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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

3 days in Rome, the Eternal City - itinerary, museums, and everything you have to see

Rome is always a great choice! Romantic, full of history and culture, every time I go back I fall more and more in love with it without ever getting tired of it. With every visit I discover a new restaurant, an exhibition, a hidden corner that I had never come across before... and even when I return to the usual places it's a bit like returning home: I find the warmth and welcome that this city ​​can give like only a few others. Rome is simply Eternal, one of my favorite places in Italy, and for better or worse at least once every 1 or 2 years I like to drop by! We happened upon it last year, in January 2022, and again this year (July 2023).

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know on how to plan a trip to Rome In this post I offer you some of my favorite places in Rome: it is a mix of information and photos collected in recent years to share the most up-to-date data possible. I propose an itinerary of at least 3 days to be able to visit the city exclusively on foot and with a fair amount of calm! If by chance you have an extra day available then I recommend a tour of the Viterbo area, to explore the splendid Parco dei Mostri and the enchanting village of Civita di Bagnoregio.

Altare della Patria, Roma, Italia
Altare della Patria

3-day itinerary (at least) in Rome

Day 1:

  • San Pietro

  • Vatican's Museums

  • Castel Sant’Angelo

  • Chiostro del Bramante

  • Pantheon

  • Altare della Patria

  • Happy hour and dinner in Trastevere - Vineria di Roma e Tonnarello

Day 2:

  • Piazza del Popolo and Terrazza del Pincio

  • Walk at Villa Borghese Gardens

  • Borghese Gallery

  • Lunch at Osteria da Fortunata

  • Piazza Navona

  • Trevi Fountain

  • Via dei Condotti and Piazza di Spagna

  • Via del Corso

  • Ara Pacis Museum

  • Dinner at Pinsa 'mpò

Day 3:

  • Fori Imperiali

  • Colosseo

  • Circo Massimo

  • Bocca della Verità

  • Happy hour at Campo dei Fiori

Lungotevere con vista su Castel Sant'Angelo, Roma, Italia

Pantheon

The Pantheon is a building in ancient Rome built as a temple dedicated to all past, present and future deities. The Pantheon of Agrippa is the best preserved Roman building in the world with its original marble floor. Since the Renaissance period, the Pantheon has been used as the seat of the Academy of Virtuosi in Rome and as the tomb of great Italians such as Raphael of Urbino and of the kings Vittorio Emanuele II. It's therefore a historical monument but also a church where masses and especially weddings are celebrated. Its famous dome is renowned for the oculus on the ceiling which always remains open allowing the entry of light but also of rain. The Basilica is open every day from 9.00 to 19.00 (last admission at 18.30) with free access without a ticket.

Altare della Patria

The National Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II or Vittoriano, also called Altare della Patria is located in the center of ancient Rome, on the Capitoline Hill, in Piazza Venezia. Its construction began in 1885 and the works ended in 1935 but already in 1911, the monument was officially inaugurated and opened to the public, on the occasion of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. It's possible to access the interior for free, while to go up to the terrace of the chariots you have to take the elevators, paying a ticket of € 10, to enjoy a panoramic view of the Eternal City.

Altare della Patria, Roma, Italia

Fori Imperiali

Fori Imperiali, Roma, Italia

The Imperial Forums are a unique architectural complex in the world, consisting of a series of monumental buildings and squares, the center of political activity in ancient Rome, built over a period of about 150 years, between 46 BC. and 113 A.D. Today, the archaeological area of ​​the Imperial Forums can be visited, with an entrance in Piazza Santa Maria di Loreto, at the Trajan's Column. The route of the visit, following the walkway present on the site, touches a part of the Forum of Trajan, passes under Via dei Fori Imperiali along the cellars of the ancient houses of the Alessandrino district, crosses the Forum of Caesar and ends near the Forum of Nerva, from where you exit onto Via dei Fori Imperiali. This time we walked them from above on the road, without entering the archaeological park, with a nice walk outside, which still allows a nice view of the area: there are many billboards with explanations and maps that allow a subspecies of free visit. In 2019 I went in for a more in-depth visit, taking advantage of the last few days as a 25-year-old and entering for only € 2 with the combined ticket that also included the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. If you have never been there, it's absolutely a must-visit, otherwise the walk on the street is an excellent alternative to save time and save something.

Rates:

Full € 4.00 - Reduced € 3.00

Free opening on the first Sunday of the month

If you are also interested in visiting the Colosseum, I recommend the combined ticket.


Colosseum

Colosseo, Roma, Italia

The Flavian Amphitheater is located in the archaeological heart of the city of Rome and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980. The symbolic building of Rome is more commonly called the Colosseum due to a colossal statue that stood nearby, and was built in the 1st century A.D at the behest of the emperors of the Flavian dynasty. The Colosseum hosted, until the end of the ancient age, very popular shows such as hunts and gladiator games. The building was, and still remains today, a spectacle in itself. It's in fact the largest amphitheater in the world, able to offer surprising scenographic equipment, as well as services for the spectators. As for the Imperial Forums, at least once in your life you have to enter: the show is breathtaking and quite suggestive, especially if you think you are in a building that dates back to 2000 years earlier. The Colosseum, whether you enter or stay to admire it from the outside, remains a must if you are in Rome. The best place to photograph it is next to the Colosseo metro stop, on the steps leading to the Giardinetto del Monte Oppio.

The combined ticket "24h - Colosseum, Imperial Forums, Palatine Hill" costs € 16.00 full price must be purchased online on the Colosseum website in advance.

The ticket is valid for 24 hours and allows only one entry to the Colosseum (1st and 2nd tier), without the arena floor, and only one entry to the archaeological area of ​​the Roman Forum-Palatine, including the current exhibitions. ! The first Sunday of the month free entry * from 15 June to 15 December 2023 all tickets increase by €1 to deal with flood damage


Circo Massimo

The Circus Maximus is the largest spectacle building in antiquity and one of the largest of all time (600m long by 140m wide), it was used as a chariot racing venue already in the era of kings Tarquini, but it is only with Julius Caesar that a real brick circus will be built. The competitions that took place in the Circus were the most loved competitive activities by the Romans, together with the gladiator games: the conductors of the quadrigae were characters idolized by the people of Rome. Today, the space is for the most part a green area, where you can walk or admire the remains of the building; however, it is possible to visit the ruins: from the galleries that once led to the steps of the cavea, to the ancient shops (tabernae) and the bases of the Arch of Titus.

Opening Hours:

from Monday to Sunday:

- from the last Sunday in October to the last Saturday in March from 9.30 to 16.00 (last admission at 15.00);

- from the last Sunday of March to the last Saturday of October from 9.30 to 19.00 (last admission at 18.00)

Rates:

Full € 5,00 - Reduct € 4,00

If you want to visit the archaeological area of ​​Circus Maximus, it is better to book online in advance on the website.

Bocca della Verità

Bocca della Verità, Roma, Italia

Located in Piazza della Verità, you will get here in a few minutes on foot from the Circus Maximus, continuing your walk. It's probably an ancient manhole from the Roman era, dating back to the reign of Tarquinio the Superb, the last of the seven kings of Rome who built the Cloaca Maxima, a grandiose drainage pipe. The name Bocca della Verità originates in 1485 and is linked to a curious medieval legend, according to which the mouth could bite the hand of someone who had not told the truth. The tradition was widespread among jealous husbands, who brought their wives to the monument: after having introduced their hand, women had to declare that they had not committed adultery. Admission is free, so why not take advantage of it and test the truthfulness of this legend?

Campo dei Fiori, Roma, Italia

Campo dei Fiori

Nowadays Campo de 'Fiori is one of the most famous points of the capital: since 1869 every morning, from Monday to Saturday, a market of food, flowers and other products has been held, but it's an ideal place to visit even in the evening. Campo dei Fiori is in fact a perfect area to dine in one of its outdoor venues (you will really be spoiled for choice, there are many) but also the ideal place to enjoy an aperitif like us, who ordered a drink and something to nibble at Nolano, taking the opportunity to rest for an hour before returning to the hotel. The area is very lively, full of young people, an excellent location for an after-dinner drink, as an alternative to Trastevere.

The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican and St Peter's Square

Basilica di San Pietro, Vaticano, Roma, Italia

St. Peter's Basilica is located in the Vatican City and it's the universal seat of the Catholic Church as well as the home of the Pope: it's one of the largest buildings in the world and it's the larger of the papal basilicas. The construction of the present Basilica was commissioned by Pope Julius II (1503-1513), but before that there was another basilica built by Constantine in 319 in the place where St. Peter was buried. The interior is unmissable, here you can admire not only the magnificence of the building, but also walk its aisles, visit the chapels and enjoy the beauty of numerous works of art, such as Michelangelo's Pietà, which he sculpted when he was only 24 years. It's also possible to visit the tombs of the Popes located in the Vatican Caves.

Admission to St. Peter's Basilica is free, but you still need a queue to enter, where you will be checked and personal items will pass under the metal detector. It's also possible to book a paid guided tour, possibly combining it with the tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.


Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums, Rome

Among the various collections included in the Vatican Museums, you will also find the Egyptian Museum, the Etruscan Museum, the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms and many other spaces. Once inside, it's possible to stay until closing time: since it's one of the largest art collections in the world, which includes treasures accumulated by the popes over the centuries, a visit of at least 3 hours is recommended.

The official website of the Vatican Museums allows you to buy entrance tickets in various combined solutions.

Even if you try to book well in advance by monitoring the site to be ready as soon as the sales slots open for the period you have chosen, be aware that tickets are almost always sold out immediately. We had to purchase them through a second provider (getyourguide.com) obviously paying a hefty premium: we spent €29 each for the Vatican Museums + Sistine Chapel ticket. It bothered us a lot but we had no other choice. P.s.: if you were thinking of taking refuge in the Vatican Museums to escape the scorching heat of Rome in July and August then I have to warn you that there is no air conditioning in the museum and the temperature is almost hotter and unbearable than outside.

Rates:

Vatican Museums + Sistine Chapel: Adults: € 17 - Children 6-18 years and students 19-26 years: € 8

Admission is free on the last Sunday of the month.


Castel Sant’Angelo

Vista da Castel Sant'Angelo, Roma, Italia

A few steps from San Pietro, on the Tevere, we then come to Castel Sant'Angelo: it was built in the time of Emperor Hadrian as his personal mausoleum and that of his family, and then became a military building, integrated into the Aurelian wall in 403. From the 11th century the fort became the property of the popes as it was connected to the Vatican City by a fortified corridor called Passetto, which you can also admire from the outside.

Opening hours: Access is limited and allows 300 entries per time slot: each slot lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Time slots: 09.00, 10.30, 12.00, 13.30, 15.00, 16.30 and 18.00 Rates: € 15.00 full - € 2.00 reduced

Online booking and purchasing of tickets is highly recommended - book online.

Castel Sant'Angelo, Roma, Italia

Cloister of Bramante

La Sala delle Sibille, Chiostro del Bramante
La Sala delle Sibille, Chiostro del Bramante

Commissioned by Cardinal Oliviero Carafa around 1500, the Cloister of Bramante is a construction by Donato Bramante, Pope Julius II's first architect and great rival of Michelangelo. Nowadays the Cloister of Bramante hosts very interesting exhibitions with exhibition spaces spread over approximately 1000 m2 on two floors. There is also a bookshop, a store and a café in the upper loggia with the suggestive room of Raphael's Sibyls attached. The extraordinary fresco "The Sibyls" by Raffaello Sanzio is inside the Basilica of Santa Maria della Pace and can be admired from the Sala delle Sibille, on the first floor of the Cloister. The Hall of the Sibyls is simply incredible and captivating: it has become part of the private collection of DART – Chiostro del Bramante and is a work entitled Trappola d'Amore a Pleasure Palace, created on the occasion of Crazy. Madness in Contemporary Art (2022), an exhibition produced by DART- Chiostro del Bramante curated by Danilo Eccher. The Cloister of Bramante is also a place for many cultural activities such as conferences, seminars, book presentations, concerts, and theatrical performances. In July 2023 we were there for the Infinity exhibition by Michelangelo Pistoletto and we loved both the exhibition and the space of the Cloister! I think it's worth a visit regardless of what exhibition is going on when you visit Rome! Ticket prices vary depending on the ongoing event so always check the official website. Opening hours: - From Monday to Friday from 10.00 to 20.00 Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10.00 to 21.00 **The Bistrot Café, the Bookshop and the Cloister have free entry regardless of the exhibitions


Piazza del Popolo and Terrazza del Pincio

Piazza del Popolo is, in my opinion, among the most beautiful squares of the capital: it was the main entrance to the city in Roman times! In fact, on the square we find the monumental entrance of the Porta del Popolo and to its right is the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo which houses masterpieces by Caravaggio, Carracci, Raphael and Bernini. In the center, we find the Flaminio Obelisk supported by a terrace adorned with four fountains. From Piazza del Popolo you can go up to the Terrazza del Pincio, which offers you one of the best views of Rome and in this case also of Piazza del Popolo. From here you can continue and access the Villa Borghese Park behind it.


Villa Borghese Gardens

Behind the Terrazza del Pincio are the Villa Borghese Gardens which take their name from the Borghese Gallery of the same name, in the center of the park. These splendid and huge gardens are ideal for relaxing and enjoying a walk in nature or for cooling off on hot summer days in the capital. The park is full of bars, kiosks and benches and you can cross it on foot or by bicycle. In the center of the park, you will find a small lake where you can take a short rowing boat ride for €4 each in front of the Temple of Asclepius.

Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese, Rome

Walking inside the Villa Borghese park you arrive at Villa Borghese which houses the Borghese Gallery, one of the most important museums in Rome after those of the Vatican: it houses the works of Bernini, Raphael, Caravaggio, Canova and Rubens. In my opinion, the spaces of the Gallery are almost more spectacular than the works collected inside: I loved this museum, for me it's much more beautiful than the Vatican Museums - don't kill me, it's my personal opinion! If you've never been then it's definitely time to catch up and visit the Gallery! The visit has a strict maximum duration of 2 hours guaranteed by the booking slots.

Opening hours:

The Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9.00 to 19.00.

The ticket office is open from 8.30 until 1 hour before the museum closes.

Rates: full € 16.00 (last session € 8.00) - reduced 18-25 years € 5.00 Booking is mandatory and I advise you to make it in time on the authorized Ticketone website - advance sales cost €2.00 per person but be aware that going directly to the venue hoping to purchase a ticket is impossible: it is always sold out!


Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful squares in the capital, bordered by buildings that arose on the remains of the Stadium of Domitian, whose shape and dimensions are preserved. Three fountains decorate the square: the Fontana del Moro, so named for the statue of the Ethiopian fighting with a dolphin, the Fontana de 'Calderari, also known as the Fountain of Neptune, both works by Giacomo della Porta and, in the center, the imposing Fountain of the Four Rivers, the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. On the side of the square, you will find lots of places where you can have a drink or just stop for a break.


Fontana di Trevi

The Trevi Fountain, the most famous of the Roman fountains, really deserves a stop. The construction is due to Pope Clement XII who, in 1732, launched a competition won by the architect Nicola Salvi. I recommend you to go there in the morning, to avoid huge crowds of tourists and to enjoy a better view thanks to the sunlight that in the afternoon is covered by the buildings that surround it. Once here, don't forget to flip a coin if you want to go back to Rome; if, on the other hand, you are looking for a bit of romance, perhaps even an Italian love, you will have to toss a second and third coin to make sure that the wedding bells ring soon.

A little curiosity: the Trevi Fountain is the site of the most famous scene of La Dolce Vita movie by director Federico Fellini; Anita Ekberg wrapped in a long black evening dress calls Marcello Mastroianni: “Marcello, come here!”, while sinuously plunges into the waters of the fountain.


Piazza di Spagna, Via dei Condotti and Via del Corso

Known simply as Via Condotti, it is one of the best-known shopping streets in Rome and is home to numerous luxury shops and the historic Caffè Greco. From here you will arrive in Piazza di Spagna, characterized by the splendid Trinità dei Monti staircase; it is one of the most famous squares in Rome. In the center of the square is the Barcaccia Fountain, sculpted by Pietro Bernini and his son, the more famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini. At the right corner of the staircase, there is the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, home of the poet John Keats from the 1800s, transformed into a museum that collects books and memorabilia of English Romanticism. Here you can get lost among the splendid shop windows of the most famous clothing and accessory brands, or enjoy a few rays of sunshine on the Trinity steps, enjoying the splendid view of the square. A few steps from Piazza di Spagna you will then reach Via del Corso, also full of shops, a little cheaper than those on Via dei Condotti and Piazza di Spagna.


Ara Pacis Museum

The Ara Pacis Museum is perhaps one of the most significant monuments of ancient Rome: it was a temple for the sacrifice of sacred animals in which only priests and vestals participated. The monument consists of an altar located inside a closed structure made of Carrara marble to protect the work from humidity and contamination. The decoration of the altar consists of several reliefs showing the family of Emperor Augustus in procession and several allegories linked to the foundation of Rome. The Ara Pacis in fact dates back to 9 BC: the Roman Senate in the year 13 BC decided to build an altar as a sign of gratitude to Emperor Augustus and the Ara Pacis was inaugurated 4 years later as a monument dedicated to peace and prosperity that the reign of Emperor Caesar Augustus had brought to Rome. The Museum periodically hosts temporary exhibitions in the spaces on the lower floor. Opening hours: - every day from 9.30 to 19.30 - 24 and 31 December from 9.30 to 14.00 - on January 1st from 11.00 to 19.30 - closed on May 1st and December 25th Rates: Full price €10.50 Reduced €8.50 I suggest you book in advance on the official website so as to avoid queues and not risk not finding available tickets (consider €1 presale).

Ara Pacis, Rome
Ara Pacis, Rome

These are just some of the many possibilities that Rome offers... perhaps the most classic and popular with tourists from all over the world, but they are without a doubt incredible places, full of history and charm that you must visit at least once in your life.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know on how to plan a trip to Rome Now you have everything you need to plan your Roman weekend so now we can think about filling our bellies because Rome is not just history and ancient buildings... it is also home to one of the tastiest and tastiest cuisines in the country. Discover the best places to eat in Rome and all the traditional culinary dishes that you absolutely must try on a weekend in Rome. READ ALSO: Weekend in Rome: italian cuisine, local food and where to find it in the Eternal City


If you have more than 3 days available for your holiday, then you might consider going outside of Rome and exploring some other wonders in Lazio such as the splendid village of Civita di Bagnoregio or the Monster Park of Viterbo.

READ ALSO: One day trip in Viterbo: Bomarzo's Park of the Monsters and Civita di Bagnoregio And now I just have to wish you a good trip!


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