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A Day in Rome, What to Do?

Updated on September 19, 2018
Robie Benve profile image

Robie is an Italian artist who now lives in the US. She loves to share useful vacation tips and first-hand knowledge about Italy.

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.

Sant'Angelo Bridge in Rome, Italy
Sant'Angelo Bridge in Rome, Italy | Source

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.

St. Peter's Square and Basilica
St. Peter's Square and Basilica | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bronze statue of Saint Peter. His left foot is worn from all pilgrims touching it in sign of worship and prayer.Pieta' del Michelangelo
Bronze statue of Saint Peter. His left foot is worn from all pilgrims touching it in sign of worship and prayer.
Bronze statue of Saint Peter. His left foot is worn from all pilgrims touching it in sign of worship and prayer. | Source
Pieta' del Michelangelo
Pieta' del Michelangelo | Source

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.

Piazza San Pietro
Piazza San Pietro | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sant'Angelo bridge and castleCastel Sant'Angelo
Sant'Angelo bridge and castle
Sant'Angelo bridge and castle | Source
Castel Sant'Angelo
Castel Sant'Angelo | Source

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.

Rome, panoramic view
Rome, panoramic view | Source

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 Navona

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fountain of the Four Rivers and Church of St. Agnese In Piazza NavonaFountain of Neptune, Piazza NavonaThe crowd in Piazza Navona at Christmas time
Fountain of the Four Rivers and Church of St. Agnese In Piazza Navona
Fountain of the Four Rivers and Church of St. Agnese In Piazza Navona | Source
Fountain of Neptune, Piazza Navona
Fountain of Neptune, Piazza Navona | Source
The crowd in Piazza Navona at Christmas time
The crowd in Piazza Navona at Christmas time | Source

D. Pantheon

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
PantheonCaffe' Tazza D'Oro, Shaved espresso ice with whipped cream (Granita di Caffe' alla Panna)
Pantheon | Source
Caffe' Tazza D'Oro,
Caffe' Tazza D'Oro, | Source
Shaved espresso ice with whipped cream (Granita di Caffe' alla Panna)
Shaved espresso ice with whipped cream (Granita di Caffe' alla Panna) | Source

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.

Altare della Patria, the Altar of Fatherland, Rome, Italy
Altare della Patria, the Altar of Fatherland, Rome, Italy | Source

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.

Me at the Bocca della Verita'
Me at the Bocca della Verita' | Source

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.

Colosseo | Source
Altare della Patria
Altare della Patria | Source
Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna
Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna | Source

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.

One of the bridges crossing the river Tevere
One of the bridges crossing the river Tevere | Source

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


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    • Gurpinder Vir Singh Rai profile image


      8 months ago

      Thank you for sharing this wonderful guide. The pictures are beautiful. I will definitely have to visit at some point.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      15 months ago from Ohio

      Thanks so much Liz, that was exactly why I wrote the article, to share what we were able to see in a very packed 24-hour-period.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      15 months ago from UK

      Rome is on my list of places to visit. This article gives a great introduction to the city and shows how much can be seen on a quick trip.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      16 months ago from Ohio

      Hi Tanvi, Fontana di Trevi is stunning and I have visited it several times in the past, just not on this short trip that I did with my family. We were not able to fit it in on that visit. You bring up a great point though, I think I need to add to the article a list of things that we did not get to see but it would be great to try to include if you can. Thank!

    • tanvijain21 profile image


      16 months ago from Delhi

      Hi Robie. I visited Rome last year and reading this article refreshed my memories. I was there for about 3 days, so had a lot of time on my hands to explore all these places fully. My absolute favourite was Piazza Navona. It has such a romantic vibe to it. Second favourite place would be Fontanta di Trevi. Did you visit it?

    • Paddygsound profile image


      19 months ago from Australia

      A stunning location. The Piazza San Pietro (St Peter's Square) is so beautiful at night. You are reawakening my travel bug. Great article

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      7 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Riviera Rose, you are right, You could spend years in Rome and still have things to discover! :) I'm really proud for what we were able to see in 24 hours, especially considering that we had two children with us. They did gret!


    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 

      7 years ago from South of France

      You did very well in one day - it's one of those cities that you can keep on discovering for years, with hidden secrets up little alleyways and amazing restaurants where you least expect them. You've really made me want to visit again! Voted up and beautiful.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      7 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Carol, using hands for talking is the bast way to talk with Italians, isn't it? ;) I'm glad you have such great memory of Rome. it's one of my favorite cities.

      Thanks for voting up and pinning! :)

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      7 years ago from Ohio

      Europewalker, I love Rome, always amazing and exciting. I wish you to have the chance to enjoy a nice tour of this wonderful city soon. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      7 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks bdegiulio. We decided kind of last minute to do a stop over in Rome, and you can't go wrong with this amazing city! Our feet were fried at night, but it was all well wort, and thank Goodness for the efficient public transportation that brought us back! :)

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      It has been many years since I was in Rome..but lasting impressions. I asked someone where to dine..using my hands for talking..And we went to the most delightful restaurant I have ever been..And the history and art. You did a great job...Voting Up and pinning.

    • europewalker profile image


      7 years ago

      Lovely hub, gorgeous photos. I haven't made it to Rome yet but I would love to visit there if only for a day:)

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Robie. Great tour of one of my favorite cities. There is so much to see and do in Rome. Rome is a very walkable city and you can see a lot in one day. Well done.


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