Rome is one of my favourite cities in the world. It’s loud, it’s vibrant, it’s passionate – and you feel all of that within minutes of arriving. Whether it’s food, shopping, architecture, literature or language that’s your passion, you’ll find it (or it’ll find you) in Rome. You can still see an awful lot even if you’re only there for a fleeting visit, so here are my Rome travel tips for making the most of your 24 hours in the Eternal City.
The best pizza
A topic widely argued, but it’s all down to taste (ha!) and experience. I found the best pizza in Rome at Borgo Nuovo in the Vatican City, and here’s why:
- It’s a family-run restaurant, so you’re in with a very good chance of tasting a pizza with a secret recipe.
- The dough is to die for. When people say that food is made with love and you can taste it – well, the chef here must be the nicest person in the world.
- A margherita costs just EUR 7.50 (that’s just under £6), so you’re in for the tastiest pizza of your life without spending a fortune
Take a ‘bridge walk’
Rome has plenty of bridges (pontes) across the Tiber River, and each one is different. We walked from Ponte Umberto outside the Hall of Justice, all the way down to Ponte Palatino, where the Bocca Della Verita sits inside Santa Maria in Cosmedin. It’s worth taking a walking trip as a means of getting from the Vatican City to the shopping district, ancient city and other sights instead of using the Metro or taxis, but using the time to view the bridges is a really pretty way of seeing another side to Rome. Here’s each bridge on our walk in order:
- Ponte Umberto – designed by architect Angelo Vescouvali and inaugurated in 1887. The three arches are covered in smooth marble.
- Ponte Sant’Angelo – directly outside Castel Sant’Angelo. A footbridge, here is where you can get great photos of the castle.
- Ponte Vittorio Emanuele – it took 25 years to design and build, but was worth the wait.
- Ponte Mazzini – looks glorious lit up at night.
- Ponte Sisto – another footbridge, but has been featured in a lot of films, music videos and adverts.
- Ponte Garibaldi – designed by Vescouvali again, but doesn’t look like the biscuit.
- Ponte Cestio – was the first bridge to be built to connect the streets of Rome to Tiber Island, but has been replaced with a newer bridge since.
- Ponte Fabricio – connects the other side of Tiber Island to Rome and is the oldest Roman bridge in its original condition the city.
- Ponte Palatino – another Vescouvali design, but with iron this time. Also known as Ponte Inglese (English Bridge) as you can drive on the left.
There are so many great sights to take in when you’re in Rome, but when you’ve only got 24 hours it’s best to pack in the favourites – Colosseum, Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Cathedral, Spanish Steps, Forum, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain. Here are my tips to make the most of sightseeing:
- Queues to get into the Vatican Museum can top 2-3 hours if you time it badly. Try to start queueing in the early morning for first entry, or if you’re planning your trip to Rome well in advance you can buy tickets from the museum’s website up to 60 days before your visit.
- The Roma Pass gets you into 2 museums of your choice for ‘free’ (after you’ve paid for the pass of course) and then discounted admission to attractions afterwards. It lasts for 3 days however, so you’ll have to weigh up whether the price is worth the amount of attractions you’ll be able to fit in a day. There are Roma Pass queues so you can enter museums faster, saving valuable sightseeing time.
- The Vatican has its very own post office, so you can find the cheesiest postcard of the Pope in the museum shop and send a message home with the city’s very own postage stamp.
A secret view of St Peter’s Dome
No, it’s not from the Vatican City, or from a helicopter. The best, and most beautiful, view of St Peter’s Dome is from the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. A tiny peephole in the door of a priory, the view truly is one of the most romantic I’ve seen. Expect a gorgeous tree-lined perspective as you peep through the door…but I don’t want to give too much away! You just have to see it for yourself. Here’s a spoiler picture if you can’t wait though.