My sister and her boyfriend were visiting me in Amsterdam and we decided to go on weekend trip to Rome in March. This Rome vacation itinerary is filled with 2 full days of experiencing the most popular Roman sights of this ancient Italian city. Trying to squeeze everything Rome has to offer in a weekend trip is pretty tiring, so be prepared. A few things about Rome, it is large, with many sights and many hills; bring a good pair of walking shoes.
Day 1 of Our Weekend Trip to Rome
On the first day of our weekend trip to Rome: we eat lunch at the famous Piazza Navona, visit the Vatican, aww at the Pantheon, cool down at the Trevi Fountain, rest at the Spanish Steps, explore the Park, walk past the Roman forum, and see the Colosseum at night.
Waking up at the crack of dawn, we take the first flight out of Amsterdam to Rome, on a Vueling flight; round trip tickets were under $100. We arrive to Rome around 10am, and take a 40 min taxi ride to our bed and breakfast, Navona Luxury Guesthouse; centrally located in the city and sights. The weather is beautiful, reaching mid 70s in mid march; a nice change from the cold, damp weather of Amsterdam.
We check in, drop our bags and head out in search of lunch. We are lucky as we are staying near one of Rome’s most famous piazzas (or square), Piazza Navona. A short 5 minute walk, Piazza Navona is a Bourge style square, lined with restaurants, artists scattered about, showcasing 3 fountains and an Egyptian obelisk, with the main attraction being Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi.
After our satisfying lunch, we head towards the Vatican. The Vatican is close, but it is still a solid 20 minute walk, as you have to cross the river and walk down the Via della Concilazione to get there. Walking down the Via della Concilazione, we noticed more than the usual amount of tourists and we couldn’t figure out why. We also noticed a bunch of people walking with palm branches. When we finally got up to the Vatican we were in awe at the sheer size of the basilica. Asking one of the million tour guides what was going on with the branches and people, he informed us that Sunday was Palm Sunday and the Pope would be giving a special service. It all makes sense now. We walk around the Vatican for a while, before heading out to the Pantheon.
About a 30 minute walk from the Vatican, the Pantheon is famous as being the best preserved building of ancient Rome; built in 118 AD this temple is dedicated to all the Roman pagan gods. There is a small square in front of the Pantheon filled with restaurants and shops stemming off it. Both the Pantheon and the square are always crazy packed, so if you find yourself a seat consider yourself lucky. These restaurants are also pretty pricey. After our pricey Aperol spritzes we were off to the famous Trevi Fountain; about ten minutes away.
The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is one of those sights that you need to see during the day and night. The whole ambience changes depending on the time of day, and so does the size of the crowd. With time not on our side, we only saw it during the day; along with a million other people. Squeezing our way up front we snapped a few photos before getting the effe out of that mess.
We walk another 10 minutes, up and downhill, to get to the Spanish Steps. Hot, and crowded af, we do as the Romans do: sit on the steps debating our next moves. We could get gelato from one of the best gelato spots in Rome, but we figured the line would be ridiculous or we could catch some shade and head to the Park.
Villa Borghese Park
Heading up the spanish steps, and up Viale della Trinità dei Monti, we are on our way to the park that surrounds Villa Borghese; another 15 minute walk up hill. The park is large, with bikes to rent, small snack bars, and places to just relax. We grab a few beers and walk around the park for a while and head over to Terrazza del Pincio; on the west end of the park. From the Terrazza del Pincio you get a great view of Rome, and of Piazza del Popolo; a square home to Rome’s oldest obelisk and home to the city’s northern gate.
As dusk is approaching, we head back to our Bed and Breakfast to freshen up and grab some jackets as the temperature is dropping. Next stop on our list is the Colosseum. The Colosseum is another one of those sights that you need to see during both the day and night. To get to the Colosseum, we walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali, passing the ruins of the Roman Forum. The street is alive with tourists, artist, and musicians playing traditional Roman music with instruments that looked like they were taken straight out of the renaissance. It is magical.
The ruins are perfectly lit with accent lights and the setting sun, as we make our way to Rome’s most famous structure, the colosseum. It is magnificent; no matter how many times I see it. At night the colosseum just seems to pop out at you like a wonderful lit up surprise. Maybe I am bias, as it is the exact location were my now husband first told me he loved me. Fun fact: did you know the Romans use to fill the Colosseum with water, and stage naval battles that they have won. We owed and awed at the ancient wonder as we worked up an appetite.
We explore the streets around the colosseum as we look for a place to eat. There are a lot of unauthentic Italian restaurants that charge an arm and a leg for ehh meals. We wanted authentic Roman food, cooked by true Romans. Our hungry eyes finally find a quaint little place off the beaten path. The food was good but the service was AMAZING. Stomachs full, and Matt and Daryl pretty drunk we decide to head back to get some sleep or so I thought…
Lesson learned, Daryl snores sooooooo loud when he goes to bed drunk. Laying in bed for 2 hours, wide awake from the snoring, I tried to hit him with pillows so he would turn. Attempts fail and I am exhausted, I even look for other places nearby to get a room just for a bit of sleep. Big fail, I suffer through until everyone wakes up the next morning to start the day.
Day 2 of Our Weekend Trip to Rome
The second day of our March weekend trip to Rome is filled with more walking. Since finding out the Pope was giving a Palm Sunday service, our first stop is the Vatican. I also want to make sure Katie and Daryl experience the ancient Roman ruins like Matt and I, so we got them set up with a tour of the Colosseum. The rest of our last day in Rome is spent on eating, enjoying a traditional apéritif and Roman food.
Palm Sunday with The Pope
We begin our Sunday with a quaint breakfast and lattes at our boutique hotel. We lace up our sneaks and head out towards the Vatican. Why the vatican again? Well because the Pope was going to give his Palm Sunday service, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Upon reaching the vatican or St. Paul’s square, everyone and their mother is here. We meander our way through some crowds so we can have some sort of view. Matt is on the verge of a break down, well because he hates crowds. We wait about an hour maybe longer before the Pope finally makes his procession through to his seat at the front of St. Pauls cathedral. Palm leaves are waiving everywhere. We watch the pope give his initial blessing before we save matt from a complete meltdown and make our exit.
It is extra hot this day, sunny and reaching nearly 75 degrees in mid March. We walk back to towards the Colosseum, because we want to make sure Katie and Daryl can truly experience the Colosseum and go inside; it was their first time in Rome. While they went on a Roman Colosseum tour, matt and I walked over to a nearby cafe, off the beaten path and grabbed some drinks and a light appetizer. Katie and Daryl walk around the ancient ruins for about an hour before meeting us, and they are hungry af. So we walk around the back streets, and we find the cutest little spot with outdoor seating. The food hit the spot, and so did the cold refreshing drinks.
We regain our energy and we start walking again. We walk around the back side of the Colosseum and through the Arch of Constantine, which is a triumphal arch similar to the other large european cities, except this one was built in 315 AD by the ancient Romans. From here, we walk down Via di San Gregorio which leads to our next stop, Circus Maximus or in Italian Circo Massimo. The Circus Maximus is huge. We walk the length of what is now ruins of an arena that could easily seat 250,000 people.
It seems like we have been walking forever, so we decide maybe we should start making our way back to rest up a bit. We walk, and walk some more, past numerous excavation sites, as archaeologists are still uncovering more ruins of ancient Rome. We stop to have some famous Italian gelato. YUM. Sunshine or snow Italian gelato is always a must, especially in Italy.
Traditional Italian Apéritif
Before we know it we are starting to get hungry, but it is still to early as are dinner reservations aren’t for a few more hours. No problem, we will enjoy apéritif, which is the Italian way of snacking and drinking before dinner. We walk over towards the Pantheon, to the Grand Hotel de La Minerve; a luxury hotel with a rooftop bar and restaurant. My friend recommended this place to go for apéritif, and amazing views of the city during sunset. The drinks are super expensive but they give you endless free snacks to go with your cocktails. The view is indeed amazing, the Pantheon right below with views of Roman rooftops and the famous Altar of the Fatherland monument.
Last Supper in Rome
We milk our few drinks as long as possible before making our way to dinner. I mean we had to get the most of our money. After our very expensive cocktails with amazing views we were off in search of this tiny delicious trattoria, Virginiae. Virginiae is about a 10 minute walk from the Pantheon. The food is amazing, serving up traditional Roman style cuisine. Better than the food is the outstanding and accommodating service. Virginiae is by far one of the best restaurants I have had the pleasure dining at in Italy.
We finish dinner and head out for one last enjoyable evening stroll in Rome. Not long after we head back to our hotel as we have a Veuling flight back to Amsterdam the next morning.
With great weather and a solid vacation itinerary, our weekend trip to Rome was perfect.With so many places to see and things to do, start planning your next holiday in Italy today!