Published on October 20, 2014 | by Andrea Guerriero0
A weekend in Rome: Suggested Itineraries
Three days are not enough to enjoy and observe all of Rome’s wonderful attractions: ancient ruins, scrumptious food and wine, superlative art and the lives of modern Romans. But if you have just so much time in the city, here is a flexible itinerary to get you started. There are essentially three must-sees in Rome: Imperial or Ancient Rome, the Vatican and St Peter’s, and the outskirts of the city with its villas and hill towns. You can rearrange the suggestions below as per your convenience, depending on the time you have.
Day 1: Ancient or Imperial Rome
Begin your first day with a half-day walking tour around the Colosseum and the Capitolene Hill in the heart of ancient Rome. Start on Oppian Hill, which is one of the Seven Hills of Rome, and enjoy the panoramic views it offers over the Colosseum. You can also begin at the Piazza del Campidoglio on Capitolene Hill. Then walk down to the Colosseum (you can join a tour group to skip the lines and gain access to off-limit areas) and spend an hour or two taking in the stunning ancient arena, the underground chambers and upper tiers (if they are open to the public). From the Colosseum, the Roman Forum is a short walk away. This is the site of some of Rome’s most famous ancient ruins such as the Palatine Hill, the Temple of Julius Caesar, Nero’s Circus Maximus and the House of Vestal Virgins.
Next, head to the Pantheon on the Piazza della Rotondo, for a glimpse of nearly 2000 years of preservation. From the Pantheon, visit the Spanish Steps, a Baroque Roman staircase that rises over the Piazza di Spagna. Here you will find the Trinita del Monti Church, and nearby is the Keats-Shelley house where poet John Keats died at 25.
End your evening on the old streets of the Piazza Navona, the most beautiful square in the city, especially at night. Dine on wood-fired pizza at one of the many crowded pizzerias with wood-burning oven, called a forno a legna. You can also enjoy an al fresco dinner while you people-watch. Toss a coin into the baroque statue of Neptune at Trevi Fountain if you have the time.
Day 2: The Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Basilica
An entire day (though a hectic one) can be spent at St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums (where the Sistine Chapel is located). You can begin at the Piazza San Pietro as early as possible, to enjoy a walk around the Basilica di San Pietro (St Peter’s Basilica) which opens at 8 am. The beautiful church interior houses a cupola designed by Michelangelo and other artwork that can easily take up an hour and a half to look at.
The rest of the day can be spent at the Vatican Museums, the richest museums in the world with several papal apartments and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel on display. If you have the time, you can also check out the lovely Santa Maria del Popolo church at the Piazza del Popolo or the Galleria Borghese (advance reservations are required for what is one of Italy’s greatest art museums).
The open air food markets of Campo de’Fiori and the ‘authentic’ trattorie (Italian style restaurants that are warm and semi-formal) of the Tiber riverside neighborhood of Trastevere are other must-visit places to wind down after a day of sightseeing.
Day 3: The Outskirts of Rome
There are so many getaways from Rome that it can be difficult to choose your day trip on the third day. One option is to visit the Appian Way, a cobbled road that once ran from Rome to Brindisi in Southeast Italy. The Catacombe di San Callisto (12 miles of catacombs) lie along the Appian Way. If you choose to visit the catacombs, don’t miss the Catacombe di San Domitilla, which is one of the oldest catacombs here.
Hadrian’s Villa and its ancient ruins are also very impressive attractions, near Tivoli. The circular maritime theater of Teatro Marittimo is another nearby site to visit. Tivoli is also home to the Villa d’Este, a beautiful and almost ethereal hillside garden from the mid-16th century. If you plan efficiently, you can fit in Tivoli and the Appian Way in a single day. Other day trips from Rome which are further away and will take up an entire day or more include the volcanic ruins of Pompeii or the ancient harbor of Ostia Antica.
If you’re in Rome for three days or more, you could get a Roma Pass for the public transport system. But the most comfortable way to travel around the city and in its outskirts is to hire a private car. Rome’s roads are not pleasant to drive on, so it is not advisable to drive yourself. Instead, a chauffeured hire and ride service like romecitytransfers.com for Rome transfers will be able to offer you a customized tour of the city in complete comfort. Whether you have three days in the city or seven, it’s hard to experience the full flavor the city has to offer in a single trip. Most people find themselves returning to the city again and again, and enjoying a different experience every time. Be sure to arrange for comfortable Rome transfers and you’ll be able to ignore the tourist crowds and have only the best memories.