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As the saying goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Likewise, seeing its sights in a day is a challenge. However, Rome is an open-air museum so merely being present will place you before more sights than you will see in most cities in the same time frame and with enough focus you can cram the highlights into a whirlwind tour.
1. Don’t use the metro or bus to get around – Do travel by taxi and foot
Although taxi is the most expensive way to get around, it is worth it in Rome where the sights are reasonably close and with almost every street in Rome dripping with marble and Baroque architecture it is easy to shout ‘stop’ if something springs into your line of vision. Do check a map first as some sights are even easier to reach by foot, for example Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps are a pleasant walk through Rome’s bustling streets.
Taking the metro will rob you of the sights going on above ground while the hop-on hop-off bus is likely to steal your time, taking 2 hours to complete a loop. The route takes you past many sights you’d only explore with more time available and with 25 minutes between buses, you risk hanging around a lot.
2. Don’t visit the Roman Forum – Do see the Colosseum from the outside
The Roman Forum is fascinating due to its age, but the site is vast and the ruins literally that – to truly envision the sights, it is recommended you buy a book that provides a graphic overlay of what was once there. Consequently, for visitors on a short trip, it is not the most spectacular of sights.
Conversely, the Colosseum is Rome’s postcard model and likely to come at the top of most visitors’ itineraries. The structure, which dates to around 72AD is immense and for most walking around its exterior is sufficient. The queues to enter can be as vast as the amphitheatre’s expanse and rarely worth the wait for those on a short stop.
2. Don’t see inside St Peter’s Basilica – Do see the Sistine Chapel
Vatican City is its own official state within the confines of Rome and it contains enough sights to occupy at least a couple of days. This does not mean that you shouldn’t visit the area at all, simply that you need to remain focused. If you’re against the clock, the grandeur of the St Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica are impressive enough from the outside while the queues to enter can be prohibitive. Unless you are particularly committed to going inside, your time is better spent seeing the impressive artwork of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel.
Contained within the Vatican Museum, try to apply blinkers as you make your way to the Sistine Chapel, which sits at the end of the museum otherwise you can spend hours admiring the impressive paintings and sculptures en route.
4. Don’t focus exclusively on the visual sights – Do enjoy the wonder of Rome’s food
It is easy to spend time in Rome ticking off a list of sights, but you should not forget to indulge your senses beyond sight. The tastes of Rome are as much a part of the city’s make-up and even on a brief visit you should make time to enjoy the Italian cuisine. Depending on the day, season and time that you visit, many of Rome’s museums and churches have mid-day closing hours. Plot your route, check the opening schedules and plan your lunch accordingly. While many one-day itineraries don’t afford the luxury of a long lunch, the food in Rome demands it.
5. Don’t go inside the Pantheon – Do see the Pantheon exterior, Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain
The Pantheon is another impressive structure but for the time spent waiting in line to get inside you can instead explore three of Rome’s top sights – seeing the Pantheon from the outside, making your way up the Spanish Steps for a panorama of the surrounding streets and standing in awe at the Baroque brilliance of the Trevi Fountain. All within a decent amble of each other, you can take in all three sights within a couple of hours (gelato on the way is always recommended).
Once at the Trevi Fountain, don’t forget to turn your back on the fountain and toss in a coin to ensure that you will one day return to Rome, something you are guaranteed to want to do after you have had a taste of the Eternal City’s delights.
Did you manage to squeeze Rome into just one day? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments below.
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Editors Note: Thank you to our friends at Top Cruise Deals, for providing us with this article. In one day, it really is impossible to see all of the must see attractions that we at Cruise Talk have enjoyed during our 3 day stay in Rome. If you cruise out of Rome we suggest a 2 to 3 day stay so that you can see most of the highlights more thoroughly!