The standard city break usually takes place over the course of 3 to 4 days. Though sometimes it can feel like you’re literally participating in a marathon, trying to cram in as many sights as possible, and do everything you have read in numerous lonely planet guides.
Have no fear though, I have done the marathon for you! These are my ratings of the top ten tourist spots in Rome, especially if you don’t have long in this beautiful city.
KNIGHTS OF MALTA KEYHOLE
This lovely little gem is found at the top of Aventine Hill and is definitely worth the climb on a hot summers day. You’ll know when you are there from the long queue of people forming from behind a door. It feels quite weird joining this line just to have a peek through a tiny keyhole, but persevere and you won’t regret it! It is the perfect view of the city.
THE ORANGE GARDENS
These gardens have a great view of Rome and St Peter’s Basilica, especially when the sun is beginning set. We even stumbled upon a wedding party whilst there, though we didn’t attempt to make a dash for some cake despite how good it looked…
Despite it being a complete tourist trap and filled to the brim with people and selfie sticks, it was one of my favourite sights in Rome! The views inside and outside of the Colosseum were both just as impressive. Even though we didn’t pay for a guided tour, we did try and tag along with a few, listening out for any interesting facts.
THE ROMAN FORUM
We spent the longest time queuing up to get into the Forum than any other sight or attraction whilst in Rome. This was probably due to the number of people who thought it was acceptable to push in at the front of the line. Whilst it was impressive and interesting to read about the history of the place, the Roman Forum wasn’t what I expected it to be, as it was literally opposite the Colosseum and right next to the main road… This was something I found weird about the whole time we were in Rome, the fact that it is so historical, and yet a new city has literally been built around it.
Standing at the top of Palatine Hill is definitely worth the climb up the steps for the view alone! Bizarrely, around 3 hours after we left a big storm hit Rome. Whilst running through the city without an umbrella or jacket in torrential rain, the infamous slip and slide accident occurred, with me proceeding to slide through the streets on my bum after falling down a hill… It was not my finest moment.
If you are planning on eating good food whilst in Italy, go to the Trastevere! There are so many lovely little restaurants hidden down backroads and side streets around this area, as well as those in the main squares. The whole place felt so relaxing and calm in comparison to the rest of Rome filled with hustle and bustle. We were lucky and managed to get a great spot to people-watch whilst sat in the courtyard of a traditional Italian restaurant. There was also the occasional Italian trying to serenade women in the street with a guitar.
Another favourite of mine! It was so good that I made James visit it twice. Found where you would least expect it (though this was a reoccurring pattern in Rome) it is literally in the middle of a bunch of restaurants and shops. We turned a corner a there it was, surrounded by a swamp of people and cameras… I did get a coin thrown at me at one point, presumably, it was just a bad aim and not intentional! They even had Trevi fountain police patrolling the area, blowing whistles and waving their batons around if someone got too close to the water. It was serious stuff.
This was one of those sights that we stumbled across whilst trying to find an ice cream shop… We never actually went inside. It looked good from the outside though.
I was looking forward to visiting these steps so much! We arrived in the evening with the intention of buying some ice cream and sitting on the steps whilst people watching. It was just our luck though that the steps were closed off to the public for maintenance work!! They still looked lovely though, if you could ignore the barriers and scaffolding surrounding them.
We visited the Vatican on an incredibly hot day! Initially, we weren’t intending on actually going inside, but in a burst of spontaneity we purchased tickets and ran across the square to tag onto the back of a group of people. I think we probably walked a marathon whilst inside to get to the Sistine Chapel. At first, we looked around at the paintings on the walls as we were walking through the labyrinth of corridors. 20 minutes later, I don’t think either of us was paying much attention to them anymore. Thinking back, it would have been pretty handy if there had been signs saying how long you had left walking until you reached your destination.
When we finally arrived, it felt like we were entering the equivalent of a mosh pit. Caged in, we were surrounded by A LOT of people bumping into each other as they shuffled around whilst staring up at the ceiling. Occasionally a guard would shout something in Italian and then English, telling everyone to be quiet if the noise levels got too loud. Still, it was pretty cool that we got to see the infamous Michelangelo paintings. Though after about 5 minutes, we both gave each other a nod and eventually managed to manoeuvre our way out of the Chapel and back into the maze of corridors.
This list doesn’t even cover the rest of the sights we saw or the distance that we walked. But it turns out you can get up to quite a lot during three days in Rome… And walk the equivalent of a few marathons.
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