5 Things to do in Rome
Rome was definitely not built in a day!
It is no mystery why this city gets 4.2 million tourists every year. Personally, I recommend going either in April - May or in September - October to avoid the busiest months. And of course, however many days you plan, it will NEVER be enough to see this city. The key is to prioritize and maximize your time.
Here are my tips for when in Rome...
1) Eat : It is an absolute truth that the Italian's live to eat and we live to eat their cuisine too! It is rare that you will have a bad meal in Italy (unless it is a tourist-trap-kind-of-restaurant which has pictures for descriptions.) The most basic pasta dish with cherry tomatoes, olive oil and fresh basil tastes hearty, fresh and sophisticated.
Restaurants I recommend (I will be doing a detail post on each of these separately) :
- La Pergola
- Assunta Madre
- Le Jardin de Russie (brunch)
- Antico Forno Roscioli
- Meccanismo Bistrot (brunch)
- Jerry Thomas Project
2) Shop : Head straight to Via Condotti and Via del Corso for all the shopping your bank can handle.
The "Made in Italy" tag carries with it obvious expectations of style, design and unparralled craftsmanship. It is no surprise then that most of the worlds top luxury brands are Italian! Gucci, Fendi, Valentino, Armani, Bottega Vaneta, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Lori Piana, Missoni, Ferragamo.. The list is exhaustive. I found the prices of these luxury brands slightly lower in Italy and the VAT refund was the sweet cherry on top.
TIP: If you love a bargain, head to the Castel Romano Designer Outlet, an outlet mall outside of Rome (about 45 minutes by taxi).
Don't want to buy a "brand"? You are in luck! In the city that is dripping in style, smaller boutiques have amazing clothes and accessories that you probably won't find outside of Italy. A tiny store on Via di Campo Marzio, for example, makes the best men's linen shirts..
Want to buy art or antiques? Wait for the outdoor flea markets on Sunday in Trastevere or look at the fancier stores close to the Spanish Steps.
3) See : You could spend a month in Rome and find a new fascinating part of the city every day. If you are pressed for time, like most normal people, these are the absolute essentials to check of your list :
- Vatican City / St. Peter's Basilica
- Trevi Fountain
- Castel Sant'Angelo
- Spanish Steps
4) Learn : Making a mean pasta by hand or a four course Italian dinner. Everyone can go to Rome to eat! What if you came back with a new skill and possibly a few new friends?
Head over to Chef Andrea's in Trastevere to learn how to cook authentic Roman food. From the appetizer, fresh pasta and second course, to dessert, this is the best five hours you will spend in Rome.
There are also several pizza making classes in Rome for kids that will keep them entertained.
5) Rest / Pray / Indulge :
The pace of life in this city is indisputably slower than New York and you will find yourself unwinding the minute you land in Fiumicino airport. Long walks around the city are an absolute must (to work off all those carbs), so pack flat / comfortable shoes.
Regardless of your faith, you will probably find yourself having a quick word with God while in the serenity at St. Peter's Basilica. I was truly blown away by the diversity of people bowing their heads in prayer.
Indulge in a gelato everyday and remind yourself "YOLO".
And if you are tired of walk and eating and are feeling the sensory overload, head to Acqua Madre hammam. A massage and steam here won't break the bank and you will leave feeling rejuvenated.