How to see Rome in 2 days – Part 1

It is exactly five years since me and my husband made a trip to Rome. Then it was our second child on the way we thought that we could still enjoy a bit of traveling because with two kids would be impossible to travel so much. Oh, how wrong we were back then! 🙂 Anyway, the “Eternal City” is the ideal place where to spend a long weekend and in my today´s blog post you can read how to see Rome in 2 days.

We´ve visited several of European capitals and bigger cities, but Rome is totally different – where else you can admire ancient ruins in the middle of the city? Of course, you could easily spend more than two days in Rome and you´ll still have plenty of things to admire.
Out visit was kind of themed: “in the footsteps” of Dan Brown and his book Angels and Demons (Do you remember? Kidnapped cardinals, 4 elements?) and my favorite writer Lindsey Davis and her Marcus Didius Falco series.

 

Early evening walk

We arrived in Rome in the afternoon, so after getting to our place of accommodation (more about it bellow) and taking short rest, we set out on our evening walk through the streets. I think taking a walk is a good way how to orientate yourself in a new city and get to know a different atmosphere.

DAY 1

Vatican Museums

 

If you want to visit the Vatican and Museums, buy your tickets online (link here) to avoid waiting in a long queue (and to save your precious time). In the Vatican Museum, I could admire the pieces of artwork, which I learned in my school art history classes.
The marble statue of LaocoĂśn and His Sons
Raphael Santi: The School of Athens

The highlight of a visit to the Museum is the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes and the fresco of The Last Judgement on the main altar. You can also send a letter from the Vatican’s post office – while being back home you can keep this souvenir from visiting the Vatican.

 

St. Peter´s Basilica

Since it´s the largest Christian church in the world, don´t forget to dress modestly – hide your shoulders and knees (recommended in all churches). Inside the basilica, you can also find lots of beautiful artwork, e.g. the marble sculpture of Pietà by Michelangelo or the St. Peter´s bronze baldachin by Bernini over the high (or Papal) altar of the basilica. The ancient tomb of St. Peter´s is directly below the altar.
We haven´t climbed the cupola, another of Michelangelo´s masterpieces. And by the way: do you know why this Basilica got its name?  Not only because you can find here the tomb of St. Peter, but during the reign of Emperor Nero there was a Nero racecourse where St. Peter was crucified.
View of the St.Peter´s Basilica from Castel Sant´Angelo

 

St. Peter´s Square

On this magnificent square that is bordered on two sides by the pillared colonnade (which is again the work of Bernini) you can find the original obelisk from Nero’s racecourse and two fountains,  During the visit, I remembered the information from the hours of art history that four rows of pillars are ingeniously spaced so that when you look from a certain angle, you see only one row of columns. Ingenious, is not it?
Can you see four row of pillars or only one?
We visited Rome the week before Easter, so preparing for the holidays, and especially for the pope’s blessing ceremony on the square were in full swing. In the background, under a triangular facade, you can see the balcony from which the head of the Catholic Church delivers his message “Urbi et Orbi”.
You probably know that an integral part of the Vatican is the Swiss Guard who holds the office of the Vatican army. In the photo, you can see soldiers in typically yellow-blue Renaissance uniforms.

 

Castel Sant’Angelo

Originally, there was a mausoleum of the Roman emperor Hadrian at this place and the today’s appearance got the castle probably in the 10th century. During its existence, it served mainly as a fortress, but also as a prison for popes and other “prominent” prisoners.
Castel Sant’Angelo and omnipresent sellers of fake handbags
Castel Sant’Angelo connected with the Vatican with a safety corridor, which runs along the walls of the Vatican (remember it from the movie? :)).
The corridor on the right side on the Vatican walls
The statue of an angel on the top of the castle
You can walk to the castle (or away from it towards the city center) along Ponte Sant’Angelo. It is decorated with two rows of statues of angels by Bernini and his pupils.

Piazza Navona

One of the biggest squares in Rome, that stands on the former site of the ancient racecourse, that´s Piazza Navona. Also here you can find three wonderful fountains (you probably won´t be surprised when I say that one of them is by Bernini, huh?;)) In the middle of the square there is the baroque church of St. Agnes and in its basement, you can see the remnants of the original temple and the racecourse.
Evening atmosphere on the Piazza Navona. In the background Bernini’s fountain with the obelisk.

 

With few exceptions (taking the metro to get to the Vatican Museums) we mostly walked in Rome, so on the first day on our walk back to our temporary residence, we saw few more interesting places:

Tiber Island

The only island on the River Tiber in Rome, that is joined by two bridges with the – and the Ponte Fabricius is the oldest bridge in Rome.
The bridge on the left is the oldest one in Rome

Theatre of Marcellus

The only still existent ancient theater in Rome was a model in building the Colosseum. On the picture, you can see the outer part of the semicircular structure.

Capitoline Wolf

The copy of the bronze statue of the she-wolf with Romulus and Remus is located on the Capitoline hill. But I’ll tell you about that more in my next post, which will describe how we spent the second day in Rome.
If our first day in Rome was dedicated to Christian monuments and the journey through the Angels and Demons movie, our second day was devoted to more ancient monuments. So small taste of what you will read next:
Forum Romanum

Accommodation

Don´t do the same mistake like we did and read the reviews and look at the pictures. Although the owner picked us up at the airport and drove us directly to the place of accommodation, it turned out to be a dark souterrain flat with small windows under the ceiling leading to the street so we could see the feet of passer-bys. Fortunately, the street wasn´t so busy and as I mentioned before, within a reasonable distance of the sights that we wanted to visit.
If you want to read the second part of this travel guide please sign up for my blog in the top right-hand corner of this page. Thank you 🙂
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