Visiting Rome on a whirlwind trip? Here’s how I made the most of Italy’s capital in just three days. Without a doubt, I would have loved to have spent longer in this magical city, but without much time, this itinerary worked perfectly.
We arrived early on a 6am flight from Gatwick to Rome Fiumicino, and was instantly met with the dazzling Mediterranean sun. We swiftly passed through security, grabbed our bags and made our way for the train station. The Leonardo express is the easiest way to get into Rome City Centre, and travels regularly from the airport to Termini station in around 40 minutes. From Termini, it was a five-minute taxi ride to our hotel on La Spezia. This was a great location, walking distance to most attractions (right behind the Spanish Steps!) and had quick access to Barberini station which enabled us to get to the Vatican and the Colosseum. Our hotel allowed us early check in, and to top it off, we received a free room upgrade to a suite on the top floor. We were greeted with cool air-conditioning, a larger than expected balcony, and sweeping views of Rome.
We stayed here: Hotel Caprice
This hotel was typically European, but still modern and sleek. The continental breakfast was as expected.
Checked in, there was no time to rest. We changed into our walking shoes and hit the cobbled streets of this incredible city. I was amazed at the architecture and sheer history in the walls of the city. This, coupled with the heat, made it feel like a quintessentially Italian summer. Our first stop was lunch, and I was dying for an icy cold Pinot Grigio. This paired well with our authentic bruschetta, four ingredient pizza, and to die for, simple pasta dish. Holiday mode was switched on.
First on our site seeing list was the Spanish Steps, only moments from our hotel. We waltzed down, the heat reflecting off the cream bricks, to meet the fountain at the bottom. Fun fact: you can drink the water out of all the fountains in Rome! From here, it was only a moment’s walk to the Trevi Fountain. Standing in front of it, crowds frolicking in, was a very surreal moment (The Lizzie McGuire Movie, anyone?). Despite the volume of people, we still managed to get some great photos (because that’s what it’s all about right), and relished in experiencing the moment.
From the Trevi fountain, grab an Ice Cream, and walk to the Pantheon. I didn’t get around to doing this, but it is one thing I wish I had. We, however, finished our afternoon by accidentally finding San Marcello al Corco, a beautiful church located on Via Del Corso. Despite not being particularly religious, I have always felt something special when in a place of worship, and being in this church was no different. The architecture, complimented by the intricate paintings was truly mesmerising. It was a pleasure to visit.
We then walked down to the Palazzo Venezia (Formerly the Palace of St. Mark) to admire the views. Here we walked into a café, and promptly walked out after finding out the coke was five euros! We had obviously completely disregarded the only advice we had received, do not eat or drink where you can see a landmark! As it had been an exhausting day, we had an early dinner (very early for Rome standards) and headed back to our hotel to enjoy vino on our balcony. Rome day one, done!
Despite the comfort of our hotel, Day 2 started bright and early. This was to pack in as much as possible and beat the just bearable summer heat! Our first stop was the Colosseum, and we were beyond excited. Sunscreen and sunglasses in tow, we walked to Barberini station and bought our daily ticket. They are really easy to purchase through the automated ticket machines, which all have an English option for those not too confident in Italian. I must admit, when arriving at Colosseo station, I had not prepared myself to witness the architectural masterpiece as soon as we exited the gates! But there it was, standing stall and magnificent against the blue sky.
We arrived early, at 8am, but the lines were already horrendous. Because of this, we decided to do a guided tour, with was twenty euros each, which guaranteed us fast track entry into the Colosseum. Although it seemed a little shady at first (there was a lot of talking OUTSIDE), we were soon whisked in and overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Colosseum. The guided tour was really worthwhile, as without it, we would have merely wandered around admiring the architecture. With the tour, we were engrossed in the full history of the arena, making us appreciate it so much more. Part of the travelling experience for me is coming away with fun facts, and is there anything more interesting than seeing the communal toilet and toilet wipes they used WHILE watching fights? I don’t think so. The Colosseum is a sun-trap, so if you are visiting in the height of summer, make sure you bring LOTS of water, a hat and sunscreen. Our tour guided laughed as he mused ‘the Romans are smarter than you, they leave the city during the summer.’
After we had sadly finished our visit to the Colosseum, our ticket allowed us entry to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, so over we headed. We didn’t previously know too much about this area, and so were even more astounded as we walked the paths of history. To see the ruins of a ancient city built by the Romans makes you truly appreciate everything they did for the society we have today. I marvelled at how they managed to accomplish such incredible pieces of work.
The events of the Day 2 had taken up most of the morning and afternoon, so we headed back to our hotel for an afternoon siesta. After a long, exciting and exhausting morning, this is exactly what we needed. Tonight we headed down to the banks of the Tevere River, where a festival buzzes in summer. The river is lined with pop up tents of funky restaurants, arcade games and boutique shops and bars. Eclectic music sets the mood, and the chilled vibes sets the scene for a great night. This area was recommended by our hotel concierge, and we couldn’t have been more greatful.
This place had a truly incredible atmosphere; twinkling lights and mood music and beautiful scenery. But it was not the atmosphere that had us gushing, it was the bartender! After thoroughly recommended drinks for us, he presented us with a complimentary tasting plate of their finest foods.
We both enjoyed the most incredible seafood this evening. The butter and garlic mussels were to die for, and we followed them by signature pasta dishes (of course) and copious amounts of wine.
There is no time for a sleep-in in this city, so this morning started bright and early too. If you’re heading to the Vatican, I would suggest an early visit, not just to avoid the cues, but the sun too as there is no shade when you are lining up for the Basilica. Make sure you don’t forget a cover up for your knees and shoulders too (ladies). I did, and had to purchase several shawls to even get passed security!
Our trip to Vatican City was not as thorough as I would have liked, but we were heading on to Florence on Day 3, so by midday we were back at Termini and on a high speed train North. As we watched the Tuscan countryside come into focus, we revelled in the feeling the last three days had given us; of joy, excitement, and fullness (from all the pasta!).