Rome was not built in a day. And you will realize it when you try to cover Rome in a day 🙂 So did we. But with limited time at hand, we tried to make the most of it, roaming around Rome in a day!
Rome was the first destination that we started with during our trip to Europe. Although we had planned for two days of travel around Rome, but the day of arrival things didn’t go as smooth as expected. We arrived early in the morning at the airport. But it took quiet some time to clear the immigrations since there was a lot of crowd owing to the long Easter weekend. Thereafter , it was almost an hour’s ride to our hotel. Upon arrival, we got our rooms appointed and by the time we settled, it was almost noon. Tired and exhausted of the long journey, plus the jet lag, we decided not to do anything else. Rather to take rest so that we could recharge ourselves for the 20 days long trip that we had laid for ourselves.
So, we were left with one more day in Rome. The next day, we woke up energized. And we decided to make the most of our trip around Rome in one day. After a hearty continental breakfast, our day started with a visit to the Vatican city. The theme for our tour through Rome in a day was to explore the ancient and beautiful heritage of Rome that is world famous.
The Vatican city
When you have to visit Rome in a day, Vatican city has to be there on your charter. Since it was just the day before Easter, a lot of preparations were going on in the Vatican for the next day when the Pope addresses Rome. It’s a story in itself how Rome celebrates Easter. It was nice to see all the preparations, apart from the usual great stuff that Vatican has to offer. But there was a long queue at the entrance where we did spend around 40 minutes before entering into the Vatican Museums. But when we finally did, we were awestruck by its beauty.
The Vatican Museums have some most renowned work of art and sculptures from the renaissance period. These have been collected by the Popes over centuries. The museum contains more than seventy thousand pieces of great work of art. But out of those, only around twenty thousand are on display. The museum was formed in early 18th centuary by Pope Julius II. There are 54 galleries in the museum. And it takes quiet some time to go through them, admiring some of the best pieces of art in the world. While the walls of the galleries are adorned by unparalleled thread works and paintings. At the same time the walkways are lined with unique sculptures. And the ceilings are decorated with wonderful paintings from the renaissance period. Each work of art has a story to tell.
You will be simply blown away by their accuracy of representation, proportions of human anatomy and beauty of expression! Some of the major paintings that the Vatican Museum includes are Giotto’s Stefaneschi Triptych, Raphael’s Madonna of Foligno, Oddi Altarpiece and Transfiguration and Leonardo da Vinci’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness. For lovers of art, it is a must visit when they have to see Rome in a day.
Walking through the Vatican Museum you arrive at the Sistine Chapel at last.
The Sistine Chapel
Inside the official residence of the pope, the Apostolic Palace, stands the Sistine Chapel. The chapel serves as the site of the ‘Papal Conclave’ – the process of selecting a new pope. However, the most interesting piece that holds the attraction of visitors in the Sistine Chapel is the ceiling decorated by none other than Michelangelo himself. The world famous painting ‘The last judgement’ decorates the whole altar wall of the Sistine Chapel. It depicts the second coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgement by God of humanity. In the painting, one can see the souls of human rising and being judged by God who is being assisted by his saints.
Apart from this, during renaissance time, a team of the most famous artists and painters worked to cover the Sistine Chapel with different paintings depicting the life of Christ. It’s forbidden to speak inside the Sistine Chapel and visitors are expected to maintain silence here. If you are in the Vatican, and you have to see Rome in a day, you must not miss the Sistine Chapel.
St. Peter’s Basilica
Another must visit when seeing Rome in a day, St. Peters Basilica is a renaissance church standing next to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum. It is considered the most renowned work of the renaissance period. Most of the famous artists of the renaissance time, including Michelangelo worked together to create this great piece of architecture.St. Peter’s Basilica is actually regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines in the world. The day we visited here, there were preparations going on both inside and outside the Church for the upcoming Easter eve. When the pope addresses the Roman people.
In spite of the crowd and the arrangements in full swing, we could marvel the architectural intricacies inside the church. While outside, we loved the floral arrangements that were being put. Imagine what an even greater experience it must be to visit here on a day when it is not so crowded. Although we do wonder if such a day comes at St. Peter’s Basilica. Nevertheless, when you are seeing Rome in a day, do visit here, no matter which day it is!! After coming out of the St. Peter’s Basilica, we had our lunch. It was a takeaway to save time. And thereafter, we started towards our next destination, the Colosseum.
The Roman Colosseum
When you are visiting Rome in a day, you might not want to miss the biggest amphitheater ever built in the history of mankind – the Roman Colosseum. Built from 72AD to 80AD, this forum had a capacity to hold a crowd of fifty thousand to eighty thousand spectators. That itself shows it’s granduer. Although it has been damaged partially through earthquakes and natural calamities over thousands of centuaries, it still stands tall and massive as the symbol of the Imperial Rome. The seating at the amphitheater shows the rigid strata the Roman society was divided into. The best viewpoints were reserved for the Emperors followed by the senatorial classes.
A tire up seated the noble classes and knights. There after followed different social groups. And what did they do there? They observed games, particularly the gladiatorial shows and the animal hunt shows called venatio, that were held from time to time. The hero of the plays that were held – often a condemned person – was killed gruesomely in mythologically authentic ways.Next, after coming down from the Colosseum, we headed through the Roman Forum – admiring the ruins of the Roman Empire.
PS: A gladiator was an armed person who entertained audiences in Roman Empire by violently confronting with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their lives at will. But, most others were despised as slaves, schooled under harsh conditions, socially marginalized, and segregated even in death.
The Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
The Roman Forum is one of the most ancient parts of the Roman Empire. It consists of ruins of several important buildings, government offices, markets, trade centers and general buildings of the ancient times. In the ancient days, during the 100-500BC in particular, when the Roman Empire was great and massive, it was the center of the public life in Rome. While criminal trials were done here, statues of great men were also setup to commemorate them. The Roman Forum lies between the Capitoline hills and the Palatine Hills. And it is a sight to behold. It is a living example of the might of ancient human kingdoms and empires.
While the Palatine hill, one of the seven hills in Rome, is also one of the ancient most areas of Rome. It has mythological importance as well. According to Roman mythology, the Palatine Hill was the location of the cave, known as the Lupercal, where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf Lupa that kept them alive. Now it is an archeological site open to public. When roaming around Rome in a day, it definitely should be on your must visit list. Afterall , to be in Rome, and not visit the ancient ruins, is like an incomplete journey.
When visiting Rome in a day, you might as well want to have a look at the Pantheon. The word Pantheon is actually derived from a greek word with a beautiful meaning “temple of every God!”. And as the name implies, the Pantheon is an ancient Roman Temple that is now a church. There are statues of different Gods placed outside the building as well. And it’s speculated that is also the reason for it’s naming. Although, due to limited time, we didn’t spend much time inside it. But still, it left a lasting impression on us with it’s massive architecture, and intricate works of art. The interesting part is that while many of the other Roman buildings got damaged and needed multiple restorations. The Pantheon has been best preserved. Perhaps because it has been continuously in use since the ancient time. It was never closed as such.
One of the most famous fountain that stands in the Trevi district in Rome is the Trevi fountain. A major spot for suiting of films as well as for tourists alike, the Trevi fountain is the largest and the most famous water fountain in Rome. So, when visiting Rome in a day, we would highly recommend going to the Trevi Fountain. And so did we. Apart from the beautiful architectural details that the fountain exhibits, it’s particularly a treat to the eyes when visited in the evening with the lights on.
There is a tradition of making wishes and throwing coins in the Trevi fountain which is so famous that it was the basis of an entire book and the movie “Three coins in the fountain”. It’s believed you throw one coin over your right shoulder in the fountain and you will be returning to Rome one day. However, it is believed that these coins are fished out by the government and donated for better cause. The Roman Catholic charity Caritas runs food and social programs for the needy and oppressed in 200 countries and territories worldwide. They use these coins to meet their needs. Now, that’s an even better reason to throw a coin in the fountain than for the cause of returning back to Rome – isn’t it?
Our last stop during our own tour around Rome in a day was Piazza Navona. It is a piazza or a square in the center of Rome, built in the 1st century AD. It features some important sculptures and architectural creations. The most famous and prominent being the fountain of the four rivers that stands in it’s center. As we arrived here , the evening was setting in. And the environment around was really cool. While we took our seat near the fountain of the four rivers to rest our foot for a while.
We could see the whole area abuzz with activities. On one side was a magic show going on while on the other side, someone was playing a beautiful tune on his violin. There were children running around and chasing pigeons. And so did our little one. The outdoor sittings in front of the restaurants surrounding the piazza were slowly getting filled with people. And candle lights were coming up. Overall, it was the exact refreshing environment that we needed after a long day walking around and experiencing Rome in a day!! What an end to the tour that we had.
Summary of our visit around Rome in a day
|The Sistine Chapel||11:00am|
|St. Peters Basilica||11:30am|
|The Roman Forum & Palatine Hill||3:00pm|
So, what all did we see in Rome in a day? Of course not everything that is there to see and all the activity that is there to do. But, we did visit the places that we were interested in. And without visiting them, our visit to Rome would have felt incomplete. So, we were really satisfied with our roaming around Rome in a day 🙂 . Later when we went on to Florence and took a walking tour around the Duomo, and one around river Arno, we found great architectural similarities between the structures in Rome and Florence. And that made us want to return back to Rome one day to explore more.
There are some more places of interest in Rome like the Spanish steps, Castel Sant’Angelo, Piazza Venezia, National Roman Museum etc. If you have time beyond a day, we would recommend you take a hop-on-hop-off bus pass and then explore these regions of Rome. Overall, visiting the ancient parts of Rome is like visiting another world – an ancient world that belongs to the beginning of the calendar years. We remember getting similar feelings when we visited Hampi back home. But the Roman empire is even older and dates back to the BCs.
Tips on visiting Rome in a day
- Don’t rush. You can make your own plan and spend more time at the places you feel interested in.
- Pick the places that appeal most to you.
- If any of these requires tickets like the colosseum and the Vatican, then try booking them in advance to save standing in long queues at the counter.
- Have takeaway food for your meals, so that you can save time. While you transition from one destination to another, you can have your meals.
- Keep a bottle of refill drinking water with you. And keep yourself hydrated.
- Beware of pickpockets. They are in abundance around the main tourist centers like the Colosseum, Trevi fountain, the fountain of the four rivers etc.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes.
- If you have toddlers and smaller kids with you, you might consider carrying a stroller along. Since there will be tremendous amount of walking to be done when you want to see Rome in a day.
- But, in the Vatican, it might be a little challenging to carry a stroller and more so in the colosseum. Because at these places you will be taking stairs now and then. Which will require you to carry the stroller up the stairs which will be a strenuous job.
After spending this one enchanting day in Rome, we went ahead on a trip to Florence, Pisa, Venice, Switzerland covering Bern, Interlaken, Engleberg, Lucerne and Grindelwald and then further to Paris and Amsterdam. Stay tuned for the upcoming stories from our Europe trip.