Day 1 - First things first
The best thing about Rome (or Roma once you are there) is that if you have a window in your room that looks out on to the street you could spend the whole morning gazing at the buildings while watching Romans fly about the place. If you don’t, step outside your accommodation, familiarise yourself with your area and prepare yourself for the first of many deep breaths.
It is hard, and nearly unfair to pinpoint one particular building or landmark in Rome as the best of an extremely impressive bunch. There are definitely some which stick out more than others, the Pantheon being one of them. First built in 27BC by Marcus Agrippa, and later rebuilt in 120AD by Emperor Hadrian, this is one of the best preserved buildings in Ancient Rome and its extraordinary dome is considered the most important achievement of ancient Roman architecture. With a hole in the roof which creates a spectacular ray of light (once clouds aren’t interfering with the sun’s rays) you will enjoy a 'moment' or two while you are there.
Italians like their wine so, as the saying goes “When in Rome…”, enjoy the evening with a glass or two. One of the best locations in the city to do so, which also isn't far from the Pantheon, is Campo de Fiori. This is a nice area to start a few days socialising in Rome as it is where many of the locals meet up week in week out and has a relaxed atmosphere.
Day 2 - Stroll down the Appian Way
One of Rome’s most spectacular cathedrals is Basilica di San Giovanni. Dating back to the 12th Century, the cathedral has been destroyed and reconstructed a number of times, but nothing has managed to knock it down for good. It overlooks Piazza di Porta San Giovanni and both are some of the nicest places to start a day’s sightseeing.
After visiting the Basilica, make your way to the Appian Way. This ancient, long road is where you will find endless monuments, including the Circus of Maxentius, and the Tombs of Cecilia Metella. If you are sauntering fairly briskly you may find you will have walked it quicker than expected. It is a great place to people watch so take some out to sip a coffee at one of the cafés along the way.
The tombs are a slight bit out of the city, but after making your way back in, visit one of the most vivacious part of Rome, once darkness falls. This is the Testaccio district. Here you will find the largest selection of nightclubs in the city. These range from alternative venues to some of the trendiest. Also around Testaccio are loads of bar, some with live music.
Day 3 - Ensure your return
At this stage you will probably have heard the Trevi Fountain, and the legend that goes with it. They say that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain that you will definitely return to the Italian capital. Needless to say, this is done by most who visit Rome as most want to return some day.
Not far from the Trevi Fountain is the Roman Forum (Ancient Rome). While this is was the religious, political and commercial hub of the city in the past, you have to use your imagination to understand what it would have been like to live way back then. Today all that is left now is a lot of marble and columns. Also on the site is Palatine Hill and, the city’s most instantly recognisable landmark, the Colosseum.
If you feel full of beans, and want to get to one of Rome’s best vantage points, head straight for Piazza di Spagna. If you are walking, you will have to walk by the Trevi Fountain one more time, so throw a coin just to ensure your return. The main attraction with the Piazza are the Spanish Steps. At the top is the Church of the Trinta dei Monti, which was built way back in 1495. There is also a very impressive vista over the city. Once you have reached the top, take some time out to get your breath back, sit on the steps and watch the touts and tourists mix.
Many of Rome’s top attractions are more appealing to the eye at night. The best way to see them all is with a tour. Don’t worry, they do finish up in some of Rome’s bars (they visit 4 in fact!) where you can reminisce over your time in one of the world’s most famous cities. The Trevi Fountain (yes, it’s that fountain again!) is particularly impressive.
Day 4 - The Vatican City
Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jewish – no matter what religion you are you will still find the Vatican City thoroughly enjoyable. Walking around this part of Rome is fascinating and it is hard to believe that the Pope still says a Sunday service to thousands of people here week in week out.
There is loads to do around the (Vatican) city, which is west of Rome’s city centre. Upon arrival, just to grasp a feeling of the place, go for a stroll around Piazza San Pietro. This is where the Pope says his service to thousands of onlookers every Sunday and it is always full with tourists waiting to enter Basilica di San Pietro. That is said to be the burial place of the saint of the same name.
If art is your thing, and you want to see some of the best displays in Rome, the halls of the Vatican Museums house the most important collections in the city. As well as a huge collection of paintings from some of the Italian masters, Greek and Egyptian art are well displayed also.
Keep in mind that the Vatican City is huge. If you wanted to see it all you would need a whole day. There isn’t a huge collection of cafés to have something to eat in, but you will find somewhere to grab a snack and a cup of coffee during the day. If spending the entire day in the city doesn’t sound too appealing, then just across the road from the city is Castel Sant’Angelo. This huge building still dominates much of Rome’s skyline and, as it is so close to the Vatican, you should try and visit it before leaving.
Just across the Tiber River from the Castel is Piazza Navona. You are always guaranteed to find street performers and live music in the cafés and bars here. If you are having something to eat you will also find restaurants. This square isn’t as lively as some of the others, but instead pleasantly relaxing.
Day 5 - Strolling...
Embark on your fifth day in ‘Roma’ at Piazza del Popolo. Laid out in 1538 by Pope Paul III as a meeting of roads, today it is a popular hangout with cafés on either side and an impressive monument in the shape of Porta del Poppolo. What is extremely impressive from the square is the uninterrupted view down Via del Corso. Upon witnessing this sight, you will have to walk down the street, taking in some of the sights along the way such as San Lorenzo in Luciana, one of the oldest churches in the world, and also Palazzo di Montecitorio, home to the Italian Parliament since 1871.
At any stage walking down the Via del Corso, you can take a right and find yourself on the Tiber River. Strolling up the river gives you a great feel of what it would have been like to live in the Italian capital back in ancient times. All along the river are great views and it is also a nice way to get somewhat off the beaten track, particularly after walking along Via del Corso which can get quite busy. There are loads of opportunities to stop and take a moment all along the river, whether it is for a bite to eat or to enjoy the scenery – something which there is a lot of. You could easily spend an afternoon strolling up the river.
If there is one bar in Rome which really stands out because of its atmosphere, it would have to be the Trinity College Bar which is on Via de Collegio. ‘The Trinity’ (as it is better known) is usually full seven nights a week, with a mix of both locals and those travelling. It is an Irish bar, which always guarantee a good night. And during the summer months, when it gets too hot (which Rome can) you can spread out onto the street outside as it is in a pretty quiet street.