While touring around Rome for a couple of days, you can see the sites of the ancient government buildings, the center of the Catholic church, fantastic museums, and more. Disclaimer: You can experience Rome in two days, see all the major sites and eat all of the incredible food, but be aware that it will be a jam-packed few days.
I liked starting Rome off in Piazza Navona, built where the Stadium of Domitian used to be (there’s a museum dedicated to it just around the corner). Piazza Navona has restaurants, tourists, beautiful fountains, and the Church of Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore in the middle. The church is stunningly beautiful, with paintings covering the walls, beautiful sculptures and benches to sit and reflect. Remember that many churches in Rome require that their visitors “cover up,” meaning no tank tops and no shorts. Be aware of this if you choose to visit Rome when the sun is suffocating, but a travel tip is to visit the churches in the morning and wear your respectful clothing but bring a change of clothes in a backpack!
After Piazza Navona, take a walk over to the Pantheon, which used to be a Roman temple and is now a church. Construction was finished by the emperor Hadrian, one of the most well-known Roman emperors. The building is still well-kept, since it has been in use for all of its history. The Trevi Fountain is only a short walk away and although it is mostly crowded with tourists and vendors catering to them, as one of the largest fountains in the city and one of the most famous in the world, it is well worth a visit to make a wish in the fountain.
Next up, The Spanish Steps, whose steps are actually closed. The steps were deteriorating from so much foot traffic that tourists must now take a roundabout route up to the Trinita dei Monti church. This church especially enforces the dress code, and the view from the top of the steps does not even come close to rivaling other views in the city, so if you’re not properly dressed, I wouldn’t waste your time.
From there, it’s an easy walk over to the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Capuccini. This church contains 3,700 bodies in the crypt that are said to have been Capuchin friars. There are six different rooms in the crypt and five of them contain human bones of the friars, so if you are averse to the macabre perhaps skip this site as well. It is, however, meant to remind us all how short our time is on Earth and is, in my opinion, the most unique church in Rome. It is also a quieter area of the city, with a few restaurants close by that offer outdoor seating and delicious pizza!
In the afternoon, although it is the hottest time of the day, take a walk over to the Colosseum. Book your tickets online in advance! This will save you hours of your short stay in Rome – the tickets are good for the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hills. The line is normally shorter at the Roman Forum and it takes a bit more time to walk around so I recommend visiting here first. The Roman Forum is the site of the ancient government and there are all sorts of signposts that fill in what used to happen here thousands of years ago. The Palatine Hill is where wealthy ancient Romans used to live and surrounds the Roman Forum. After, visit The Colosseum, the largest amphitheater ever built, which used to host gladiator shows and many other events, such as an animal hunt. Ladies, please refrain from wearing gladiator sandals for my sake, because the irony was too much for me to bear.
Last but not least, The Altare della Patria, is right near the site of the Roman Forum. It is a monument built to honor an ancient king and holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. It is a very moving site and the top offers the best views in the city. It costs 6 euros to take the elevator to the roof of the monument, but it is peaceful and allows you to look out over the Roman Forum. All of the city is clearly visible and is beautiful as the sun starts to set.
Save day two for visiting Vatican City, but try and stop by Castel Sant’Angelo as you cross the Tiber River. It is also called the Mausoleum of Hadrian, since it houses the Emperor Hadrian’s ashes as well as his family’s, but the site is now a museum. Grab some coffee or some gelato before heading into the Vatican Museums, since it is incredibly interesting but also houses over thirty exhibits. Once again, book your tickets in advance since the line to enter the museum can be up to three hours long. These tickets will get you into both the museums and the Sistine Chapel, home to awesome frescos, The Last Judgment by Michelangelo and the selection process of a new pope.
From there, walk over to St. Peter’s Square, home to St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world and one of the holiest Catholic shrines, supposedly home to St. Peter’s tomb and many other popes. First, grab a few bottles of water and stretch out before the hike up 551 steps to the cupola. By beginning walking up to the cupola, you look down upon the inside of the basilica from up above before spending your time roaming around beforehand and straining your neck to see the ceiling.
After seeing all of those sites, you’ll have experienced the historical side of Rome and covered all of the tourist attractions. Find some time in your schedule to walk around the old neighborhoods, grab dinner at a restaurant back in a corner somewhere and you won’t be disappointed. Also, be sure to watch The Lizzie McGuire Movie in your hotel one night, it actually does include some historical facts about Rome and you’ll be able to relate to the tourist vibe of the movie quite well!
This article was written by Allison Chesky. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Allison Chesky