Italy itinerary: one week in Rome
Rome, how to describe it? I think it’s the most beautiful city on Earth (but maybe I’m biased). I have a gigantic crush on this city. Just walking on the centuries-old bridges, glancing at the Tiber river and walking through the tree-lined lungotevere fills me with happiness. Not to mention the sound of motorinos speeding by, the Roman gestures, the sound of coffee cups being placed on the bar counter, the smell of roasted chestnuts in the winter. I could go on forever.
I’m lucky though, to have this kind of of crush on Rome. I guess it’s because I’m Italian and I’ve always lived the most beautiful part of this city. The authentic part of it. And I’m on a mission to let you live Rome in the most authentic and most unforgettable way possible too. If you’re visiting Rome for 7 days, here is my itinerary. You’ll find everything from where to go, where to eat, what to see and where to go for drinks.
Essential Tips for traveling to Rome
This is an itinerary to give you a general plan, but don’t plan everything, see where the city takes you! Remember to make restaurant reservations though (either the day before or if it’s for the weekend two days before. Some restaurants even weeks in advance)! And there is no need to plan tickets in advance, except for the Borghese Gallery, the Vatican museums and the Colosseum! Also, keep in mind that a week in Rome is not enough to visit the city, heck a lifetime isn’t enough! But at least you’ll get a general idea of Rome from this itinerary!
When you’re planning your trip to Rome – and especially if it’s your first time in the Eternal City – I think it’s extremely important to get central accommodation. If you have no clue on which area to pick, check out my guide on where to stay in Rome.
Pack some comfy shoes cuz lots and lots of walking will be involved! Rome’s historic center is very large, and best to explore if you divide it into neighbourhoods or walking distance areas. There will be no need to get taxis, metros or buses, unless it’s for dinner reservations of course, or if you want to get faster to a certain place. But remember that wandering and walking around is part of the Rome experience, starring at stunning buildings and monuments in awe, and simply enjoying the open air museum this city is known for.
Getting to Rome
How to get to Rome from Rome Fiumicino (FCO) Airport:
- By train with the Leonardo Express: The Leonardo Express is a non-stop train that connects Fiumicino Airport to Rome’s central train station – Termini Train Station. The trip with Leonardo Express lasts 32 minutes and departs Fiumicino Airport every 30 minutes (or every 15 minutes during peak times). Tickets costs €14 per trip and the first train leaves the airport at 6.38 am, the last leaves at 11.38 pm. Once in Termini Station, take a taxi to get to your accommodation or the metro.
- By shuttle bus: for a cheaper alternative you can reserve a one-way shuttle bus service to or from the airport, departing every hour. Choose from pickup or drop-off locations at one of these conveniently located stops: Fiumicino Airport, Rome Termini Train Station, the Vatican (Via Crescenzio, 2), or Circonvallazione Aurelia, 19.
- By regional train: from Rome Fiumicino Airport you can take the FL1 regional train, connecting Fiumicino Airport to other locations in Rome including Trastevere and Ostiense. Trains depart every 15 minutes on peak times and a one-way ticket costs €8.
- Private transfer: If you prefer going by car, as soon as you exit Rome Fiumicino Airport you will find taxis. Otherwise you can reserve an airport transfer in advance.
Getting to Rome from another Italian city:
By train: Italy has a wonderful railway network and I urge travellers to travel Italy by train. Head to Trenitalia or Italo to purchase your tickets. There are two high-speed train companies in Italy: Trenitalia and Italo. High-speed trains are called Frecce for Trenitalia. You will find the Frecciarossa (fastest), Frecciarento (second fastest), and Frecciabianca. These are all high-speed trains that can take you to central stations of major Italian cities. Personally, I only take the Frecciarossa or the Frecciargento when possible, because the Frecciabianca takes longer to reach cities (i.e. Roma – Milano takes 5 hours instead of 3), but they aren’t always available. Italo trains are also great. You should check their websites and compare prices.
DAY 1 Rome Itinerary:
Explore ancient Rome: Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Via dei Fori Imperiali.
What to see in Rome:
Colosseum: arrive to the Colosseum, either walking or by metro. From here, walk to the Colosseum and admire this iconic landmark, one of the most beautiful in the world. If you want to visit the inside of the Colosseum, book tickets in advance. Visiting the Colosseum usually takes around 2 hours. Some of you may not be interested in visiting the inside of the Colosseum, it’s totally up to you but I definitely recommend it!
Palatine hill: After visiting the Colosseum, admire the mesmerizing Palatine ruins . Roam the stunning Palatine hill, one of the most ancient parts of the city and the most central of the Seven Hills of Rome.
Lunch in the Monti neighbourhood: head to this spectacular neighbourhood for lunch. Monti is one of Rome’s most spectacular neighbourhoods, full of picturesque streets and an authentic Roman atmosphere. And for being in the center, it isn’t very contaminated by tourist crowds. If you want to have a quick refreshing lunch go to Zia Rosetta, if instead you’d like to sit down and have a longer break, go to Fafiuchè, Broccoletti or Taverna dei Fori Imperiali (reserve)! After lunch, roam some of the streets, there are some beautiful viewpoints to get wow pictures of the Colosseum, such as the one on Via dei Serpenti.
Museo dei Fori Imperiali: After lunch, walk down to the Museo dei Fori Imperiali. Go inside the Imperial Forum museum to the Mercati di Traiano terrace and get a spectacular view of the Roman Forum.
Via dei Fori Imperiali: walk Via dei Fori Imperiali to get a feeling of ancient Rome
head back to your accommodation to relax
Where to eat in Rome:
Lunch: Zia Rosetta for a fast lunch with yummy salads, sandwiches and juices. If you want to have a longer break, go to Broccoletti or Fafiuchè for delicious Italian cuisine.
Dinner: The Monti neighbourhood is a great place to taste delicious food. And if you want to get drinks after dinner, you’re in the perfect area: it’s full of bars! Try La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali, Fafiuchè or Broccoletti. For traditional Japanese cuisine Hasekura, for Japanese and Brazilian fusion Temakinho (reserve way in advance for Temakinho). For drinks check out Drink Kong.
DAY 2 Rome Itinerary:
Explore Rome’s Campo Marzio area, a mix of views, stunning streets and monuments.
What to see in Rome:
Piazza Venezia: Start your itinerary at Piazza Venezia, where you’ll find the iconic Altare della Patria. If you’re interested in getting a 360-degree view of Rome, head to the Terrazza delle Quadrighe on the last floor of the Vittoriano. You have to take an elevator to get there and pay a small fee (totally worth it).
Via del Corso: after Piazza Venezia, walk up Via del Corso, Rome’s most mainstream shopping street, part of the Tridente.
Trevi Fountain: arrive to the Trevi fountain and throw in a coin for good luck, don’t forget to make a wish!
Spanish Steps: Walk some more, till you arrive to the jaw-dropping Piazza di Spagna. Admire the marvellous Barcaccia fountain by Bernini, and begin your walk up the flight of stairs, until you arrive to the church atop.
Trinità dei Monti: once you’ve arrived on top of the Spanish Steps, head left and walk Trinità dei Monti, where you will get some of the most beautiful views of Roman rooftops and churches.
Villa Borghese Gardens – Terrazza del Pincio: From Trinità dei Monti, go into the Villa Borghese gardens. Villa Borghese – along all of its gardens – used to be the property of the powerful Borghese family. Now these stunning gardens are public. If you want to explore them, there are segways you can rent. I think the best thing to do is keep walking until you get to the stunning terrace of the Pincio, from where you’ll get a breathtaking view of Piazza del Popolo.
Piazza del Popolo: Walk down to Piazza del Popolo and explore the stunning piazza. Visit the churches that seem identical but are not!
This part should take around 3 hours depending on how much you stop at each attraction.
Via del Babuino: After visiting the churches, walk up Via del Babuino, part of the Tridente, the street all the way to the left. It’s one of the most luxurious streets of Rome, filled with haute couture boutiques.
Lunch: Stop by for lunch in Via Margutta, a side street of Via del Babuino. Go to Babette, Hosteria del Mercato or Ginger Sapori e Saluti if you prefer healthier dishes.
Via Margutta: after lunch, explore this street, which is one of the most picturesque streets of Rome. Admire the ivy-clad walls, the buildings and the atmosphere.
Via dei Condotti: from Via Margutta head to Piazza di Spagna and walk down Via dei Condotti, another one of Rome’s famous haute couture shopping streets.
Piazza Augusto Imperatore & the Mausoleum of Augustus: From Via dei Condotti head to Piazza Augusto Imperatore where you’ll find the Mausoleum of Augustus – the largest circular tomb in the world that has been recently reopened after 80 years of being closed! I highly recommend you reserve your entrance ticket to the Mausoleum.
Ara Pacis Museum: from Piazza Augusto Imperatore, walk down Via di Ripetta until you reach the beautiful Ara Pacis Museum. Definitely visit the museum if you’re into archeology. If you’d like to visit both the Mausoleum of Augustus and the Ara Pacis museum I recommend you reserve tickets, the two museums are practically next to each other.
Head back to accommodation to relax and change before dinner.
Free Time: If you’re not tired yet, cross the Ponte Cavour bridge and take some pictures of the Tiber river. Otherwise, keep going and explore the Prati neighbourhood! The Prati neighbourhood is one of Rome’s chicest neighbourhoods. It’s mostly known for the shopping and for restaurants and happy hour bars. If it’s happy hour time head to Sorpasso or La Zanzara for a taste of Roman aperitivo!
Where to eat in Rome:
Lunch: Babette, Via Margutta: if it’s a nice day during the good season, reserve your table in the splendid courtyard. Babette serves Italian cuisine with a twist. While if you’re up for healthier cuisine opt for Hosteria del Mercato or Ginger Sapori e Salute.
Dinner: Due Ladroni for seafood, il Marchese for Italian and Roman cuisine in a hip location that also doubles as a bar, La Zanzara for a trendy place, Sorpasso for shabby chic, Sant’Isidoro Pizza e Bolle for pizza paired with bubbly wine, Almatò for an amazing gourmet experience in Prati (try the tasting menu from €55).
DAY 3 Rome Itinerary:
Explore the Pantheon, San Luigi dei Francesi church, Piazza Navona, Campo de’Fiori and the Jewish Quarter.
What to see in Rome:
Piazza della Rotonda: Wake up early, you’ve got a jam-packed program today! If you need to start this itinerary from a Metro station, the closest one is Spagna, and from there you walk to the Pantheon (1km from Spagna metro stop). Begin your itinerary at Piazza della Rotonda where you’ll find the Pantheon, a temple to honor all gods. The most unique part of it is its giant dome, which is the largest unsupported dome worldwide! When Michelangelo first saw the Pantheon he said it looked like a work from angels, not humans. Also admire the beautiful fountain in the piazza by Giacomo della porta.
San Luigi dei Francesi Church: Up next, explore the world-famous San Luigi de’ Francesi church, just a few steps away, known for its artistic treasures. Here, you’ll find three of Caravaggio’s masterpieces: The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew and The Calling of St Matthew.
Piazza Navona: just a short walk away, you’ll find one of the most beautiful piazzas in the world. Admire the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in the middle of the piazza, the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, the Fontana del Moro and the Fontana del Nettuno. If you’d like to visit a beautiful museum head to Palazzo Altemps.
Santa Maria della Pace Church: In the La Pace area, just a few meters from Piazza Navona, lies this spectacular church by Bramante. Inside you’ll find frescoes by Raffaello!
Lunch: Have lunch at Vivi Bistrot, right on Piazza Navona, where you’ll taste Italian food with a healthy twist. There’s a spectacular courtyard overlooking the piazza. If instead you’d rather eat some traditional Roman cuisine, head to Piazza Campo de’Fiori (just a 5-minute walk), where you’ll taste one of my favorites carbonaras in Rome at Osteria da Fortunata. Another great place is Luciano Cucina Italiana awarded one of the best carbonaras in Rome, or the famed Salumeria Roscioli.
Campo de’Fiori: stroll around the piazza and the beautiful open-air market.
Chiesa di Santa Barbara dei Librai: visit this lovely Baroque-style church squeezed in between two palazzos just footsteps away from Campo de’Fiori. It’s one of Rome’s hidden gems.
Piazza Farnese: named after the opulent Palazzo Farnese, which is one of the highest Renaissance palazzos in Rome and the seat of the French Embassy. There are also two beautiful fountains in the square, created from granite bathtubs taken from the ancient Baths of Caracalla.
Via Giulia: Walk down to the beautiful Via Giulia, a historic via of Rome, and immerse yourself in the atmosphere. Don’t forget to admire the Farnese arch, believed to be built by Michelangelo. The original project was supposed to span across the Tiber river and connect Palazzo Farnese to the Farnese family’s summer home in Trastevere, Villa Farnesina.
If you’re tired, head back to your accommodation (there’s a bit of walking involved, or if you prefer take a taxi)
Jewish Quarter: If you’re not tired, walk a few minutes till you reach the Jewish Quarter, filled with wonderful architectural gems. From the Fontana delle Tartarughe in Piazza Mattei, to the Great Synagoue and Teatro Marcello, there are lots of things to see! If you’d like to get aperitivo, don’t miss out on Beppe e i Suoi Formaggi, amazing cheese selection!
Where to eat in Rome:
Lunch: Vivi Bistrot (Piazza Navona), Osteria da Fortunata (Campo de’Fiori), Luciano Cucina Italiana (Campo de’Fiori), Salumeria Roscioli (Largo Argentina).
Dinner: Pianostrada or Taverna Lucifero. Afterwards, head for drinks in Campo de’Fiori or the La Pace area on a side street of Piazza Navona! The best bars to be in this area are: Wisdomless, Camponeschi wine bar (summertime), Argot, Jerry Thomas Project or Bar del Fico.
DAY 4 Rome Itinerary:
Explore the Borghese Gallery, the Coppedè neighbourhood and the Parioli neighbourhood.
What to see in Rome:
Villa Borghese: Start your itinerary at the Villa Borghese Gardens.
Explore Villa Borghese with Foxtrail: Explore off-the-beaten path areas of Villa Borghese with Foxtrail–a mix between a scavenger hunt and an escape room. Access a map with clues to decipher that will take you to unbelievable places in Villa Borghese. It’s interactive, fun and a great way to explore the Villa Borghese gardens for all ages.
Galleria Borghese: Visit the stunning Galleria Borghese which houses some of the most prominent Renaissance sculptures and painting from universal artists such as Bernini, Caravaggio and Canova. Remember to book tickets in advance as reservations are mandatory to visit the Borghese Gallery.
Lunch: Have lunch in the Parioli neighbourhood at the delicious Zero restaurant. Make sure to reserve this restaurant as it’s always packed! They serve delicious Italian cuisine with an oriental twist. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the Borghese Gallery. Another option is Cugino at the Hoxton Hotel, it’s become a very hip place and it’s 10-minute walking distance.
Coppedè Neighbourhood: After lunch, either walk or take the tram from Viale Liegi to Piazza Buenos Aires and walk to Piazza Mincio in the Coppedè neighbourhood – located outside of the center, near Viale Regina Margherita alongside the upscale Parioli in the Trieste neighbourhood. Lovers of Art Nouveau will find Rome’s best examples in this small neighbourhood, whose palazzi have all been designed by architect Gino Coppedè between 1913 and 1927.
Parioli shopping: After visiting Coppedè, take the tram of walk to viale Parioli where you’ll find lots of fashionable boutiques where you can shop.
Happy Hour Italian style: At 7pm sharp make sure you’re at Duke’s on Viale Parioli 200. Duke’s is my favorite happy hour bar in Rome, the aperitivo is amazing and they serve the best cocktails in town. Definitely order the Cosmopolitan! They also have a fantastic Italian and international wine selection. All drinks and food are 50% off from 7pm – 8.30pm.
Where to eat in Rome:
Lunch: Zero restaurant on Piazza Ungheria, Cugino at the Hoxton Hotel
Happy hour/dinner: Duke’s for happy hour/dinner. If you want another drink after that, go to Palmerie Parioli a bit futher up Viale Parioli. If this is too far from your accommodation area check out my guide on where to eat in Rome.
DAY 5 Rome Itinerary:
Explore the Vatican museums, Vatican Gardens and Saint Peter’s Basilica.
What to see in Rome:
Make sure to wake up early, because any trip to Rome would be incomplete without visiting the Vatican and the Vatican Museums. Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the Vatican Museums display some of the most astonishing artworks you will ever see in your lifetime. They display works belonging to the Popes’ personal art collections throughout the centuries, including some of the most prominent classical sculptures and masterpieces of the Renaissance.
The Sistine Chapel, whose ceilings are filled with Michelangelo’s one-of-a-kind frescoes, is on its own a reason to visit this centuries’ old museums. Not to mention the iconic spiral staircase designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1832, made up of two iron stairways that form a double helix – no wonder it’s one of the most photographed staircases in the world!
When you make your grand entrance into the Vatican Museums, prepare to be swept away by the four Raphael Rooms, which make up the public area of the papal apartments. Not only being inside the Pope’s apartments will give a chill down your spine, but the jaw-dropping frescoes by Raphael and Michelangelo will without a doubt contribute.
And if you are a sculpture-lover, prepare to be amazed at the Gallery of Candelabra, where ancient sculptures await you! While you’re at the Vatican Museums, you cannot miss out on the opportunity to visit the sensational Vatican Gardens, known as the “Green Heart of the Vatican”, which have just recently been opened to the public thanks to Pope Francis. The Vatican Museums are a must to visit, there’s a reason to why 8 million people cannot resist visiting them each year! You can’t miss out on the fabulous view of the Eternal City form Saint Peter’s dome!
For late lunch, head on over to one of the pizzerias to taste some yummy Roman pizza al taglio. Careful with the tourist traps, I would recommend trying pizza from Bonci Pizzarium (about 6-minute walk from Vatican). Otherwise you can opt for a delicious sandwich or seafood specialties from Pescaria.
Head to accommodation to relax and enjoy a stroll along the Tiber
For dinner, explore the chic and bustling Prati neighbourhood. From happy hour till after dinner, it’s the perfect place to be. You can also switch this around, and go on a foodie hunt during the day and explore the Vatican museums on an exclusive tour at night, when no one else is there!
Where to eat in Rome:
Lunch: pizza al taglio from Bonci Pizzarium or Pescaria
Dinner: La Zanzara, Sorpasso, Zia Rilla, Sant’Isidoro Pizza & Bolle or Almatò for a gourmet experience. Some of them are also excellent for happy hour/after-dinner drinks. Make sure to reserve
DAY 6 Rome Itinerary:
Explore the Circus Maximus, the Aventine and Trastevere. This is a day dedicated to sights and stunning views.
What to see in Rome:
Circus Maximus: Begin your itinerary at Circus Maximus (metro stop Circo Massimo), which used to be the largest stadium in ancient Rome, with a capacity of 250,000 – 300,000 people. And nobody in 2000 years has ever beaten Circo Massimo’s capacity. It would still be today, the biggest stadium in the world. Circo Massimo was known for its sports and athletics competitions, but it was most famous for its chariot races, that would last from sunrise to dawn.
Giardino degli Aranci: After visiting Circo Massimo, head to Aventine Hill where you’ll find the charming Giardino degli Aranci, a garden famous for its orange trees and spectacular terrace offering a wow view of Rome. The tall pine trees and white-pebble path lead you to the beautiful terrace. From the distance, you can already see the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Keyhole of the Knights of Malta: Just 350 meters from Il Giardino degli Aranci, you’ll find the famous Headquarters of the Knights of Malta, known for the jaw-dropping view of St. Peter’s Basilica you get from peeking into the keyhole. Just know that you’ll find a long line of people here.
Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church: Walk down to Circus Maximus again, but toward the Mouth of Truth, just 170 meters from Circo Massimo. But you don’t really need to get in line to view the Mouth of Truth (unless you really want a picture with your hand inside it). Instead the Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church deserves a visit, it has a wonderful Romanesque bell tower.
Lunch: After visiting the Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church, go ahead and cross the Palatino bridge, and you’ll arrive to the lively Trastevere neighbourhood, where you will be having lunch! Either go to Da Teo, Ai Bozzi da Giovanni, Da Enzo or Osteria Le Mani in Pasta, and don’t forget a reservation!
Explore Trastevere with Foxtrail: After lunch, explore off-the-beaten path areas of Trastevere with Foxtrail–a mix between a scavenger hunt and an escape room. Access your map and manual with clues by inserting a code in a hidden safe in Trastevere. Then decipher the different clues that will take you through Trastevere’s most beautiful streets, piazzas and hidden courtyards while admiring jaw-dropping views of Rome. It’s interactive, fun and a great way to explore Trastevere for all ages. Read my full review of Foxtrail here.
Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere: After lunch stroll around the Trastevere neighbourhood and visit this piazza where you’ll find the iconic Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of Rome’s oldest churches, and the first where mass was openly celebrated. The architecture dates back to 350AD, but Pope Innocent II had it reconstructed in 1138 – 1148. The Basilica’s main characteristics are its beautiful façade, adorned with mosaics from the 12th and 13th centuries, and the beautiful Romanesque bell tower.
Fontanone dell’Acqua Paola: Stroll more around the beautiful Trastevere but head towards Gianicolo Hill, where you’ll stop at Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. Situated on Gianicolo Hill and known as Il Fontanone, this fountain is the work of the Fontana brothers, and was built using the marble from the ruins of the Temple of Minerva. Apart from the beautiful fountain, there is also a terrace that offers and wow view of Rome. It’s definitely a must-visit, and the vintage Fiat 500s lined up next to the fountains add up to the whole atmosphere!
Terrazza del Gianicolo: If you’re into views, keep going up the Gianicolo until you arrive to Piazza Garibaldi. Here, you’ll find the splendid terrace of the Gianicolo, where you’ll get another fabulous view of Rome.
Free time: either go to Villa Farnesina to see Raphael’s frescoes if you still have time to sightsee, head to your accommodation if you’re tired, while if it’s around 6.30pm go to Sottosopra near Piazza Trilussa to taste a delicious aperitivo.
Where to eat in Rome:
Lunch: Stop by for lunch at either Trattoria Da Teo, Trattoria Da Enzo, Ai Bozzi da Giovanni or Osteria Le Mani in Pasta to taste some of the best Roman cuisine ever in Trastevere. Make sure to reserve!
DAY 7 Rome Itinerary:
Depending on what time you have your plane, I suggest you take this day to roam the city, visit exhibitions you might have wished to see or see palazzos like Palazzo Colonna. Check out Chiostro del Bramante, Complesso del Vittoriano, Palazzo Barberini. Or better yet, go on a day trip and explore the nearby towns. You could also go on a bike ride of the Ancient Appian Way and visit the nearby catacombs. If you’re staying more than one week and want to visit the Lazio and Umbria regions, check out Tenuta Collesala in the Sabine Hills.
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