Trip Notes: One Full Day in Rome

May 17th, 2019, 07:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 82
Trip Notes: One Full Day in Rome

We ended up with a full-day stopover (2 nights) in Rome, on the way back from Algeria and Tunisia to the US. There is surely not much new to be said about Rome, so the purpose of this report is mainly to provide some tips to help others structure a similar short stopover in Rome.

Is it worth going to Rome for just one day? Absolutely. We literally had a marathon day, walking 26.34 miles from 9am until 11pm and visiting most of Rome’s highlights. We used Google Maps to plot out the relative location of the sites and educate ourselves on an efficient route, and improvised as we wished.

This was our general walking route:

- Coliseum [we walked around the outside but didn’t go inside] & Arch of Constantine

- Roman Forum & Palatine Hill [we didn’t go inside, but saw great overall views from various look-in points all around the exterior, including from Capitoline Hill]

- Imperial Forums

- Piazza Venezia & Vittorio Emanuele Monument

- Piazza del Campidoglio [mainly for the views of the Forum]

- Jewish Ghetto

- Plaza Farnase

- Campo de Fiori

- Plaza Navona

- Pantheon

- Trevi Fountain

- Spanish Steps

- Via Condotti

- Castel Sant’Angelo

- Vatican [St Peter’s Square & inside the Basilica, but skipping the Museums]

We “covered” all of this ground from 9am until 7pm with time for lots of photos, a stop for a leisurely lunch, gelato breaks, and without particularly rushing through the sites. This was obviously a whirlwind “check-the-boxes” day and not everyone’s ideal travel style (or ours), but it was still well worth it. One could spend a week seeing all this, but if you only have a day, it can be “done” enjoyably.

In the evening, we bought a bottle of wine from a market and drank it on a bench in Plaza Navona. Then we retraced some of our steps from the daytime, and checked out several of the sites we had already visited to seem them lit up at night.

Some additional tips:

- We chose a hotel around Termini. Termini is a very practical choice for a short visit like this. Less time wasted getting to your hotel from the airport, and the reverse. Yes, Termini itself is lame and has its haters, but we didn’t spend any time there. See it as good base for convenient access to the major sites on a short trip.

- The Leonardo Express (the express FCO-Termini train) was very easy and convenient. Note that ticket machines don’t seem to take US credit cards (which don’t have PINs); we tried 3 different ones, and also read that this was the case. We ended up using our ATM debit card when we arrived. The ticket offices can take non-PIN US credit cards; we bought our return tickets from them.

- The St Peter’s Basilica security line at 5:30-6pm (in early May) took about 15-20 minutes. We’d read various musings about the lines being better either first thing in the morning (7am) or in the late afternoon. From our data point, it seems that the very late afternoon is a good time to visit.

- We didn’t buy tickets, make timed reservations, etc. for any of the sites. We made that decision in order to not waste time in lines and to not hassle with having to be at specific sites at specific times. In fact, St Peter’s Basilica was the only thing we waited in any line for. Of course, this means we didn’t go inside the Coliseum or the Vatican Museums.

- Monday night seems like a fairly dead night in Rome. Other than the tourist trap restaurants in the main tourist spots with English menus that hawkers are shoving in your face, the restaurants and bars that we walked by seemed very quiet.

This was my wife’s first time in Rome, and my second time in Rome after visiting as a kid on family trip in 1994. In 25 years, the most notable difference to me is that the major sites have pretty much been “ruined” by mass tourism. The second biggest difference is that the Vespas have essentially disappeared from the streets of Rome. Then, the streets were filled with loud, smoggy Vespas. Now, there are probably more smart cars than Vespas. Another big difference is that African and South Asian mafias have replaced the gypsies as the touts and scammers running all the shenanigans at the major tourist sites. We’ll see what happens in another 25 years…
LAX_Esq is offline  
May 17th, 2019, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 255
Good for you for taking the bull by the horns! You did your research, plotted your course and sounds like you allowed for flexibility. And you certainly "covered" the major sights. IMHO, you complemented your planning with an optimistic attitude, and enjoyed your day. Topping it off with a bottle of wine in the evening, sounds like the relaxing finale to a full, if not relaxing day.

While more time in Roma is better, my hat is off to you!
Calabria62 is online now  
May 17th, 2019, 09:28 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 22,277
Bravo, LAX_Esq! When you get a chance, please describe your shoes.
TDudette is offline  
May 17th, 2019, 11:16 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
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Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
Bravo, LAX_Esq! When you get a chance, please describe your shoes.
You seem to have had a perfectly lovely day, I especially approve ending it with a bottle of wine at Piazza Navona. Now you need to plan a longer visit to Rome one of these days. And yes, please do tell us about your shoes!

geetika is offline  
May 17th, 2019, 01:59 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,523
Thanks for posting, Lax. If such a thing exists, you deserve the Fodors medal for most miles walked in a day - 26 miles is stellar!
annhig is offline  
May 18th, 2019, 02:13 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 931
Wow. That is a lot of walking. We walked about 16 miles yesterday in Rome and I was tuckered!

Just a note that some Trenitalia ticket machines accept cash. You just have to look for a cash/coin symbol at the top of the machine.
indyhiker is offline  
May 19th, 2019, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 43
Man, I thought we walked a lot. 26 miles is indeed a marathon visit to Rome! Sounds like you had a great time.
tera_denten is online now  
May 19th, 2019, 10:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 46,381
Well done, LAX. Brava! My feet are tired reading this.
StCirq is online now  
May 20th, 2019, 05:41 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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>>>We chose a hotel around Termini. Termini is a very practical choice for a short visit like this. Less time wasted getting to your hotel from the airport, and the reverse. Yes, Termini itself is lame and has its haters, but we didn’t spend any time there. <<<

Since you were ending your day at Piazza Navona, another good option to stay is Trastevere and take the train to the airport from the Trastevere station.
kybourbon is offline  

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