Rome has occupied a special place in my heart since it represents my first entry into Europe, a continent that I’ve always wanted to go but didn’t have the chance. I’ve heard so much about Rome prior to my trip, especially on the pickpocketing which scared me quite a bit. It all went well eventually, and here’s my 3D2N itinerary to hopefully help with your easy planning. Trust me it sucks to start off clueless, especially for a city like Rome that has so much to offer.
My morning started out late as it was spent waiting, travelling to the city from the airport, and settling down in our accommodation, getting connected on our phones.
P.S. The customer service is really slow at TIM at Termini Station. Don’t bother queueing ‘cos it was a waste of time! Try other outlets where it should be less packed.
Day 1 A.M.
For that first meal in Rome (and Italy), we chose a simple place that was en route to the Colosseum from our apartment in Manzoni. It was also a myth that italian meals are expensive compared to this side of the world. Some regular pasta are going as affordable as 6 – 7€, and that’s cheaper than some here in Singapore!
When in Rome… WE GO TO THE COLOSSEUM! We couldn’t miss this out (duh!), and because it was our first time here, we just had to dash straight to this famous landmark. It was way more magnificent that I’ve had imagined. Definitely reserve a good 2 hours to walk around, grab an audio device and soak in history.
Day 1 P.M.
ROMAN FORUM & PALATINE HILL
While we were told that a trick here is to buy your Colosseum tickets from the Palatine Hill because the queue is much shorter, it was crazy hot so we just bought straight at the Colosseum. Maybe it was a good day (or it was just too hot in Summer), the queue was quite short and moved fast!
Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are just opposite Colosseum, so these should be done together. If you’re using Google Maps to plan your journey, please be mindful that the ratio of the map to the real deal is probably 1:9812648. The Roman Forum IS HUGE. Do not, I repeat, do not underestimate the Roman Forum. It was spectacular, mostly due to how grand everything is, and how they’ve been preserved from the ancient times. It was amusing to say the least. So give yourself a lot of time here. Palatine Hill is where you could get a panoramic view of the Roman Forum.
This “attraction” wasn’t in our itinerary, but we discovered it while walking to Trastevere. There were also some flea markets going on along the (Tiber) river, which we didn’t get to explore. If you’ve time, take a stroll here after dinner just ‘cos it looks like this:
Okay I digress.
Trastevere is that one “to-go” places that’s quite out of the way. So either check this out first thing in the morning or make it where you’d end the day. We did the latter, as it was more convenient for us. We had our dinner at one of the restaurants we randomly chose, and it turned out unexpectedly delicious. A quick stroll around the charming neighbourhood with its hidden corners after dinner, along with a few drinks, was a good way to end the first day. Oh yes, if you would want to experience Roma nightlife, this is also the place to be.
Day 2 A.M.
VATICAN CITY TOUR
When in Rome… you also have to visit the Vatican City! The idea that its a city-state (like Singapore) surrounded by a city in a country is fascinating. What’s more, the citizens (842 of them!) of Vatican City have their own passport. Say what!? There you go, world’s smallest sovereign state by both population and size. Visit it you must. While you may not appreciate art, nor are you interested in the faith, the architecture and details are enough to blow your mind. The intricacies of every wall, ceiling, and even statues you see – it’s just puzzling how people of those times could do such a great job. If you compare it with modern minimalistic designs, the museum is at the other extreme end of the spectrum, but in a stunning way.
Tip: Join a guided tour to skip the queues, and to get a better understanding of its rich history. We did this as we arrived close to noon, didn’t purchase tickets online, and saw the insane queue. There are road guides around who would direct you to the queue you should be joining i.e. if you’ve purchased online tickets, if you’re visiting the museum first etc. We decided to join RomaRound Tours, and were glad we did ‘cos the guide we got was really clear in her explanations.
If you’d like to explore on your own, be sure to be there before 9am or you’ll end up wasting hours queueing to get in!
ST PETER’S BASILICA
If you’d enter from the Vatican City Museum, you’d end up in St Peter’s Basilica as your ending point. History aside, it’s one of those places where you realised once again, you are but a tiny being occupying a small space in Mother Earth. Yes it’s one of those places, and it’s beautiful.
Day 2 P.M.
We didn’t make it in as we thought Vatican City was more than enough to take in a day. Unlike Vatican City, the Castel Sant’Angelo strategically overlooks the Tiber, hence, was known as a symbol of Rome’s imperial power, and later as a papal fortress. The museum here mostly features military memorabilia and medieval firearms.
I really like this place – it’s a huge square where people come by to sit around, tourists and locals alike, have a drink, a tea break, or a cuppa gelato. GROM is just right around the corner, and its pistachio gelato is the best. Here, take some time out to move along with the street performers’ music, give your feet a break and just enjoy the idea of being in Rome. It was fun while it lasts.
A former temple turned church, the Pantheon was supposedly the most influential and preserved building in Ancient Rome. Interestingly, Pantheon means “honour all Gods” in Greek, since it was first built as a temple to all Gods. Have a touch at the walls where not restricted, you’ll be surprised by how well it’s been maintained!
Disclaimer: I didn’t manage to visit this place immediately after Pantheon as it was cordoned off for Fendi’s 90th birthday celebration runway. I only visited the next morning before leaving Rome. Nevertheless, it was within walking distance from Pantheon should there not be any official events.
Legend has it that if you throw a coin from the right hand over the left shoulder, it’ll ensure your return to Rome. (But damn, I couldn’t do it ‘cos there was NO FOUNTAIN when I went, thanks to the birthday event.) The next legend, inspired by the film “Three Coins in the Trevi Fountain”, where you had to throw 3 coins. So go ahead, throw 3 coins using your right hand over the left shoulder, and win your next ticket to Roma!
Since it was built, its elegance has made it popular among painters and artists who saw it as a place of inspiration. This then attracted many beautiful women who wanted be used as models, which in turn attracted rich Romans and travellers. Slowly, words spread and people of all backgrounds visited this place, which eventually became a meeting place for all.
Sadly it was under construction when I was there!
Day 3 A.M.
CAMPO DE’ FIORI
Last morning in Rome was spent marketing at the Campo De’ Fiori where we could get some pesto and truffles souvenir shopping done. You could expect free samples before purchasing, so no worries. Pastas of all colours and shapes are also available, perfect for gifts!
And of course… Venchi is another gelato chain you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Italy!
Here’s to a great first trip to Rome! x