Rome Stories and Tips

Strategies for seeing the city

Depending upon how long you are spending in the Eternal City, many of the major monuments can be seen (but not necessarily absorbed) in a few days. This is one strategy I used on one of my earlier trips (if you are doing this without the benefit of a walking tour, be sure to have an excellent guide book and map handy--I like the StreetWise Maps and the Eyewitness Guides).

Day One: An orientation of the Centro Storico. Starting at the Campo Dei Fiori, working my way on a diagonal toward the Spanish Steps, stopping at the Piazza Navona, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain along the way.

Day Two: A trip through Ancient Rome. Starting at the top of the Forum (behind the Vittorio Emanuele Monument), walking through the ruins, heading right up onto the Palatine Hill, coming out by the entrance/exit on the Via d. San Gregorio, walking up to the Colosseum and going through it. Finish up at the Domus Aurea (to which you've made the requisite reservation).

Day Three: The Art and History of Vatican City. Depending upon how much art you can take and whether you are interested in the history of the Catholic Church, this day can be as detailed or as brief as you'd like. That will determine the time you start and stop. I recommend you get to the museum as early as possible, especially if you are interested in seeing the Sistine Chapel without feeling like you're in a sardine can. If you made your reservation for a Papal Audience, that can be the first thing you do before heading over to the museum, which is on the other side of the whole complex (a 15 minute walk). Other things to see besides St. Peter's Basilica and the Museum proper (and all its exhibits) include The Vatican Gardens (reservations must be made in advance at the Tourist Information Office, located in a piazza to the left {south} of Piazza San Pietro. Phone: 011-39-06-6988-4466 or 6988-4866. Fax 6988-5100) and the Reliquary of St. Peter's.)

Day Four: Spanish Steps and beyond. Start at the Spanish Steps and head toward the Borghese Gardens where you could wander for several hours or visit the two museums, the Villa Giulia (for Etruscan art) and the Borghese Gallery (for sculpture and mosaics), the latter of which strongly advises advance reservations as only 300 visitors/day are permitted.( ).

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