Things to do in Rome, Italy: Three minute guide

Why

Rome is the world's greatest open-air museum. From ancient ruins to baroque grandeur, where else can you can take a wander through more than 2000 years of history without ever being more than a few steps away from a restoring glass of vino?

Visit

Ancient pilgrims were gobsmacked by the wonders of Rome and even today, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Limit yourself to one major sight a day – whether that's the Colosseum, the Vatican or the marvellous Galleria Borghese – and allow yourself time to explore the smaller, often overlooked marvels such as the Basilica di San Clemente (basilicasanclemente.com). At this layer cake-like edifice, a 12th-century church sits on top of a 4th-century church built on top of a 2nd-century pagan temple and a 1st-century Roman house, and you can visit them all.

Eat

Gourmet travellers usually arrive in Rome with a list of culinary experiences to tick off. For local classics start with Flavio al Velavevodetto in Testaccio (ristorantevelavevodetto.it/en/home): the tripe is superb but if that's not your cup of tea, try the pasta all'Amatriciana or spaghetti carbonara. Rome's Jewish delicacies can be enjoyed at Piperno (ristorantepiperno.com) in the Ghetto – go for the fried artichoke – while for a buzzing vibe and creative flavours, Glass Hostaria (glass-restaurant.it/en/) is the place to go. For creative gelato, connoisseurs rate Gelateria del Teatro's seasonal flavours such as lavender and white peach or cheese, fig and almond.

Look

You don't have to set foot in a single museum to see some of Rome's greatest art: its countless churches are crammed with treasures. Step inside the next one you see, and you might discover anything from masterpieces by Raphael and Michelangelo to the bones of dead Capuchin monks. Ones to add to your list include San Luigi dei Francesi​ near Piazza Navona​ for its Caravaggios, and Santa Prassede for its Byzantine mosaics.

Must

There is more to Rome than history, so go off-piste and discover the city's more modern side in its happening neighbourhoods. Pick of the bunch is Il Pigneto, where Rome's hip young things congregate in funky bars and restaurants.

Sleep

Fuel the fantasy of living in Rome at Babuino 181 (mrandmrssmith.com), a collection of chic apartment-style suites near the Piazza del Popolo. If you prefer a more luxurious lodging, make like George Clooney and head for the Hotel de Russie​ (roccofortehotels.com), built around an immense terraced garden filled with climbing roses and yew trees.

Tip

Rome in summer can be ghastly, its streets clogged with tourists and endless queues at the big attractions. Come in the off-season for a much more pleasant experience. 

The writer was a guest of Rail Europe and Mr and Mrs Smith.

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