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What does one do when one is in Rome for only 48-hours? There are a couple of rules that I lived by when I was there for only a couple of days recently, immediately after a 24-hour flight and keen to stay away from the crowds:

(1) Take advantage of your jet lag and get up early. There is something special about seeing a city before it is starting to wake up. I walked past the Colosseum at around 7.30am on a Saturday, when there were workers watering the gardens, a couple of cleaners, soldiers and not a tourist in sight. It was the perfect light for photos and totally hassle-free.

(2) Walk as much as you can. Follow the Tiber River from Regina Margherita Bridge, near Piazza del Popolo, past the cylindrical Castel Sant’Angelo down to the picturesque Tiber Island.

fiume tevere and spritz-italy on my mind

pianostrada collage-trastevere-italy on my mind

(3) Have a meal in Trastevere. You will find this suburb on the other side of the Tiber River and in fact you can get there from the Tiber Island by crossing the Cestio bridge. I often stay in Trastevere when I am in Rome and love its village feel. This time I ate at a new place called Piano Strada (Laboratorio di cucina) with my friend Maria, a fellow Italian-Australian who lives in Rome (she also has a travel blog called Heart Rome) and has excellent advice on where to eat in Trastevere. Piano Strada make their own super-soft focaccia, which I ate topped by figs, prosciutto and basil, and then a dish of braised escarole with sultanas and roasted almonds. Just delicious!

(4) See how the Romans live by visiting the Testaccio market (Testaccio is a rather hip suburb at the southern end of Rome). Knowledgeable and friendly stall-holders abound in this white grid of a market and the produce is super-fresh and generally local. They also sell great street food (see point 7 below) and I enjoyed a log chat there with another fellow Italian-Australian living in Rome (there are quite a few of them!).

fruit seller-testaccio-italy on my mind

pizza bianca and the testaccio market-italy on my mind

(5) Take a stroll through the suburb of Monti, just north of the Colosseum. I posted a photo of Via dei Serpenti (street of the serpents) in Monti on my Instagram feed and the comments included “that’s one of my favourite areas, I love to get lost there”; “hope you found your way to Ai Tre Scalini wine bar under the vines and my favourite place in Monti” and  “aaaah found this delightful spot last April. Great people watching and of course the food”. So don’t take it from me, take it from others – Monti is definitely worth a visit.

(6) Have an Aperol spritz in the early evening at the new Eataly in Piazza della Repubblica. There are of course hundreds of places to have a spritz, but this is in a lovely classy location, and you can sit back, have a meal and watch the passers by.

lunch in Monti, Rome-italy on my mind

(7) Eat some street food. Typical Roman street food are suppli’ (fried balls of risotto rice stuffed with mozzarella) or pizza bianca, sliced and filled with mortadella or prosciutto and sometimes with cheese.

pizza and spritz-rome-italy on my mind

via nazionale rome-italy on my mind

(8) Buy one bottle of water – and keep refilling it from the old-fashioned freely flowing water fountains (fontanelle, also known as nasoni) you find dotted around the city. The water is cool, delicious and totally safe to drink. The Romans built acqueducts thousands of years ago and we are still reaping the benefits. That way you will contribute less to the plastic bottle waste problem and drink as much water as you like.

(9) If you are travelling on from Rome by train, make it easy for yourself by staying near the Termini train station. I stayed in a cute hostel/boutique hotel called The Beehive, which is run by Americans Steve and Linda and came highly recommended. The bed was firm, it was clean and only a 5-minute walk from Termini station. Plus they had a colourful shaded courtyard, ideal relaxation after a long day of walking.

wtermelon stall and the Beehive-Rome-italy on my mind

(10) If you visit Rome during a heatwave, buy slices of watermelon from street carts dotted around the city. The watermelon is cool and even has pips (all the watermelon in Australia is pip-free and just does not taste the same as the pipped version) – even though I am not a pip eater (I pick them out before biting into the sugary pink flesh), the pipped version reminds me of growing up and seems somehow more real. It is a perfectly thirst-quenching snack on a hot Roman night.

After 48-hours in Rome, you should be over your jet-lag and be able to easily get on with the rest of your Italian holiday.

autofficina-testaccio-italy on my mind


  • Sandrine says:

    Hi Paola, It looks like you had another busy day in Rome! I need to visit this city as I have never been yet 😱 enjoy your cooking classes and the rest of your stay! Sandrine xx

    • Hello Sandrine, Rome is definitely worth a long visit (more than 38 hours but that is all I had). Yes I am enjoying myself and looking forward to everything that lies ahead X

  • Francesca says:

    I am keen to get to some other suburbs- Testaccio sounds good.

    • it has a real Roman feel – not many tourists (apart from the occasional food walking tour). It is about real people and this makes it lovely/ Ostiense a bit further south is also worth a visit

  • Debra Kolkka says:

    Great tips. I will be back in Italy in a week…can’t wait.

  • All good stuff! Reblogged it.

  • David says:

    I am happy to tell you that I have done almost everything on your list, except the Testaccio market. Next time for sure! Oh, and while we usually rent apartments, thanks for the tip on The Beehive! Very good to know! We are planning our holiday trip – mostly to the UK – but considering a side trip to Paris, Rome, Morocco, or Granada. So hard to decide!

    • excellent! A side trip to Rome sounds like the thing to do – with a stop at the Testaccio Market (which you will LOVE inspire of its modern appearance). Though Granada would be nice too…so many choices!

  • Lisa says:

    Each time we visit Italia we spend the night prior to our flight at an airport hotel. Think I need to rethink this so as to get a better flavor for Rome and expand my time there. Thanks for the great tips.

  • Mar says:

    I hate [well that’s a bit harsh word really] Rome and Italy in general when its stinking HOT, its torture

  • paninigirl says:

    I stayed at the Beehive when we had just 2 days in Rome-loved being able to walk from the train station. Thank you for all your tips. I am looking forward to hearing all about your time in Sicily, wishing I were there too!

    • You have stayed there too – isn’t it convenient? In a strange way I did not even feel like I was in Italy as everyone spoke English. I am very much looking forward to Sicily – that will be a huge adventure

  • Sue says:

    Hi Paola I Enjoy reading your blogs from Italy 🇮🇹 They are great to read I feel like I’m in Italy. One day I hope to travel to Italy with my Daughter

    • Thanks for stopping by – and I am so glad the posts make you feel like you are in Italy. A trip with your daughter sounds lovely – such an incredible country and such warm people.

  • Great tips Paola! I just love Roma. Even when it’s stinking hot, there are lots of places to go…the catacombs, amuseum with air conditioning…this year as really hot, but I discovered that the 4th floor of Palazzo Massimo is downright cold! I always stay at a friend’s place in the Ostiense area (I think she knows your friend Maria too) and it is a great area-convenient, lots of restaurants, close to Testaccio and has my favourite sketching spot, Centrale Montemartini. Buon viaggio in Sicilia, Cristina

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