To report IS
- The Italian capital is packed with tourist attractions, including the Colosseum
- For best views and to avoid the crowds head to the Vatican City bright and early
- From pizza to pasta to burgers – you can eat surprisingly cheaply in Rome
Wendy Gomersall For The Mail On Sunday
The Colosseum, Pantheon, Forum, Vatican City – there’s so much to see in the Italian capital, and that’s before we get on to great food and tempting shops.
No wonder Rome is a must-do mini-break.
You’re not going to get around all the sightseeing riches the Eternal City has to offer in two days without exhausting yourself, but you can cover the magnificent highlights, and keep control of the budget, too, by staying at a posh new hostel…
Roman treasures: The Vatican looks simply stunning when it’s lit up at night
Head to the Vatican City first. You don’t want to spend your whole day waiting in line so buy a skip-the-queue ticket – Attraction Tickets Direct’s three-day Omnia Vatican and Rome Pass (£99 adults, £71 children) includes hop-on/hop-off bus ticket, free Rome travelcard, fast-track entry to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, and free audio guide for St Peter’s Basilica.
There is also free entry to two other attractions from six choices: Colosseum; Roman Forum and Palatine Hill; Capitolini Museums; Borghese Gallery; Museum of Rome and National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo.
And you also get discounts on 30 other attractions and a guidebook (attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk, 0800 077 3723).
For lunch, there’s La Soffitta Renovatio in Piazza del Risorgimento (lasoffittarenovatio.com) for the best hamburger e patatine fritte – aka burger and chips – I have ever tasted.
Top attraction: The Trevi Fountain (above) is free to enjoy but can be crowded
Walk off some of those calories looking around the grand Colosseum, the largest amphitheatre ever built and not in bad nick considering, and the ruins of the Roman Forum next door.
You can walk to your hostel from the Colosseum. Generator Rome may offer minimal service (no luggage porter) and facilities (no telly) but they claim the lead-in price for a double room for two is just €40 (£35) per person per night.
Needless to say, prices fluctuate throughout the year and you will pay more around special events – and be aware that the city tax is not included in these prices (€3.50pp per night), and has to be paid direct at the hostel. Visit generatorhostels.com for more details.
A casual, unfussy but tasty dinner is available – margherita pizza for €7 (about £6.10), for example, plus there are often special offers on food and drink.
Grand: Walk off some of those calories looking around the Colosseum (above), the largest amphitheatre ever built
Breakfast at Generator Rome is a bargain – just €5 (£4.40) for an all-you-can-eat feast featuring cereals, fruits, boiled eggs, ham, cheese, breads, jams, cake and drinks.
Next, head out on a Scooteroma (scooteroma.com) tour by Vespa – it’s fun, if slightly terrifying! Guests ride as a passenger behind an expert driver. A classic four-hour tour costs from €200pp (£175), so it’s not cheap, but it zips you around lesser-known sights that would otherwise be a faff to reach. Itineraries can be tailor-made. For example, a street art tour of the Ostiense district takes in Kid Acne’s Paint Over The Cracks and JB Rock’s Wall Of Fame, and includes a coffee or gelato.
Eat lunch on the run – look out for ‘pizza al metro’ shops for pieces of pizza with a vast choice of toppings, then pretend you are rich and window-shop outside the designer boutiques at Via Condotti and the Spanish Steps.
‘Eat lunch on the run – look out for “pizza al metro” shops for pieces of pizza with a vast choice of toppings,’ writes Wendy Gomersall
I adore the Trevi fountain, which is free to enjoy but can be crowded – go in the early evening when many people head back to their hotels for dinner. For unabashed luxury, stay at the Hotel Eden (dorchester collection.com), just a coin’s-throw away. If it’s a bunfight close to the water, head for the steps of the Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio church opposite, from where you get a good view. Go inside this church, too – it offers free concerts.
To cool off in summer, pay €3 (£2.60) to visit the Citta Dell’Acqua (City of Water) – underground ruins a minute’s walk from the fountain. My tip: don’t pay for a guide as displays are in English.
For a casual dinner, head for the brilliant Mercato Centrale Roma (mercatocentrale.it) for great, reasonably priced food – tasty pizza, pasta, veggie burgers and awesome cannoli, all served from a big selection of artisan stalls.
And it’s just a five-minute walk from Generator and an aperitivo on the roof terrace.
There are direct flights to Rome from all over the UK. Flights to from Edinburgh with Ryanair (ryanair.com) cost from £36.71pp one-way; from Heathrow or Gatwick with British Airways (ba.com) they cost from £110pp return.
Take a bus rather than an expensive taxi to Roma Termini in the city centre, as it’s only a five-minute walk from Generator Rome. For more information, go to turismoroma.it.
Rome: Climb aboard a nippy Vespa to take in the ancient sights of the Eternal City