Photograph by Kenneth Garrett, Nat Geo Image Collection
Read Caption

Trajan's Column includes carvings of over 2,000 figures and 155 scenes commemorating Rome's triumph in the Dacian Wars.

Photograph by Kenneth Garrett, Nat Geo Image Collection

Weekend Itinerary for the Explorer in Rome

Tour the Eternal City through the tastebuds of an Italian chef.

Rome is a city of grace, mysteries, and many, many secrets. Every time I think I know it, something new comes up and shows me there is a lot to explore here still. Here are my tips for a weekend in the Eternal City.

Friday

Afternoon: Start your weekend the way many Romans do—with a glass of wine. Stop in at Enoteca Trimani (via Goito, 20) and take Francesco or Paolo’s recommendation for a nice bottle of wine. Take it, along with two glasses, to the Trastevere neighborhood (you can take the tram or walk about 40 minutes) and arrive at Gianicolo (or Janiculum) Hill just in time for sunset. Settle back for the best views of Rome.

Once the sun has gone down, wander back through Trastevere, stopping to eat dinner at a restaurant that catches your eye. Avoid tourist traps and instead try a simple, delicious meal at Bir and Fud (via Benedetta, 23). These fine folks make a very good pizza and have a good selection of artisanal beers.

Walk off dinner by strolling down via Benedetta toward Piazza Trilussa, stopping along the way for a gelato at Checco er Carettiere.

Cross the Tiber River on the Ponte Sisto and make your way to the iconic Piazza Navona and its Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). No matter the time of day (or night), you’ll find a crowd of people buzzing here, providing you with great people watching.

View Images

Some of the best views of Rome can be found in the Trastevere neighborhood.

Saturday

Morning: Get an early start for a stroll around Garbatella, one of the hippest areas in Rome. First developed in the early 1920s as affordable housing, it was modeled after the English garden city concept: low-rise buildings with gardens and surrounded by small parks. As you walk, remember to look up (and down!) to take it all in.

Stop at a café in Piazza Giuseppe Sapeto for breakfast and a fortifying espresso. Then make your way to the Ponte Settimia Spizzichino, also known as the Ostiense Overpass. This arched, white steel railway bridge was built as a tribute to Settimia Spizzichino, the only Roman Jew to survive deportation to Auschwitz.

Grab a cappuccino at Bar Pasticceria Foschi (Piazza Bartolomeo Romano), then take the metro or a cab to Testaccio, often called the city’s most “authentic” neighborhood.

Afternoon: Have a light lunch at the Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio (New Testaccio Market) on Via Beniamino Franklin. The covered market is new in location only; vendors have been selling their wares in Testaccio for more than a century. Create your own salad and try fresh juice from Zoe (stall 59) or have a slice of pizza alla pala at CasaManco (stall 22).

View Images

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City is the world's largest church building.

From Testaccio Market, walk north to Aventine Hill and the Priory of the Knights of Malta. It’s the keyhole in the green door that’s the attraction here—look through it for a perfectly framed view of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Take the Metro from Piramide (just few blocks from Testaccio Market) and get off at Via Cavour. Walking down Via Cavour, take a little detour at Via in Selci to visit the ceramics shop Pots. Keep going down Via Cavour; at one point on the left-hand side you will see a flight of stairs under an arch. Go up and you’ll arrive at the church of San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains), which holds Michelangelo’s colossal "Moses" statue.

View Images

A marble statue of Moses by iconic Italian artist Michelangelo is a highlight in the San Pietro in Vincoli church in Rome.

Evening: Enjoy an aperitif with an amazing view of Rome at I Sofà di via Giulia in the Hotel Indigo Rome-St. George (via Giulia, 62), then head across the river for dinner at Hostaria Glass—my restaurant. We have been there for over 14 years and are the only upscale restaurant in Trastevere. Or try Per Me, an elegant restaurant from Chef Giulio Terrinoni. (Tell him I sent you.)

After dinner, stroll over to Enoteca il Goccetto (Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 14) for il bicchiere della staffa, the last glass before going to bed.

Sunday

Morning: Get up early and have a croissant and a cappuccino at Panella (via Merulana, 59). Wander down the street (featured in Carlo Emilio Gadda’s crime novel That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana) and breathe a sense of what it must have been like there in the past.

Take a break at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and have a light lunch at Gatsby Café (Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, 106). Before you leave, enter the park and the 17th-century Porta Alchemica, or Alchemist’s Door. Legend has it that you can reach many parallel dimensions here—perhaps one that will keep you in magical Rome for a while longer.

Cristina Bowerman, one of the few Italian women chef awarded a Michelin star, was born in Italy in Cerignola, in the province of Foggia. She studied law, forensics, and graphic design before earning her degree in Culinary Arts in the United States. She is currently the head chef at Glass Hostaria in Rome. You can follow her on Twitter at @cribowerman.