How To Eat, Drink, & See (A Lot Of) Rome In A Day
Coffee, suppli, gelato, pasta, and wine—here’s how to cram it all into one day.
You could spend an entire week in Rome and still leave with a lengthy list of things you didn’t see, didn’t do, or didn’t eat—and that would be a shame. Fitting a lot into one day when visiting this charmingly chaotic city is key, especially if you’re here for the first time and your itinerary includes hours-long trips and tours to The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and The Vatican.
You should absolutely do those things, but you should also layer in plenty of time to enjoy what really makes Rome so great: the food. Here’s how to cover a lot of ground—and a lot of meals—in one day. Need more recs than what’s below? Check out our guide to the best restaurants in Rome, plus a rundown of where to have the best pasta.
HAVE AN ESPRESSO
Sant' Eustachio Il Caffè
No one’s going to stop you from ordering a takeaway cappuccino at Sant' Eustachio Il Caffè, a spot that's been around since 1938 and, conveniently for you, located in between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. But you’re in Rome, and you should do as the Romans do: drink your espresso at the bar, pastry optional. Take a minute to mentally prepare for the rest of your very busy day, which—heads up—is going to include a lot of walking.
From here, make your way to the Villa Borghese Gallery & Museum, which you should have hopefully bought tickets for in advance. Sant' Eustachio Il Caffè is only a 20-minute walk from the entrance on Villa Gabriele D'Annunzio, and the gallery itself is another 10 from there. Give yourself plenty of time to wander through the gardens and fantasize about moving to the Italian countryside, adding a few more vowels to your name, and opening your own olive oil farm before your designated time slot.
STOP FOR A SNACK
You’re going to need a snack after a morning spent gawking at paintings and sculptures that are as old as your great-great-great-great-great grandparents. Make your way to Supplizio, a small street food spot in Centro Storico. Pepper in some sightseeing on the way by exiting the gardens at Porta Pinciana and walking south—you’ll hit the Trevi Fountain in about 15 minutes.
When you arrive, order from the counter inside and try to grab one of the sidewalk tables where you can sit with your snacks, a cold glass of wine, and the Elena Ferrante novel you bought specifically for this trip. As for what to order, we like the classico, cacio e pepe, and amatriciana suppli (a.k.a. perfect little fried balls of rice similar to arancini), plus the crocchetta affumicata and the polpette di melanzane.
STOP FOR A SECOND SNACK: GELATO
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photo credit: Mary Stuart
We’re going to guess that at least two people who helped you source recommendations for your trip subjected you to a passionate debate over which gelateria is the best. We like the spots on this list best, which includes Otaleg, a small shop in Trastevere. Make your way there, and if you’re up for it, tack on a pit-stop to Campo de’ Fiori—it’s on the way.
Choose from a menu of around 30 different flavors (if it’s available, get the lightly-toasted pistacchio al quadrato). Take your cup and meander through the neighborhood as you call your grandma to inquire about any possibility of declaring Italian citizenship. Then, head back to your hotel to commence the “getting ready for dinner” part of your day, a.k.a. taking a little nap and then scrambling to get ready for your dinner reservation.
DO A PASTA & WINE TASTING
photo credit: Rimessa Roscioli
Roscioli is one of Rome’s most famous restaurants, but its other sit-down spot, Rimessa Roscioli, serves some of the same incredible food and is a much easier reservation to get. Book a spot for the 8pm tasting and wine pairing, which includes small bites of different meats and cheeses, one very exceptional meatball, a traditional Roman pasta, dessert, and a taste of eight different wines for €75. Tables are communal, so it’s a great place for making new friends if you’re traveling solo. If you need a conversation started, we’re confident you could talk about that meatball for a solid 15 minutes.
END WITH A DRINK
Freni e Frizioni
You could go back to your hotel after dinner, and no one would blame you. Your feet are tired, and they probably aren’t used to this much cobblestone. But you’re on vacation (the literal, physical embodiment of “when in Rome”) so we recommend you keep going, even if it’s just to see what the ancient monuments you visited earlier look like at night.
So, make your way to Freni E Frizioni, a former autobody shop-turned-cocktail bar with tons of outdoor space where you can hang out with a drink and watch the cars go by as you rest your feet. Order a negroni sbagliato or one of the funkier pairings, like The Outline with fennel and pepper-infused Johnnie Walker Black, on their cocktail menu before calling it a notte.