We have a saying: “one life isn’t enough for Rome.”
And it’s probably true. But if you only have four days in Rome, here’s where you should eat, drink and hang out.
An itinerary for four days in Rome
In theory, finding places to eat in Rome is pretty easy—there are dozens and dozens of great restaurants, bars, pizzerias and bakeries. But actually coming up with a schedule, an efficient way to distribute the places, is a bit harder.
What we’ve put together for you here is a hypothetical itinerary. Four days in Rome, Thursday through Sunday, with a variety of neighborhoods, restaurant types and excursions.
You don’t need to follow it exactly, but think of this as a guide to some of our favorite neighborhoods and, of course, where you can eat and drink in them.
Day 1: Thursday
Let’s say you arrive in Rome midmorning on Thursday, and that you’re staying in the center of town. You’ll need a cup of coffee, so head to the world-famous San’Eustachio for a thick-foamed espresso. Best to keep it light for lunch with a slice or two of pizza at Roscioli Forno (we’re partial to pesto and burrata, or just simple pizza rossa with tomato sauce).
After unpacking and napping, hit the town for the evening. Like wine, cheese and cured meats? Go to Il Goccetto, a snug, family-run wine bar that just might be Rome’s best. For dinner, a nice option would be La Buca di Ripetta. Located right near the Piazza del Popolo, this is the perfect spot to try tonnarelli cacio e pepe. That’s a classic Roman dish of fresh, square-ended spaghetti with copious pecorino romano cheese and black pepper, made even more luxurious at Buca by serving the pasta in a “nest” of crunchy pecorino.
After a spin around a moonlit Piazza del Popolo, head down to Caffè Peru for a nightcap. One of Rome’s great old hangouts, frequented by Fellini and Pasolini, get yourself a grappa and chat with the local eccentrics who gather outside to smoke cigarettes and talk.
Day 2: Friday
Let the serious eating begin. Spend the morning in Testaccio, Rome’s former meatpacking district. Breakfast will be at Linari, for a cappuccino and a ciambella (a flat, eggy doughnut).
Then, things get savory in the Testaccio Market at Mordi e Vai. In among the butchers and fruit sellers, this is a sandwich stand selling panini crammed with boiled beef, sausage and other choice Roman meats.
Now that you’ve had a big sandwich, you might need a glass of wine. Across from the market is La Fraschetta di Sandro, one of Rome’s last remaining taverns selling wine produced on the family farm. A glass of red or white costs a euro.
While you’re in Testaccio, take a minute to see:
- The ex-slaughterhouse, now a museum and art gallery
- Monte Testaccio, made entirely of amphorae fragments from Ancient Rome
Lunchtime. Take the B Metro from Piramide one stop south to Garbatella, and Tanto Pe Magna. A typical Roman trattoria, there’s lots of good stuff to eat at this friendly locale, but we’d recommend the carbonara, creamy with egg yolks and rendered pork and punched up with pepper.
While in Garbatella, take a look at:
- The early twentieth-century public housing, in the “Garden City” style, in which many-sided apartment buildings are built around a central garden
There’s no better place than Trastevere to spend your Friday night. Get some light aperitivo and your first spritz of the night at Big Star, before walking across the Piazza San Cosimato to Enoteca La Vite, for even more aperitivo and a glass of local white wine. For dinner, you’ll be going to Da Teo, one of our favorite spots. Tucked into a picturesque corner of Trastevere, you’ll begin a meal here with a classic fried artichoke, before a big plate of rigatoni all’amatriciana (tomato sauce, crisp guanciale and pecorino). To end, a sun-yellow cream of mascarpone with tiny strawberries.
The place to socialize after is Bar San Calisto (Piazza di S. Calisto, 3), a little dive that’s quite possibly the most beloved bar in all of Rome. If you get peckish, pop over to Piazza Trilussa and visit EAT (Piazza Trilussa, 40). Here, you can get one of the best supplì around. That’s a fried rice ball, often stuffed with cheese and/or meat. In this case, it’s an rich venison ragu. Enjoy la movida—the term for the wandering groups of young people hitting bars and restaurants.
In Trastevere, make sure to see:
- The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, an early-Christian church with beautifully restored gold mosaics on the outside
- Tiber Island
Day 3: Saturday
Let’s take a trip out of Rome today. After breakfast, head to Termini station and catch the regional train to Albano Laziale. From there, it’ll be a beautiful 25 minute walk through the town and across a stunning ravine to Arriccia. A small, picturesque city, Arriccia is one of the Castelli Romani, the hill towns southeast of Rome that for a millennium have served as a refuge from the chaos of the capital.
Arriccia is also known for something else: it’s the birthplace of porchetta, a whole pig that’s deboned, rolled up with spices, and slow roasted. You’ll be having a big plate of it, lightly warmed through so the skin crackles, at Osteria N.1. There will also be grilled polenta, pasta alla botticella (with eggs, tomato and guanciale) and tender little lamb chops. A liter of local wine, and you have a classic Roman countryside lunch.
While you’re in Arriccia, check out:
- The Palazzo Chigi, the former summer getaway of the aristocratic Chigi family
- The Church of Santa Maria Assunta, designed by Bernini
Hop on the train back to town. Tonight you should go out in San Lorenzo, Rome’s student district. Grab a spritz at Bar Marani (the Bar San Calisto of San Lorenzo), and then it’s off to Il Sorì for a deep selection of Italian wines and some high-quality snacks.
For dinner, head to Pommidoro (Piazza dei Sanniti, 44/46), a grand old institution with a giant grill in the center of the restaurant. Start with a skewer of pajata (grilled calf intestines—trust us) and some coppa di testa (head cheese spiced with orange peel), before a big platter of grilled lamb, sausage and steak. Some bruschetta with their own olive oil, and a bottle of their own red wine will round things out nicely.
After that, go explore! There are countless bars in San Lorenzo to choose from. We like Bar dei Brutti (Via dei Volsci, 71-73) in particular, but go one block in any direction and you’ll find a spot overflowing with young people clutching beers. You might need to catch a taxi home, so just call 3570 or use the mytaxi app and a registered white cab will arrive.
Day 4: Sunday
Sunday is a day of rest and relaxation… and eating.
Take your meandering morning walk through the center of town and end up at Vitti, in the beautiful Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina. Sit outside and enjoy your coffee and cornetto (a sweet, crescent-shaped pastry beloved throughout Italy). Get another coffee and people-watch just a bit more.
Walk more. Take the city in. This is a good time to see:
- The Spanish Steps
- The beautiful Via Margutta, which is full of art galleries and shops
At lunchtime, hop on the 8 tram and take it all the way down into Trastevere and to La Tavernaccia. This is the platonic ideal of a family-run trattoria.
Start with hand-cut prosciutto and crisp, homemade focaccia. The spaghettoni alla gricia (thick spaghetti with pecorino and guanciale) here might be Rome’s best, but on Sunday, there’s often lasagna, cooked in the wood-burning oven. Speaking of that, for a main course, you must get any of the meats cooked in that oven, which slow-roast for hours with potatoes until everything is impossibly tender and infused with smoke. Make a reservation, order generously, and take your time—a proper Sunday lunch lasts at least 2.5 hours.
At night, we’ll keep things light—sort of. When you’re ready to start drinking again, go to Enoteca Il Piccolo. This funky little wine bar has a few nightly selections, mismatched chairs, and a clientele out of a neorealist film. A glass of wine and a little piece of piazza bianca with mortadella is a good way to start the evening.
In this area, you can see:
- The Piazza Navona
- The Piazza di Pasquino, with the famous “talking statue” that Romans post messages on
Sunday night is pizza night in Rome, so take a leisurely walk from Il Piccolo to Emma. The sit-down pizzeria of Roscioli (you’ll have gotten slice pizza there a few days earlier), this is one of the best places to try Roman-style pizza, which is thin, crispy and nothing like the more-famous Neapolitan kind. Our favorite? The Margherita Vacche Rosse, which takes your classic pie and adds an umami-bomb of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano.
And how to end your last night in Rome? A gelato at Fata Morgana, a late drink at some no-name corner bar, a midnight dance in a little piazza… take it all in while you can.Want our insider’s guide to eating in Rome? Just add your email address in the form below! ADD_THIS_TEXT
Despite the name, Giancarlo was actually born and raised in Boston. He now lives in Rome, where he works as a freelance journalist. Passionate about Rome’s food, history and culture, he can usually be found with a good book and, depending on the time of day, an espresso or an Aperol Spritz. Never Campari.