Can you see Rome in a day? Wondering how to create the perfect day in Rome?
Rome wasn’t built in a day and if you’re pushed for time on a trip to the Eternal City, you’re certainly not going to see everything it has to offer in a day. But while there’s plenty to experience in terms of culture, food, and ancient history, it’s not impossible to squeeze in the landmark ruins, piazzas, and museums of Rome’s capital city in only one day. If that’s all the time you have available, we’ll show you how to make the most of it.
Start your day in Ancient Rome around the area known as the Forum, of which the Colosseum is the masterpiece. To get to the amphitheater, arrive earlier than the 9 am opening time as the lines grow quickly.
The Colosseum, which is seen by many as a symbol of Rome, was originally built by Emperor Vespasian in AD 72. It was then inaugurated by Titus. Inside, there were tiered seats for different social classes surrounding the area where gladiators fought each other to death. These competitors were mostly criminals or Roman prisoners. The victor didn’t necessarily have to kill his or her opponent, but the Emperor made the final decision on the loser’s fate with a simple thumbs up or thumbs down signal.
Next, walk west along the Via dei Fori Imperiali. This ancient avenue provides an overview of the Forum’s many monuments. Keep an eye out for the House of Vestal Virgins, which was home to the Priestesses who tended the flame in the Temple of Vesta. You should also look for the Basilica of Constantine, a prominent building that is featured in most photos of the Forum.
Now walk to the Piazza del Campidoglio and admire the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. Although this is a copy, with the original housed in the Palazzo Nuovo, it is impressive, particularly at night when the square is illuminated.
The Piazza’s geometric paving and the facades of the buildings were designed by none other than Michelangelo. The building that stands in front of you as you enter the square is the Palazzo Senatorio. This structure belonged to the Roman Senate from the 12th century and today contains the mayor’s offices.
You are now at Capitoline Hill, which is in the heart of Ancient Rome. You are close to the entrance of two museums – Palazzo Nuovo (on the right when you enter the square) and Palazzo dei Conservatori (on the left). Together, these two museums are called the Capitoline Museums.
Museums in Rome are closed on Mondays, so plan your visit accordingly. Once you’re inside, head to the restaurant for some stunning views of the city.
The Palazzo dei Conservatori is a good place to start your tour. If you’re short on time, there are three exhibits in particular that you should focus on. These are the bust of Medusa, the bronze bust of the She-Wolf, and the head of Constantine I. The bust of Medusa is made of marble and was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini between 1644 and 1648. The bronze bust of the She-Wolf depicts her suckling Rome’s founders Romulus and Remus. The head of Constantine I is all that remains – along with a hand and other pieces – of a colossal 4th-century statue of the emperor.
The Palazzo Nuovo is a place with many statues. One statue is called the Dying Galatian. It is a copy of a sculpture made by Attalus I to remember when he won against the Galatians. In the same building, there is also the Hall of the Philosophers. This room has statues of famous Greek and Roman philosophers and writers. The Hall of the Emperors has pictures of important people from different time periods. Another statue in the Palazzo Nuovo is called the Torso of Discobolus. It shows a Greek man throwing a discus. But it was changed by Pierre-Etienne Monnot to look like an injured warrior instead.
When you finish at the Museums, go northeast of the Capitol to the districts called Piazza della Rotonda and Piazza Navona. Each area has a famous landmark worth seeing. The first, in Piazza del Rotonda, is the Pantheon, a temple built by Marcus Agrippa and dedicated to all the gods. The temple is a classic example of Roman art in the Hellenistic style; it was transformed into a church when Christianity became popular and is now home to many chapels and tombs, including Raphael’s tomb.
Now walk west towards Piazza Navona. In the Piazza di Trevi, you’ll find the Trevi Fountain. It is possibly the most famous fountain in the world.
The Trevi Fountain was commissioned in 1732 and built by the architect Salvi. It is carved out of one side of a palace and is dominated by a statue of Neptune being drawn in a chariot.
Soak up the atmosphere around the Trevi before partaking in a Roman legend. Hold a coin in your right hand, and with your back to the fountain, toss it over your left shoulder. If the coin lands cleanly in the fountain, you’re assured of a return to Rome.
End your day by grabbing a bite near the Fountain. A few recommended places to check out include:
Pane e Salame, located at Via Santa Maria Via, 19. The meat and cheese board is a must.
II Chianti Vineria, located at Via del Lavatore, 81-82. An ivy-clad wine bar with amazing Tuscan dishes.
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