It’s difficult when you’re visiting somewhere for the first time and only have a short amount of time to experience it. How are you meant to prioritise what to do? Should you just hit the big time high profile sights? Try to go off the beaten path?
Well this is the predicament I was in when I visited Rome last month. My Anchored cruise was departing on the Sunday and I decided to fly in on the Friday night so I could enjoy a full Saturday of Rome goodness. So essentially I needed to experience Rome in a day… I mean I know Rome wasn’t built in a day so presumably it would be difficult to see it all in a day, right?
Enter my brand new and shiny Marco Polo Spiral Guide to Rome.
To maximise my time, I thought I’d try out one of their ‘Perfect Day’ itineraries to make sure I was making the most of this glorious day.
And it really was glorious, it was 33 degrees celsius on this particular day. Not the ideal temp for walking around in the boiling sun all day, but hey, I went with it.
The Perfect Day In Rome
There are several day itineraries in the guide but I decided to go for the ‘Ancient City’ variation. Mainly because it included the Colosseum and I’m basic like that. But also because it looked like it had a good mix of the big sights I had heard of and under the radar gems. Here goes.
The itinerary starts out in Piazza Venezia in the heart of Rome so we made our way over there to begin. But before we got cracking, we decided to grab some food first at the nearby Cin Cin Bar, overlooking the piazza. This was essentially breakfast but as I only had one day in Rome I went for Tagliatelle Ragu. Yes, pasta and beef for breakfast. No shame.
It was actually a great chance to admire the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II across the square. And after our meal we headed over there to walk up the steps adjacent to the monument. This led us up to Capitolino. This is an area of importance as it is essentially Rome’s birthplace, and was once the hub of all military, religious and political activity.
Here, we had a little look around the Basilica De Santa Maria in Aracoeli, a beautiful church with lovely arches inside and an ornate golden ceiling. A wedding had actually just finished when we were there so it was even more beautiful with flowers lining the aisle.
From Capitolino, it’s a very short walk to the next destination, Foro Romano (The Roman Forum). This place is a history buff’s dream, a gorgeous site of lots of ancient Roman ruins! This is pretty much how you picture Ancient Rome, right?
It was really nice to walk around the site, but this is the first time we encountered the massive crowds of tourists in Rome. It’s something we would see a lot more of. But it also highlighted to me which of the sights on this Marco Polo itinerary were popular attractions and which were hidden gems. And there’s definitely a good mix of the two.
The guide suggested 2 hours to explore Foro Romano but as we started a lil late, we decided to make up some time and move on fairly quickly. But not before making a slight detour for a refreshing scoop of gelato de limone at Gelateria Ai Cerchi! And that lemon flavour is famous in Rome for a reason y’all, it’s so zingy! I loved it!
Back to our route for the day.
Next on the agenda, the infamous Colosseo. Or Colosseum to you and me, babes. Again, those Rome crowds were a bit much, so we didn’t go inside. Just looking at the swarms of people put me right off. But there was a cheeky little ‘Insider Tip’ in the Marco Polo Spiral Guide which said to take in the view of the Colosseum from nearby Colle Oppio park. So that’s what we did!
It was definitely a much more chilled out way to see the Colosseum for sure. No touts asking you to buy a hat, no crowds of tourists pushing you. Just the beautiful Roman architecture of the amphitheatre, a nice wooden bench and pretty flowers everywhere. Good tip, Marco Polo! Those guys know their shit.
Ok, like I said, it was a ridiculously hot day to be wandering around Rome. So we made another pitstop for some cold drinks to keep us hydrated and motivated for the next item on the itinerary: Basilica de San Clemente. But er… little problem… it was closed. This is why the ‘Perfect Day’ itineraries have the exact time of day for each stop I guess, so stuff like this doesn’t happen.
But we figured rather than wait an hour until it opened, we’d move on to the last stop of the day, San Giovanni in Laterano.
Despite what most people think, it’s actually San Giovanni (not St Peter’s) that is the cathedral church of Rome. St Peter’s is in Vatican City of course. So this church is a pretty big deal.
And you can’t deny it’s bloody gorgeous inside. I’m normally not much of a church person but seeing as Rome has such religious undertones, it’s hard to miss them. But I’m glad I saw this one as San Giovanni really is beautiful inside. Plus, there weren’t any of the crazy crowds.
After exploring the church, we followed another ‘Insider Tip’ and explored the nearby Flea Market before getting the Metro back to the centre of the city.
I’m really glad we did this itinerary as otherwise, I honestly wouldn’t have seen half of this stuff. Particularly the Foro Romano and San Giovanni, they were really interesting.
I think it’s important as well to note that as we completed the itinerary early (seeing as we missed one of the stops and shortened a couple others), we decided to go see some of the other sights afterwards. We visited the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. And they were all full to the brim with tourists… I realise I’m a tourist too by the way! But I just can’t appreciate somewhere when there’s that many people.
The Trevi Fountain in particular had so many people that I couldn’t bear to be there longer than a couple of minutes. Which is why I was happy with this itinerary. Other than the Colosseum, I think it was fairly low key, with a lot of underrated sights.
I’d definitely follow one of these Marco Polo bad boys when I’m low on time in the future. Such a good mix of attractions!
Would you follow a day itinerary like this?
Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!
Total Blogger Transparency: This blog post was sponsored by Marco Polo but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I wouldn’t play you like that, shorty.