Recently I’ve had quite a few people ask what the ideal four-day trip to Rome would include, and Amy and I are here to give you the sitch. First, may I begin with the opposition to the idea of only four days in Rome. You need AT LEAST a week, people. However, four days can be done, and done well.
Cat and I recommend the following sight seeing ventures for your four days of Roman bliss:
You cannot go to Rome and not visit Vatican City. It would be a crime of the worst offense, next to lying under oath, in my book. If you are a plan-in-advance type of person then I say do some research and get tickets to mass with The Pope and tickets to the Vatican Museum to see the Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s frescos.
Side note on the Vatican Museum, if you get tickets in advance then you don’t have to stand in the, frankly, horrifyingly long ling. With online tickets you can go straight inside. Also, bring a snack and keep your blood sugar stable as you go through the museum or you’ll zombify and your eyes will glaze over and you’ll be really, really unpleasant by the end. (Not talking from personal experience or anything.) It should be a beautiful experience, not stained with thoughts of cannibalism. Amy’s juicy arm was looking tantalizing by the end.
If you are not the planner type then not to worry! You can walk through St. Peter’s and around tiny Vatican City. Remember to go early because there will be lines and lines and lines of little, sweet nuns everywhere. You want to beat the nuns, ok? I highly do not recommend going to the Vatican Museum without planning for it in advance. It’s too much of a time commitment to wait in that atrocious line. But if you do, then have a picnic basket, a foldable chair, funny friend or significant other, kindle, iPod, or sketchbook packed and ready.
Commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus and rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian about 126 AD, the Pantheon is one of the best preserved of all Ancient Rome’s buildings and one of our favorite sights in Rome. I’d recommend a Wikipedia read-through of its history before you visit. It’s a better experience if you know what you’re looking at. Also, I’d recommend going at around sunset because there are less crowds and better views.
Alongside the Pantheon in importance, the Coliseum is just plain neat. I have never felt compelled to venture inside, as the outside seems sufficiently magnificent, but I’d encourage you to go. Again, knowing the history of the Coliseum makes the visit all the more special.
This is my absolute favorite. The Galleria Borghese houses a significant amount of Bernini’s sculptures, and many other renaissance treasures. You definitely need tickets ahead of time, and don’t miss walking through the Borghese Gardens before or after visiting the Galleria.
I am an advocate for stopping in any and all churches you see, but this particular one is really special. With its 800-year-old mosaics, marble geometric floors, and archaeological history, San Clemente has the best of the best. Read this post for all the photos of San Clemente when Amy and I visited.
Literally a keyhole view, you can see three countries (Italy, Vatican City, and The Knights of Malta) plus, St. Peter’s dome through the keyhole of the gate to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta on Rome’s Aventine Hill, a beautiful neighborhood in its own right. Enjoy a nice stroll up the hill before sunset and stay until it gets dark.
- Pasta Carbonara: anywhere you can find it, eat it.
- Shopping on Via del Corso.
- Gelato, of course.
- Sending postcards from Vatican City.
If you have only four days in the eternal city of Rome, then Cat and I strongly suggest these sights. And seriously, try the pistachio gelato.
Thanks for reading!
Kate and Amy, SL
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Italian Word of the Day: Funghi | Mushrooms