Rome in a Day, You Say?
Rome, the eternal city. Can it be done in a day? Of course you won’t be able to take a deep dive, but you can devote yourself to a couple major sites and do quick walk-bys through others.
Tip #1: Plan ahead! Map out your itinerary and get any tourist attraction tickets ahead of time. Even with that, unexpected things will happen. More on that in a bit.
During our Italy travels, we were based in Florence. So Rome was an easy daytrip. We booked the first fast train from Firenze S.M. Novella train station to Roma Termini train station.
Tip #2: If you’re coming into Rome from another Italian city by train, look at a map of Rome. For us, Roma Termini was more centrally located to what we wanted to see. Other trains will call at Roma Tiburtina, but that was farther out for us.
Tip 3: If traveling by train, make sure it’s one of the fast ones, like Trenitalia’s Frecce trains (arrow trains). You don’t want to waste time on a slow train.
We arrived at Roma Termini at 8:30am with our itinerary of two major sites: the Colosseum and the Vatican. I had been to Rome when I was in college and I always regretted not touring the Colosseum. So it was time to make that right! At 9:00am we would start a guided tour of the Colosseum. It was an easy 19 minute walk to the Colosseum. We met our tour guide outside the Colosseo metro stop. This tour, booked through Viator, included both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
The guided tour was fantastic. It was much better than just walking around on our own…and we got to jump the line. The history and cultural tidbits were amazing. Our tour guide had a graduate degree in archaeology and was clearly passionate about the topic. Maybe a bit too passionate, because she kept us 30 minutes after our supposed ending time!
Tip 4: If you get behind schedule, consider taking the Metro if it’s convenient. We quickly got on the subway from the Colosseo metro stop and took it over to the Vatican, the next item on our list.
We exited out of the Ottaviano metro stop and even with Google Maps, started to get a bit turned around. So here’s the next tip.
Tip 5: Be wary of people with “Tourist Staff” badges. They may work for companies that are trying to upsell you on Vatican Museum tickets. All we wanted were directions to the Vatican Museums, but they were intent on leading us to their offices!
We finally found the entrance to Vatican Museums and walked right in with our timed tickets. The museums are sumptuous, with decadent works of art. The highlight of course is the Sistine Chapel. Beware though, no photography allowed in the chapel.
Now this is where things start to go awry. We were massively behind schedule after art-gawking in the Vatican Museums. At the height of summer tourist season, our next stop: Entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica had a line that went on…and on…and on.
So we made the decision to skip. We had been there before. If I was a first-time visitor, I would probably pick touring the basilica and the its dome over the Vatican Museums, but that matches my interests…so your mileage may vary. We did however, stop in St. Peter’s Square for photos.
Tip 6: Have a Plan B. So we had seen two major important sites – the Colosseum and the Vatican – but now it was time to see Rome on foot.
Then we walked around the historic center, making our way over to the lovely Piazza Navona where we had a late lunch and some gelato.
Satiated, we then walked to the magnificent Pantheon, built around the year 100! It’s free to enter.
From the Pantheon, our next call was to the touristy Trevi Fountain. Be prepared for the hoards here, but muscle your way in and get the pic of you throwing a coin in the fountain. According to Wikipedia, around 3,000 euros a day are thrown into the fountain!
Our final stop was the famous Spanish Steps. The steps were designed by an Italian, but financed by the French, and built to commemorate peace between France and Spain. It’s primo people watching! We had a long sit and soaked up the evening June sun.
Tip 7: Keep track of your time! Looking at our watches it was time to start walking back, grab a bite to eat, and head towards the train station for our 8:30pm train.
So was this an ideal day? It was jam-packed, that’s for sure. Of course, Rome deserves more than a day. But for what we did, I that it was definitely worth it!
Below are some photo highlights of our Rome daytrip. For more Italy pics, check out my Flickr album.