American expat Erica Firpo has lived in Rome long enough — and shown enough people around — to know how to build the perfect day.
1. Wake up with a cappuccino, preferably with a view. Rome has a whole breed of hotels with amazing views. My latest favorite view can be found on the rooftop terrace at on via Giulia: 360 degrees of Rome's 400+ domes.
2. Walk down via Giulia to via del Pellegrino, 82, to . The vintage colors and leather saddle bags are my souvenir of choice, but 12 euros for the Saturday-to-Monday rent is even better.
3. Park the bikes at the market at Campo de' Fiori. It’s about the atmosphere, not the prices. Grab freshly squeezed blood orange juice or pomegranate juice and talk market.
4. Pedal across the street and through Piazza Navona in search of Caravaggio paintings. in Church of Sant' Agostino (Piazza di Sant' Agostino) and the St. Matthew series (, , and ) in the Contarelli Chapel at are just north of Piazza Navona. Now pump those piedi to Piazza del Popolo for ( and ) at Church of Santa Maria del Popolo.
5. Walk the bike down Via del Babuino for window-shopping and grab a coffee at . Walk through the bar's "museum" to admire the gigantic Canova casts.
6. It's time for photo ops. Head to Piazza Augusto Imperatore to compare three eras of history: the 1st-century AD mausoleum to Augustus Caesar, the Fascist arcades on the perimeter of the piazza, and Richard Meier's 21st-century museum to the . Then cut through the side streets to the Pantheon. Go inside and look up. There is nothing like it.
7. Need some energy? Stop behind the 2nd-century monument to Piazza San'Eustachio for a deservedly famous cappuccino at . If you need something more substantial, pizza al taglio ("by the slice") at Pizza Zazà, an organic pizza shop across the street, will hit the spot.
8. After all the biking you've done, you'll need a massage. Dump the bikes at Collalti (or at a hotel) and walk over to the Jewish ghetto for down time at , a hamman inspired by ancient Rome. Think: vaulted bricks and underground. I keep it simple: a soak, a scrub, some tea.
9. Relaxed and refreshed. Time for another view: cocktails on the rooftop of , because only dome that is truly important is the Pantheon.
10. Tipsy? You're just about ready for . Savor your walk from the Pantheon and Hadrian's Temple toward Trevi to the restaurant. Are you suddenly craving spaghetti alla carbonara, fried artichokes, and unforgettable zabaglione with melted dark chocolate? (Read my love letter to Al Moro on Tabootoystore.)
11. If you still have energy, a few steps down the street is Trevi Fountain. The evening glow is my favorite nightcap.
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Photos: Courtesy of Collalti Bici; Ara Pacis by Erica Firpo.