The Italian capital, nicknamed the “Eternal City” is a city of layers, contemporary establishments built on thousands of years of history. The sense of history here is extraordinary, so profound and immediate. The city of Rome is a museum in itself, and only 24 hours to spare can hardly do its timeless grandeur and beauty any justice at all, but it is ample time to intrigue your senses and pave your path for return.
The city is best experienced by foot or bike, as transportation is not the most reliable and many of the main tourist destinations are walking distance apart. I prefer walking around the city, as it also provides a full-fledged sensory experience. Catch a whiff of the warm aroma of local pizzerias. Feast your eyes on the iconic Colosseum ruins. Sample the Italian goodness of gelato from roadside vendors. Listen to the sweet melody of church bells.
You may have to start your day a tad earlier than should be allowed on vacation, but to fit in all of the major highlights of the city, starting at the break of dawn is recommended. You’ll thank yourself later.
1) Start off your busy day with a scrumptious Italian breakfast buffet at Hotel Canada, nestled in the heart of the city.
2) Reconnect with the Rome of yesterday as you enter the ancient ruins of the Colosseum – the largest amphitheatre built during the Roman Empire. It used to be the site of gladiatorial battles, animal shows, and other public spectacles. It is known as one of the finest examples of Roman architecture and dates back to the 1st century AD.
3) Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain and make a wish! Just don’t take a dip a la La Dolce Vita; it’s prohibited!
4) Admire the beautiful dome of the Pantheon – a monumental temple dedicated to the ancient gods of Rome. Today, it is used as a church (Santa Maria Rotonda). It also serves as the burial site of illustrious Italians such as the famed artist, Raphael and a popular venue for weddings.
5) A trip to Rome is incomplete without a cappuccino. In the vicinity of the Pantheon is arguably one of Rome’s best coffeehouses – Tazza d’Oro. Italians generally consider cappuccino a morning drink, but at Tazza d’Oro, it is served around the clock.
6) Take a break on the Spanish Steps with a serving, or two of delicious Italian gelato. In the summer months particularly, you will find gelato vendors and gelaterias dotted in every corner of the city – grazie!
7) Erected over the Tiber River is the bridge, Ponte Sisto Stroll. Catch stunning views of the city as you cross the bridge and find sweet pleasures in the form of quaint cafes and enchanting boutiques along the way.
8 ) Catch lunch on-the-go at one of the many pizzerie al taglio (sliced pizza – Rome’s version of fast food) in endless varieties, including the standard choices – pizza margherita and pizza al funghi.
9) Make your way over to the Vatican, a landlocked city-state within Rome. One of the main attractions is the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica – an example of Renaissance and Baroque excellence dating back to the 5th century. Avoid going on Sundays when a huge crowd assembles to hear the Pope deliver his sermon. Men and women: be sure to cover your shoulders and legs, otherwise you may not be allowed inside! For some of the best panoramic views of the city, climb the 320 steps to the Cupola (top of the dome) of St. Peter’s or zoom to the top with an elevator.
10) Marvel at Michelangelo’s hand-painted biblical masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It took him almost 5 years to complete it!
11) Peruse an exclusive display of magnificent Renaissance and Baroque art housed in a sprawling 17th century villa, Galleria Borghese. You can enjoy artwork by Titian, Rubens, Raphael, and Caravaggio and beautiful sculptures by Bernini. Reservations are required and definitely a good idea. This is part of the Vatican museum series. It’s hard to avoid art while in Rome, and there is no shortage of museums or art galleries, so prioritize your visits based on your personal interests and tastes.
12) Wind down after a long day of sightseeing with a cocktail and live music at the relaxed Bebo do Samba, or head to Via di Monte Testaccio, Rome’s nightlife hub to find some of the hottest and hippest clubs and bars. For the culture vultures, an evening at the opera might be a good option. Check the La Republicca newspaper for listings of shows and events.
Don’t forget to map out the agenda for your next visit!
Have fun roaming the bellisima city of Rome and feel the energy buried in every corner and crevice! Ciao!
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