Oh Rome, it is a city so beautiful. The big energy, the constant nods to history, and the food -- oh, the food -- makes me think of this city often.
If I were dropped in Rome for just one day, this would be my rough plan for the perfect day; a mix of off-the-beaten path destinations and a few of my favorite highlights. Oh, and food. Lots of food.
Looking for the perfect day in Rome? Let's get started.
Caffeinate, as often as you see fit. Cafe culture may be intimidating at first, but just observe what the locals are doing, and follow suit. One phrase in Italian that is super helpful? Vorrei doppio espresso, per favore. It means, I would like a double shot of espresso, please. It may not be perfect Italian (I'm still learning!) but it should get the job done. We found that a double espresso translated roughly to a similar amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee at home in the States.
Once fully caffeinated, go to the Pantheon while it's still early to beat the crowds. And it's free to enter, making it a win-win! We discovered that Rick Steves has a pretty good app with walking tours. Preload it before you go, pop in your earbuds, and you've got your own private tour!
A mid-morning in Rome isn't complete, of course, without some gelato. This little shop, Ciucculá Gelateria Artigianale is just outside the Pantheon, yet isn't a tourist trap. Delizioso!
Check out Piazza Navona, a quaint square with cute shops and great photo ops in front of the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Take some time to people watch here, and with all the sunlight pouring in to this ancient piazza, it's an instagrammer's dream.
If the weather allows, find a great spot to sit outside and eat a leisurely lunch accompanied by large chunks of parmesan and the house wine, like at Trattoria da Lucia across the river in Trastevere.
Beware of the mid afternoon, when some shops traditionally close. Use this time to explore, instead. If you've already found your way to Trastevere, you'll fall in love with the slower pace of life, so drink it in, and work off all that amazing food you just ate.
Really want an off the beaten path excursion? Walk along the river toward the Keyhole of Malta -- it's got a great view of St. Peter's Basilica. Be warned: it's suuuper hard to get a photo through that little keyhole for the amateur photog, so just appreciate the moment. And the area surrounding it is exquisite. Take some time taking in the views of Rome from this Aventine Hill -- on a beautiful day this view can't be beat.
When you've had enough, get ready to head back toward the bustle that makes Rome so amazing. Take a spin past the Circus Maximus and catch a glimpse of the Roman Forum, because, after all, when in Rome. Take one last breath of your slow-moving surroundings, because you're about to encounter the crowds again...
Marvel at the grandeur of the Victor Emmanuel II Monument. This was built for the first king of a unified Italy. To say it is massive is an understatement -- it's the largest monument in Rome, and is rather controversial, too. It's baffling to see the stark contrast between the nearby Roman ruins and this white marble monument. This is another people watching mecca, so sit back and enjoy the selfie sticks.
Wind down the day by taking in an apertivo, essentially the Roman version of a happy hour, where purchasing a drink gives you access to an entire spread of food. Usually there are small bites, charcuterie, cheese, basically all things delicious. This could easily become your dinner if you'd like. But for this perfect day in Rome, I urge you to not get too full. For dinner, I suggest a molto bene seafood dinner at Ristorante Al 34.
Finally, if grappa is your thing, consider your nightcap decided upon. :)
While I certainly have left some big "must sees" off this list, it's simply because to experience Rome, or any city, for that matter, you can't be running from one site to another and not appreciate the moment.
What's on your perfect day in Rome itinerary?