Three days in Rome City: from Gelato vs Ice cream to traditional aperitivo at The Jerry Thomas Project!
Heading to Rome city and looking for the BEST 3 Day itinerary and BEST places to visit? No matter how many days you have, we’ve got you covered! Whether you love Rome for its architecture, cultural significance, or for its world-class bars – we have compiled an exciting and memorable 3-day itinerary just for you. We will steer you towards the BEST that Rome city has to offer including the BEST day trips from Rome, and most importantly, where to enjoy the BEST Italian liquors from the BEST rooftop bars with the BEST views across the city.
Rome is like delicious tiramisu! Layered in traditions, topped with culinary delights and exquisite architecture! Here’s how to see the best of Rome in 3 days!
Day 1 – Arriving in ‘The Eternal City’, Rome hotels with balcony views, and your first aperitivo.
First things first! After touching down at Leonardo da Vinci International Airport (also known as Fiumicino) after its location – head straight to the TIM Telecom shop inside the T3 arrival hall and get your international sim card sorted.
We all know in this day and age, how important having reliable data is, especially to keep us from getting lost in a new city! Although public Wi-Fi is widely available in Rome, it can be unreliable and irritatingly slow, so it’s best to get your own connection sorted straight away. Tourist plans are very affordable and our go to network is TIM Telecom. TIM Telecom is Italy’s largest operator and offers fast internet speeds and a wide-reaching network. Their website is partially translated into English but to save time, we have broken it down for you.
TIM International Plan
You can pick up a prepaid tourist SIM card, (ask for “TIM International Plan”), at the store in the airport by showing your passport, and it will be activated in store by the staff. During your trip you can top up credit in supermarkets, tabacchi stores (tobacconists which are basically on every second street corner!), service stations and post offices. Keep an eye out for the white and blue T symbol, or you can download the TIM Telecom app and top it up as you need on the go. Pricing ranges between €10-20 and can include (plan dependant) up to 15GB of data, a maximum of 300 minutes of international calling (including Australia), roaming in the EU with a validity of 30 days.
Rome Transportation – Uber Moves Rome
Once the SIM card is sorted, you can get on your way to experiencing the best things in Rome! Uber is widely available, and taxi’s will of course be waiting outside the arrivals. If you’re not already an Uber customer, download the app and set up your profile before you travel. You must be connected to the internet to use the Uber App. There are designated Uber pick up areas at most airports, however, you may need to ask someone to point you in the right direction. Once at the designated pick up area, enter your destination and choose a ride option. You will always see the price upfront, your driver’s picture and vehicle details, and you can even track your driver’s arrival on the map.
For the more money conscious travellers, there is also “The Leonardo Express” train which travels every 30 minutes between the airport and ‘Roma Termini’ (Rome Terminus) from 6.23am – 11.23pm for €14.
Best Rooftop Bar & Rome City Views
In a city full of street activity and architectural beauty, a great view from your bedroom window is a must. In the heart of the historical precinct you will find Hotel Forum surrounded by the cobble streets once walked on by the likes of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Queen Cleopatra. This historic hotel constructed inside an 18th century former Dominican monastery will take you back to another era altogether.
Hotel Forum’s American Bar is a tiny rooftop bar with spectacular and panoramic views of the Imperial Forums. This rooftop garden is the best place to get your first Roman aperitivo and wind down after walking your feet off. Let us explain the Roman aperitivo, because it is perhaps the most important part of the day. It is much more than just an evening drink. It is a time of day in the life of the Italianos all over the country, when people come together to enjoy traditional Italian liquors.
Happy Hour | Italian Style
This Italian tradition of “Happy Hour” has made a name for itself worldwide. Many of the liquors you will find across Rome are based on family recipes which people once made in their homes from ingredients grown in their gardens. Typically, it is accompanied by the Italian version of ‘tapas’, known as Stuzzichini. The bar at Hotel Forum also does these traditional appetizers so no need to move elsewhere! Get here before sunset and find the famous bartenders Paolo and Flavio, two of Rome’s masters of cocktails and drink pouring.
The classic Roman aperitivo is a spritz, made of white wine or Prosecco, Campari or Aperol and sparkling water. Your bartender will be able to recommend what mixers are best with each spirit. Our favourite to start with is a Ramazzotti or a Campari, but it won’t take you long to find your own favourites!
The rooftop bar of Hotel Forum remains open until late in the evening and is open to the general public. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel be sure you go up to the bar for a sunset drink.
Rome City Centre Hotels
There is an abundance of places to stay in Rome, therefore, you are spoilt for choice. If you are looking for a central location that’s comfortable and clean, we recommend The Five Oscars Inn situated in Via Milano, a stone’s throw from Via Nazionale.
Palazzo Naiadi Hotel Secret Ruins
Only 700metres from the The Five Oscars Inn is the preserved roman baths beneath the Palazzo Naiadi Hotel. The neoclassical palace overlooks Rutelli’s Fountain of the Naiads and Michelangelo’s Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli on the curve of Piazza Repubblica. The ruins date back to AD306 and can be viewed for free through a thick glass floor on the lower ground floor. While your there head up to the rooftop “Posh Terrace” and enjoy the stunning Rome views with a cocktail in hand.
Day 2 – Finding the best coffee in Rome, Rome walking tours self-guided! And an evening at the Jerry Thomas Project.
Start your day early in Rome and avoid the traffic and the crowds. Capture the magic of this splendid city while it is quiet and empty. Walk, hail a cab or jump on a bus, and head for Giolitti. An Italian institution in our opinion (and many others). This café opened in 1890 and continues to make some of the best coffee in Rome. Order a ‘glass espresso’ and do some people watching and enjoy the constant activity that surrounds you.
Giolitti is known to supply a quality caffeine fix to local politicians and housewives alike and is also a place where everyone mingles with one another over their daily espresso or cappuccino before beginning their day. However, in case you don’t know, a cappuccino should only be ordered before 11am. The reason being is Italians are obsessed about digestion! They believe consuming milk after a meal messes with their digestion, however, breakfast doesn’t count as a traditional Italian breakfast typically consists of milk coffee, breads and pastries.
But Giolitti’s fame doesn’t end at the best coffee in Rome. The age-old debate of ‘gelato vs ice cream’ continues here. Whether you are on the side of one or the other, Giolitti make both desserts exceptionally well. It is reputed to have the best of both, so the answer to the ‘gelato vs ice cream’ debate remains unanswered.
Arty Side of Rome
Once you’ve had your coffee fix, head off on a self-guided walking tour of Rome. Walk by the Pantheon, stop in La Feltrinelli Bookstore for a browse and get lost for a couple of hours inside the Museo di Roma.
Face your fears in Rome at Museo Jacorossi, a new and much-hyped contemporary art museum. The Musja – Museo Jacorossi is a private modern art gallery, just a stone’s throw from the Pantheon. It is inside an ancient Rome building that has roots and elements from the Renaissance. The multi-functional space first opened in 2017 by the founder, art collector and Roman entrepreneur Ovidio Jacorossi. Under the new name Musja (Museo Jacorossi), the museum opened with an exhibitive trilogy that unfolds under the theme, The Dark Side. The exhibitions are curated by Danilo Eccher, the former MACRO director also known for curating several successful shows at Chiostro del Bramante.
Make an art gallery stop at ‘Moniter’, ‘Colli Independant Art Gallery’ or ‘MAC Maja Arte Contemporanea (all within a couple blocks of one another). Take a river tour or walk along the river Tiber, and end at Rome’s most iconic place for a drink – The Jerry Thomas Project.
The beauty of The Jerry Thomas Project is the revival of many of the forgotten liquors. Guests can enjoy modern cocktails made with traditional liquors adapted from generations of old family recipes. This establishment is found inside a 500-year-old (somewhat unimaginable for an Australian, but yes, 500 years old!) building with a passcode protecting it. Known simply as the ‘Jerry’, this place has been on the “50 World’s Best Bars” list five years running. The Jerry is clearly onto something good, and we can attest to that.
Rome Without the Crowds
The Roman Guy tour company offers the best walking, driving, bike and food tours in Italy. To bypass the insane long queues, we highly recommend you pre-book your Rome tours (well in advance) with The Roman Guy. All the tour guides speak English and are very knowledgeable on Rome’s incredible history. They also have tours in Florence and Venice and offer a number of day trips to the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Chianti Hills and Pisa.
Day 3 – Relax at a day spa Rome-style and discover the local craft beers
Rome has a reputation for some of the best spas in Europe. Our favourite place to receive over-the-top pampering is at ‘Prince Spa’ in the heart of the city. It’s the best place to unwind after a couple of days of “Romeing”! You could easily spend the entire day here, getting rejuvenated.
Change is Brewing…
Next up, did you know that Rome is making a name for itself in the craft beer industry? Italy is well-known for its fine wines and overabundance of liqueurs and spirits that are enjoyed as an aperitivo and after-dinner digestive. But the craft beer scene here is slowly developing. It is something not to be missed with breweries setting themselves up all around the country.
There is one local brewpub in particular which has become somewhat of a beacon for the craft beer movement across Rome. A small hole in the wall business in the Trastevere neighbourhood which attracts beer lovers from all over the world. Make your way to ‘Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà’ and experience the place where Rome’s craft beer-drinking culture is being cultivated. In the middle of a suburb known for its nightlife, don’t count on finding a seat inside – however standing outside with a beer in hand is just as novel as there is always plenty of activity to observe.
On the other side of Tiber River, Open Baladin (Campo de’ Fiori)offers an excellent selection of microbrews and large assortment of international craft beers.
Hungry for More?
Walk around the corner to La Botticella for dinner, on a quiet street with alfresco dining – soak up the Roman air on your last evening and begin planning your next Roman holiday.
Gems of Italy
For those who have a few extra days up their sleeve, consider a trip to the famous Italian coastline, or perhaps look into some Amalfi tours from Rome with The Roman Guy.
If you aren’t ready to go too far from the city just yet, there are also many beautiful day trips from Rome which deserve a visit. Perhaps a day trip to Ladispoli on the coast or the ancient city and archaeological site of Ostia Antica!
A last minute must stop to buy some souvenirs to take home with you – ‘Enoteca Constantini’, is a small but very well stocked liquor store. This little place is home to many well-known as well as little known liquor creators from all around the country. Or if Whiskey is more your thing, make a stop at Le Bon Bock Shop, known Italy wide by collectors and lovers of whiskey! And most importantly, if you discover any hole-in-the-wall, unique liquor bars who serve traditional Roman aperitivo, we definitely want to hear about them! Ciao!
Rome Sightseeing Map
Pinterest Infographic credit – OnTheWorldMap.com
More Fun Things To See in Rome
The Cats of Rome
Cat lovers visiting Rome, the Torre Argentina cat welfare sanctuary is a must. The Largo di Torre Argentina archaeological site is also the place where Julius Caesar was killed after being betrayed in 44BCE.
Today, Torre Argentina volunteers care for up to 120+ cats, many of them suffering from illnesses, disabilities and behavioural problems. Cats roam freely around the ruins while the special needs cats reside inside a room within the sanctuary. This wonderful sanctuary receives no government funding and relies totally on monetary donations from locals and visitors. Donation money is also used to spay and neuter younger cats and kittens that are hopefully rehomed in Rome.
Cat memorabilia including a cat calendar featuring the permanent cat residents are available for purchase. Locals and visitors can adopt a cat by a monthly donation and receive regular updates from your adopted cat.
The sanctuary entrance (on the corner of Via Florida & Via di Torre Argentina) is easy to find and well worth a visit. It is open to the public from 12pm – 6pm every day of the year. Alternatively, there is another Roman cat sanctuary located near the Pyramid of Cestius, at the Protestant Cemetery.
Hidden Piazza in Rome – Turtle Fountain
Only 200 metres from Largo di Torre Argentina cat sanctuary is a hidden piazza in the heart of the Jewish Ghetto. The Fontana delle Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain) features four naked adolescent boys smiling and playing. It appears the boys are pushing turtles up to the basin above and catching them as they fall into the lower portion of the fountain. Legend has it the fountain was built overnight by Muzio Mattei, a duke, who was attempting to impress his future father in law. The marriage went ahead and to mark the event the window overlooking the fountain was closed by brick and this remains the same today. Ciao!
With A Heavy Heart
For most visitors to Rome, leaving the Eternal City can bring on feelings of great sadness. Its with a heavy heart we leave Rome and head to Florence to do it all over again…..
For other travel stories like this and vacation tips, subscribe to Progressive Traveller and receive new stories directly in your inbox. Also, check out some of the Australian blogs – Macalister Brewing Company, Brouhaha Brewery and Fitzroy Island and this one on Verona Italy.
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