Rome's areas. What are the highlights? Best places to eat?

I am trying to plan an itinerary for my trip to Rome and I have to be honest with you. All the names of all the things to see*as well as the roads, plazas, churches, fountains, etc. etc. etc.) get confusing. Maybe that is my lack of familiarity. I was wondering if I were to split up the sights like Rick advises, what are the highlights in each area worht checking out(as opposed to things that werent really worth it if you had itto do over again) and also anyone know of any places to eat in these areas? I am looking for quick in and out (or eat standing up and back to sight seeing) for lunch and then would like some modestly priced sit down places to eat. I also would LOVE any recommendations for out of the way eateries that the locals gravitate towards. Not wanting to go to touristy restaurants too much. For the following recommended areas: Vatican City North Rome Pantheon Neighborhood Ancient Rome
East Rome South Rome Any assistance would be great. Working my way through the guide book and trying to decipher it all without having been there=) Thanks!

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
809 posts

Depending on how long you'll be there, first identify your "must see" sites - I loved the Forum, the Pantheon, Vatican City, the piazzas, etc...each person will have their own favorites. Plan on seeing the crowded, touristy sites as early in the AM as you can. Then either follow one (or several) of Rick's walks that look appealing or literally drop the book and just let yourself wander and get lost. That's the best advice I could give you because the joy of travel is the unexpected things (not the hyper planned things) - you don't even need to plan the restaurants ahead of time - you can just poke your head around and see what looks appealing. You'll be able to tell where locals go because the menus will be in Italian without an English translation - speaking of which, learn some Italian phrases ahead of time. As far as neighborhoods go, I recall really liking Trastevere.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
4932 posts

Great advice from Agnes. Also think about what you are interested in. The Vatican museums are a feast for art lovers, a long trek for those who just want to see the Sistine Chapel. I find it easier to use audio tours than printed ones. Rick has several (free) for Rome. Be sure to print the maps for them. The Trastevere and Jewish Ghetto are next to each other, easy to do on the same day. If you want to save money on food, look for a supermarket at the end of your day or first thing in the morning and pick up stuff for lunch and snacks - even for dinner. The Spar chain is everywhere (ask your hotel for the nearest one) and you can get soft drinks, wine, beer, etc. much cheaper. They also have deli counters to get meats and cheeses and salads - some even do sandwiches. Besides fruit and veggies, they have fresh salads. Easy to eat fast, cheap and healthy. Carry an empty 1/2 liter water bottle with you and fill it with icy cold water from the ubiquitous fountains. Your hotel is often a good place to get restaurant locations. Read the menu before you go in so you have an idea of prices. House wines are usually pretty good and not expensive. Be sure to take at least a couple of after-dark walks. Rome looks completely different at night.

Posted by Jim
Crystal Lake, IL, United States
29 posts

It really depends on what you like to see and do.. I just visited Rome for the first time a week ago, and I felt much like you do.. it can be overwhelming - just in the planning stages... In 5 days we saw and did 90% of what we originally wanted to.. After being in Rome, we changed the schedule - dropping of a place or two from the list and adding a few things.. be flexible.. I majored in art and i'm a history geek - but I find I don't necessarily like to spend a lot of time in museums.. I would rather visit locations where things happened, over seeing things in a museum.. As an example, rather than going to the National Museum (which I understand is great, or Borghese Gallery) we took a train to ancient Roman runis of Ostia Antica (and thoroughly enjoyed it). Of course, there was a small museum at Ostia Antica(which was quite nice). Must see places (MY LIST): Colosseum/Forum/Palatine Hill, Pantheon, Basicila of St. Peter in Chains (this won't be on a lot of must see lists, but I really wanted to see Michaelangelo's statue of Moses) and you can do it in 30 minutes. St. Peter's Basilica (Michaelangelo's Pieta), the Raphael Rooms and Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museum. The crowds at the Vatican Museum made it a lesser experience that it could have been.... Trevi Fountain was cool.. but I wouldn't necessarily make a point of visiting the Spanish Steps again... The other things that we really enjoyed were the underground tour at the Colosseum, The Scavi Tour at St. Peter's Basilica, and the catacombs of San Sebastiano. I would also recommend eating dinner and/or wondering around the Trastevere area and any of the major piazzas.. I liked Campo Di Fiori (my favorite restaurant was near there - Osteria di Fortunato. Hope this doesn't muddy the water too much.. Happy Travels, Jim