully created gelato.
OSTERIA DA FORTUNATA
Osteria da Fortunata seems to be known by everyone and their mom, and it’s no secret why. This homemade pasta restaurant is not only tasty, but at times when you walk by, you can even see the workers rolling out pasta in the windows giving it a down to earth and homey feel, like you’re truly walking into an Italian grandmother’s kitchen.
RISTORANTE DA AGUSTEA
I happened to stumble upon this gem in the Trastevere neighborhood after arriving to Rome on an empty stomach and thinking I was “going to die without food – NOW”. Ristorante da Agustea was one of the first places I stumbled upon – so I stopped.
While the restaurant is no frills, the pasta was perfection and with Italians surrounding me, I knew this place had to be the real deal.
Located in the Jewish quarter of Rome, Ristorante Piperno was probably my favorite restaurant in Rome due to the food and ambiance of the restaurant. While I felt like I was in Italy in every restaurant (because I was), this one just felt different. Piperno felt as though I walked into an Italian family’s home with a father welcoming guests and mom and grandma in the kitchen preparing the food. I felt right at home as I devoured the homemade carbonara – a true delight.
ROSCIOLI SALUMERIA CON CUCINA
While still Italian, if you’re looking for something a bit different than pizza and pasta, I would suggest Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina. While yes, you can get amazing pasta here, the menu seems to be a bit bigger and more expansive serving a variety of seafood and meat dishes.
The Best Things to See and Do in Rome
As I mentioned earlier, there is so much history, culture, and art in Rome. You could stay here for weeks and not even make a dent in the amount of things there are to see and do. Below, you’ll find my favorite sites and museums to make time for.
Read more: 10 Things to See and Do in Rome
CAMPO DE’ FIORI
In the heart of Rome, this outdoor market is filled with flowers, trinkets, and traditional foods and drinks that you can purchase to take home with you. It’s quite small and you don’t need a lot of time, but I definitely recommend walking through while you’re in Rome.
COLOSSEUM + PALATINE HILL + ROMAN FORUM
One of the most famous and recognized landmarks in the world, the Colosseum was built way back in 72 AD. The building of this incredible site took eight years to complete and to date, the Colosseum is the biggest amphitheater ever built. As you step inside the Colosseum, try to picture what it was like all that time ago. Shoulder to shoulder crowds with people cheering on their opponents. Blood, sweat, and tears as people and animals fought to their deaths. The sheer adrenaline made its way through the crowds in waves, allowing fights to go on for weeks at a time. At a time when travel wasn’t as easy and convenient as it is now, people traveled from all over the world to be a part of world history. At one point in time, there were even 100 days straight of games played in the Colosseum.
If you’re into history even in the least bit, I would highly recommend taking a tour through the Colosseum, ensuring that you also purchase a ticket for Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. I went with The Roman Guy and highly recommend it.
The Pantheon is a Roman temple and since 609 a Catholic church in the heart of the city. Entrance into this temple is free of charge but does require a booking on the weekends.
The Spada Gallery is a small art gallery, showcasing pieces of art from the 16th and 17th centuries. This museum is small and easy to get through if you’re looking to kill an hour.
This is one of my favorite attractions in Rome just due to the sheer beauty of the area. The 135 steps connect the Piazza di Spagna to the Piazza Trinità lei Monti. It’s a great place to come for sunset before heading off to one of the many bars and restaurants around.
TERRAZZA BELVEDERE AVENTINO
Terrazza Belvedere Aventino is a great place to go for views over Rome. I suggest bringing a book (or a bottle of wine) and relaxing here on a nice day.
The Trevi Fountain is a Roman staple, and many of us Americans might know it from The Lizzie McGuire Movie (guilty). This famous fountain was built in the 18th-century and it’s estimated that €3,000 worth of coins are thrown into the fountain each day. The good news is, is that the fountain is cleaned out and the money collected, going towards subsidizing a grocery store for Rome’s most in need population.
VATICAN CITY (SAINT PETER’S BASILICA + SISTINE CHAPEL)
Both Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are located in Vatican City, a bit west of Rome’s other touristy sites. Vatican City is famous for being home to the Catholic Pope and is a really unique “city” (within a city). Approximately 1,000 residents call Vatican City home and most interestingly, they even have their own currency and banking system, which makes them a fully functioning city-state outside of Rome and Italy.
Again, I’d recommend taking a tour here, one that allows you early entrance into the Sistine Chapel to avoid the crowds. I participated in The Roman Guy tour and would recommend it, but if you’re only looking to purchase one tour, I’d choose them for the Colosseum and do Vatican City alone.
What to Take With You to Rome/What Else to Know About Visiting Rome
Below you’ll find other simple facts about traveling to Italy, plus what I would recommend packing with you!
- Language: Italian (although almost everyone speaks English making it very easy to get around)
- Currency: Euro (€) – everywhere I went took credit/debit card and I did not have to have cash on hand
- Power Adapter: The Italian plugs are different than American, so I would recommend bringing a power adapter with you. I also noticed that some places only took a three-prong adapter, while others took the typical European, two-prong adapter. I would recommend bringing an adapter that can switch between two and three prong (like this one).
- Travel Insurance: When traveling abroad, I like to purchase travel insurance for peace of mind and coverage if anything were to go wrong. I use and recommend World Nomads.
- Luggage: My favorite backpack to travel with is the Nordace Siena Smart Backpack. It’s so spacious and I never leave home without it.
Rome is truly an incredible city and I hope that if you have the chance to visit, you enjoy. If you have any questions or recommendations for visiting Rome, please let me know in the comments below!
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