Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with the biggest number of monuments, squares, churches, attractions, and artworks. Certainly 3 days in Rome isn’t enough to see completely everything that the city has got to offer, but it’s certainly enough to see all the highlights in case you manage your time effectively.
We recommend you to start your first day in Rome directly from the city center: Piazza Venezia. Here, the most famous monument is dedicated to King Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy and called Il Vittoriano. It is also referred to as the Altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Patria) and was made from white marble in 1911.
Inside, there is a military museum and terrace with the views of Rome
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Moreover, the monument is known as “The Wedding Cake” or “The Giant Typewriter” and features statues, frescoes, columns, and majestic staircases. The monument was highly criticized for clashing with the existing architecture that surrounds it. Additionally, to create such a massive building, the government destroyed many ruins, medieval churches, and properties on the northern part of Capitoline Hill.
Turn to the right, and you will see the large white staircase. So, it’s time to visit one of the 7 ancient hills of Rome: Capitoline Hill. Michelangelo designed the famous Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline square), and today, you can find here the most ancient museums in the world: the Capitoline Museums. So, if you like art and history or want to see the famous statue of the Capitoline Wolf, you should definitely visit the Capitoline Museums!
On the same hill, you can visit the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli, one of the most beautiful Roman basilicas from the 17th century. Then, go down from another side of the hill, and you will appear right on the Via dei Fori Imperiali.
The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) was the center of civic and economic life in Republican times and the Imperial period. The site was crossed by the Via Sacra, which led to the Capitoline Hill and served as the route of the triumphal parades of victorious generals laden with loot and accompanied by rows of prisoners.
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According to historians, people first began publicity meeting in the open-air Forum around 500 BC
Now you are so close to the worldwide famous Colosseum, which is the symbol of Rome. The Colosseum was created around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. After, in A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened this massive construction for 100 days of games with gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights. For that time, the Colosseum was known as the Flavian Amphitheater. People actively used it for four centuries, but in the 18th century, the arena became a source of building materials.
Right in front of the Colosseum is Palatine Hill. The significance of Palatine Hills is that the Roman Empire was founded there under the direction of Romulus. It is the site of the Lupercal Cave, where according to the legend, Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf Lupa who raised them. Now it is a symbol of Rome.
If you want to go inside the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, you should buy tickets in advance. Read instructions on how to buy tickets here
If you go on the outside along the hill, you will come to Circus Maximus. The Circus Maximus (in Italian Circo Massimo) is the biggest racetrack of ancient Rome, situated on the left bank of the Tiber River, between the Palatine and Aventine hills, near the center of the modern city.
The next stop is the Aventine hill, which is also one of the 7 ancient hills of Rome. The legend recounts that Romulus had the plan to build a city on Palatine Hill and his brother Remus thought the Aventine Hill was the better place to construct a city. According to the myth, the disagreement of the brothers led Romulus to kill Remus. Then, he started to build Rome on Palatine Hill. Moreover, he didn’t include the Aventine Hill inside the wall of the Ancient City.
The hill is presently an exquisite private part of Rome with a wealth of structural interest, counting palaces, churches, and gardens, for example, the basilica of Santa Sabina and the Rome Rose Garden.
The Aventine Hill is one of the best places where to enjoy beautiful views of Rome being away from noise of the city center
The Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) is considered one of the most romantic places in Rome. It has one of the most beautiful observation decks with views of the Eternal City and the Vatican. Moreover, local street musicians usually accompany the romantic atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if during your visit to this charming park someone propose to his second half because the Orange Garden is like a magnet to all couples and companies of friends who want to enjoy their time in such a wonderful atmosphere without being in a hurry. This place is perfect for a visit during early morning or sunset time.
The next stop is the famous monument of the Mouth of Truth. It is an ancient image carved in a round Pavonazzo marble (Italian: Marmo pavonazzetto) slab. The gloomy face of an unknown god is set in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The church is located on the left bank of the Tiber river, a contemporary area of ancient Roman buildings. Scientists believe that the place is about 2,200 years, and the Romans are convinced that it is impossible to tell a lie under the stern gaze of the mask!
Now let’s go back closer to Piazza Venezia, where on your way, you will meet a construction that is similar to the Colosseum but is much smaller. The Theater of Marcellus (Teatro di Marcello) is a structure that Julius Caesar started to construct. It was finished by Augustus and dedicated to his favorite nephew Marcellus. The building is one of the ancient examples of entertainment venues that were important for Romans.
From Marcello Theater starts the next stop, which is the Jewish Ghetto. The Jewish Ghetto is one of the most beautiful but less known attractions of Rome. The neighborhood has a rich history. Nowadays, it is full of boutique stores and kosher restaurants located alongside the historic buildings.
The Ghetto was established in 1555 in the Rione Sant’Angelo, in the southern part of Campo de’Fiori. It was Pope Paul IV who ordered the construction of the neighborhood. It had borders over a Papal Bull and different discriminatory laws about the kinds of professions that Jews could do or could not. One of the most typical professions was selling fish, so that the old fish market was located in the Ghetto. Moreover, the area has one of the highest prices for property in Rome. Because of all prohibitions and obligations, the Jews became traders of clothing and businessmen in the field of loans.
It is time to have a break. One of the best neighborhoods in Rome to try amazing Italian plates and desserts is Trastevere. Thus, I recommend you to read an article about the best restaurants in Trastevere.
If during the first day we visited mostly monuments from the period of the Roman Empire, then the second day will be dedicated mostly to the monuments from the period of Renaissance and later. We will start from the Villa Borghese gardens. If you are interested in art and history, you should definitely visit the Borghese Gallery, the biggest private art collection. This is where you can admire the artworks of Raphael, Bernini, Titian, and Caravaggio.
If you are not interested in art, I suggest you walk around one of Rome’s most beautiful and biggest parks (Villa Borghese). Right near the park is Piazza del Popolo. Piazza del Popolo is the site where foreigners arrived in the city during the era of the Empire. There is the church of Santa Maria del Popolo on the left side of the square, which was rebuilt by Baccio Pontelli and Andrea Bregno between 1472 and 1477. The church hosts paintings and sculptures by Caravaggio, Pinturicchio, Carracci, Raffaello, Bernini, and Bramante.
Then, it will take less than 10 minutes to reach the Spanish square. There you will see the Spanish Steps, an unusual architectural gimmick, considered one of Rome’s top attractions. This sightseeing is one of the unmatched architectural landmarks of Rome. Wide baroque steps attract thousands of visitors and serve as a main source of inspiration to cinematographers and artists. In addition, such modern fashion houses as Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari, Dior prefer to place their boutiques within easy reach to this grandiose construction.
The next stop is one of the most beautiful fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain. Guests of the Italian capital flock to the sightseeing to admire breathtaking views and accomplish a compulsive ritual. They turn back onto the fountain and throw the coins over their shoulder. By throwing coins to the feet of Goddesses, one can expect their mercifulness.
More often, awestruck travelers throw in the fountain more than one coin in hopes of finding the one and come back to Italy and Rome again. By the way, tourists in Rome leave about 1500 Euro in the crystal clear water of the Trevi Fountain every day, which is a very nice revenue that amounts to more than a million Euro per year!
The Pantheon is an ancient temple dedicated to the Roman gods and embodies the greatness of the Roman Empire. It is assumed that it was built in 2 AD in the place of another temple that Marcus Agrippa built in 27 BC. Nowadays, you will find this ancient crowning glory at Piazza della Rotonda.
In 10 minutes walk from the Pantheon is the famous Piazza Navona. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most refined squares and bright corners in Rome. In ancient times, the athletic stadium was located on this spot of the metropolitan land, and Romans watched the “agones” or the “games.” That is why Piazza Navona was previously known as “Circus Agonalis” or “competition arena.” Nowadays, all guests of the Italian capital can visit the majestic baroque fountains and medieval temples.
Time for a break? Nearby Piazza Navona is Campo de’ Fiori square with charming bars and restaurants. It is a nice option where to make a short stop for a drink.
Today you can find a daily market on the square and enjoy the freshest fruits and vegetables. Moreover, there are many different flowers that you can buy along the piazza. At sunset Campo de’ Fiori transforms into a legendary nightlife haunt. Many locals and tourists come there for a pre-party, visit one of the local restaurants, or enjoy hookah in a shisha place. The piazza and streets nearby are full of young people during the evening time. Moreover, many famous gelaterias are located nearby the Campo de’ Fiori.
Right nearby Campo de’ Fiori is the place where more than 200 cats live! Now it is time to visit Largo di Torre Argentina. Largo di Torre Argentina is one of the Roman ancient sites with a famous cat sanctuary in Rome. Moreover, this is the place where they killed Julius Caesar.
After Largo Argentina, you can easily reach Trastevere, which is the best option if you are already hungry.
Of course, it is not possible to imagine a visit to Rome without the Vatican. However, this day we will start from the early morning. The best time to meet near the St Peter’s Basilica is 7 am, right at the time of its opening.
I recommend you to watch our video about the visit to Saint Peter’s Basilica:
Moreover, climbing to the top of the cupola (dome) of Saint Peter’s Basilica is one of the main attractions during your Roman holiday since it is the highest point of Rome, located on the territory of the Vatican. The dome opens at 7:30 am, and you need to go throw St Peter cathedral security check before climbing. After the security check, look right, and you will find a sign that directs you to the kiosk with tickets for the cupola.
It will take about 3-4 hours to visit Saint Peter’s square, basilica, and its dome. Then, on the roof of the basilica, you can take a break for breakfast with coffee. Later, we go to the famous Vatican Museums!
The Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani) are Christian and art museums based inside the Vatican City. Throughout the centuries, popes were gathering masterpieces to this impressive collection. Moreover, the collection includes Roman sculptures and worldwide known works of Renaissance art.
The museums contain almost 70.000 works, where 20.000 of them are on display
The entry to the historical museum costs 17 euro (+4 euro for the reservation if you book tickets online). It is always good to plan your trip and book tickets online because thousands of visitors daily want to visit the art museum. Usually, queues at ticket desks are endless. Also, 640 people work in 40 different departments as administrative, scholarly, and restoration ones.
The museum exhibits 54 galleries (sale), including the Sistine Chapel, and is one of the largest museums in the world
After the Vatican Museums, we will visit the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Roman Bridge of Angels. The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant’Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel), has a grand view and impressive history. During its long existence, built at the dawn of Christianity on the banks of the Tiber, the cylindrical mausoleum was the last refuge for the Roman emperor, the residence of pontiffs, fortress, then prison, and later – the museum and treasury.
There is a legend which says that the Archangel Michael appeared above the mausoleum putting his sword back into the sheath. Thus, the end of the plague in 590 AD was marked. To celebrate this, the Pope gave the its present name
If you have only 1 or 2 days in Rome, I recommend you to watch a video about the top 30 main attractions of Rome:
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Author: Kate Zusmann
For the last 6 years I live in the Eternal City. Traveling, exploring new things, writing blogs, shooting vlogs are my main hobbies, but the thing that I like even more is to share my experience and thoughts with you! Explore Rome with Us :)
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