If You Had One Day In Rome, Italy….

Ah, Rome.  One of my favorite cities.  This is part of a series of posts I wanted to get under way where readers can help other readers.  I’d love to know your best suggestions for how to spend one day in a destination.  We started with Sydney, Australia.  We were pretty excited to snag 4 business class seats to take the whole family there next year.    A listener of my podcast Miles To Go asked us to give them some suggestions on Dallas, TX.  Next up is Rome.

If You Had One Day In Rome…

Here’s how I would spend one day in Rome.  I’d be waking up at the St. Regis, my favorite hotel in Rome, but only if I can book it using points.  It’s not cheap!  I’d enjoy the breakfast buffet included for SPG elites.  Then, I’d head out a bit on the early side to walk past the Spanish Steps.  I think it’s a beautiful place for a walk when it’s not completely overrun by tourists.

From there I’d make my way to the Vatican.  If you’ve never taken a tour, I’d be sure to spend some time in the Vatican Museum.  Second time to visit?  I’d spend a bit of time in St. Peter’s Basilica, making sure to go to the roof to catch a bird’s-eye view of Rome.  From there, I’d grab a bite to eat.  I’d try to walk at least a few blocks away from the Vatican, as most of the restaurants right nearby are at the lower end of the quality scale.  I mean, bad pasta in Rome is still pretty good. But, it’s a shame to waste a meal in Rome.

View of Rome From The Top of St. Peter’s Basilica

After lunch, I’d make sure to throw a coin in the Trevi fountain, hoping to work off a few calories from lunch on my way over.  There’s no bad time to stop for gelato, but afternoon is definitely a good time especially under the hot sun.  Again, try to stay away from the main tourist spots when ordering gelato.  It’s just as tasty a few blocks away, and half the price.  I’d finish my gelato as I walked towards Piazza Navona.  If I was lucky, I”d catch the markets, walking down the booths looking for small treasures to remind me of my trip.  Once I’d worked up an appetite, I’d head down Piazza Pasquino to grab dinner at Cul de Sac.  You’ll find dozens and dozens of wines by the glass, artisanal cheeses and charcuterie.  It’s really hard to go wrong.

Days In Italy

Days In Italy

After dinner, I’d walk back to my hotel.  Plenty of sights to see as Rome tucks itself into bed in the evening.

What Would You Do If You Had One Day In Rome?

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8 Comments

  1. My travel focus is always history. Like you, I try always to stay in the Spanish Steps area. It is the perfect area as the neighborhood to the west of the steps is full of grocers, affordable mom and pop restaurants and wine shops. Also I think heading to the Vatican is a fine start, but you should do so via the Mausoleum Augustus, the Ara Pacis and Castel St Angelo (Emperor Hadrian’s Mausoleum and the residence of most of the popes from the Borgia Pope (my personal favorite pope) on). All three of those are more historically important than the Vatican. After the Vatican, I’d take a car to the Constantine’s Arch (or walk there, even though it is long, so that I could see the Theater Marcelo and two of the most elegant ancient temples anywhere–the Temples Portuno and Ercole) and try and fit in as many of the 3 big monuments (the Forum, the Palatine and the Colosseo, in that order of preference) there as possible before closing. When the monuments close, I’d take a leisurely stroll on (mostly) Corso back to the Spanish Steps, stopping along the way to take in Trajan’s Forum (and column), Vittorio Emanuel monument, the Pantheon (you can actually go inside this one until fairly late in the evening, and it is worth doing so), Trevi, and Emperor Marcus’ column. I’d grab a pizza rustica along the way for lunch and have a nice, long, Italian dinner somewhere in the Spanish Steps neighborhood. And, yeah, that’s a lot, but it is doable, and it is my basic “one-day tour” when I’m showing someone around Rome for the first time.

    1. Kevin, I LOVE this day! You’re right that it’s a lot. And, there’s a handful of things on here I haven’t done yet. Castel St Angelo is another of our favorite places to hang out. Thanks for sharing!

  2. We had two days in Rome, hired a personal tour guide (Her name was Carla) to take us around and after my wife was done seeing everything and went to the hotel. I armed with a list of best Pizza places started traveling to different places. One of the better locations was Dar Poeta http://www.darpoeta.com/ I have since been to Italy several times even this year working in a small area and found even though Pizza is supposed to be Italian, it can really be hit or miss just like the states.

  3. If Roman history is your thing, I’d skip the tourist traps or the 10-top lists. Instead I’d visit the baths: mainly the remains of the Baths of Agrippa, Baths of Diocletian, Baths of Caracalla, Baths (now Basilica) of Maxentius, and I would add the Museo dell’Ara Pacis which houses the Ara Pacis of Augustus. This will give you a better glimpse of a millennium of Roman daily life, architecture, and history. Do your homework ahead of time, research your line of travel, and explore the possibility of booking in advance to avoid wasting valuable time standing in lines. Also, look at Roma Pass even though the minimum is 48 hours (€ 28.00). Once, using the local library and a map (before the internet), I planned a tour to see all the Caravaggio paintings at Rome churches and museums and it was one of the best things I ever did in Roma.

    I second dining at a Trastevere restaurant suggestion above. I worked in the late 1970s at one of them in my late teens and it was the best food I ever had, really! Been back several times since and it’s always a nostalgic treat to dine in that area.

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