In early May, my sister will be leaving for a 9 week trip to Europe and I wanted to do what I can to help her out. In this post, I have created a sample itinerary for her while she is in Rome. They don’t yet know where they are staying so my only information to work with is that they arrive on a Friday at 3pm, and leave the following Monday. I have been to Rome only once before and that experience left a bad taste in my mouth so I hope I can create a better experience for my sister.
DAY 1 (Friday): Flying into Ciampino Airport, you can take public transit to the city center. Find your Airbnb/Hostel/hotel and settle in. Maybe take a quick shower or freshen up. Take the opportunity to settle in. I am assuming you will be ready to venture out around 5pm.
Head to Vatican City and get some of the big sites out of the way right away. If you are hungry before hand check out the Mercato Trionfale (closes at 7pm on Fridays). After head to St. Peters Basilica (closes at 7pm and has a free entry) and take in the massive Piazza San Pietro.
If you can I highly recommend doing a Night Visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. They are open for night visits from 7pm-11pm (last entrance at 9:30pm) every Friday from April-October. The museum is a lot less crowded and cooler than during the day. Even if you aren’t the biggest museum person, you have to appreciate how well preserved everything is as many artifacts were gifted to the Popes. This visit will set you back 16 euro.
Day 2: Let’s get ancient and a bit touristy. Grab an espresso and cornetti then head to the Forum to start your day. You can buy a combo Colosseum, Palatino & Roman Forum ticket – my tip here is to go to the Forum first to get the ticket and tour around then head to the Colosseum with the ticket already in hand and skip some of the line at the Colosseum. A ticket should cost around 12 euro and the site is open from 8:30am-7:15pm.
This part if up to you (Micaela) – The Colosseum is free on the first Sunday of every month, which is when you will be there. You can go then if you are not interested in seeing the Forum but I predict huge lines unless you arrive early.
Next head to Piazza Venezia and to take in the Altare della Patria, a temple honoring Italy’s first king. This stop shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes if you are viewing from the outside.
Approach the next few sights in this order: Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. All of which are free. You can also view the complete walk here. Everything is a classic must-see while in Rome, but as a warning, the Spanish steps are very underwhelming and I am still not sure why they are so famous.
Finish the day at Villa Borghese, a gorgeous public park elevated from the commotion of the city. You can choose to visit the museum as well but a jaunt around the park is all you really need. From this height, you can also view Piazza del Popolo, Rome’s oldest Obelisk.
Day 3: For today you are spending a part of your day in an area that many claim to be a must see in Rome, Trastevere. You can view the whole walk here, it wraps up to be a 1.2 mile day not including getting to the first stop and returning home. I would tell you to start your day at Campo de’ Fiori, a huge outdoor market. However, they are closed on Sundays so best to skip it unless you decided to mix around the suggestions I give you. If you do go grab some snacks and breakfast for the day. It gets very busy so the earlier you go the better.
Head to Palazzo Farnesse – Fans of The Borgias (me) are thinking…Giulia Farnese? This Palace is now the French embassy in Italy but at it’s prime was the residence of the Farnese family, an old old old Italian family. Spoiler alert – Giulia’s younger brother that become a cardinal due to her position(affair) with the Pope? Yea, he became the Pope later on, mind blown.
Cross Ponte Sisto and walk through Porta Settimiana (part of the Aurelian Walls) before heading to Piazza de Santa Maria. It is known for being the heart of the Trastevere area. While here admire the Basilica, dating back to the 12th century. When you move on to the next stop, be sure to walk down Via della Lungarettam bustling with restaurants and people. You can also take some time to wander down smaller streets and get a bit lost.
Finish the day with a quick walk across one of the oldest bridges in Rome, built in the 1st century BCE, Ponte Cestio. If you are still feeling energized, continue onto Tiber Island and across Ponte Fabricio to the Jewish Quarter. You could also walk a bit further to the Monti district.
In Rome (and most of Europe), everything shuts down on a Sunday – use Katie Parla’s guide to Eating in Rome on a Sunday to find what is open and delicious.
For recommendations on where to eat, check out some suggestions from an actual Roman: Rome City Guide with Angela Liguori.
This video gave me a good laugh – Best of Rome Without the Crowds.
I also recommend getting out of the city to check out Ostia Antica.
Let me know if you have any questions and enjoy!