How to Spend Three Days in Rome
Three Days in Rome: Day One
Once the center of the Roman Empire, Rome encompasses an area of 580 square miles. With such a large amount of land to cover, deciding where to start your three days in Rome may seem a little overwhelming, so why not keep it simple and start in the oldest part of the city? The area around Palatine Hill, the centermost of the Seven Hill of Rome that has been occupied since approximately 1000 BC, is the perfect place to begin your trip.
Once in the area, you cannot miss catching sight of the Colosseum, an amphitheater that was built to hold 80,000 spectators upon its completion in AD 80. Next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine, a remarkable arch erected in honor of Constantine's defeat of the pagan Maxentius in AD 312. Within easy walking distance of the arch is the Roman Forum, the center of it all in ancient Rome. There are so many ruins here it is almost unbelievable. The nearby Palatine Hill, once covered with palaces, is now a tree-shaded hilltop that offers a few good looking points to take in the vastness of the Roman Forum and explore more ruins.
Take a break and enjoy an ice cream from a local geleteria or light lunch from a snack stand before you hop on a bus to the Pantheon, located in the stunning Piazza della Rotunda. Built as a temple to the Gods, the Pantheon has withstood nearly two millennia. Nearby is the magnificent Trevi fountain, a Baroque sculpture where you should toss a coin: one means you are sure to return to rome, while another means a new romance, and three ensures either a marriage or divorce. It is estimated that 3,000 euros are tossed in the fountain every day.
It's getting late, so the next stop should take you to the pubs and restaurants of Trastevere. This may be one of the oldest neighborhoods in Rome, but today the nightlife here is alive and well-if you not too tired from walking, that is. Try to find a restaurant cooking a traditional Roman meal, or stick with what you know will be good: delicious pizza and pasta.
Three Days in Rome: Day Two
After yesterday, you may want to sleep in at your hotel in Rome, Italy all day long -- but with only three days in Rome there is no time to spare! Today is the day for you to have a religious awakening-or at least to appreciate some of the most famous works of art in the world at Vatican City. Regardless of your religious background, Vatican City is a must-see attraction in Rome.
Before heading to Vatican City, make sure you have a large breakfast: there is a lot to see and do today, and you are going to need the energy. Next, head to the world famous St. Peter's Square, the open space that lies in front of St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world. A line to enter the Basilica typically starts forming before the doors even open at 8 a.m., so it is best to get here at least a half hour early. No matter what time you arrive, once inside the wait is well worth it: with a cupola designed by Michelangelo and the air or magnificence at every step, you should allow at least two hours to explore the vast museum. And when you leave, don't forget to stop by the Vatican Post Office and write home about having set foot in the smallest country in the world, Vatican City.
Next walk over to the Vatican Museums, which feature one of the most accomplished collections of art in the world. With attractions like the Sistine Chapel, a collection of Roman sculptures, and works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo, the lines here are also sure to be long if you do not beat the crowds (or if you come on a Sunday, when the Vatican is free to the public and visitors wait in lines for hours). If only looking for the Sistine Chapel, be wary that you will have to slowly make your way through many rooms to get there-but again, the time and effort is well worth the wait, and you may find a few other pieces to catch your eye along the way. The museum includes a restaurant and pizzeria if you are looking for a light lunch.
By now you are probably in need of some relaxation, so head to Piazza Navona, a city square featuring a series of famous fountains. In the center is the Fountain of Four Rivers, a Baroque masterpiece built in 1651. At the southern end is the intricate Fontana del Moro with four Tritons while at the opposite end is the Fountain of Neptune. Don't miss the ancient "speaking" statue of Pasquino at the southwest end, where Romans couple attach social commentary during the 16th century. Surrounding the Piazza are several places to eat dinner, as well as nightclubs that stay open well into the night if you are up for it.
Three Days in Rome: Day Three
On your last of three days in Rome, it is time to clean up on all the things you missed. Pay a visit to the Baths of Diocletian at Piazza Republica, Rome's largest bathhouse dating back to 300 AD, check out the fabulous art on display at the Borghese Gallery, or climb the Spanish Steps. Another place to visit is the Cappuchin Crypt, an awe-inspiring sight that some may find creepy. Several small rooms are decorated with the bones of over 4,000 Cappuchin monks. Other weird things to do in Rome include visiting the Museum of Purgatory, the Museum of the Sanitary Arts, the Rome Crime Museum or the Pasta Museum (yum!). If you like churches, this church-heavy city has plenty of other chapels for you to explore as well. Finally, if you simply cannot make your mind, try one of the Italy tours offered throughout the city.
By planning out your time wisely and sticking to general areas for the morning or afternoon, you can maximize your Italy travel. However you decide to spend your time is entirely up to you, but sticking to localize areas during your three days in Rome can make your vacation an enjoyable and leisurely instead of a hectic run around the city.
Photo by estaquio santimano on flickr.