I recently traveled to Italy for the very first time, but sadly, I only had 3 days to see it. I was running out of vacation days, so I figured one long weekend in Rome was better than nothing. I planned ahead to make the most of my trip and was able to see and experience most of the top attractions. I actually felt satisfied with how much I was able to see in such a short visit. Here are my top recommendations and tips on accommodations and places to see!
We did not stay in the old town or by the tourist attractions, but rather opted to stay in a more local area. We stayed in the presidential suite Puccini, located on the 6th floor of the Grand Hotel Ritz. It is a huge suite with a large living room, bedroom, wrap around balcony, and bathroom. It is almost the size of my apartment in NYC. The bathroom has a big jacuzzi tub that can comfortably fit 2 people. The Grand Hotel Ritz is older with very traditional decor that really puts you in the mindset of exploring the historic city of Rome. The hotel itself is located just north of the old city and is only one train stop away from Piazza del Popolo (basically where the old city starts). I was originally worried about its distance from everything, but it worked out great because it was very accessible by transit (you can even walk). The breakfast was also very well appointed. For the price point (very affordable for the size of the room; yet, still have easy access to the attractions), this hotel was perfect for our little getaway in Rome.
Places to See
The Vatican was amazing and is as grand and historic as you think. I’m embarrassed to say, but the whole time I was thinking of scenes from different movies featuring the Vatican (mostly action films with conspiracy, or horror movies). Any way, there’s a lot to see in the Vatican museum and each room is more magnificent than the next, but honestly, after a while all the statues or tapestry start to all look the same. St Peter’s Basilica was the highlight for me – It is seriously grand in there! As you can imagine, it is really busy and I hear in the summer you can barely move! We booked a guided tour so that we could see it all and most importantly, to avoid the lines to get in!
It is as beautiful as you imagine. I love how the painting tells a story section-by-section. You cannot take pictures in there but it’s fine. For one thing, this is something you’ll never forget. But if pictures were allowed, there is no way to capture the moment and do justice to this amazing piece of art. Be prepared to be standing and looking up for a while!
Despite it being a bit of a tourist trap, you can’t go to Rome and not see the Colosseum! That said, it was so amazing to finally see it in person. It is crazy this massive structure has been around for over 2000 years! We went with a guided tour to skip the line, but honestly, I think it would have been better to go on my own since we had to follow along the tour the whole time and did not really get to see the whole thing.
Tips: The Colosseum is free for all on the first Sunday of every month – just make sure you go early to avoid the lines! The best place to take pictures of the whole colosseum from the outside is actually across the street in the Roman Forum by the Temple of Venus and Rome.
This building over 2000 years old; yet, the giant dome is still the world’s largest unsupported dome! The oculus (eye) in the middle is amazing as well. It’s beautiful inside, but it was super crowded with tourists when we went. We didn’t really stay long as there isn’t really that much to do there other than to admire the building itself. It is definitely worth a visit though, and the area around it is super cute too.
This is such a beautiful fountain and is super romantic, especially at night when it is lit up. However, it is super crowded at all times of the day and night. I ended up sitting there one day just to people watch and to take in the city!
When I thought of Rome, I knew I had to visit the Colosseum and the Vatican, but I honestly did not even know about the Roman Forum until I saw it in person. The Roman Forum actually became my favourite spot. It is basically an area filled with relatively well-preserved ruins of important ancient government buildings from the Roman Empire. Instead of being trapped indoors in a museum reading about history, I like that you can walk around and really feel the history around you. This place is huge, so make sure you bring good walking shoes!
Tip: The Roman Forum is free for all on the first Sunday of every month. Try to avoid the entrance right by the Colosseum as that is the busiest. You can walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali towards Piazza Venezia and there is an entrance there that is generally way less busy.
One of the most enjoyable parts of my trip was just wandering around the old parts of the city, people watching and trying out the restaurants. There are gelato places all around town, but one of the best ones is right by Trevi Fountain – Gelateria Valentino. The gay area is right by the Colosseum. It is really small and there are only a few bars. One of the more popular bar/restaurant is called “Coming Out”. The food is okay, but it’s a great spot to just hang out and see the local crowd.