Rome is an Ancient City, so how do you see it in a day? Well the truth is, you will never be able to see its full beauty in a day, but sometimes you only have the time that you have, and you must make the most of it! Because the best route to Moscow was via Rome this time around, I especially picked a long layover, so we could pop out of the airport and see Rome in a day(I mean both of us don’t need visas, so why not?). The flight is with Alitalia, and it leaves from Johannesburg directly to Rome, with a flying time of 10 hours (and its over-night so it’s not so bad). I picked an 11 hour lay-over(there was however a 16 hour one, all depends on the route), so after getting out of the airport, coming back in time, and all of the transfers, we had about 7-8 hours to spend in Rome. Of course it’s not nearly enough time to see Rome, but if that is all the time you have, I have the perfect itinerary for you!
Getting out of the airport and into the city
There are 3 ways that you could use to get from the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport to the central Roma Termini Station in Rome- train, bus or a shuttle. Bus is the cheapest option, costing 5 euros one way and it takes just under an hour(it is 8 euros if you buy a return ticket). The train is slightly more expensive, 14 euros each way but is a bit quicker- about 30 minutes. From the Roma Termini station, you pop outside and into the metro to get straight to the Coliseum Station (which is about 2 euro each way no matter where you go) if that’s where you want to go first. We wanted to take the train, but while we were busy buying tickets, there was a shuttle going directly to the Trevi Fountain (which I wanted to do first). The shuttle was 18 euros a person, so just 3 euros each more than we would have paid to take the train and then the metro. The shuttle was quick- we got to the Trevi in 30 minutes, so if you are limited with time in Rome, I suggest that as the best option. Do a bit of research and decide where you want to go to first, and then plan your mode of transportation from there.
The Perfect 1 Day Itinerary
Start at the Trevi Fountain
I was set on starting at the Trevi Fountain first for a simple reason- less people! Because the Trevi Fountain is not a big space, you only have a couple of chances to see it when it’s not full, one of them being before 11am. We got there at about 10am, and while there were people around, it wasn’t nearly as busy as when we walked past it again at 12pm. The reason I wanted to go there first, is I wanted to take it all in, and have my perfect picture- and I got it! The Coliseum is big, so even when there is a lot of people there, you can still manage to find a spot around it that won’t be as crowded. It’s not the same with the Trevi Fountain, because the space there is really limited. You hear the fountain before you even see it, and when I finally saw it with my own eyes, my heart skipped a beat. Photos really don’t do it justice- this work of art is simply magnificent.
Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you will be back there again in your life. I once threw a coin at the “0 kilometer” mark in Moscow, when I visited it for the first time in 2009, and since then, my parents actually moved to Moscow, and I have been to visit that place about 20 times! So of course, I threw my coin into the Trevi with hopes of coming back, and daily this fountain collects close to 3000 euros, all of which gets donated to charity for the Rome’s less fortunate. You need about 30 minutes to an hour to take the beauty that is the largest Baroque fountain in the world.
From the Trevi Fountain, walk towards the Spanish Steps.
It took us about 15 minutes to get from the Trevi to the famous Spanish Steps. As soon as we stepped into the Spanish Square my first though was “Wow, this architecture really reminds me of Barcelona!” The Spanish steps lie between the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinita dei Monti. The Spanish Steps were built in order to link the Trinita dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the King Of France, with the Spanish square below. The stairs are beautiful and unusual, and I loved just sitting on them and catching a bit of a breather in the Roman heat (even in mid- September the weather was past 30 degrees!). Again, because we got there at about 11:30, the steps weren’t as full and I even got this picture on the steps, with not many people around! The Piazza di Spagna is also a great place for shopping, as right near it are the 3 famous streets of shopping- Via Condotti, Via Borgognona and Via Frattina. Everything your heart desires from Gucci to Sephora can be found here, so if you plan on shopping, make sure to factor in time for that when you leave the Spanish Steps.
Have an Italian Espresso to keep you going
There are lots of restaurants as you walk from the Trevi Fountain to the Spanish Steps, and we stopped in a little trattoria that was tucked into one of the little streets for a divine quick breakfast, which was just 8 euros! Fresh fruit, yogurt, eggs, orange juice and an espresso, was all we needed to keep going after a long flight and an early morning. Generally, Italians only start having breakfast at around 10 o’clock and they are fans of sweet things for breakfast such as croissants, cannoli and little cakes (as is most of Europe actually). After breakfast make sure to grab some gelato, because it is truly delicious and one of a kind in Italy!
Walk along Via del Corse to marvel at the Roman architecture, and stop to take it all in along the way.
From the Spanish steps, it’s a 5 minute walk to get onto the main street in Rome that will lead you to the Coliseum. There is so much to see as you walk along it though, and we kept stopping to take it all in! We stopped to go inside San Marcello Al Corso which was absolutely beautiful, the Altare Della Patria and the Piazza Venezia. It took us an hour or so to walk along the street until we hit the Coliseum, but the street is amazing and there is so much more you could see on it. What I loved the most is seeing the mix of the old and the new in Rome- how ruins from before our time, stand next to a monument that was build in 1880, and it all still looks beautiful!
Take some time to explore Palati
ne Hill and the Roman Forum
When you are getting close to the Coliseum, you will spot the beauty of the Roman Forum close by, and it’s a sight to admire on its own. For centuries the Forum was the center of day-to-day life in Rome: the site of triumphal processions, the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city’s great men. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations attracting 4.5 million or more sightseers yearly. You can have a walking tour of it, if you have time, but I do advice downloading an audio guide to explore the place.
And finally- see One of the Seven Wonders of the World
As much as I try and explain how things like this make me feel, I simply can’t. I can’t describe the feeling of when you see an ancient beauty like this that comes alive before your eyes. The Colosseum was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Colosseum with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights. After four centuries of active use, the magnificent arena fell into neglect, and up until the 18th century it was used as a source of building materials. Though two-thirds of the original Colosseum has been destroyed over time, but the amphitheater remains a popular tourist destination, as well as an iconic symbol of Rome and its long, tumultuous history.
It is simply grand, and to me it is still the symbol of modern Rome, even though it is ancient! It is something that you need to see a least one in your lifetime, I can’t describe my feelings about it easily. The Coliseum gets very busy, and you can book multiple tickets to go inside it and explore. However because we didn’t have a lot of time, we just walked around it, and because I researched the history of it beforehand, I was like our walking audio guide, haha.
After exploring the Coliseum a bit, we started to head back to the train station to catch the Leonardo Express train back to the airport. It took us an hour to walk from the Coliseum to the train station(in a very slow walk, as we constantly stopped to take it all in), and after grabbing some lasagna for lunch, we were back to the airport. Of course we didn’t see nearly enough of Rome, and I for sure be back! This was just a 1 day trip and I picked my favorite sights to see.
What else would I see if I had to go back to Rome? I would honestly go back to the Coliseum and explore it inside, and then I would head to the Vatican! St. Peter’s Basilica, see the Sistine Chapel, admire the Pantheon and just get lost inside this magnificent, ancient city!
Have you ever been to Rome? I hope that you found my little itinerary useful!