Three days in Rome – a fascinating past – day 1
Rome certainly wasn’t built in a day. And not in three days, either. It’s one of most unique cities in the world for its layers of monuments spanning over 2000 years of construction and history. We realise nobody has an eternity to explore the eternal city, so this 3-day itinerary will help you to manage your time and energy to cover the most significant historical periods and glamorous monuments, fountains and artworks.
First day in Rome
10:00-13:00 -The Ancient City - Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, the Coliseum
Start your visit to Rome by travelling back in time to the oldest ruins in the heart of the city centre. A combination ticket allows you to see the Palatine Hill where the city was founded, the valley of the Roman Forum and the grand amphitheatre of the Coliseum.
An important trick is to ignore the thousands of people waiting in line to purchase their tickets directly at the Coliseum and head instead to the entrance to the Palatine Hill on Via di San Gregorio. That ticket gets you in to all three sites.
Start with the Palatine Hill right where you purchased your ticket to go in chronological order. Atop the hill was where the city was founded in 753B.C. and the valley below is where the city grew into a Republic with civic, administrative, and religious buildings, most of which date from the time before Christ. Last but not least, the Coliseum celebrates the extravagance of the Empire in both its building techniques and sport spectacle.
For lunch, get off the main drag around the Coliseum and avoid the touristy restaurants by heading a couple of blocks into the Celio neighbourhood. Try the restaurant Naumachia on Via Celimontana 7 for some seafood. The name of the restaurant refers to the mock naval battles that used to be performed in the Coliseum before the animal cages were built, as well as alluding to Rome’s 15-mile proximity to the sea.
15:00-17:00 – explore some churches
Explore churches, art and archaeology of the Celio neighbourhood such as San Clemente Church and San Pietro in Vincoli Church.
After lunch in the Celio district, on your way to the curious church and archaeological area of San Clemente, stumble over the ruins of the gladiator training barracks called Ludus Magnus. On Via Labicana 95 you’ll find the Medieval Church of San Clemente. The church boasts some of the finest art including Byzantine mosaics, Renaissance frescos and Cosmati floor patterns. The most fascinating part of the church continues underground to three more layers of buildings including a Roman temple, house and early Christian church.
Then head up the hill past Emperor Nero’s palace, known as the Golden House, for spectacular views of the Coliseum. Continue to the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, named after the chains that bound the Apostle Peter (an important relic displayed in the church). Don’t miss the most famous aspect of the church, Michelangelo’s statue of Moses.
17:00-18:00 - Piazza Venezia
Work your way back down on the Fascist boulevard dividing the ruins called Via di Fori Imperiali and walk past Trajan’s markets and Trajan’s column, a 100-foot monolith with artistic relief sculptures highlighting the Emperor’s military campaigns. See also marble maps demonstrating the incredible growth of the Roman Empire.
In the main square called Piazza Venezia you will be awed by the great white monument to Italy’s first king, Vittorio Emanuele II. There’s also a Renaissance palace where the balcony can be remembered in most recent history as the site of Dictator Mussolini’s Fascist speeches. Entering the monument to Vittorio Emanuele is free and a great place to get to the top and relax in the café over a glass of wine or tea and see the best views of the entire city.
If you still have energy you can climb the nearby steps of Michelangelo’s Capitoline Hill, tour the extensive museums there or visit the medieval church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli.
19:30 - Dinner in the Jewish Ghetto
Just below the Capitoline Hill and nearby Piazza Venezia is the charming neighbourhood of the Jewish Ghetto. The area boasts some of Rome’s most traditional restaurants celebrating Roman, Jewish and Kosher cuisine. Keep in mind most good restaurants open at 7:30pm or shortly afterwards.
A popular spot among locals is Nonna Betta on Via di Portico D’Ottavia 16. Stroll the neighbourhood and find an ancient Roman theatre that was the model for the Coliseum, an arched portico from an ancient temple , and the modern Babylonian-style synagogue, surrounded by trendy shops, bars and bakeries.
Complete your evening on the Tiber Island seeing the illuminated banks of Tiber River and its surrounding neighbourhoods.