What to do in Rome in a day.
The insiders guide
Rome is an exception to the other European capital cities, it is really a unique and magic city. When arriving in Rome you realise that it is a city with a widespread dimension, made up of incredibile legacies attached to its glorius past, but also of shops, alleyways, histroic trattories....a city where the streets are still lived, as are the neighbourhoods (the famous Rioni of Rome – the subdivided neighbourhoods of the city)
Just one visit isn’t enough of a visit! The things to do and see are in abundance but if you are wanting to understand its true essence, there are places (some well known others less) and experiences that cannot be overlooked:
A walk through the Jewish Ghetto
The Roman Ghetto is one of the oldest and most fascinating in the world. It consists of a few streets in between Tiberina Island and Venezia Square and it encloses little secret jewels and hidden glimpses which are incredible when discovered. Don’t miss out on the Synagogue, Mattei Square with its magnificent turtle fountain and the Ottavia Portico constructed in the A.C. Century and dedicated to the sister of the Emperor Augusto (entry is free) Romans also love visiting The Ghetto for the food: one of the most well known dishes in the Roman kitchen was born here, the artichoke “alla giudia”. (Jewish style – fried whole)
Remember that Saturday is the day of rest for the Jewish people so if you visit on a Saturday or a Sunday you will find all the shops closed! You can always count on the local trattorias with their traditional Roman cuisine, such as "Giggetto al Portico D'Ottavia" (with its outside tables facing the portico) and the famous “Sora Margherita”. If you are in need of something sweet make a stop at “Forno Boccione” (in Via del Portico d’Ottavia 1) and order a slice of sour cherry “crostata” cake, you won’t regret it!
The Vatican Museums and The Sistine Chapel
When visiting Rome you need to be armed with time and patience; a tour of the Vatican Museum is a must with its art collection that is said to be one of the best in the world. An enormous museum with over 70 000 works of art on display it is impossible to see them all in a single day. Of course its up to you, depending on your interests, to decide which sections you would prefer to concentrate on. There are however certainly points of interests that are a must-see: 1) The Sistine Chapel and Michaelangelo’s Last Judgement (on their own, these two make the visit to Rome worthwhile) 2) The Pinacoteca with the masterpieces of Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, il Perugino and Caravaggio, 3) the Raffaello’s Rooms with the frescos painted in the private apartments of Pope Julius II 4) The Gregorian Egyptian Museum which collects monuments and beautiful findings from antique Egypt 5) the suggestive Gallery of Geographic paperwork 6) the spiral stairway which takes you towards the exit of the museum.
Since the Autumn of 2015 the train line connecting the Vatican and the Castel Gandolfo and Albano Laziale (home of the pontifical villas) has been reactivated and it is possible to take this one way and extremely suggestive trip which will allow you to discover the Barberini Gardens and the Apostolico Palace, never before open to the public.
The ques to get into the Vatican Museum are extremely long but can be avoided by booking online: http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do?action=booking ; You will pay €4 more but they are well spent! On the last Sunday of each month the entrance is free , but its probably easier sleeping outside the night before!
The Roman Forum and old Rome
A walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali will allow you to relive the times of Julio Cesare and the Emperor Augusto. Departing from Venice Square (don’t forget to climb up the patriot altar to gain the most spectacular view over the Roman Forum) you will be sure to come across these in the following order: The Trajan’s Column, Augusto’s Forum, The Trajan markets, The Roman Curia, The Massenzio Basilica, The Roman Forum, The Constantine Arch and then to close with the beauty of the Colosseum. If you aren’t yet tired of walking keep on going until you reach the Palatine (with its beautiful Villa Augustea) The Circus Maximus and the Caracalla Thermal Baths.
During the summer months, it is also possible to visit the Cesare and Augusto Forums which are so interesting; thanks to the specifically installed audio systems with headphones the spectators are accompanied by the voice of Piero Angela and the magnificent films and reconstructions which show exactly how these places were during the Augusto era; an emotional representation and at the same time rich in rigorous historic and scientific information. To book this tour visit the site: http://www.viaggioneifori.it/
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: to gain access into the Colosseum and the Palatine there is a single-entry ticket which one can buy directly at the Foro ticket office; alternatively you can buy a voucher online (on sale via various websites) to convert into a ticket once at the entrance. The first Sunday of each month the entry into the Colosseum is free but not pre-bookable.
Street art and contemporary Rome
Rome isnt just the capital of archelology and historic art; since 2015 it has a real and true map of Street Art (http://www.turismoroma.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/leaflet_streetart.pdf) on a par with the grand metropolitan cities like London, Paris and New York. The Rome municipality really believed in this project of urban redevelopment and it created a touristic itinerary which includes 13 of the 15 municipalities of the capital and tocuhes 30 neighbourhoods. From those historic and centrally located like Testaccio to those on the pherifery of the city like San Basilio and Tor Bella Monaca. There are so many works of art, each with their own beauty and completed by international artists like Clemens Behr, Herbert Baglione, MOMO etc.. If you have to choose be sure not to miss the Tor Marancia murals and especially the MAAM Museum on the Prenestina, a truly magical place.
When no one was talking about street food, in Rome it was already old habit for at least the past 10 years. Starting with the salted cuisine; you are not a respectable Roman if you haven’t tasted the salted codfish fillets deep fried at Largo dei Librai. In this small square right near Campo dei Fiori there is a trattoria where daily at h 17:00 they sell them to take away....you will recognise it from the wafting smells and you won’t be able to not buy some! Still within the area and very nearby you will find the Campo dei Fiori Oven (Vicolo del Gallo 14) and the Antique Oven of Roscioli (Via dei Chiavari 34) unchanged for the past 10 years , one of the institutions for fresh bread and pizza. Regarding pizza by the slice it has to be said that Rome remains the capital of the world; there are more pizzerias than streets and they are all good....you can go by pure chance and you’ll always land on your feet!
Moving into the sweet cuisine, one cannot not fail to mention the ice creams of Fassi (Via Principe Eugenio 65), those made by Giolitti (Via degli Uffici del Vicario 40) and the Tiramisù made by Pompi (Via Albalonga 7). In summer, you are obliged to try the Roman granite (grattacheccari: crushed ice) which are sold on almost every street corner, even though the original granite stores are found on the Lungotevere. Putting on a few pounds is guaranteed!