I’ve been to Rome twice. The first time around was for my 16th birthday with my mom and two other friends and their moms. We had a tourguide take us everywhere and he showed us the city through the eyes of an italian. It was more of a cultural experience. The other trip to Rome was with 3 friends, summer of 2008. We did lots of sightseeing during the day (Colosseum, Vatican, Pantheon,…) and went out for some amazing italian food and vino at night. The second trip felt like somewhat of a better balance between all the touristy stuff and some dolce vita.
Besides the Trevi-Fountain, the Vatican and all the other overwhelming historic sights you can visit in Rome, I absolutly fell in love with the Piazza Navona. We made it a fixed part of our day to sit in the sun at Piazza Navona and enjoy the delicious italian gelato.
As far as the gelato goes, I learned a great trick from our tourguide for how to tell the good from the bad. You always have to look at the banana flavor. If it is yellow, it most likely wont be real self-made gelato. The real kind should be slightly brown in color (just like bananas, when you leave them out for a little). By brown I dont mean a chocolate-like brown, but rather a beige color.
beautiful selection of gelato
Rome can be pretty hot in the summer. I found the weather a little better for sightseeing on my first trip (mid April). 2008 in August it was pretty hot and sometimes very exhausting to walk around in the heat for a long time. We would always wait for it to get dark and cool down a little before going out to dinner, but then again, 9 or 10pm seems like a perfectly normal time for the italians to be having dinner. We also found it convenient to combine some sightseeing with dinner. One night we went to the Trevi-Fountain after dinner and had some gelato on the way or we went to the Spanish Steps and found a restaurant right at the bottom of the steps on Piazza di Spagna. This way you have a little time to rest in the afternoon when its the hottest out and are completly refreshed and your mind is open for more impressive sightseeing at night. Lots of the sights are public anyways and dont have opening hours.
dinner at piazza di spagna
If you travel to Rome, or most places in Italy actually, you probably wont encounter perfect english on a regular basis. I know it can sometimes be hard to communicate in a foreign country, but try to use your hands, feet and mimic and there will be always be a way.