:: Rome in Three Days (Day One)

Before we moved to Poland, we made a list of cities we wanted to try to visit while living in Europe. At the top of this list was Rome, Italy and this weekend we were able to cross this beautiful city off our list (yeah)!
However, we didn’t have a ton of time to spend in the city – just three days – so we had to make it count. Not only did we see everything we wanted to but we also felt that this was plenty of time to see it all without feeling exhausted, which is a bonus. I thought you may like to see our itinerary if you plan on visiting Rome but only have a few days. Oh and if you can, visit in the offseason. It is still busy, but the weather is great (60 and sunny) – so no sweating with mobs of other people. Plus, thousands of others aren’t photobombing all your photos.
Anyways, here is Day One of my Rome in Three Days series.

Start at Vatican City:

We flew in late after work on Friday night so our trip didn’t really start until Saturday morning which was great because we could just wake up and start exploring! The first thing we did was take a subway straight to the Vatican. We spent about half a day in this country. Yep, that’s right this is a walled country and not part of Italy. I had no idea.
Vatican City is 44 hectares (about 109 acres), making it the smallest country in the world. It has everything a typical country would have, including its own post office – which, by the way, is very popular for tourists to send postcards from here. However, the one thing that is not found in the Vatican City is a school (according to our tour guide)- not too many kids running around here.
When we arrived, we didn’t have a tour booked but we found a nice lady recruiting on the street so we signed up. Even though I was a bit skeptical, the tour turned out great! With a tour, you skip the super long line (saving valuable tourist time) and you are able to see the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica for one cost.
FYI There are a TON of people recruiting for tours on the street (which is actually super annoying) so be careful which one you go with. We used ItalyWithUs.com and I would recommend them. Before you go to The Vatican, check the schedule as it was closed one of the days we were in town due to a holiday. The Pope was set to make an address the day after we visited so they were setting up for the event making it hard to get photos of the building without folding chairs in it. Oh well, when in Rome…or should I say, when in the Vatican?
But, they were also setting up the Christmas tree when we arrived. Aww.
So, let’s start the tour shall we?
And so we begin at the Vatican Museum, which houses a beautiful courtyard 🙂
This is our guide below in the far right image explaining the Sistine Chapel to us. (Sorry, no photos allowed of the Chapel, so I hope you know what it looks like!)
And so we enter into the museum after passing some pineapple art.
The museum is filled with so many beautiful carvings and sculptures. Truly amazing to see so much art all under one roof. In fact, our guide told us that in order to see everything here, you would need at least a week to just visit the museum.
Some of the most impressive things (in my opinion) are the ceilings throughout the museum.
The ceiling in the image below is actually painted, not carved! Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Oh and don’t be too busy looking up that you forget to look down at the floors…also impressive.
This is Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom.
And now, let’s turn to my favorite artifacts we saw in the museum, these rugs. Yes, these are rugs. Not paintings. AMAZING!
In the rug below, Jesus (at the left in the red sarong carrying the flag) has wandering eyes and no matter where you are in the room he is watching you (similar to what they say about the Mona Lisa painting).
We then went to see the Sistine Chapel (a sight worth seeing) and this is where our guided tour ended.
You now have the option to enter St. Peter’s Basilica from here (without waiting in line). Stunning. That’s all I can say. The grand scale of this church is just indescribable.
When you leave the Basilica, be sure to look for the Swiss guards.
We now move into the second half of Day One in Rome. After visiting The Vatican, take a stroll towards Castel Saint Angelo along the river. Beautiful scenery but lots of merchants selling fake bags.
The rest of Day One then consisted of walking around and exploring Italy – and eating and drinking wine, of course 🙂
The one “downfall” of visiting Italy in the winter is that it gets dark earlier than it would in the summer. But really it isn’t much of a negative, it’s still a beautifully intricate city at night. Here are some of the main landmarks we saw on Night One.
Piazza Navona:
The Pantheon (we’ll see this in more detail in Day Two):
The ceiling has a hole at the top of a perfect dome. That black dot is the sky.
The Trevi Fountain (again to be explored in more detail during Day Two)

The main shopping street – Via Del Corso

On this street, you’ll run into the Spanish Steps (we’ll explore them on Day Three)
And, of course, the Vatican in the evening is a sight worth seeing.
A few general tips when planning your trip for a long weekend:
  • Arrive late the night before, or first thing in the morning and fly out late the day you want to leave. For example, we flew in after work on Friday night and out late on Monday evening. You will need at least 2.5 – 3 days to avoid feeling rushed, though you could see all of Rome in 2 days.
  • Rome is a walkable city with a great subway line as well. Stay in the center of town to cut down on travel time to attractions. The Spanish Steps is the area where we stayed and it was a great choice – close to most everything, including the metro.
Update: See the Full Itinerary for Rome in 3 Days:

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