Rome was not built in a day, but much of it can be explored in 24 hours. Steeped in history and teeming with energy, this Italian city is a mecca for history buffs and culture vultures. You get a kick every time you come across ancient statues, amphitheaters, grand museums, churches, and every element of Romanesque beauty. However, a trip to Rome is not just about Baroque art or Byzantine mosaics, it is also about gorging into thin pizzas, waiting for the tinkling of wine glasses, and watching handsome people on pretty-looking piazzas.
If you have a day to explore this 'Eternal City', you should know how to make the most of it.
7:00 AM – Colosseum
This ancient site reeks of a dreaded history and stories of great gladiators thrilling the audience with their fights. The erstwhile 'Flavian amphitheater' is now a humongous ruin. An earnest look at the arena, the trapdoors, and the cavea (seating area) brings alive the energy that this place used to exude during its prime.
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8:30 AM – Breakfast at Monti
For a breakfast stopover, come to Monti. This historic area in Old Rome has restaurants, wine bars, and cafes where you can grab a cup of coffee.
9:00 AM to 11: 30 AM – Roman Forum, Palazzo Venezia, and II Vittoriano
This 7th-century site houses temples, churches, and public squares – and not all of them have lost their power to impress. What looks like sprawling ruins, was once the social and commercial hub of the Roman Empire. Spend some time here before heading to Piazza Venezia – the central hub of Rome.
The most striking landmark in this lively Roman square is the Palazzo Venezia. It is from the ramparts of this palace that Mussolini had declared the beginning of the World War II.
The next stop is the impressive II Vittoriano. Those who are a stickler for aesthetics, haven't been able to come to terms with its unusual shape. This 19th-century monument of white marble, built in honor of Italy's first king – Victor Emmanuel II, has a museum that documents unification of Italy. Steal some time, take the elevator to the top, and enjoy a 360° view of the city.
12:00 PM to 2:00 PM – Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain followed by Lunch
From Piazza Venezia, walk a little over a kilometer toward north and visit the Spanish steps. This is where Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn had stopped to have a gelato during their Roman Holiday. The shopping district, with its designer boutiques, fashion stores, and chic restaurants exude an energy that's not a rarity in Rome. If you want to stop for lunch, then Pizzaciro could be a good option. The place is known for pizzas. After a hearty meal, you can grab an ice cream from Barcaccia or sit down for a drink at Novecento.
A sumptuous meal is followed by a grand view when you walk few blocks south to the famous Trevi Fountain. If the fact that it's the largest fountain of Baroque era doesn't ring a bell in your mind, then think of Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita.'
2:30 PM to 5:00 PM – Pantheon and Piazza Navona
A few blocks down west from the Trevi Fountain lies this two-millennium old temple converted into a church. It is iconic and perhaps one of the best preserved ancient Roman monuments in the world. Take your time to explore the layered beauty of the place and don't forget to have a probing look into its dome, which is the “world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.”
If the experience is too overwhelming, head towards the west and come to Piazza Navona. The place is showy but not flashy. Standing in front of any of the fountains is refreshing, especially during the evening when the Mediterranean breeze is given a free hand. Baroque mansions and picturesque streets give it a posh look. And, carefully captured shots of the fountain sculptures at each corner of the square could be priceless souvenirs.
5: 30 PM to 9:00 PM – Trastevere and Basilica of Santa Maria followed by dinner
As the day fades into evening, cross the Tiber River and head to Trastevere. The place is slightly artsy and also the “most authentic part of Rome.” It is also a perfect destination in Rome to have dinner. But before you sit down to eat, drink and be merry, do the good deed of the day by visiting the oldest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, with its ancient Roman columns, bell tower, wooden ceiling, and illustrations on the life of the Virgin Mary, scripts a memorable end to your day-long sojourn in Rome.