Rome is an extraordinary city. The history, the beauty of the architecture, the food, and the people are what make Rome, well, Rome. It’s a destination in itself, but also a jumping-off point for travel around Italy, as well as the embarkation point for many Mediterranean and Greek cruises. It’s such a spectacular place that it can take weeks or more to get in all the sites, cuisine, and culture. But, what if you have other travel plans and only 3 days or so to spend in the Eternal City?
Here is an itinerary that will help you maximize your time in Rome so you don’t feel overwhelmed and stressed while seeing all the major sites. The worst that can happen is that you will feel the need to plan a longer vacation next time!
DAY 1 – Arrival Day!
Chances are you will arrive in Rome in the morning. This is the day to just wander and get your bearings. The goal today is to get a sense of what Rome is all about. So drop off your bags at your hotel, and grab a little something to eat and a cappuccino. Head over to the Piazza Navona, a 15th-century square that is home to 3 fountains – the Fontana del Moro, Fountain of Neptune, and The Fountain of Four Rivers. From here, you must walk over to the Pantheon, the most preserved ancient building in Rome. It was built between 118 BCE and 125 BCE as a temple to the gods. It was converted to a Catholic church in 609 and is still used as one today. Take in the breathtaking architecture, remembering that this building has stood virtually intact for over 2,000 years. Not far from the Pantheon is the Trevi Fountain, one of the most recognizable and beautiful attractions in Rome. And a bonus, it’s said that some of the best gelato in the city can be found near there. Pick up some at the Gelateria Valentino. Of course, you will want to take a rest on the Spanish Steps that were built in 1725 to connect the Spanish Embassy with the Trinita dei Monti church. Grab a slice of pizza and relax, soaking in the atmosphere. Behind the Spanish Steps is the Villa Borghese, the most picturesque park in Rome. It also features the Galleria Borghese, home to some of the masterpieces of Raphael and Bernini. If you want to visit, you will need to pre-book. Otherwise, just take the time to wander the grounds and decompress. Just west of the gardens is Pinicio Hill. Round out your day with a magnificent sunset, and local musicians.
Day 2 – Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum
The best way to begin your second day is with a food tour. Take a tour of Rome’s best foodie neighborhoods and sample local specialties. Wander the oldest market in Rome to learn about the city’s ancient food heritage. End the morning with some pizza and wine tasting. When you are full, hop aboard the Metropolitana (subway) and take a ride to the Colosseo station to visit the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum (If possible, avoid first Sundays)! The Colosseum is a symbol of both ancient and modern Rome, and to miss it would be a travesty. The best way to visit is by pre-booking a guided tour – private is best – to avoid the lines at the ticket booths. One thing that is great about the area is that there are many spigots throughout the area with fresh water, so be sure to fill up your water bottle. The Forum and the Colosseum are vast, and of course, you’ll want to hike up Palatine Hill. The views from the hill towers are stunning and overlook the Roman Forum and Circus Maximus. On your way back, keep left to arrive at the Forum to take in even more majestic views. Grab some dinner and get some rest for your final day!
Day 3 – The Vatican, St. Peter’s, Trastevere
To get the most out of your day, start early! You want to arrive at the Vatican in the morning to beat the crowds. The earlier you get there, the more time you have to appreciate St. Peter’s Square and the city in peace (remember, Vatican City is both a city and country within Rome). The Vatican gets crowded, so the best way to see it is by purchasing a private before-hours tour in advance. You can get tickets for just the Sistine Chapel – Michaelangelo’s awe-inspiring masterpiece – or for the chapel and the Vatican museums. Be sure to dress humbly in reverence of the religious city-state. There are over 54 Christian and art galleries within Vatican City, and the collections are stunning. Also, do not miss Pieta. Even if you are not Christian, you can’t help but be left speechless by this work of art. If you are intrepid and don’t mind a bit of a climb, purchase a ticket to go to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s 551 steps, but you can pay a little extra to take an elevator the first 231. You won’t be disappointed once you get to the top and see the views. Once you’ve gotten your fill of art, stop by Via delle Grazie and grab some lunch. Take an early walk and explore the global city streets. To top your day off, have some fun at the beautiful neighborhood Trastevere. If possible, check out the award-winning La Gatta Buia, they have an unbelievable Fiori di Zucca!
Day 4 – Arrivederci
Today is the day you are heading out to catch your cruise, or perhaps a train to take you to Florence or other exciting parts of Italy. Before you leave, go back to the Trevi Fountain. Turn your back to it and toss a coin over your left shoulder. Why? Because doing so will ensure your return to the magnificent city of Rome.
TIP – When dining out in Rome, stay away from most restaurants right around the major tourist attractions. They are more expensive and geared towards the palates of tourists. Walk further away into the less touristed areas for a more authentic dining experience.
BONUS DAY – Do you have an extra day to spend? Book a tour and head out of the city to Naples and the ancient city of Pompeii, plus a climb up Mt. Vesuvius.
Sound exciting? Call me and we can talk about booking your stay in Rome, whether it’s the only place you want to visit or the beginning of a grand Italian adventure or Mediterranean cruise. It’s not too early to book for later in 2021 or 2022. And the only thing better than visiting Rome is planning your vacation there. So let’s talk!