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Short breaks in Rome – two days of ancient history, baroque treasures and superb dining

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With 3,000 years of history, it can be hard to know where to start on a short break in Rome. Book a Rome hotel and see all the highlights with our attraction-packed itinerary.

Rome short break day one, morning

Step back in time on a short break in Rome, starting with ancient history at the 2,000-year-old Colosseum arena, where men and animals fought for the crowd’s entertainment. A lift leads to the second floor for views of the underground cages. Cross the road to the Roman Forum, included in the Colosseum’s ticket price. You won’t need a vivid imagination to visualise bustling ancient Roman life among the scattered boulders, fallen pillars and crumbling arches to life.

Start: Colosseum.
Nearest metro Colosseo

Afternoon

Exploring the past works up an appetite, so cross Via dei Fori Imperiali to reach Via Cavour and the atmospheric Cavour 313 wine bar. After a glass of wine accompanied by a pasta dish or cheese platter, follow Via dei Fori Imperiali north for a post-lunch visit to the Capitoline Museums. There are baroque paintings by grand masters but the stand-outs here are ancient statues like the Dying Gaul, Capitoline Venus and She-Wolf.

Start: Via Cavour.
Nearest metro Colosseo

Evening

Catch sunset views of the Roman Forum from Michelangelo’s Capitoline Hill terrace. Then do as the locals do and take an early-evening passeggiata (leisurely stroll) north to Rome’s historic centre. Stop off for an aperitif at a bar on Campo de’ Fiori before making your way to nearby Piazza de’ Ricci to find an outdoor table at Pierluigi’s. This popular trattoria restaurant has been serving classic Roman dishes like thinly sliced octopus and veal scaloppini since 1938.

Start: Capitoline Museums.
Nearest metro Colosseo 

Rome short break day two, morning

Start the next day of your short break in Rome on the other side of the River Tiber at St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Don’t miss Michelangelo’s lifelike Pieta statue of Mary and Jesus near the entrance, and the tombs downstairs, including St Peter’s final resting place. The must-see highlight of the adjacent Vatican Museums has to be Michelangelo’s frescoed Sistine Chapel

Start: St Peter’s Basilica. 
Nearest metro Ottaviano-San Pietro. 

Afternoon

Cross Sant’Angelo bridge over the River Tiber to the historical centre, for lunch at a café in Piazza Navona. Cobbled medieval backstreets lead to the domed Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, and further north to Via dei Condotti for window-shopping in designer boutiques. 

Start: Ponte Sant’Angelo. 
Nearest metro Ottaviano-San Pietro 

Evening

Weave your way past couples embracing on the Spanish Steps to reach Pincio Hill for panoramic views over Rome. Open until 7.30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, the nearby Borghese Gallery is crammed with baroque masterpieces by painters including Titian, Raphael and Caravaggio. Walk through the Borghese Gardens to Piazza del Popolo to find a ringside seat and traditional Italian cuisine at Dal Bolognese restaurant. 

Start: Spanish Steps. 
Nearest metro Spagna