The Eternal City: 48 Hours in Rome

Awake to a cappuccino and cornettto (an Italian version of a croissant) to fortify yourself before a heavy day of sightseeing. First, stop at the Pantheon -- one of the world's most important architectural gems, described by Michelangelo as of "angelic and not human design." The design of the Pantheon's awe-inspiring dome was, centuries later, the inspiration for Brunelleschi's dome in the Florence Cathedral in Italy.

It was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 1st century as a temple dedicated to all gods, and was later reincarnated as a church, and is now a tomb, holding, among others, two Italian kings.

Piazza Navona is only a short walk from the Pantheon and is home to the world famous Bernini fountain, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). The piazza is a perfect place for (albeit overpriced) pre-lunch beer and people-watching sessions.


Just around the corner is the picturesque Piazza del Fico, which is shrouded by the eponymous fig tree and also home to another Roman institution, Da Francesco. A traditional Roman trattoria -- the service here is fast and simple, as is the food, but both are equally charming.

From here you can walk off your lunch and head toward the Vatican museums on the other side of the river Tiber. Official guided tours are offered by the Vatican and will help the uninitiated navigate through the myriad paintings, sculptures, maps and statues on display here.

But the highlight of any visit to the Vatican would have to be the legendary Sistine Chapel, site of the Papal conclaves. The chapel was closed for 10 years while restorers worked on the intricate design of Michelangelo's famed ceiling, and after its 1994 reopening, has seen countless visitors.

But a trip to the Vatican would not be possible without a visit to the magnificent St. Peter's Basilica, the mother church of Catholicism, which houses the tomb of St Peter -- the first-ever pope.

Best way to end a trip?

Rome is a mecca for gastronomes and if you are one, why not complete your trip with one of the best meals ever? Quinzi and Gabrieli, on Via delle Coppelle, is famed for its fish and is worthy of its reputation. The spaghetti lobster pulls in smart Roman crowds from Tuesday to Saturday, and in the summer, diners can sit in the flanking courtyard under the stars. Buon Appetito!

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