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3 Days in Rome
Editorial note: This post on “3 Days in Rome” was originally published in 2014, and updated to reflect current prices and information.
Rome, Italy is known for the grand and opulent architecture of Saint Peter’s Basilica, the rich history of the Colosseum and Pantheon, the chic shopping in Via Condotti, and perhaps, the best food and wine of your life. Here are the sights, shops, and sips that make an amazing 72-hour Vacanze Romane.
Day 1 in Rome
Wake up at Hotel San Anselmo, in Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood. Located south of the Aventine Hill, along The Tiber river, it’s a beautiful walk from Trastevere or Campo de’ Fiori. Starting out in Testaccio gives you an immediate feel of the authentic Roman lifestyle.
Tip: Testaccio is known for real Cucina Romana, so foodies visiting Rome should use an extra day in the city to take a food lover’s tour of this area.
After starting the day off with the hotel’s buffet breakfast, set out to see the major archaeological area of Rome where the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum are all located. As you walk through the massive Colosseum, daydream about the tens of thousands of spectators who once came to watch the epic gladiator matches. You will be tempted to spend all day standing in this place with so much history, but eventually pull yourself away and take the short walk to visit the excavations and open-air museum on Palatine Hill, where the city of Rome was founded. Then give yourself a few hours to wander around the cluster of marble, arches, and ruins from various time periods that are called the Roman Forum.
Tip: In the summer and peak times, there are very long lines to buy tickets at the Colosseum. With limited time in any city, having a tour guide to breeze you past lines and traffic jams at major landmarks and attractions is the difference between seeing all of the best views or only a few. If you choose to explore on your own, buying in advance online allows you to avoid the ticket lines. Also, lines at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are typically shorter, so save time by buying your ticket at one of those sites for all three attractions.
Next, pass through the Capitoline Hill Museum and Altare Della Patria. Grab a slice of pizza and sample some gelatos before seeing the Pantheon’s incredible dome. Have a drink outside in the Piazza di Rotonda but save room for dinner back in Testaccio at Da Bucatino.
Spend the entire second day exploring the piazzas. Starting at Piazza Navona, get up early to take photos before the tourists crowd in. Browse the Campo de’ Fiori market and flower vendors before dropping a coin into the Trevi Fountain.
Walk along Via del Corso. Turn onto Via Condotti and follow it to the Spanish Steps for the window-shopping and people-watching in Rome. Change your hotel base to Starhotels Michelangelo, which is within walking distance of Saint Peter’s Square. Find late-night dinner reservations at Angelo Alla Cupola.
Tip: Go back at nighttime for the best views of Saint Peter’s Square, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps.
If visiting Rome on the last Sunday of the month or on World Tourism Day (September 27), take advantage of free admission to the Vatican Museums. The Vatican Museums are expansive and crowded so expect to spend most if not an entire day in Vatican City. Having a knowledgeable guide to navigate and narrate interesting information about the displays, the Sistine Chapel, and Saint Peter’s Basilica makes the visit more enjoyable. For dinner, try Alfredo Alla Scrofa. Tempted as you might be to order the dish for which this restaurant boasts the original recipe, try the bolognese or mussels for the best offerings. Also, be prepared for the high price point relative to the trattorias.
Extra Days: Take the 1.5 hour train from Roma Termini to Florence (Firenze Santa Maria Novella) to see the Statue of David, Palazzo Vecchio and Ponte Vecchio. Take the train 1 more hour to Pisa Centrale in order to reach The Leaning Tower of Pisa.