It's taken me 2 months to organize the information and photos and probably will take 3 posts to cover a 24 hour trip to Rome! It's one of the "monsters" of tourism, a huge European capital loaded with history and art, food and architecture. And tourists, lots and lots of fellow visitors! It's hard to know where to start, but we knew we had to be strategic with an 10 AM Saturday arrival in Rome from the cruise port of Civitavecchia, and a flight out of Rome at 7:30 PM on Sunday. That left us with 28 hours to experience Rome. We made choices about what we hoped to do and see, and we left the job of organizing our itinerary to Matteo at Fuoritinerario,who had planned our Italian shore excursions during our Azamara Quest Cruise of the Adriatic, Sicily and Amalfi Coast. He did a masterful job, because, incredibly, we were able to hit all the highlights. Drivers and guides were there to whisk us past the lines and drop us at the door. While we weren't all alone and had to navigate the crowds, we felt like VIPs during our 24 hours in Rome. (We paid for our own trip and all the components of our tours)
What We Hoped To See
While we are Catholic, we didn't have enough time to plan a pilgrimage to Vatican City...we would need to treat Vatican City as tourists. See our post about the Vatican coming here soon.
We also wanted to leave time to see the interesting sites that make Rome famous, the world of "ancient Rome" (See our post about Rome click here)
Art and Architecture
And we also wanted to see some of the amazing art and architecture that makes Rome one of the top tourist destinations in the world! (See our post about Rome, coming soon)
What we gave up...
There was no time to eat...no really, we didn't eat! We did not sit down to eat during our 28 hours in Rome. Some of the best restaurants in the world are in Italy, and Matteo left us an itinerary listing dozens of the best. We had included breakfast at our hotel each morning and enjoyed Roman pizza at a small take out shop just around the corner from our hotel for lunch. We had gelato for dinner, albeit at one of the most famous gelato shops in Rome! I know it's probably a special crime to not sit and eat in Italy, but we decided with such a short visit we wanted to maximize our time covering the city on foot and not sitting in a restaurant.
We also did not get to do a deep dive into ANYTHING. The Vatican Museum alone could take years to catalog, It would be interesting to take specialty tours in ancient Rome, or enjoy some of the fabulous restaurants and we did not get inside the Pantheon, only seeing it beautifully lit from the outside. Our visit was about surveying the major sites and getting a feel for a city where we will return one day!
We did have to sleep, and for this visit, Matteo booked the historic Hotel Lunetta near the Campo De Fiori. Ruins of the Pompey Theater (Teatro di Pompeo 61-55 BC) have been restored into a spa in the basement of the hotel. A roof deck bar overlooks the neighborhood and provided a quiet place for a nightcap. Hotel Lunetta was centrally located, within walking distance of many of Romes popular sites, in a neighborhood with plenty of restaurants and shops. The service was excellent, and our room in the 4 star hotel was comfortable and well appointed. (below; our room at Hotel Lunetta, detail of the original stone walls of Teatro di Pompeo, spa in the restored ruins of the Teatro di Pompeo at Hotel Lunetta.)
So what did we do?
We took our own advice about how to maximize a short visit to a busy place (see post here)
OUR 28 HOUR ROME Itinerary
This itinerary was ONLY possible by having a great travel agent manage the logistics, providing private guides with skip the line access and drivers who dropped us door to door, eliminating travel time on foot or public transit. When not with our drivers or guides, we were maximizing our time on our own using Rick Steve's Pocket Rome guide book.
- 10 AM: Arrive in Rome, check into the hotel and visit the Campo di Fiore market right around the corner, for snacks and souvenirs.
- 11 AM: Meet our guide in our hotel lobby for a private tour of the Vatican, including the Vatican Museum (Sistine Chapel) and St Peter's Basilica.
- 2:30 PM: Return to hotel for pizza lunch at the shop around the corner and rest at the hotel.
- 5:00 PM: Travel by taxi to Borghese Gallery for a pre booked timed tour from 5-7 PM (we followed Rick Steve's excellent Borghese Gallery Tour to maximize our time there)
- 7-10 PM: We did the reverse of Rick Steve's 1 mile "Heart of Rome" Walk, from the Borghese Gallery to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Colonna, Pantheon (just to see, not to tour, it's not open at that time) and Piazza Navona. Rick's walk begins (or for us ENDS) in Campo di Fiore, which has a lively nightclub scene in the evening, but the market was cleared out by the time we got back to the hotel, and enjoyed a nightcap at the roof top bar at Hotel Lunetta.
- 9:00 AM- 11:00 AM: We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and packed for our flight and checked out of the hotel, storing our luggage.
- 11:00 AM: We met our driver and guide for our private Ancient Rome Walking Tour; including the Colesseum, the Roman Forum (including the Arches of Titus and Constantine) a view of the Forum from Pallatine Hill, and Capitoline Hill.
- 2:30 PM: We were returned to our hotel where we enjoyed another pizza lunch at the local pizza take out, and met the driver to take us to the airport.
- Where we waited for 6 hours before our London flight left because of major delays due to a hurricane in ireland. But that's a whole 'nother story!