Rome is huge and beautiful, filled with art and history, and planning a trip there can be quite overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to spend there. Ideally, you would need at least a week to see all the city has to offer (and then again, a week might not be enough), but we can’t always pick how many vacation days we get – so why not make the best out of it?
I have recently come back from a wonderful weekend in Rome, and I think we truly have made the most of our time there: we have seen a lot, we had wonderful food and we truly enjoyed ourselves, so I thought I’d share my itinerary with you. If you find it useful please don’t forget to share it with other people planning a trip to the Eternal City 🙂
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
You should begin your tour of Rome in Vatican City, as the Vatican Museums are huge and it can take a long time to visit them. Of course, you could every single room in the buildings, but since you only have 2 days in Rome, you should pick and choose what to see. First of all, know that if you don’t buy your tickets online the line to get in is ridiculously long (I’m talking HOURS here), so do yourself a favor and buy the tickets on the museum’s website. The first available tickets are for 9 am, but you can show up earlier and get in at 8.30, which I highly recommend. As soon as you get in climb the stairs to the second floor, following the signs for “Cappella Sistina” and be prepared to be amazed. Before you actually get to the Sistine Chapel you will see rooms of amazing beauty: a long corridor draped with tapestries, and an equally long and even more beautiful corridor full of maps painted in the 1600 and 1700s. You then reach some incredible rooms painted by Raffaello and the beautiful apartments where the Borgias used to live. It’s now time to see the crowning jewel of the Vatican: the Sistine Chapel. The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480, and is one of the most impressive and incredible sights you will ever see: a team of Renaissance painters that included Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli painted its walls, while the ceiling is painted by Michelangelo, along with the famous Last Judgment fresco. Take your time to take in its beauty, before moving on and leaving the Vatican Museums.
St. Peter’s Basilica
It’s a short 10-minute walk from the exit of the Vatican Museums to St. Peter’s: the square in front of the basilica is a work of art itself, with an impressive colonnade built by GianLorenzo Bernini, which will leave feeling incredibly small compared to this huge open space. Note that sometimes there is a long line to get into the basilica because of security controls. If you wish to skip the line be ready to dish out 15 € per person to one of the many “tour companies” around the square: they don’t actually take you on a guided tour, but they take you to a fast track security check which makes you skip the long line, and is worth every cent. The church, inside, is stunningly beautiful and incredibly tall and large, home to masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Pietà, which you will find on the right side of the basilica as soon as you walk in, and the cupola, a symbol itself of the grandiose history of Rome. Walk around the basilica and admire the frescos by several artists and the sculptures by Bernini before leaving the church and walking towards your next destination.
Leave St. Peter’s square behind you and walk down Via della Conciliazione and, every now and then, turn around to take a look at how beautiful the basilica looks from a distance. Pass Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Hadrian mausoleum and home to the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo. You can either visit it or stop for coffee to rest up a bit before crossing the Sant’Angelo bridge, one of Rome’s most beautiful bridges: it’s pedestrian-only and it offers beautiful views over the Tiber river and the city. Once on the other side follow the signs to Piazza Navona, which is about 15 minutes away on foot. You are now in the heart of Rome, in the Centro Storico (historical center) and beautiful Piazza Navona is one of the most wonderful squares in town – and around the world. The focal point of the square is its famous fountain, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi by Gianlorenzo Bernini, with its impressive obelisk, while all around it you will see street performers entertaining passers-by and a ton of cafés should you be ready to drink another coffee.
This is probably one of my favorite spots in Rome, and definitely something you should see. A former Roman Temple, then turned into a church, the present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD, making it one of the best-preserved monuments from Ancient Rome.The building is circular with a portico of large granite in front, and while it looks pretty stunning from the outside, it’s the inside that will leave you speechless: the cupola is simply huge when seen standing right below it and truly makes one feel like a dwarf. Should you be ready for lunch, there is a wonderful place called L’Antica Salumeria right in the Pantheon’s square! Read more about where to eat in Rome in my post dedicated to the best restaurants in the Eternal City!
Fontana di Trevi
The Fontana di Trevi, about 15 minutes walking from the Pantheon (if you don’t stop taking a million pictures like I do!) is a sight for sore eyes and famous for appearing ina ll its beauty in the cult movie La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini. Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci, it stands 26.3 meters (86 ft) high and 49.15 meters (161.3 ft) wide, making it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the largest in the world. In my opinion, the fountain is best enjoyed at night, as it is slightly less crowded than duirng the day: so if you want to go back to the hotel, get rested, have dinner in a great local restaurant and then come back here, I think that would be a great idea.
That’s it for the day! I guarantee you will be exhausted after visiting all these amazing monuments. Stay tuned for day 2 of my “Rome in 2 days itinerary”!
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