48 HOURS IN...

Rome, Italy

Feast your eyes on art and antiquities, and your tastebuds on pasta and ices, before the heat and the queues take over the Eternal City

Click here for 48 Hours In... Rome map

WHY GO NOW?

Now is always the time to visit the Eternal City. Holy Week (1-9 April) sees a deluge of pilgrims anxious to receive the Pope's Easter Sunday blessing in St Peter's Square (1), but otherwise, springtime itself confers particular benefits on Rome's visitors: the queues aren't yet eternal, for a start, and the temperature hasn't reached the sticky heights of summer.

TOUCH DOWN

Ryanair (from Liverpool, Luton, Nottingham, Prestwick and Stansted) and easyJet (from Belfast, Bristol, Gatwick, Nottingham and Newcastle) fly to Ciampino airport, to the south-east of the city, from which Terravision buses (00 39 06 7949 4572; www.terravision.it) run to Via Marsala, next to Termini station (2). The 40-minute trip costs €8 (£5.70) single and €14 (£10) return. In addition, British Airways flies from Gatwick and Heathrow, Alitalia from Heathrow, and bmibaby from Birmingham. These flights land at Leonardo da Vinci airport (aka Fiumicino), which lies to the south-west. Return fares from London at £110 are available from www.opodo.co.uk for travel in April. From Fiumicino, the express train service to Termini takes 35 minutes and leaves every half an hour (€11/£7.90 each way).

GET YOUR BEARINGS

To the west, a loop of the Tiber separates Rome's celebrated seven hills from the Vatican, a city-state in its own right. The Roman Forum lies at the southern limit of the historic centre, and to the north is the green sweep of the Borghese Gardens. The two-line metro system crosses at Termini, and an all-day ticket for buses, trams and the metro costs €4 (£2.90). The main tourist office (3) (00 39 06 8205 9127; www.romaturismo.it) is located at 5 Via Parigi, open 9am-7pm daily except Sundays. Consider buying a Roma Pass (€20/£14.30), valid for three days: the first two attractions you visit are free, with reduced prices for the rest and free transport thrown in.

CHECK IN

A stone's throw from the Vatican, the Hotel Bramante (4), at 24 Vicolo delle Palline (00 39 06 6880 6426; www.hotelbramante.com), is tucked down a side-street off the bustling Borgo Pio. Its 16 rooms are all dark wood, wrought iron and exposed beams. Doubles from €170 (£121), including breakfast. Alternatively, try the Hotel Pantheon (5) at 131 Via dei Pastini (00 39 06 6787 746; www.hotelpantheon.it). The 13 rooms are simply furnished, the staff are friendly, and the location is surprisingly peaceful, given its position just round the corner from the Pantheon (6) itself. Doubles from €200 (£143), including breakfast. To the east of the Borghese Gardens, the Hotel Fiume (7), at 5 Via Brescia (00 39 06 854 3000; www.hotelfiume-roma.com), is good value, with doubles from €133 (£95), including breakfast.

CULTURAL MORNING

Set your alarm: to minimise queuing, the Vatican museums (8), at 100 Viale Vaticano (00 39 06 698 83 333; www.vatican.va), are best visited as early as possible. Once inside, frescoed galleries deliver an unrivalled art-history lesson, which builds up nicely to the Sistine Chapel, with Michelangelo's masterpiece of a ceiling. (Museums open from 10am-4.45pm Monday to Saturday, last entry 3.30pm; admission €13 (£9.30). Closed Sundays, except the last Sunday of every month, when admission is free.) After the chapel, head round the corner to gawp at the enormity of St Peter's Basilica (7am-7pm, admission free) and St Peter's Square, tended by the Pope's peacock-like Swiss Guards.

LUNCH ON THE RUN

For once, you don't have to feel guilty for snacking on pizza. Try a takeaway pizza bianca, a pizza sandwich for which you select the filling. Lo Zozzone (9), tucked down the Via del Teatro (00 39 06 6880 8575), offers these DIY delights for €3 (£2.20).

TAKE A HIKE...

...into Rome's ancient past. Start by wandering the steep terraces of the Colosseum (10), where the Romans developed their love of bloodsports (open 8.30am-6.15pm, admission €11/£7.90). It's impressively intact: you can almost imagine the fans queuing for a half-time amphora or two. Your ticket is also valid for the Palatine (11), reached from the nearby Via Sacra. A tranquil garden at the summit gives way to the ruined palace complex (open 9am until one hour before sunset). Then it's back down the hill to the triumphal arches and crumbling temples of the Roman Forum (open 9am until one hour before sunset, admission free).

TAKE A VIEW

Climb the massive Victor Emanuel war memorial (12), looming above the Forum, then feast your eyes on the undulating vista of modern Rome laid out before you.

WINDOW SHOPPING

The Via del Corso runs southwards from the elegant Piazza del Popolo, and is shopping central. The area round the northern end is stuffed with high-fashion boutiques and trendy art galleries. By the time you get to Benetton (13) at No 422-3 (00 39 06 6810 2530), at least the Italian designs on offer have become more affordable.

AN APERITIF

The graceful Piazza Navona (14) was laid out on the ruins of an ancient Roman sports stadium. These days, the most strenuous activity involves drinking wine as the sun goes down and the street performers come out. Alternatively, the outdoor tables at Bar della Pace (15), at 3-7 Via della Pace, command a great view of Santa Maria della Pace church. A Campari will set you back €5 (£3.60).

DINING WITH THE LOCALS

For the classic trattoria experience, head to Armando al Pantheon (16), at 31 Salita de Crescenzi (00 39 06 6880 3034), where you can fill up without draining your wallet. A main course of spaghetti is €8 (£5.75), while a fish dish costs around €13 (£9).

SUNDAY MORNING: GO TO CHURCH

The Corinthian columns of the Pantheon (6), at Piazza della Rotonda (open 9am-7.30pm Monday-Saturday, 9am-5.30pm Sunday; free admission), mark this 2,000-year-old temple out as something quite extraordinary. Originally built to venerate Roman gods, Mass is now celebrated there at 10.30am every Sunday.

OUT TO BRUNCH

Friends (17), the bright café-bar-pizzeria at 60 Via della Scrofa (00 39 06 6861 416), is cheap, cheerful and just two minutes' walk from the Pantheon. A latte and a bulging focaccia sandwich costs a total of €3 (£2.20).

TAKE A RIDE

To reach the ruins of Ostia (00 39 06 5635 2830), Rome's ancient harbour, take metro line B to Piramide, then transfer to the adjacent Stazione Porta San Paolo, from where it's a 25-minute train journey to Ostia Antica (metro tickets valid for whole journey). The remains include an impressive amphitheatre, shops, homes and detailed mosaics. (Open 9am-7.30pm Tuesday-Sunday, last entry 6pm. Admission €4/£2.90.)

A WALK IN THE PARK

The leafy avenues of the Villa Borghese gardens are lovely to stroll along, but it's not just greenery on offer there: some of the city's finest art, including several stunning Bernini sculptures, can be found at the Galleria Borghese (18) (00 39 06 32 8101; www.galleriaborghese.it). Open 9am-7pm Monday to Saturday, entrance €8.50 (£6), booking essential.

WRITE A POSTCARD...

...or send an e-mail. There's free Wi-Fi access for an hour in the Villa Borghese gardens. However, if you've forgotten your laptop, the Vatican post office (19) (00 39 06 698 83 406) on St Peter's Square is open 8.30am-7pm Monday-Friday, and 8.30am-6pm Saturday, and will sell you any postcard you like. As long as it's of St Peter's. Or the Pope.

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

In a city riddled with iconic monuments, the Trevi Fountain (20), immortalised in La Dolce Vita, stands out for its sheer baroque silliness. Whereas the superstitious will toss their coins into the water, the sweet-toothed should save their loose change for an ice cream at one of Rome's many splendid gelateria.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker