Rome with very limited time

I’m going to Rome for 5 days with a friend but will be at a convention and will have limited time to do anything for myself. The convention is at Palazzo Dei Congressi and my hotel will be the Crowne Plaza at St Peters.

During the day anything I’d be able to check out would be under an hour total and within a few minutes of the convention center and I’d be alone on break basically.

At night my friend and I have a little more free time approx 6pm to when we pass out(must be up for 6am). We also have to eat during that time. Nighttime activities should be within walking, or a short ride by cab, of the Hotel.

Budget is to be fairly frugal for any activities besides eating out. Eating out we’ll have one very expensive meal(up to 120USDper person) with a number of other people. The other meals will vary on time available McDonald’s cheap to moderately priced(35USD per person). Neither of us drink alcohol much, never more then 2 drinks and that would only be one out of the five nights.

I’m looking for recommendations for restaurants and sites to see while I’m there.

Not to be critical, but my first suggestion would be that you should have planned a little in advance and scheduled additional days in Rome. Assuming your 5 days are Monday through Friday you should have scheduled it so that you could have spent one (or perhaps both both) of the weekends bookending your stay in Rome.

Most of Centro Storico is within easy walking distance so planning sightseeing in the early evening would be quite doable. Plan on dinner starting at 8:30 or later in the evening.

It would be helpful to know when you will be there. While not an expert, I have been to Rome six times and all of the trips have been walking tours though none was under the constraints you indicated. My trip to Rome in 1989 was spent after a week long company paid conference in Sardinia, after which I spent a week in Rome.

Besides when you will be there also include your preferences regarding types of places to visit (as an example Rome is home to 300+ Catholic churches with each one of them having some artistic and/or architectural places of interest). Places like the Pantheon are always open; however, most of the museums close at 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening.

I can provide more thoughts and recommendations pending your response.

Didn’t get any say in scheduling. Basically I volunteered to go with my friend who does this as part of her business. Her schedule has conflicts at the beginning and end it was not feasible for us to take different flights for other reasons. If she could have allowed more time she would have.

I think it’s the 17th I fly out.

Not really interested in spending time at museums. Have interest in checking out the architecture. A few of the cathedrals and one of the ancient roman buildings would be great.

These trips are general crammed in with little free time so I see the occasional hotel/convention center around the world and not much beyond that. It is not unusual for me to get back from a trip and hear ‘you should have checked out x it was like 2 blocks from where you were.’ This time since I’m going to one of more interesting place I figured I’d inquire into what I might be staying next to.

I would suggest getting a Michelin Green Guide or other similar book and check out the listings of buildings. Depending on your timetable you may be better off checking out the interior of buildings in the evening when lighting will not be a problem. Overall, I would rate the following sites as the “best of the best” on a short trip (in no particular order):

Piazza San Pietro (this can be a little disconcerting at night but it is an architectural masterpiece[/LIST]
Interior of San Pietro
San Giovanni in Laterano
Santa Maria Maggiore
Arco di Costantino
Foro Romana-Palatino
San Paolo Fuori Le Mura
Villa Borghese (great evening/night walk here to Piazza di Spagna)
Gianicolo (great walk overlooking Trastevere and city of Roma)
Campo dei Fiori (several restaurants including La Carbonara)
Castel San Angelo
Piazza di Spagna
Fontana Trevi
Piazza Navona
I am a huge fan of Bernini and there are additional churches and structures in Roma that he designed and/or participitated in.

I would be willing to help further if you can be more specific regarding types of architecture, etc.

Check out current restaurant guides but if it is still there (I was last there in 2003) I would highly recommend Taverna Angelina (in the Borgo)

Waterman’s list is good.

There are some problems. St. Peter’s is off to one side of the Centro storico, and the distance, although it may not seem great, is considerable, especially is one is tired after a day at a conference. This is compounded by Rome’s impossible traffic at 6 pm, and the difficulty in just hailing a taxi. About two years ago I had to walk from Castel Sant’Angelo to Termini (the station). It’s about two miles, but in the pouring rain it seemed more like 10.

Possibly the best thing is to try to pick up a taxi at the top of the Via della Conciliazione - the avenue that leads from St. Angel to St. Pter’s Square (Near the great colonade) and go to Piazza Venezia where the Vittoriano (Wedding Cake) is. The Capitol/Campidoglio is behind and to one side of the big white monument. Beautiful square with replica of equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. Fine architectural piece the whole layout, incuding the Cordonata (a sloping staircase with statues of the Dioscuri, Castor & Pollux, at the top.)
Behind the central building (the one with the Fountain) is the Roman Forum. Taking the ancient Scalae Gemonianae (on lhs) you pass down by the Tullianum/Mamertine prison and passing the the Forum of Julius Caesar, you arrive on the modern Via dei Fori Imperiali. This leads past the Forum of Trajan (lhs) and the original Forum (rhs), with views up to the Palatine (Palace) Hill. The Viale (avenue) led directly to the Colosseum. (Be careful of bags, cameras.) Just beside the Colosseum is the arch of Constantine. This is probably enough for one evening. You need to eat.

Another itinerary:

Taxi to Piazza Navona - although it might be possibile to walk there… The piazza is what remains of the Stadium of Domitian, and it still retains its shape. From here you are into the narrow streets of the Campo Marzio. Take care of valuables and keep them inside outer garments. It’s a short and interesting walk to the Pantheon. This building is worth seeing both inside and outside. Hope it’s open in the evening as Waterman suggests. It didn’t used to be in my days in Rome. From the Pantheon it’s not too far to Largo Argentina where there are the remains of some very old temples that pre-date the Empire. From here the Campo dei Fiori with its statue of a brooding Giordano Bruno is within reach. You are now in the Jewish quarter of Rome. After this, time to eat again.

I could go on, but it really is up to you to get a decent map and do at least a little reading up in the few days before you leave.

As to eating out, Rome is full of restaurants, trattorie, and ostarie - in descending order. Where you eat will have an important bearing on the price. If you see a place with lots of locals installed there, then it’s a good chance that it is reasonable and the food is good. If it’s packed with non-Italians, chances are it’s expensive and the food is just ok - and possibly rude service. Also places in view of prime sites will attract higher prices.

In case you think I am not including a lot, the possibilities for mental indigestion in Rome are endless. If you overdo things, memories get garbled. So it’s probably a good idea to keep a notebook of where you go.

I am an old hand at Rome, so I am stressing the ‘dangers’ of pickpocketing and bag snatching from motor two-wheelers. I have seen it many times, and I even have had my shirt pocket picked by Chinese. Yes, Chinese, working in tandem on the 64 bus. That’s the one that goes from Termini to St. Peter’s and it’s renowned for this. So keep your wits about you, and have a sense of purpose, always remembering that anywhere is a likely place for an unfortunate event. Don’t be frightened or put off. It happens in every city. Just keep alert and don’t do silly things like taking out purses or cash in public places.

Check out what temperatures are like. It’s about 15 C there at present (multiply by 9, divide by 5 and add 32 = F) = 59 F during the day. The evenings will be a lot cooler, if not colder.

Have a great time.

Great suggestions and comments!

I have always traveled by foot while in Rome, except for bus rides out to “Saint Paul’s outside the walls” (not at home and can’t remember the Italian) and to the catacombs. Walking from my hotel (near entrance to Vatican meusems), through town out to the Pincio/Villa Borghese, back through town over to Trastevere was not a problem. Admittedly my trips have been in May through October and, generally speaking weather was not an issue (temperature and rain/snow).

Another couple of quick comments/thoughts:

[li]If you’re into photography and are looking for exterior building shots it might be worthwhile to consider getting up at first light and getting some pictures in then[/li][li]I agree wholeheartedly with Xotan’s comments regarding pickpockets and I will expand his comment to include thiefs working together stealing cameras and other valuables. I always carry my wallet in my front pocket and I also avoid walking around with my passport.[/li][li]Not to nitpick but Campo dei Fiori is not in the Jewish Quarter. The Jewish ghetto is farther down river (I believe I have the right direction of flow).[/li][li]There are several open markets in Rome with Campo dei Fiori being one of the better known but there is also one behind the Vatican near Via Andria Doria. These can be excellent places for picking up lunches and snacks.[/li][li]Just a quick reminder but I rarely went to dinner before 9:00 PM and there some restaurants (trattorias, etc) that don’t even open until 7:00 or 8:00 at night. Rome is great culinary city and I agree with Xotan’s comments regarding eating places but also expect to pay more than what you may be accustomed to.[/li][/ol]
As Xotan comments - have a great trip!

If you go to see the Sistine Chapel GO EARLY. The line is stupid long.

Not been to Rome yet, but I would definitely go to the Colosseum and say hi to the kitties.

I had a great time in Rome back in 2007 when I was last there. If it were summer I’d say go to Cinque Terre. I went last year before leaving germany and it was beautiful.

Definitely see the colosseum, but its kinda like the eiffel tower…every tourist goes there. (I guess you can say the same for EVERY landmark). The Vatican is also someplace I’d go were I you, OP. It is full of beautiful artwork and of course, history. I was lucky, when I? went to Rome last the Pope made an appearance in the square to give prayers in some kind of speech. I’ll have to ask the wife what was going on, as I was full of wine at the time. :slight_smile:
Take some time, as I did, though to just walk through the city and embrace the culture.

One other quick suggestion to the OP would be to go to Volpetti’s for cheese, wine, meats and other great Italian deli food. Here is a link to their website:

There are two locations but the one I would go to is at:

Via Marmorata 47 in Testaccio

They are 200 m from the Piramide stop on the subway near the Pyramid. They are open until 20:15 (8:15) in the evening every night from Monday through Saturday. This is an unbelievable place for many Italian treats but be warned that most meats cannot be brought back through customs. Cheese and wine are OK through Customs however.


Thank you for all the advice so far I am watching the thread and taking notes

The Pantheon.,_Rome

Do not miss Trevi Fountain. :slight_smile: I would also recommend the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna). Both are good to visit during the day or in the evening.

Are you looking to do some exterior/interior architectural photography and, if so, what type of camera do you have?


For clarification, you are indeed correct. The great synagogue marks the spot you indicate - going with the flow.

My encounter with Jewish Rome was, nonethless, in the Campo dei Fiori. There are many Jewish stalls in the market there. My name, beginning with D, and is of five letters, ending with D (no prizes for guessing!). My companion asked me what a sign in Hebrew letters meant and this led to a little confusion that I too might be Jewish. The lady stallowner was so nice and so certain that I was, that I couldn’t bring myself to disillusion her. Bless her, she still thinks I am one of her own people and remembers me on my return visits, even though I no longer visit as frequently as I once did.

Regarding eating prices, I come from Dublin. Anywhere is cheaper than there for eating out! :slight_smile:

My husband and I just got back from a very short stop in Rome (2.5 days) as part of a longer vacation, so her are my IMHO tips:

  • use the Metro and your feet to travel fast and cheap. The Metro was NOT scary. Crowded as hell, though. It’s open late (like 11 pm) so you could go to pretty much ANY of the major sites that you want to see in the evening.

  • have a good walking map and you’ll be much happier than we were, we wasted at least a whole hour of our time walking in the wrong direction (our map sucked!)

Fountain yeah…Steps…eh.
I only say that because they aren’t your “postcard steps”. There are a crapload of people on them, mostly just sitting and doing nothing, and it’s hard to see the actual steps through them all. It’s kinda cool and all to say you’ve seen them, but overall all you really see are people.

To me one of the fascinations of the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti (the steps), which traverse the steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti (dominated by the church of Trinità dei Monti), is the photographic opportunities. The ultimate wide-angle shot taking in the Fontana della Barcaccia (designed by the father/son combination of Pietro and Gian Carlo Bernini) and the Trinita dei Monti is almost as challenging as getting a shot of Fontana Trevi given the very narrow piazza that it is located in.

Another attraction for the site is the view looking back over Roma from the Piazza Trinita dei Monti and the walk along the Pincio back toward the overlook of the Piazza del Popolo.


Take the trams, buses or metro- much faster and cheaper.

See the Palatine hill- forum, colosseum etc. Go the St Peter’s square even if you ca’t make it into the Vatican museum. See the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona-all perfectly do-able in your timefráme if you don’t spend lon in each place.

That last time I was there (in 2007) we stayed in Trastevere and ate out there most nights- very good restaurants.

However our stand out meal was at this place.

The Lonely Planet has always been very good to me.