Roma truly is ‘la Città Eterna’-the eternal city! I usually fly in and out of Roma then take the train to Foggia on my way to Orsara di Puglia. I often have one full day in the city at the beginning or end of my trip. When i’m in Roma for just 1 day, I have a usual ‘itinerary’. I do not actually recommend anyone go to Roma for just one day, especially for the first time. 5 days will do but more is better. One day only gives you enough time to visit a few sites, so it is mostly an entire day of exploring the city on foot. The sites I choose to visit change a bit each time, but the route is basically the same.
I stay with a friend in the Basilica San Paolo area so I take the Metro blue line to the Colosseo stop, exit the station and take a few minutes to absorb the view across the street.
Then I turn right and walk along Via dei Fori Imperiali. If you visit Il Colosseo, the ticket includes entry to the Forum, so you can walk through there. Visiting these 2 awesome sites will take all morning, so they are not usually part of my ‘1 day’ itinerary.
I walk along Via dei Fori Imperiali all the way to Piazza Venezia and Il Vittoriano, which is the neo-classical monument that looks like a giant wedding cake .
If you want some great views of Roma and are not afraid of heights, you can take the glass elevator to the rooftop terrace.
Then I turn right again and cross Piazza Venezia, which can be a bit of a challenge, and walk along Via del Corso. Via del Corso is lined with shops and goes all the way to Piazza del Popolo.
I turn into one of the side streets on the left and walk to the Pantheon-the domed architectural masterpiece that is absolutely not to be missed! The 2000 year old roof is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
Across the street I have an incredible granita di caffè at Tazza d’Oro.
Behind the Pantheon is Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with Bernini’s adorable ‘elefantino’ sculpture in the piazza. I sometimes like to sit and sketch the pudgy little elephant carrying a 5m Egyptian obelisk on its back.
The molto fancy ‘Grande Hotel de la Minerve’ across from the church has a roof bar with incredible views. Down a side street – Via del Gesù- is Poggi art supplies www.poggi1825.it , so of course I have to stop there and drool at all the stuff I can’t carry home. I also pop into the little Baroque gem San Luigi dei Francesi, which is the National church of France in Roma. It has 3 incredible Caravaggio paintings-the ‘San Matteo’ cycle, in the Capella Contarelli which you can see for free! No lineups, no online bookings! I always put a coin in the box and light a candle when I visit a church.
I walk down some side streets and get back onto Via del Corso going left. A few blocks down I cross the street and walk to the Fontana di Trevi to toss in my coin. I am very superstitious about this, so I have to do the coin toss or I’m afraid I might not come back to Roma! That would be awful!
I look at all the tourists then head to my last stop- Piazza di Spagna. I never miss drinking from the Fontana della Barcaccia. This is the Baroque fountain at the bottom of the steps that looks like a sinking ship. It was sculpted by both Bernini, Pietro and Gianlorenzo (father and son). La Barcaccia has the best water ever, especially on a hot day –it comes straight from an acqueduct and is always ice cold.
From here I usually walk all the way back to the Colosseo metro stop to take the metro back home to San Paolo and pick up take-out suppli on the way. If I am too tired or have evening plans, I take the metro at Piazza di Spagna (red line) to Stazione Termini then change to the blue line for San Paolo.
Ci vediamo a Roma!
PS Stay tuned for future posts on things I like to do if I have more than one day in Roma:
- Go to a Miracle Players performance at the Forum on Friday evenings in the summer
- Spend the day at the Vatican
- Trastevere at night
- Centrale Montemartini
- Palazzo Massimo
- Sketching at Piazza Navona
- Visit more Caravaggio paintings for free at Santa Maria del Popolo
- Go to Mass sung by cloistered nuns at Santa Brigida near Piazza Farnese