Best 1 Week Itinerary for Rome, Italy
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
Rome needs no introduction, but it holds a special place in my heart as the location of my "babymoon" while I was pregnant with my first daughter. While I couldn't partake in all the delicious Italian wines, I more than made up for it with fresh pasta and tiramisu! Read along for a full 7-day itinerary jam-packed with sightseeing, culture, and food that even a (slightly ambitious) pregnant lady can keep up with!
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Where to stay
Hotel Chapter Roma
The pick for design hounds, with Art Deco touches in the oversized rooms and a ground-floor bar for the style set.
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The Hoxton, Rome
Stylish hotel steps from arts & culture in Rome's Salario neighborhood.
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Six Senses, Rome
This Six Senses property, once a noble palazzo, is located right in Rome’s center, set back from Via del Corso, one of Rome’s main streets and is now a destination for tourists and locals alike.
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Day 1: Arrive in Rome
Upon arrival, drop your bags at the hotel and prepare to hit the streets. I recommend staying somewhere in the city center so you can travel to most attractions on foot.
First stop: Head to Castel Sant'Angelo. This building has served as many things over the years: a mausoleum for Hadrian, a military fort and now another museum for the Catholic church. My favorite part is the Passetto di Borgo, an elevated footbridge that connects the fort directly to Vatican City. More than one Pope has fled to the fort using this bridge! If you've seen The Da Vinci Code, Tom Hanks uses the Passetto in the movie.
After walking around Castel Sant'Angelo, make your way over to Piazza Navona. The fountains happen to be another filming location from The Da Vinci Code. If you've worked up an appetite, I recommend Bernini's right on the piazza for dinner. Fresh pasta and people watching, yes, please!
Day 2: Vatican City
Get your day started early the Italian way with a cappuccino and cornetto. The best way to see the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, is an early access tour to get you in before the crowds. If you love art and history, you could spend days in these halls admiring the impressive 70,000 works. Even if you aren't, a good tour, to point out the highlights is a must do!
One of my favorite parts is the Map Gallery. The gallery contains a series of painted topographical maps of the Italian peninsula, based on drawings by Ignazio Danti in the 16th century. It took Dante three years to complete the 40 panels. It is said that these maps are almost 80% accurate, take that Google Maps!
Midday can be the busiest time in the Vatican, so head out of the City for a leisurely lunch at nearby Flavio al Velavevodetto.
If you're ready for more, head back to Vatican City to admire the stunning architecture of St. Peter's Square. If you're here on a Wednesday, you could even see the Pope when he greets the public!
When it's time for dinner, head to La Tavernetta 48. This unassuming place on a side street is a true hidden gem. They greet you with a welcome glass of champagne. Then the food starts coming and you'll wish it never stopped. Must-haves include caprese salad with the freshest mozzarella, truffle pasta and lobster ravioli. Make room for gelato by taking a scenic walk by the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon lit up at night. My favorite gelato found near the Pantheon is at Cremeria Monteforte.
Day 3: City Centre
Start with a cappuccino at the oldest cafe in Rome Antico Caffe Greco. Once you're caffeinated, let's do some shopping on Via Condotti.
There's a great mix of high-end names, like Hermes and local Italian brands. For a local gem, check out Michelediloco for their leather sandals. My favorite souvenirs to bring back are always food! Find a local market to pick up some great olive oil, fun pasta and yummy snacks.
Stroll by all the landmarks you've seen at night during the day for a different view: the Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. Be aware: if you want people-free photos you'll have to be an early riser and arrive before 5am!
End your landmark tour at the Pantheon. Definitely make a reservation and do the audio tour. This incredible work of architecture defies gravity with the open oculus built in the center of the coffered dome ceiling. If you're here on a Sunday, you can even reserve a time to attend Mass.
Head to Emma, in the Regola neighborhood, a short walk away, for lunch. They serve up delicious pizzas on a scenic terrace perfect for people-watching.
After lunch, head across the river Tiber to the hip Trastevere neighborhood. Visit Villa Farnesina, best known for housing Raphael's fresco depicting The Triumph of Galatea.
Afterwards, walk over to the Basilica di Santa Maria, one of Rome's oldest churches. Built in the 3rd century, the church houses many large, important mosaics from the late 13th century by Pietro Cavallini. This is also the final resting place of at least two popes and two cardinals.
For a truly spectacular dinner head to daLu and let the chef blow your mind with their tasting menu and perfect wine pairings. If you're not hungry enough for the tasting menu, they also have a la carte menu to choose from.
Wind your way slowly through the streets, back to your hotel. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the city nightlife. Maybe partaking in a little digestivo if the mood strikes.
Day 4: Relax and Wander
One of the best ways to get the pulse of a place is to slow down and just live. Start your morning at Campo de Fiori, a charming neighborhood that hosts a famous farmer's market of the same name. The market is open every day, but on Sunday, plan accordingly.
There are many worthwhile museums, churches, shopping and restaurants within this neighborhood.
Two museums I recommend: the Museo Barracco and the Galleria Spada. A small but mighty church, Santa Barbara dei Librai, is worth a visit. The church sits on a charming little square next to Dar Filletaro. Stop in for their famous fried baccalà (cod). Some of the best boutique shopping can be found along via del Pellegrino, via dei Cappellari and via Monserrato.
The Largo di Torre Argentina, a must-see for history buffs, is also in the area. It is a large forum with four Roman temples and the remains of Pompey's Theater. Julius Caesar is said to have been assassinated here.
For a perfect Roman lunch in the area, try a classic pizza bianca or rossa from Forno Campo de' Fiori. If you're still around for dinner, Ditirambo can't be missed! Their menu changes with the seasons and everything is made fresh. If you're here during artichoke season, you're in for a real treat. I'd recommend the pork cheek rigatoni, housemade ravioli and finish it off with tiramisu. **chef's kiss**
Day 5: Ancient Rome
After a relaxing day yesterday seeing how the current Romans live, take the opportunity today to see how the ancient Romans lived. The best place to start is with a guided VIP tour of the Colosseum underground. On the tour, you'll learn all about the Colosseum's history and architecture as well as get to walk where ancient gladiators walked.
You will be hungry post-tour; grab some lunch from La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali. Be sure to save room for their tiramisu!
After that long, leisurely lunch embark on a self-guided walking tour through the rest of ancient Rome. Make your way over to the Roman Forum, the center of everyday life in Ancient Rome. Follow the route of victorious generals returning from battle up Capitoline Hill where you can admire the remains of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus (built 509 BC) on the grounds of the Palazzo Caffarelli.
If you can't get enough of ancient Roman architecture, it's a quick walk to the Trajan Forum. Another expansive forum, built by another Roman emperor to celebrate another military victory. Are we sensing a theme? Truly, it is a sight to behold.
For a special experience, make a reservation at Aroma. Be sure to ask for terrace seating. This fine dining restaurant on the top floor of Palazzo Manfredi offers panoramic views of the Colosseum! This modern culinary experience paired with the incomparable views of ancient Rome is an outstanding way to get acquainted with the Rome of yesterday and today.
Day 6: St. Peter's Basilica
Let's get going early to beat the crowds! Arrive at St. Peter's Basilica to climb the cupola or dome by 8am. For spectacular views of St. Peter's square and all of Rome, climb the 551 steps to the top of the tallest dome in the world.
There are two parts to climbing St Peters' Dome: 231 stairs to the first level, and you're inside Michelangelo's dome, looking down on the inside of St Peter's Basilica from above. From here, you can observe right up close the beautiful mosaics that make up the dome's design. The next 320 stairs to the tippy top are inside a narrow single-file staircase that slowly spirals up, with the roof sort of slanting in towards you. At the very end, as it gets narrower and narrower, it turns into a corkscrew staircase, with a rope to hang onto. Once outside the dome, observe the stunning 360-degree views of Rome!
After the cupola, enter the Basilica. I recommend getting the audio tour available from the ticket office. It was accessed via an app on my phone so I could go at my pace with what interested me. The scale of the Basilica is awe-inspiring! You think all the art on the walls are paintings, but they're incredibly detailed mosaics! Don't miss the Vatican grottoes under the Basilica. Over 90 Papal tombs are housed here.
Now, my best tip is to get into a local's home for a homecooked meal. The least awkward way to do that is through a cooking class! After all that sightseeing at St. Peter's, I worked up quite the appetite. So, I made my way over to Debora and Fiamma's house, a mother-daughter duo, for a lesson on cut pasta, ravioli and tiramisu made from scratch. The wine flowed (for everyone else) as we kneaded and rolled out fresh egg pasta and layered our tiramisu. It was delicious and the best tiramisu I had all week!
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspo? Check out my guide, Foodie Guide to Rome, Italy by Neighborhood.
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This guide is a part of our ongoing series on travel to Rome.