The age-old question is: “Can you REALLY see Rome in a day?” Because Civitavecchia is one of the busiest cruise ports in Europe and is the closest port to Rome many travelers want to stay in Rome for only one night before or after their cruise itinerary. While it is certainly easier to be able to stay two or three days in order to experience Rome in a more relaxed pace, one can actually see most of the highlights in one day.
One way to accomplish seeing as much as possible is to jump on one of the hop-on/hop-off buses that can transport you to the highlights. For a better tour, however, that is tailored to your interests you should hire a private driver with a certified guide to get you to the most historical and notable sights. It is imperative to book a guide that speaks very good English or you will be wasting your time and money. The next step is to purchase skip the line entrance tickets to the most popular stops such as the Vatican and the Colosseum. These can be purchased ahead online or your tour guide can pre-purchase them for you for an extra fee.
My suggested itinerary for a one-day visit to incorporate the most popular sights might be the following:
Begin the day with the Skip the Line tour of St Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums. Navigate the vast complex of rooms, artwork and history with an audio guide, which will bring the ancient collection to life. Skip all the entrance lines to explore halls such as the Gallery of the Maps and Raphael’s Rooms; step inside the Sistine Chapel to admire ‘The Creation of Adam’ by Michelangelo’; and hear little-known tales about sacred St Peter’s Basilica.
Next visit the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. Learn how the magnificent Roman monument was built around 123 A.D and used over the years as a fortress, prison and papal residence. Best of all: enjoy access to the National Museum of Castel Sant'Angelo, which presents a fascinating collection of fine art, antique furniture, military memorabilia and medieval weapons.
Take a quick break for lunch at a nice Italian restaurant or visit EATILY, where you will find anything under the sun to eat. This is a huge marketplace that is like Whole Foods on steroids.
After lunch have your driver take you to the Colosseum, for which you hopefully have pre-purchased skip the line tickets. The Colosseum is the most recognizable and iconic monument of Rome. If you see no other site in Rome you should see this structure. The colosseum was used for bull fights, gladiator fights, chariot races, official events and various public forms of entertainment. Rome had a strict class system and there were 5 levels of seating within the audience according to your social status. At capacity the arena could hold 50,000 to 80,000 spectators on the marble benches.
After the Colosseum head to the Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain as well as Palantine Hill. Visit the Pantheon, one of the world's most famous buildings, making sure to take a selfie of yourself looking up through the open dome at the top. Drop by to see one of Rome's most famous squares, Piazza Navona before heading to the Forum.
In order to make all this happen in one day you must be willing to take very fast walks through each area, but believe me, it CAN HAPPEN if you have the right driver and guide! Ciao!
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