Walking path at Villa BorgheseRome. A city where great works of art are just around the corner, where layers of culture can be discovered down every street. It would take years to fully see all the treasures Rome has to offer, so we’ve created an itinerary that hits the highlights, with room for world class healthy meals and a splurge or two (or three) – passing up calories in Rome might be the most difficult test in the world, so we’ll have some fun while we’re here. After all, it would be criminal to visit the Eternal City and pass up some of the best pizza, pasta and gelato in the world.

Romans start the day with a quick coffee, preferring a large lunch and late dinner. If you are a breakfast eater, you will find standard American style fare at major hotels. But take our advice: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Hmm, that’s not an original thought.

Day 1

  • Breakfast: coffee at the local bar. Grab an espresso and mix it up with the locals.
  • Workout: Stop in for a class at Bikram Yoga, not far from the Vatican, to get your stretch on before a long day of walking and sightseeing. Warning – you better be in decent shape; this is a grueling class and we don’t want you keeling over before you even get started on seeing the city.
  • Mind/Body Balance: Head to the Vatican. Catholic or not, you have to check out St. Peter’s Basilica. Marvel at the massive dome and interiors designed by Michelangelo. The adjoining Vatican Museums house the artistic treasures of the world, including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. After getting your philosophical fix, continue through the Piazza San Pietro and cross the Tiber River on the 2000-year-old Bridge of Sant’Angelo, heading toward the Piazza Navona and Bernini’s famed Three Rivers Fountain.
  • Lunch: Get away from the tourist traps that line Piazza Navona and have a slice with the locals at Lo Zozzone, known for its Pizza Bianca on via del Teatro Pace. We’re being healthy, so just one slice (trust us, after that Bikram class, you could use some carbs). If you feel the need, you can walk it off by exploring the streets around the Piazza Navona to get a feel for the day-to-day Roman lifestyle.
  • Cultural attraction: What? More culture? You bet. Continue across the plaza to the Pantheon, the massive free standing dome built in AD 125 and features a 30 foot wide hole in the center of the rotunda. Every night at 7, you can enjoy a free tour of the Pantheon.
  • Dinner: We’re going vegetarian for dinner. Bibliothè is a library-themed restaurant that serves whole grain and organic pasta. They have plenty of vegan dishes.

Day 2

  • Workout: Aletheia Studio Pilates offers Pilates for individuals, pairs and groups in the heart of Rome.
  • Cultural Attraction: Piazza del Popolo is a large urban square in Rome. Until 1826, the Piazza was the place for public executions. Check out the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, which features countless masterpieces by Raphael, Caravaggio, Pinturicchio, and Bernini.
  • Lunch: Il Margutta RistorArte is a Roman institution that’s been open over 32 years. The vegetarian restaurant, located north of Piazza di Spagna and minutes from Piazza del Popolo, is filled with art. So cool. So good for you.
  • Mind/Body Balance:  Constructed as a retreat for Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, Hadrian’s Villa is an archeological wonder. It consists of over 30 buildings, a garden, a pool and an artificial grotto.
  • Dinner: Take a trip off the beaten path and grab the A Line metro to Giuda Ballerino. Maybe try the seared prawns and chips of Jerusalem chips? This restaurant has become a mecca for foodies worldwide.

Day 3

  • Workout: We’re going running. Here’s a great 3.9-mile route through the Villa Borghese Gardens, past fountains and statues and wonderful scenery. It’s a big loop that starts and ends at the Piazza della Repubblica, near the Termini train station.
  • Lunch: Stop in at Casina Valadier for a gourmet sandwich (keep it light). The garden café is right on the grounds of the Villa Borghese Gardens. The café is open from 10-7 except Monday, and for a more formal sit down lunch, the gourmet restaurant is open from 1-3 pm.
  • Cultural Attraction: After refueling, let’s head to the Borghese Collection, in which some of the paintings date back to the 1500s. You’ll need a reservation, but it’s open 8:30 to 7:30.
  • Mind/Body Balance: It’s time to shop (or at least window shop) – this is good for the soul, yes? Take a walk over to the famous Via Veneto, home to the most expensive stores in Rome, as well as the US Embassy.
  • Dinner: Head to Da Fortunato Al Pantheon for a traditional Italian dinner; do your best to be healthy. Grab an outdoor table right in the shadow of the Pantheon.

Day 4

  • Workout: Your exercise today is walking. We’re going to take a walk to the Colosseum, and then head to Trevi Fountain at the end of the day. It’s a hike, but you can do it.
  • Mind/Body Balance: We’re going to head back in time to the days of Ancient Rome; nothing symbolizes the Roman Empire like the Colosseum. These days, the Colosseum is home to a thousand cats, but back in ancient times, the structure could accommodate nearly 90,000 spectators. Continue to the nearby Forum, for centuries the center of Roman life, where pageants and speeches were held.
  • Lunch: Cafe Suggestum offers gluten free pasta and plenty of people watching. Later, splurge at Gelato san Crispino, but don’t ask for a cone. The owners feel that the taste of the cone interferes with the purity of the icy treat’s flavor.
  • Cultural Attraction: The Trevi Fountain is not to be missed. Throw a coin into the fountain and you’ll ensure yourself a return visit to Rome (or at least, that’s the legend).
  • Dinner: Right around the corner is the Ristorante Al Presidente. Go for seafood; it’s excellent.

Day 5

  • Workout: Today we’re going to break a sweat at the Roman Sports Center, a top of the line gym with a full range of state of the art cardio equipment and Zumba classes.
  • Mind/Body Balance: Head to the outskirts and the Centro del Loto – the Center of the Lotus – for some meditation, yoga, or tai chi.
  • Lunch: The Spanish Steps are up next on itinerary, but first some lunch. Get a tasty salad at Il Palazzetto, just a short hop away from the Steps.
  • Cultural Attraction: This is definitely a must-see attraction – the Spanish Steps, the widest staircase in Europe and a gathering place for Romans for centuries. 138 steps link the Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Trinità dei Monti.
  • Dinner: It’s your last night in Rome, so there’s no holding back. Get reservations at Il Palazzetto for a traditional Italian dinner made with ultra-fresh local ingredients. Better yet, you’re overlooking the Spanish Steps, a great view for your last night.

About The Author

John Miller is president of ScribeWise. He is an avid traveler and web-surfing junkie. Visit www.scribewise.com.

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