Andrew recommends you:
No matter how long you spend in Rome, it's never enough. The Eternal City has an eternal #bucketlist of sites to explore (especially when you add in Vatican City), but with some planning, the #culture of #Rome, from the Catacombs to St. Peter’s Basilica, can be soaked up in a long #weekend.
When in Europe, do as Romans do. I mean that literally: everyone should visit Rome at least once in their life. As a cradle of Western Civilization, there is perhaps more to see in The Eternal City than anywhere else on Earth, from the Etruscans to Futurism. With history around every marble corner, it would take multiple lifetimes to see all Roma has to offer. I flew down for a long weekend while studying in Paris and was able to see the highlights of the city while still savoring the dolce vita.
For lodging, I chose Hotel Mascagni for modern convenience and antique charm. Mascagni hides a sleek and spacious interior in a 19th century villa, as well as an unbeatable location: close to Termini Train station (which is also the intersection of Rome’s metro lines) yet walking distance to major sites like the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum. The 24-hour check-in was the risotto that tipped the scale, since I was arriving late to Rome.
My first Roman site was actually a different country altogether—the sovereign state of Vatican City. Since the Vatican is a bit less than 1 square mile full of history and art, I knew I’d want a guide to navigate me through this papal palazzo. I went with The Roman Guy “Privileged Entrance” Tour—an exploration of the Vatican and St. Peter’s which starts an hour before the museums are open to the public. Our guide Andrea steered us directly to the Sistine Chapel, which is akin to walking through a Renaissance illuminated manuscript. Gold, green, and peach bodies twisted in the blue heavens, acting out the Biblical epic on the tromp l’oeil marble. Dazzled from the chapel, Andrea anchored us back to Earth by explaining the history behind the many hallways, courtyards, and apartments of the Vatican on the way to St. Peter’s Basilica. We ended the tour through the doors of St. Peter’s, bedecked with flowers and buntings for Easter mass.
I then popped over to the Coliseum for a quick view, then an afternoon drink at Coming Out, an LGBT-friendly café/photogallery in the shadow of the famed arena (with very affordable cocktails).
My next day started with another The Roman Guy exploration: “The Catacombs Tour.”
The Catacombs Tour
Arte Vaticana Guided Tour in Vatican
Colosseum & Ancient City Tour
Starting in Rome’s Basilica San Clemente, we studied the ancient frescoes and altarpieces of early Christendom, when the world’s biggest religion was a taboo sect. Our tour ended on the outskirts of Rome on the Appian Way. The two-thousand-year-old thoroughfare which witnessed the slave rebellion of Spartacus and the fall of the empire now hears the clack of chic stilettos and vroom of Italian engines. I spent the rest of the day in the city, going for dinner with friends at L’Archetto (where the pasta and wine flowed).
The final day included a lot of wandering and tying loose ends—the Forum, the Pantheon, the Bocca della Verita (all of which, like Rome itself, took their pagan origins and coated themselves in a Catholic shell). I wandered the straight Roman roads, breathing in the ancient air, watching the sun peak through the many orange trees. These trees would get to stand in the streets of Rome for decades, watching history and beauty pass below their branches. I may not be as lucky as an orange tree, but I at least got to spend a weekend in the Eternal City.