3 Days in Rome to Discover The Eternal City – By RMK

From the Colosseum to the Pantheon's dome and the Forum views, it seems like there are wonders around every corner of the city
Destination(s)
Duration 3 days
Overview

Oh, beautiful Rome… My wife and I spent 3 days in Rome for an (amazing) long weekend back in 2015. Being tasked with the difficult mission of finding the destination of our long weekend, I initially hesitated with other European top cities such as Prague, Edinburgh, Copenhaguen, Oslo and Florence. In the end, I chose Rome for its incomparable beauty, incredible inspirational power and the myriad of touristic opportunities the Italian capital offers.

Although we had not planned our long weekend really in advance, we still had made a choice for the hotel: the San Anselmo in the Aventino neighborhood. We really liked the hotel (a wonderful private villa with pastel colors) and its location, as the neighborhood is very peaceful and utterly authentic. In addition, it is pretty close to some of the main monuments such as the Forum and the Colosseum.

Our trip took place in December, just before Christmas. While this is not usually the main touristic period, December is considered as one of the best months to explore Rome. Why? No crazy heat, no or very little waiting lines, amazing lights and sunsets… Read further!

Trip route

Step by step

An introduction to Rome - Includes the Forum, the Colosseum and more

Following an early flight on the Saturday morning from Paris Orly Airport to Rome Fiumicino Airport, we took a cab and drove straight to our hotel, the San Anselmo, in the Aventino neighborhood. With an ultra bright and sunny weather, and after a delicious hot chocolate at the hotel, we decided to start right away our 3 days in Rome itinerary!

We first walked from our hotel to the Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum... What a vision! The Circus Maximus is an ancient chariot racing stadium and you can really imagine the scale of the events that took place here. Now a public park, the Circus could accommodate over 150,000 spectators back then! After taking pictures and admiring the Circus and the Roman Forum, we then kept on walking to reach the Colosseum...

As the largest amphitheatre ever built, the Colosseum is .. impressive! With a capacity of around 80,000 spectators, it was mostly used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. We turned around this historic landmark and decided that we would get in and visit the monument after lunch. Not too far away, we found a nice little restaurant: Taverna Romana. Food was excellent and the house wine did a great job!

We came back to the Colosseum right after our lunch and were pleased to see a short waiting line: we got in in less than 15 minutes! We spent at least 2 hours inside, reading more about its construction and how it was used throughout the years. We took awesome pictures with the sun illuminating the monument with yellow/orange colors.

At the end of the afternoon on our way back to the hotel, we randomly found the key hole (Il Buco della serratura) on the Piazza Pietro d'Iliiria. Through this door keyhole, you are able to see a stunning view of the Basilica in the distance with two rows of the garden’s trees at the foreground.

In the evening, we had dinner at an amazing trattoria: L’Oasi della Birra. Call us crazy but this might be our best (culinary) memory of Rome! Amazing choice of delicatessen, cheese, beers and wine, alongside other Italian dishes we all crave for...

Exploring further: from the The Altare della Patria to the Pantheon and the Tiber

Our second day in Rome started well with a gargantuan breakfast at the hotel .. and still a splendid weather. After leaving the hotel, we walked in direction of the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, at the altar of the Fatherland in Rome. Located near the Piazza Venezia, the "Altare della Patria" is really an impressive monument. Note that there is a panoramic elevator that allows visitors go on the roof and enjoy a 360 degree views of Rome.

A bit further we discovered the Trajan's Column and the Forum. Once considered as one of the architectural wonders of the world, the Forum ruins are beautiful. It consisted of a basilica, two libraries, markets and a large temple.
From the Forum, we walked to the Piazza della Repubblica, which is surrounded by impressive buildings and has a nice fountain at the center.

Our plan was then to finally see the Trevi fountain! Considered as the most beautiful and famous fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain truly deserves its reputation... You just HAVE to see this one once in your life. Note that it can be quite challenging to take pictures as the place is so crowded.

Let's emphasize that any 3 days in Rome itinerary should have the Trevi Fountain included!

We then kept on exploring and went to the Pantheon, which is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings. The interior is splendid and, thanks to the awesome weather, we were able to see the beam of light coming through the dome of the Pantheon.

We then walked to the beautiful Piazza Navona, just before having lunch in a little restaurant nearby.

Following this, we kept on exploring and walking in the tiny streets around, discovering shops, markets and small churches. We then pushed further and reached the Tiber that we followed to reach the Isola Tiberina. This beautiful little island on the river Tiber hosts the Basilica San Bartolomeo all'Isola.

In the evening we had great pizzas and Italian wine at the Il Grottino restaurant.

Vatican City - A Tour in the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church

Our last day was focused on the Vatican! We had an early breakfast at our hotel and took a cab to the the Vatican City.

As soon as you arrive, you are impressed by the splendor of St. Peter's Square and the Basilica! This is simply stunning. The walk from the beginning of the street "Via della Conciliazione" to St. Peter's Square is pretty incredible. Then, there is this unique square that symbolizes the stretched arms of the church embracing the world.

We got into the waiting line and it took us around 30 to 40 minutes to get screened and then be able to visit the Basilica.

St. Peter's Basilica itself is a pure marvel of the world. A mix of Renaissance and Baroque architecture, the church is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. We spent quite a long time inside admiring the statues, sculptures and the general architecture, and then went down in the Vatican grotto beneath the Basilica.
We also tried to visit the Vatican Museums, but we could not as they only accepted cash. Too bad for us; this gives us an excellent reason to come back!

After the Basilica, we walked around a bit and found a nice pizzeria for lunch. Good pasta is the best way to end up a 3 days in Rome itinerary...

Practical Information
The main tip that I can give is to go deep in the city, to walk! It is so great to fall on a little church in a tiny street.. or to discover that hidden restaurant where tourists are not usually going to.
Regarding tipping, note that in Italy service is always added to the bill. If you want to tip after a good meal to thank the staff, just round up the bill with a few euros. If you had a magical experience, a bigger tip will make the staff happy. However, do not feel obliged to tip!

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