With so much to see in Italy, what should you see first? That is the question I was faced with recently as I begin my adventure there.
Having all the time in the world to see everything in the country you are visiting is usually a luxury that many of us can’t afford and thus having a condensed idea of what is possible in a day helps any traveler immensely.
I started my travels in Rome packed full of wandering and organized chaos. I did my best to prepare myself for the trip, researched, brushed up on my Italian and even printed out the directions on how to get to my first Airbnb.
Learning your way around somewhere new especially an unfamiliar country can seem daunting but I will share my tips and daily layout so that you can gain your bearings quickly all the while seeing some hidden gems in the process.
Day 1 – Getting your Bearings
On my first day in Rome, I had a tour planned, I suggest a tour that gets you out and walking so that you are able to learn your new surroundings and get a footing on what transportation is like. Always do research beforehand in order to know any quirks that come with moving about the city’s transportation, Rome has its share of them.
The tour I decided on was the Rome Food Tour with Pizza-Making, Trattoria Tastings & Gelato By Walks of Italy. This tour was invaluable giving me insight into the tram system as well as allowing me the chance to walk the streets of Rome with someone who was born there. It takes you around some of the hidden gems in the city allowing you to experience Rome as it should, through its food.
Along with all the knowledge, you gain tours also place you very close to some of the most popular sightseeing spots, affording you the opportunity to hit the spots below with ease and just a bit of walking.
- Trevi Fountain
- Spanish Steps
- Vicus Caprarius – the City of Water
- Piazza Della Rotonda
- Church of St. Louis of the French
Day 2 – branching out to the Eastside
Now that you have your bearings, its time to branch out a bit. On day 2 I headed to the east side of the River Tiber, where I started my day off viewing the historic beauty that is the Colosseum. Again here I suggest a tour if only for the fact that you are able to skip the line and believe me you will want to. There is also so much historical knowledge that you will miss if you are venturing on your own with just the Gladiator movie as your history reference.
While venturing on this side of Rome I suggest you also see the other sites listed below, you will gain a full scope of how the Romans truly lived. Rome is a city built on top of itself, over and over again, these landmarks will better help you understand the Roman way and give you some amazing pictures in the process.
- Roman Forum
- Palatine Hill
There are lots of restaurants that will be vying for your attention, most will stand outside and try to talk you into their establishment that’s a very clear sign that it’s a tourist lounge. If you are like me and want a more local experience; grabbing dinner and drinks in the Trastevere district would be the perfect way to end your day. Trastevere is young, hip, bustling at night with lots of bars and restaurants that won’t disappoint.
Day 3 – can be a full day experience
You don’t have to be religious to appreciate what Vatican City has to offer, exploring all of the places below will take you to the west side of the River Tiber. Start with the Vatican Museums on the northern side of the city-state and make your way to the Sistine Chapel which is only accessible through the museums as it can’t be viewed on its own. From there St. Peter’s is on the southern side and can be viewed without cost.
Vatican City can be a full day experience, my only parting words are be watchful of what day you plan to visit as the Pope gives a Papal Address on Wednesday and an Angelus on Sundays making the crowds substantial.
- Vatican Museums
- Sistine Chapel
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- St. Peter’s Square
Once you have had your fill of Rome or at least spent all the time you can there, head over to one of the neighboring cities which Rome has no shortage of. I personally decided to head over to Florence for a few days and with just a quick train ride it’s more than doable.
Renaissance in every essence of the word
Florence is Renaissance in every essence of the word and the beauty will make you think you walked right onto the canvas of a living painting. Florence is much more condensed and as so I spent all of my time walking.
I came for the art but wanted to stay for the culture, I only had a couple of days in Florence and I wished I had planned for a few more. I spent my days taking in all the art I could, depending on what museum or activity you want to do, reserved tickets maybe required so do your research per place.
The piece de resistance for me was seeing the original David at the Galleria dell’Accademia along with Ponte Vecchio, hitting these major spots places you right in the middle of everything else. If you wish to climb to the top of the Florence Duomo, a reservation is required so plan ahead. Major points of interest are listed below and can all be hit in just one day if need be.
- Florence Duomo
- Gates of Paradise
- Piazza della Signoria
- Ponte Vecchio
- Ponte Santa Trinita
- Ponte alle Grazie
Italy has been one place I have longed to go and it did not disappoint, I threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain so as the legend goes I indeed shall return.