What would you do if you only had 24hrs to explore Rome? That was the question we asked ourselves last August, when we took a short trip to the Eternal City. If you have the stamina and shoes for it, you can make it to many of Rome's beautiful sights in just one day. Let’s dive right into our itinerary!
We arrived in Rome on a Saturday morning and decided to stay at a Hilton that was attached to the Fiumicino Airport. For the ease of checking-in, dropping off bags, and heading straight off on our exploration this location was excellent. Plus, we really appreciated that the short walk to the airport meant we could get as much sleep as our jet-lagged selves could before boarding our flight back home!
Around noon, once we dropped off our bags and freshened up in the hotel, we took the Leonardo Express train into the city. The Leonardo Express offers direct service from the Fiumicino Airport to Termini (Rome’s transportation hub) and is an easy 30-minute ride. We used that time to plan how we would get tickets into the Vatican Museum (since this was a last-minute trip, a lot of our planning was done on the go). From Termini Station we transferred to the A line on the Metropolitana di Roma to Ottaviano S. Pietro, a stop just outside of the Vatican’s walls. After a short walk we arrived in St. Peter’s Square to a breathtaking monument of 1600's architecture. The towering obelisk and surrounding columns are a sight to behold as you feel tiny in the center of it all. As with most August days in Italy, it was a scorcher outside. We filled a water bottle with some fresh drinking water from the nasoni (or “big nose”) water fountains in the square while we took in our view.
From the Vatican City we made our way by metro to the Coliseum. We arrived at 5pm and made our way through the ancient ruins. Amongst the honeycomb of arches, we felt transported back to the time of gladiators and Roman Imperial strength. After exploring the Coliseum, we crossed the street to the Roman Forum where our Coliseum tickets were supposed to double as tickets into the Forum as well. However, due to its early closing time we were left to walk the outside of the grounds and survey from above without walking through. This ended up being enough for us anyway, as we were able to see quite a bit from the outside and quickly move onto our next stops: the Spanish Steps and Fontana di Trevi! We decided to take a self-guided walking tour from the Roman Forum which was a twenty minute jaunt through Roman streets and past notable sights with Rick Steves’ book leading the way. Our tour ended at the marvelous Trevi Fountain. Nestled between narrow Roman streets and tall buildings, we were surprised by the grand fountain’s juxtaposition to the neighborhoods of Rome.
It was starting to get late after our time at the fountain, so we decided to look for a tasty dinner spot in a piazza close by. It was hard to choose just where to eat with the wide assortment of beautiful piazzas and their outdoor restaurants. After walking through a number of gorgeous squares we sat down for dinner in a quiet little piazza at Osteria ar Galletto. The waitstaff there were very friendly and spoke English well. Ours even knew about Charlotte, NC through his love of Michael Jordan. The food and the scenery at the osteria was outstanding and just what we needed after our long day of exploring. Dinner was topped off with a walk to a nearby gelateria, of course.
Gelato in hand, we enjoyed one last evening stroll through the stunning piazzas before hailing a cab back to the hotel. Our cab driver was friendly, though he spoke only Italian. Luckily, with what Italian I can remember, we were able to communicate with him about our destination, the cost (€40), and that he only accepted cash (most cabs in Italy do not take credit cards). We returned to our hotel for a good night’s sleep and in the morning we were back in the airport heading home.
Was 24 hours enough time in Rome?
Is 24 hours EVER enough time to explore a new, exciting city? Of course not! However, we felt really good about the number of things we were able to see and didn’t feel like we missed out on too much. I would love to go back to get a really great pizza and explore some of the lesser known places, but our next stop in Italy is likely going to be Venice.
Reasons to use us for your trip to Rome?: 1.) Our wide array of fantastic international travel partners! 2.) We hoofed it all around Rome in 24 hours, but would build your custom itinerary so you could relax and take in Rome how you prefer. 3.) Our knowledge, experience, and willingness to see these places first-hand lets you feel confident that you’ll be fully prepared to enjoy Rome without a care!
We'll be back with our next post to talk about tourist scams in different countries and how to avoid them!