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A Day in Rome, What to Do?
A day in Rome, Italy: So Much to See, So Little Time!
Here are some highlights from my 24-hour stay in Rome, the capital of Italy. I went with my family and below I go over how we handled sightseeing Rome in one day. However you decide to approach it, you can't go wrong with a walking tour of Italy's capital.
The good thing is that it's possible. Even if Rome is huge and filled with many, many things worth seeing, in a full day you can see the main attractions, monuments, and historical sites that the Eternal City has to offer.
In our stop-over we stayed from 5 pm of one day to the 5 pm of the day after, on December 26.
As first stop we checked in at our Hotel, which is located 700 meters from St. Peter’s Square, then went for the first walk in the warm Roman night.
Looking at the map below, we walked to A, B, and C on the evening of our arrival, and saw all the other things the day after.
Rome In a Day, What to See
How to Get Around in Rome
When visiting an Italian city, your feet are your best friends. Make sure you wear your most comfortable shoes.
Public transportation in Rome is awesome. There are hundreds of buses that can take you anywhere, and the tickets are very affordable.
You can buy a 24 hour ticket for only 7 euros, and you can hop on and off all day. Check the ATAC webpage for more info.
We also did a guided bus tour of the city, and enjoyed the information provided by the guide. Of course that is more expensive than public transportation.
A. St. Peter Square and Basilica
The St. Peter Basilica is the largest Catholic Church in the World and her big cupola designed by Michelangelo can be seen from everywhere in Rome.
With statues and architecture by the best medieval artists, like Michelangelo and Bernini, and being the fulcrum of the Catholic religion, this is Italy’s most visited spot.
Entrance to the Basilica is subjected to a quick passage through a metal detector, but it’s free and the line though long moves quite quickly.
Inside the Basilica is the famous marble statue of la Pieta’, with Mary holding Jesus after the crucifixion.
At 6:30 pm the Basilica closes and no more visits are allowed until the next day.
Via Della Conciliazione
This road has been build at the beginning of the 20th century, sacrificing few blocks of ancient housing buildings, as a majestic entrance to Vatican Square.
B. Castel Sant’Angelo
Walking up on Via Della Conciliazione you move towards the river Tevere and the famous Castel Sant’Angelo.
Originally built as tomb for Emperor Adriano, later transformed into a safe residence for the Pope, this round building sits on a square base and a statue of an Angel on the top, from which the name; Castel Sant’Angelo means in fact Castle Saint Angel.
Keep walking until the first bridge and cross the Tevere, heading towards Piazza Navona, where you can admire the beautiful fountain of the Triton by Bernini.
C. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is one of the most famous sites in Rome.
The oval shape of the square is due to the fact that originally, in 85 AC it housed a stadium in which athletes of all disciplines competed.
In the middle of the square you find the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The rivers represented by statues are Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio De La Plata.
On either sides of the square there are two more fountains by the same author, Giovanni della Porta: the Fountain of Neptune and the Fountain of the Moor.
Piazza Navona at Christmas Time
Piazza Navona is always a nice destination for Roman walks and tourist sight-seeing, but at Christmas time even more so, and it becomes particularly attractive foe families and children because the Piazza is populated by vendors of sweets, balloons, Holidays decorations, and Merry go Rounds.
Piazza NavonaClick thumbnail to view full-size
From Piazza Navona you can easily walk to the Pantheon, another historic structure of ancient Rome.
Originally built in 27 BC as a temple dedicated to the Olimpian Gods the Pantheon has been transformed into a Christian Basilica in 609 AC by Pope Boniface IV.
The Pantheon stands in the square called Piazza della Rotonda, and nearby there are several places where to eat, but my favorite stop is the caffe’ bar La Tazza D’Oro. If you are an espresso lover, you’ve got totry the frozen espresso with whipped cream; for $2.50 it’s espresso delight.
Dining in Rome
Rome is full of great family style restaurant, from simple to fancy. The area of Trastevere is famous for its culinary richness, in fact it offers some of the best local cuisine.
It's always a good idea to ask locals for suggestions to where to go, even the local Police is very friendly and usually willing to give advice and suggestions to tourists on any subject.
I usually ask salespersons in local shops, they are there every day and know the area and the best places to eat.
E. Altare Della Patria - Vittoriale
The morning after we got up early and started the day with a nice breakfast at the hotel and we took the bus towards Piazza Venezia, where there is the majestic Altare della Patria, where there is the tomb of the unknown soldier with perennial military guard.
Once closed to the public, this monument is now open and entrance is free. Inside you can admire the great rooms, with marble mosaic floors and once on the top enjoy the wonderful 360 degree view of the city. Best view is up the panoramic elevator, for a fee of circa $8 per person. Children younger than 10 are free.
Chiesa di Regina Coeli
While you are up un the hill behind the Altare della Patria you can visit the medieval Church of Regina Coeli, with mosaics from the previous millennium.
Going down the long stairs in front of the Church you get to the Campidoglio, the Capitol of Rome.
F. Bocca della Verita’
From there with a short walk you can get to the Bocca della Verita’ (Mouth of Truth) that according to an ancient legend is a face of stone that eats the hand of liars.
G. Colosseo - Colosseum
Symbol of Ancient Rome, made famous by many movies, like Ben Hur, The Gradiator, and many more, The Colosseum is a must-see Italian monument.
Used in the time of the Roman Empire as Amphitheater where Gladiators fought against each other and ferocious animals like lions and tigers while the population and the Emperor cheered from the stands.
H. Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps
Dominated by the wonderful Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna is a very lively spot in Rome, next to the fanciest stores in town, in Via Condotti, Via del Corso, and Via Frattina where you can buy diamonds from Damiani or Cartier, or Clothes of the best brands.
To get here you can hop on a bus or the Metro. With a ticket of 1.50 euros you can ride buses for 100 minutes or you can ride the metro once.
Not far from Piazza di Spagna is the famous Trevi Fountain.
I. Fontana di Trevi
Known as the most beautiful fountain in Rome, the Trevi Fountain is definitely something you want to squeeze in if you can.
We did not make it, by the time we got in that area, our kids were "done" with the sightseeing and walking, and we were running out of time anyway.
Besides being a wonderful work of art from the 1700s, the fountain is also famous for being the place where you throw the coins.
If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome.
If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian.
If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met.
In order to achieve the desired effect, you should throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.
All the money is collected by the city and used for good causes.
© 2012 Robie Benve