Travel Italy| Rome in 48 Hours
There are few destinations as culturally and historically significant as Rome. Today, the saying “all roads point to Rome” refers more to Rome being at the top of everyones places to travel before you die list. This also makes Rome one of the busiest tourist cities in the world, which is why we’ve devised a quick guide to help you the most out of your next trip.
Let’s get right to it! Whether you arrive by bus, train, or car plan to arrive in the city for the morning/early afternoon. The main historical sites of Rome can be exceptionally busy, especially during peak times, but if you follow this itinerary you’ll be able to minimize the number of tourists on your visit and maximize your enjoyment.
Day 1 – History of Rome
1. First things first
Don’t hurry up and wait. It’s typical that when you arrive in Rome you’ll probably be excited and want to hit the ground running, but there really is not rush because we did exactly that and ended up waiting in lines for hours with throngs of tourists and intense June heat. Instead check into your accommodations first or drop off your bags.
2. Check into your Rome accommodations
When you arrive in Rome plan to visit your accommodations first. This will help you get oriented with the city and allow you to drop off your bags.
Travel Tip: Head out for the day with your bag, camera, water and anything else you need; it’s going to be an exciting and long day of adventure!
3. Find something local for lunch
Find a local Roman restaurant for lunch. Venture around your accommodations and find a nice sit-down lunch, try not to rush into the first quick pizza or bakery. Instead look for a restaurant with a good rating, if you have wifi to search for one in your area, or choose a restaurant that looks like it has some people in it.
Roma food is rich in history and the regions culinary culture is own of the highlights of visiting the city. With typical dishes that all Italians know our recommendations include classics such as amatriciana, carbonara, fiori di zucca, carciofi alla romana, cacio e pepe, and baccala. Depending on the menu you’ll have plenty to choose from, and of course don’t forget the house wine and adffogato for dessert.
4. Roman Colosseum
One of the most photographed places in the world, the 2000 year old colosseum is the must visit stop in Rome. However, getting the perfect picture is an art and knowing where to go is more than half the battle. Thankfully, our guide to Rome reveals the secrets to the best way of exploring the city and getting those great photos.
Plan to arrive at the Colosseum late afternoon. We suggest planning to get there around 4:00pm where you can buy your tickets at our recommended ticket booth (or one you know) , then head to the Colosseum for an hour before visiting the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Arrival Time:Late afternoon around 16:00 (4 pm)
Buy coloseum and forum tickets:Around 4:00pm the ticket booth (bigletteria to the right of the forum entrance, near the arch of Constantine, is the best place to get tickets to the Roman Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine hill. NOTE: this ticket booth is only open late afternoon so if you arrive earlier than 4:00pm it may be closed. It is also open for busy times of the year and may be closed in the off season.
Best Pictures: There are two fantastic spots to getting a picture of the colosseum
Best Photo of the Colosseum 1: The first is across the street from the colosseum near the arch of Constantine in a place called the Celio Vibenna. To get this picture, you can use these images below to help you find it. Happy searching!!
Best Photo of the Colosseum 2: Our second place to getting another one of the best photos of the Roman Colosseum is from the Palatine Hill. To get to this vantage point (photo shown in the main photo for this article) you need to go into the Roman Forum and walk up to the Palatine Hill. From the main viewpoint there, when you’re facing the Roman Forum you can vear to the right, towards the Colosseum, there is a small sitting area and a great view of the Colosseum (right beside the buildings at the top). Photo’s from this location are best with a good camera because you’ll need to zoom in to get this photograph.
5. Forum & Palatine hill
Arrival Time:Late afternoon around 5:00pm
Buy colosseum and forum tickets:Around 4:00pm the ticket booth (the bigletteria or ticket office), to the right of the forum entrance near the arch of Constantine, is the best place to get tickets to the Roman Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine hill. NOTE: this ticket booth is only open late afternoon so if you arrive earlier it may be closed (this is also an area that is more for busy times of the year).
Leave yourself about two hours to visit the Roman Forum and Palatine hill. The area is quite large and requires a lot of walking to see most of it. We recommend arriving around 5:00 pm, after purchasing tickets and visiting the Roman Colosseum around 4:00 pm. Arriving at the Roman Forum for 5:00pm will give you about two hours to explore this area before it closes at 7:00 pm and alleviate much of the tourists.
FREE Option: Convento San Bonaventura al Palatino – A lesser known tourist destination that is worth a visit is the Convento San Bonaventura al Palatino which is free. When you arrive there’s usually a Jesuit priest there who leads complimentary tours which includes a visit to their rooftop garden and a unique view of the Colosseum.
How to get to the Convento San Bonaventura al Palatino: to get there you take the Forum entrance across from the Colosseum and before you get to the Forum entrance (literally the gate with turnstiles) there’s a path on the left which allows you to explore the free area.
6. Traditional Roman Dinner
A trip to Rome would not be complete without a traditional Italian dinner where you can savour the local dishes, drink incredible wine, and dine until you can’t eat anymore.
Arrival Time:Anytime after 7:30pm (Italians like to eat late so for a more vibrant atmosphere the later the better)
Flavio al Valavevodetto is where both locals and tourists go to sample a traditional Roman meal. With traditional favourites like cacio peppe and carbonara you won’t be disappointed.
Easy to get to by metro, don’t be put off by the neighbourhood that blends the natural unkempt surroundings of the ancient city with the more modern developments of recent years. It’s a quick 5 minute walk from the nearest metro station and the house wine is fantastic!
Note: Be sure to book ahead as the restaurant gets packed quickly and traditionally making a reservation (prenotazione) is standard.
Day 2 – Vatican City & Rome’s Most Famous Piazzas
1. Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel, the gallery of tapestries with hand made works that are unimaginably complex, and the gallery of maps (map room) depicting all the regions of Italy in 16thcentury frescoes are some of the most spectacular artistic works in the world.
The secret to visiting the Vatican Museum is to go first thing in the morning. You can buy tickets on the official Vatican website, but we found that it’s better to buy tickets via an online skip the line offering on a ticketing website (you pay about 10-12 euros more but the entry gets you into the group entrance 30 min before the museum opens to the public). If you go right to the Sistine Chapel when you arrive, you’ll visit the most iconic rooms of the Vatican museum and see each one with hardly any people.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is the centre of the Catholic church and is part of Vatican City. It is also considered an independent state which means another tick on your visited countries list. Entering from the key shaped St. Peter’s Square reveals the grandeur and importance of the church.
Best of all St. Peter’s Basilica is free to visit. You can go anytime during your visit to Rome but we’d recommend starting at the Vatican Museum then walking from there to the Basilica. Depending on your interest you can visit the Basilica and it’s many areas such as the grotto and treasury or simply experience the grandeur of the Basilica’s exterior.
3. Rome’s Piazza’s & Famous Places
The piazza, meaning town square, is integral to Italian culture and often found in the centre of most traditional Italian towns. An evening stroll along the corso with an aperativo or café in the local piazza is something every Italian knows and is often a part of daily life.
Rome is home to a few of the most famous piazza’s in the world and central to the Italian experience. Sipping an espresso, enjoying some lunch, or having a drink and people watching are central to understanding, “La bella vita” (the beautiful life). Street signs mark out a great walking tour that will take you to the most famous Roman piazzas and the ones you won’t want miss including:
Piazza di Trevi
The Trevi fountain is the most iconic fountain in Rome. Thanks to the classic Fellini film La Dolce Vita, Italian film lovers and tourists alike flock here for a picture and to appreciate the spectacular marble façade that makes this one of the most important piazza’s in Italy.
Piazza di Spagna
Sitting on the Spanish steps is a rest stop worth the walk through town for. Here you can watch tourists snap pictures in front of Barcaccia (ugly boat) fountain and reminisce on what life was like in Rome when authors like John Keats lived there during the early nineteenth century.
With summer markets and outdoor restaurant patios a visit to Piazza Navona is the place to sit for a drink after getting a photo at the fountain of the four rivers.
Piazza della Rotunda & the Pantheon
Sitting in a piazza is free and so is the Pantheon, which still today boasts the architectural wonder of an unsupported dome. With centuries of religious occupation built into the façade and along the interior the Pantheon is an architectural marvel that dates back to the second century!
This quick guide comes from a late June 2018 visit to Rome where we sampled the culture and cuisine of one of the worlds most famous cities. I’m sure there’s much more to see and do and we encourage you to share your experience or must do’s with us in the comment section.
What did you do in Rome? Tell us about your Italian experience and share your advice with our readers in the comment section below.