This summer, I found myself in Rome for a mere 24 hours on my way to Sardinia. It was my first time in the Italian capital, and I was determined to make the most of it. I tapped endless resources, from friends to forums and even experts (more on that next month), emerging with what I think is a pretty solid list of things that you simply can’t miss in the Eternal City. Read on for your definitive guide to spending 24 hours in Rome.
Breakfast: Hotel de Russie
Whether you’re checking into this Roman institution for the night or not, there’s one aspect of the hotel that everyone can enjoy – the breathtaking terrace that has made Hotel de Russie a go-to spot for celebrities and jetsetters alike for the past few decades.
If you’re looking for a place to stay or relax, this is about as good as it gets. The hotel boasts an expansive Rocco Forte spa, a state-of-the-art gym, an in-house florist, and contemporary rooms. Before you take on the city, order breakfast on the upper terrace that is surrounded by the hotel’s gardens, and enjoy a fantastic selection of cold cuts and cheeses.
Via del Babuino
(+39) 06 328 881
Morning: Scooter Roma
Scooter Roma proved to be, hands down, the best way to see the city on a tight schedule. Saddled on a scooter behind my tour guide for four hours, I visited some of Rome’s most charming nooks and crannies, from the narrow, cobbled streets of the hip Trastavere neighborhood to Appian Way, one of the world’s first-ever highways. On this tour, you’ll get to see the Colosseum from a vantage point (meaning you avoid the swarms of tourists), learn how to drink from a water fountain like a true Roman, and stop for pastries at a hidden gem of a café.
Lunch: Dal Bolognese
Dal Bolognese is a pretty upscale eatery, and you’ll need to book a table in advance. If you can, try to nab a spot on the terrace, which overlooks Piazza del Popolo and is a prime people-watching spot. When a restaurant is named after a dish, it would be foolish not to order it – especially when the dish in question is ‘Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese’. Hey, if it’s good enough for George Clooney, it’s good enough for me.
Piazza del Popolo
(+39) 06 322 2799
Afternoon: Sant'Eustachio Il Caffè
No trip to Italy is complete without a visit to a loud, bustling, shout-or-they-won’t-hear-you coffee bar. I stumbled into this little gem around the Trevi Fountain area. If you find yourself at Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè, make sure to stock up on its signature chocolate-covered coffee beans, which will make for the perfect present for friends and family back home. After you’ve grabbed a coffee, wander around the area, where you’ll find plenty of must-see tourist spots, including the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona.
Piazza di S. Eustachio
(+39) 06 6880 2048
Aperitivo: Bar del Fico
This shabby-chic watering hole has long been a meeting point for the city’s bohemians and free spirits. Make like the Romans and indulge in a little people watching or a game of chess with a side of aperitivo before you head out for dinner.
Via Della Pace
(+39) 06 6889 1373
Dinner: Da Baffetto Pizzeria
Da Baffetto is only open for dinner, and you’ll have to queue to get in – but it’s well worth the wait. This legendary eatery serves Roman-style pizzas, thin and crispy, as well as a number of starters, small plates, and salads. And if you can’t make your way in, the good news is that the owner’s daughter now runs a second branch by the name of Baffetto2 on Piazza del Teatro di Pompeo.
Via del Governo Vecchio
(+39) 06 686 1617