In this article we will explain how to visit Rome, the eternal city in only 3 days!
How to visit Rome in three days, if you only have one weekend, a long bank holiday or if you are in Rome and want to act as a guide for your friends who have come to visit you… this is the article for you. Written by a born and bred Roman.
Well defined with clear routes, advice, hidden gems and maps.
Knows where to eat
The guide consists in a map and brief description of each place (although for some monuments only a part description so as not to overwhelm you.) From Piazza Del Popolo to Terme Di Caracalla, passing through Colosseo, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza di Spagna, as well as an ancient human skeleton tomb where the monks would worship, where to eat like a Roman (Coda alla vaccianara etc.. )..
Are you ready to discover millenary monuments, crypts made with human bones, the best coffee in town, one of the best ice cream in Rome? If you keep reading.
Lets start with a quick introduction, it is even impossible to visit Rome within a whole month! So we have made a guide of how to visit Rome, the main must see monuments. We have excluded most of the exhibitions, not because they are not important but more as a question of time. Other monuments have been omitted for lack of time such as Chiesa di S.M.Maggiore o S.Giovanni. We don’t know where you are going to sleep but our route starts from Piazza del Popolo.
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Piazza del Popolo is a large urban square in Rome. The name in modern Italian literally means “People’s Square”, but historically it derives from the poplars (populus in Latin, pioppo in Italian) after which the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in the northeast corner of the piazza, takes its name.
The piazza lies inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, once the Porta Flaminia of ancient Rome, and now called the Porta del Popolo. This was the starting point of the Via Flaminia, the road to Ariminum (modern-day Rimini) and the most important route to the north. At the same time, before the age of railroads, it was the traveller’s first view of Rome upon arrival. For centuries, the Piazza del Popolo was a place for public executions, the last of which took place in 1826.
2 – Piazza di Spagna
How to visit Rome and don’t visit the famous Piazza di Spagna, at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, is one of the most famous squares of Rome (Italy). It owes its name to the Palazzo di Spagna, seat of the Embassy of Spain among the Holy See. In the middle of the square is the famous Fontana della Barcaccia, dating to the beginning of the baroque age, sculpted by Pietro Bernini and his son, the more famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
At the right corner of the Spanish Steps there is the house of the English poet John Keats, who lived there until his death in 1821: nowadays it has been changed into a museum dedicated to him and his friend Percy Bysshe Shelley, full of books and memorabilia of English Romanticism. At the left corner there is the Babington’s tea room, founded in 1893.
The side near Via Frattina is overlooked by the two façades (the main one, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the side one created by Francesco Borromini) of the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide, a property of the Holy See. In front of it, actually in a lengthening of Piazza di Spagna named Piazza Mignanelli, there is the Column of the Immaculate Conception, erected in 1856, two years after the proclamation of the dogma.
3 – Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain is oen of the famous monument of how to visit Rome guide, (Italian: Fontana di Trevi) is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. Standing 26.3 metres (86 ft) high and 49.15 metres (161.3 ft) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. The fountain has appeared in several notable films, including Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and is a popular tourist attraction.
The fountain at the junction of three roads (tre vie) marks the terminal point of the “modern” Acqua Vergine, the revived Aqua Virgo, one of the aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome. In 19 BC, supposedly with the help of a virgin, Roman technicians located a source of pure water some 13 km (8.1 mi) from the city. (This scene is presented on the present fountain’s façade.) However, the eventual indirect route of the aqueduct made its length some 22 km (14 mi). This Aqua Virgo led the water into the Baths of Agrippa. It served Rome for more than 400 years.
Legend holds that in 19 BC thirsty Roman soldiers were guided by a young girl to a source of pure water thirteen kilometers from the city of Rome. The discovery of the source led Augustus to commission the construction of a twenty-two kilometer aqueduct leading into the city, which was named Aqua Virgo, or Virgin Waters, in honor of the legendary young girl. The aqueduct served the hot Baths of Agrippa, and Rome, for over four hundred years.
4 – Piazza colonna
Piazza Colonna is a piazza at the center of the Rione of Colonna in the historic heart of Rome, Italy. It is named for the marble Column of Marcus Aurelius which has stood there since 193 CE. The bronze statue of Saint Paul that crowns the column was placed in 1589, by order of Pope Sixtus V. The Roman Via Lata (now the Via del Corso) runs through the piazza’s eastern end, from south to north.
The piazza is rectangular. Its north side is taken up by Palazzo Chigi, formerly the Austro-Hungarian empire’s embassy, but is now a seat of the Italian government. The east side is taken up by the 19th century public shopping arcade Galleria Colonna (since 2003 Galleria Alberto Sordi), the south side is taken up by the flank of Palazzo Ferraioli, formerly the Papal post office, and the little Church of Santi Bartolomeo ed Alessandro dei Bergamaschi (1731-35). The west side is taken up by Palazzo Wedekind (1838) with a colonnade of Roman columns taken from Veii.
The piazza has been a monumental open space since Antiquity; the temple of Marcus Aurelius stood on the site of Palazzo Wedekind. (TCI)
The fountain in the Piazza (1577) was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII from Giacomo Della Porta who was assisted by Rocco De Rossi. In 1830 it was restored, and had two sets of dolphins side by side, with tails entwined, sculpted by Achille Stocchi, set at either end of the long basin. The central sculpture was then substituted with a smaller sculpture and spray.
4 – Montecitorio
The building was originally designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for the young Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, nephew of Pope Gregory XV. However, with the death of Gregory XV by 1623, work stopped, and was not restarted until the papacy of Pope Innocent XII (Antonio Pignatelli), when it was completed by the architect Carlo Fontana, who modified Bernini’s plan with the addition of a bell gable above the main entrance. The building was designated for public and social functions only due to Innocent XII’s firm antinepotism policies which were in contrast to his predecessors.
In 1696 the Curia apostolica (papal law courts) was installed there. Later it was home to the Governatorato di Roma (the city administration during the papal period) and the police headquarters. The excavated obelisk of the Solarium Augusti, now known as the Obelisk of Montecitorio, was installed in front of the palace by Pius VI in 1789.
With the Unification of Italy in 1861 and the transfer of the capital to Rome in 1870, Montecitorio was chosen as the seat of the Chamber of Deputies, after consideration of various possibilities. The former internal courtyard was roofed over and converted into a semi-circular assembly room.
But the original palace was not ideally suited to its new role and it was rebuilt during the early 1900s leaving only the facade intact. The architect, Ernesto Basile, was an exponent of Art nouveau. He added the so-called Transatlantico, the long and impressive salon which surrounds the debating chamber and now acts as the informal centre of Italian politics.
The debating chamber is characterized by numerous decorations in the Art Nouveau style: the impressive canopy of coloured glass (the work of Giovanni Beltrami), the pictorial frieze entitled The Italian People (by Giulio Aristide Sartorio) which surrounds the chamber, the bronze figures flanking the presidential and government benches, and the panels depicting The Glory of the Savoy Dynasty by Davide Calandra.
4.1 – Giolitti Ice cream shop
Visiting Rome in the summer means suffering extreme temperatures so what better to chill out than by having a tasty ice cream? Look for the Giolitti ice cream shop which makes one of the best ice creams in Rome and its worth mentioning.
5 – Pantheon
The Pantheon in the guide how to visit Rome is one of the must. (/ˈpænθiən/ or US /ˈpænθiɒn/; Latin: Pantheon,[nb 1] [pantʰewn] From Greek: Πάνθεον [ἱερόν], an adjective understood as “[temple consecrated] to all gods”) is a building in Rome, Italy, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD) as a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome, and rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian about 126 AD.
The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft).
It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs” but informally known as “Santa Maria Rotonda.” The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda.
5.1 – Caffè Sant’Esustacchio
One of the best coffees in Italy recomended in our guide how to visit Rome, the bar is very small but you can’t miss it. In this guide of how to visit Rome in three days we like to give tips on the gems of Rome. If you are hungry, don’t miss our guides of where to eat in Rome.
6 – Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is a city square in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans came there to watch the agones (“games”), and hence it was known as “Circus Agonalis” (“competition arena”). It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to navone and eventually to navona.
Defined as a public space in the last years of 15th century, when the city market was transferred to it from the Campidoglio, the Piazza Navona was transformed into a highly significant example of Baroque Roman architecture and art during the pontificate of Innocent X, who reigned in from 1644 until 1655 and whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced the piazza. It features important sculptural and architectural creations: in the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought here in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius; the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi, Carlo Rainaldi and others; and the aforementioned Pamphili palace, also by Girolamo Rainaldi, that accommodates the long gallery designed by Borromini and frescoed by Pietro da Cortona.
Piazza Navona has two additional fountains: at the southern end is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575) to which, in 1673, Bernini added a statue of a Moor, or African, wrestling with a dolphin, and at the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune (1574) created by Giacomo della Porta. The statue of Neptune in the northern fountain, the work of Antonio Della Bitta, was added in 1878 to make that fountain more symmetrical with La Fontana del Moro in the south.
At the southwest end of the piazza is the ancient ‘speaking’ statue of Pasquino. Erected in 1501, Romans could leave lampoons or derogatory social commentary attached to the statue.
During its history, the piazza has hosted theatrical events and other ephemeral activities. From 1652 until 1866, when the festival was suppressed, it was flooded on every Saturday and Sunday in August in elaborate celebrations of the Pamphilj family. The pavement level was raised in the 19th century and the market was moved again in 1869 to the nearby Campo de’ Fiori. A Christmas market is held in the piazza.
Campo de’ Fiori (meaning in English: Field of Flowers) is a rectangular square south of Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy, at the border between rione Parione and rione Regola. It is just diagonally southeast of the Palazzo della Cancelleria and one block northeast of the Palazzo Farnese. Campo de’ Fiori, translated literally from Italian, means “field of flowers”. The name was first given during the Middle Ages when the area was actually a meadow.
In Ancient Rome the area was unused space between Pompey’s Theatre and the flood-prone Tiber. Though the Orsini established themselves on the south flank of the space in the 13th century, until the 15th century the square remained undeveloped. The first church in the immediate vicinity was built during the pontificate of Boniface IX (1389-1404), Santa Brigida a Campo de’ Fiori; with the building-up of the rione, the church has now come to face that part of the former square that is now Piazza Farnese. In 1456 under Pope Callixtus III, Ludovico Cardinal Trevisani paved the area: This was part of a greater project of improvement of the rione Parione. This renewal was both the result and cause of several important buildings being built in the surroundings; in particular, the Orsini palace on Campo de’ Fiori was rebuilt. The Renaissance Palazzo della Cancelleria can be seen in Vasi’s etching, rising majestically beyond the far right corner of the square.
Campo de’ Fiori has never been architecturally formalized. The square has always remained a focus for commercial and street culture: the surrounding streets are named for trades—Via dei Balestrari (crossbow-makers), Via dei Baullari (coffer-makers), Via dei Cappellari (hat-makers), Via dei Chiavari (key-makers) and Via dei Giubbonari (tailors). With new access streets installed by Sixtus IV— Via Florea and Via Pellegrino— the square became a part of the Via papale (“Pope’s road”), the street linking Basilica of St. John Lateran and the Vatican and run through by the Pope after his election during the so-called “Cavalcata del possesso”, when he reached the lateran from the Vatican to take possession of the city. This brought wealth to the area: A flourishing horse market took place twice a week (Monday and Saturday) and a lot of inns, hotels and shops came to be situated in Campo de’ Fiori. The most famous of them, the “Taverna della Vacca” (“cow’s Inn”) still stands at the south west corner of the square, at the begin of Via de’ Cappellari, and belonged to Vannozza dei Cattanei, the most famous lover of Alexander VI Borgia, whose family seal is still on display on the house facade.
Executions used to be held publicly in Campo de’ Fiori. Here, on 17 February 1600, the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt alive for heresy, and all of his works were placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Holy Office. In 1887 Ettore Ferrari dedicated a monument to him on the exact spot of his death: He stands defiantly facing the Vatican, reinterpreted in the first days of a reunited Italy as a martyr to freedom of thought. The inscription on the base recites: A BRUNO – IL SECOLO DA LUI DIVINATO – QUI DOVE IL ROGO ARSE (“To Bruno – the century predicted by him – here where the fire burned”). The body of theologian and scientist Marco Antonio de Dominis was also burned in this square, in 1624.
The demolition of a block of housing in 1858 enlarged Campo de’ Fiori, and since 1869 a daily vegetable and fish market has been held there, which before took place every morning in piazza Navona. The ancient fountain known as la Terrina (the “soupbowl”) that once watered cattle, was resited in 1889, and replaced with a copy: This now keeps flowers fresh. Its inscription: FA DEL BEN E LASSA DIRE (“Do the good and let them talk”) suits the gossipy nature of the marketplace. In the afternoons, local games of football give way to set-ups for outdoor cafés.
At night, Campo de’ Fiori is a meeting place for tourists and young people coming from the whole city. In the years after 2000 it has turned into one of the most dangerous places of the city during night, theater of repeated assaults and affrays by drunkards and soccer supporters.
St. Peter’s Square (Italian: Piazza San Pietro, Latin: Forum Sancti Petri, pronounced [ˌpi̯aʦa san ˈpi̯ɛːtɾo]) is a massive plaza located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave surrounded by Rome, directly west of the neighbourhood or rione of Borgo. How visit Rome and one of the famous place in the world.
At the centre of the square is a four-thousand-year-old Egyptian obelisk, erected at the current site in 1568. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed the square almost 100 years later, including the massive Tuscan colonnades, four columns deep, which embrace visitors in “the maternal arms of Mother Church.” A granite fountain constructed by Bernini in 1675 matches another fountain designed by Carlo Maderno dating to 1613.
The open space which lies before the basilica was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1656 to 1667, under the direction of Pope Alexander VII, as an appropriate forecourt, designed “so that the greatest number of people could see the Pope give his blessing, either from the middle of the façade of the church or from a window in the Vatican Palace” (Norwich 1975 p 175). Bernini had been working on the interior of St. Peter’s for decades; now he gave order to the space with his renowned colonnades, using the Tuscan form of Doric, the simplest order in the classical vocabulary, not to compete with the palace-like façade by Carlo Maderno, but he employed it on an unprecedented colossal scale to suit the space and evoke a sense of awe.
There were many constraints from existing structures (illustration, right). The massed accretions of the Vatican Palace crowded the space to the right of the basilica’s façade; the structures needed to be masked without obscuring the papal apartments. The obelisk marked a centre, and a granite fountain by Carlo Maderno stood to one side: Bernini made the fountain appear to be one of the foci of the ovato tondo embraced by his colonnades and eventually matched it on the other side, in 1675, just five years before his death. The trapezoidal shape of the piazza, which creates a heightened perspective for a visitor leaving the basilica and has been praised as a masterstroke of Baroque theater (illustration, below right), is largely a product of site constraints.
The colossal Tuscan colonnades, four columns deep, frame the trapezoidal entrance to the basilica and the massive elliptical area which precedes it. The ovato tondo’s long axis, parallel to the basilica’s façade, creates a pause in the sequence of forward movements that is characteristic of a Baroque monumental approach. The colonnades define the piazza. The elliptical centre of the piazza, which contrasts with the trapezoidal entrance, encloses the visitor with “the maternal arms of Mother Church” in Bernini’s expression. On the south side, the colonnades define and formalize the space, with the Barberini Gardens still rising to a skyline of umbrella pines. On the north side, the colonnade masks an assortment of Vatican structures; the upper stories of the Vatican Palace rise above.
At the center of the ovato tondo stands an Egyptian obelisk of red granite, 25.5 metres tall, supported on bronze lions and surmounted by the Chigi arms in bronze, in all 41 metres to the cross on its top. The obelisk was originally erected at Heliopolis by an unknown pharaoh of the Fifth dynasty of Egypt (c. 2494 BC – 2345 BC). During its history of c. 4400 years (at the start of the 2010s), the obelisk has been successfully moved three times.
St. Peter’s Square obelisk
The Emperor Augustus (c. 63 BC – 14 AD) had the obelisk moved to the Julian Forum of Alexandria, where it stood until 37 AD, when Caligula ordered the forum demolished and the obelisk transferred to Rome. He had it placed on the spina which ran along the centre of the Circus of Nero, where it would preside over Nero’s countless brutal games and Christian executions.
It was moved to its current site in 1586 by the engineer-architect Domenico Fontana under the direction of Pope Sixtus V; the engineering feat of re-erecting its vast weight was memorialized in a suite of engravings (illustrated right). The Vatican Obelisk is the only obelisk in Rome that has not toppled since ancient Roman times. During the Middle Ages, the gilt ball on top of the obelisk was believed to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar. Fontana later removed the ancient metal ball, now in a Rome museum, that stood atop the obelisk and found only dust. Christopher Hibbert (page 178) writes that the ball was found to be solid. Though Bernini had no influence in the erection of the obelisk, he did use it as the centerpiece of his magnificent piazza.
The paving is varied by radiating lines in travertine, to relieve what might otherwise be a sea of cobblestones. In 1817 circular stones were set to mark the tip of the obelisk’s shadow at noon as the sun entered each of the signs of the zodiac, making the obelisk a gigantic sundial’s gnomon. Below is a view of St. Peter’s Square from the cupola (the top of the dome) which was taken in June, 2007.
St. Peter’s Square today can be reached from the Ponte Sant’Angelo along the grand approach of the Via della Conciliazione (in honor of the Lateran Treaty of 1929). The spina (median with buildings) which once occupied this grand avenue leading to the square was demolished ceremonially by Benito Mussolini himself on October 23, 1936 and was completely demolished by October 8, 1937. St. Peter’s Basilica was now freely visible from the Castel Sant’Angelo. The effect of its demolition, however, was to destroy the characteristic Baroque surprise. The Via della Conciliazione was completed in time for the Great Jubilee of 1950.
9 – Castel S.Angelo
The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant’Angelo (English: Castle of the Holy Angel), is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. The Castel was once the tallest building in Rome.
The tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian, also called Hadrian’s mole, was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 130 AD and 139 AD. Originally the mausoleum was a decorated cylinder, with a garden top and golden quadriga. Hadrian’s ashes were placed here a year after his death in Baiae in 138 AD, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138 AD. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217 AD. The urns containing these ashes were probably placed in what is now known as the Treasury room deep within the building. Hadrian also built the Pons Aelius facing straight onto the mausoleum – it still provides a scenic approach from the center of Rome and the right bank of the Tiber, and is renowned for the Baroque additions of statues of angels holding aloft elements of the Passion of Christ.
The popes converted the structure into a castle, beginning in the 14th century; Pope Nicholas III connected the castle to St Peter’s Basilica by a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo. The fortress was the refuge of Pope Clement VII from the siege of Charles V’s Landsknechte during the Sack of Rome (1527), in which Benvenuto Cellini describes strolling the ramparts and shooting enemy soldiers.
Leo X built a chapel with a Madonna by Raffaello da Montelupo. In 1536 Montelupo also created a marble statue of Saint Michael holding his sword after the 590 plague (as described above) to surmount the Castel. Later Paul III built a rich apartment, to ensure that in any future siege the Pope had an appropriate place to stay.
Montelupo’s statue was replaced by a bronze statue of the same subject, executed by the Flemish sculptor Peter Anton von Verschaffelt, in 1753. Verschaffelt’s is still in place and Montelupo’s can be seen in an open court in the interior of the Castle.
The Papal state also used Sant’Angelo as a prison; Giordano Bruno, for example, was imprisoned there for six years. Another prisoner was the sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. Executions were performed in the small inner courtyard. As a prison, it was also the setting for the third act of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca; the eponymous heroine of the opera leaps to her death from the Castel’s ramparts.