What to see in Rome in 3 days

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What to see in Rome in 3 days is the itinerary for those who come to the capital and are in need of the right plan for getting the true essence of the city in the most complete way possible, without getting lost among the infinite splendors that only a city like Rome can offer.

Itinerary: What to See in Rome in 3 Days

Day 1

  • – From Termini to Monti District
  • – The Colosseum and the Forums
  • – Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill

Day 2

  • From Chiesa del Gesù to Piazza Navona
  • From the Pantheon to Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio da Loyola
  • Trevi Fountain and Galleria Sciarra
  • Via del Corso, Via Margutta and Piazza di Spagna
  • From Piazza del Popolo to the Pincio

Day 3

  • Castel Sant’Angelo, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums
  • From Campo de Fiori to Palazzo Spada
  • From Trastevere to the Janiculum Hill
  • From Circus Maximus to the Aventine Hill
  • From the Pyramid to the Basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura
  1. What to See in Rome in 3 Days: the Route Map


What to See in Rome in 3 Days: Day 1

Termini, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Monti District, Chiesa di  Santa Maria ai Monti, Basilica di Santa Pudenziana, Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli

Termini station has been chosen as the starting point for this itinerary, both because of infrastructural reasons – it is likely to be your arrival station and, in any case, it is easily reachable from all parts of the city – both because it is located on a particularly convenient road axis for the planned route. As a matter of fact, from the station, going down via Cavour, it is possible to reach the back of Santa Maria Maggiore near Piazza dell’Esquilino, and then visit the Basilica, which is one of the jewels among the Capitoline churches referable to different phases of the history of architecture. The basilica was erected during the pontificate of Pope Liberius (352-366), and rebuilt or restored by Pope Sixtus III (432-40). It features a mosaic decoration of great value from the XIII-XIV century, and it preserves a series of wonderful works from the 16th-17th centuries – including the Sistine Chapel, where Pope Sixtus V is buried, the Pauline Chapel, in which Pope Paul V is buried, and its facade towards Piazza dell’Esquilino by Carlo Rainaldi. It is characterized by a highly scenic eighteenth-century facade designed by Ferdinando Fuga and commissioned by Pope Benedict XIV, having a portico on the ground floor with five architrave openings on which is a large loggia with three arches, of which the highest is the central one.

Once you’re out of the Basilica, going back to Via Cavour, you can visit Monti district, a neighborhood of great artistic ferment, having art galleries, second-hand shops, craft boutiques and many bars and restaurants where you can taste Rome’s true flavors. Among the other not-to-be-missed ecclesiastical buildings are the Church of Santa Maria ai Monti, an admirable example of Roman Baroque by Giacomo della Porta; the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana in via Urbana, dating back to the 4th century and being one of the oldest in Rome which preserves an apse mosaic from the early Christian art; and the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, reachable from Via Cavour climbing the suggestive Borgia staircase, built in 422 by Licinia Eudossia, daughter of Theodosius II and restored in 1503 by Julius II, who gave it its current facies and who wanted his tomb here, commissioning it to Michelangelo who created the Mausoleum with the famous statue of Moses.

Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Forum of Caesar, Forum of Nerva, Forum of Augustus, Trajan’s Forum, Trajan’s Column

From Via Cavour turning towards Via degli Annibaldi it is possible to get to the Colosseum: the entrance ticket to the Archaeological Park will give the visitor the possibility not only to admire from the inside the symbolic place of the Roman world, but will also allow access to the Roman Forum, the beating heart of the ancient Rome, and to the Palatine Hill, the famous hill that from the time of Augustus onwards became the official residence of the Roman emperors. Alternatively you can enjoy these famous monuments from the outside, in a historic area that also includes the Arch of Titus (visible along Via Sacra) and the Arch of Constantine. While walking along Via dei Fori Imperiali heading towards Piazza Venezia you can also see some remains of the Roman Forum: unfortunately, the opening of the street between 1924 and 1932 offers a distorted perspective of the area that the Forum occupied in ancient times, but today it is still possible to recognize on the left of the street – going towards Piazza Venezia – the Forum of Caesar and the remains of the Temple of Peace, whereas on the right, starting from Largo Corrado Ricci, are the Forum of Nerva, the Forum of Augustus and the Forum of Trajan, with the famous markets, the Ulpia basilica and Trajan’s column.

Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, Piazza Venezia, Capitoline Hill, Forum Boarium, Jewish Ghetto and Portico d’Ottavia

Once in Piazza Venezia, it is impossible to remain indifferent to the amount of architectural works from different eras that adorn the square: between the Vittoriano and the staircase of the Ara Coeli are the remains of an insula – a typical Roman house from the imperial era – that was fortunately not demolished by the works that in the 1920s affected this area; Palazzo Venezia, a sublime example from the 1400s, built by Cardinal Pietro Barbo in 1455; and last, in chronological order but certainly not in size, the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument – begun in 1885 by Giuseppe Sacconi, and completed in 1935 by the architects Gaetano Koch, Manfredo Manfredi and Pio Piacentini – which, being 81 meters high, is the undisputed king of this square.

If you pass by this square you cannot but stop by the Campidoglio, and then continue towards the Theater of Marcellus and the area of the Forum Boarium, ending your first day itinerary walking around the Ghetto, which offers many characteristic spots especially in the Portico d ‘Ottavia area, as well as numerous restaurants where you can enjoy the Jewish-Roman cuisine.


What to See in Rome in 3 Days: Day 2

 Chiesa del Gesù, Sacred Area of Largo Argentina, Sant’Andrea della Valle, Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, Piazza Navona

This second day itinerary has to do with some of the most central and important districts of the city, and, in particular, the Pigna district, Sant’Eustachio district and Parione district, each of them rich in history and monuments that cannot be missed.

The first monument is the Chiesa del Gesù, located in Piazza del Gesù and built between 1568 and 1584 by Jacopo Barozzi, also known as Il Vignola. It was commissioned by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, while its facade and dome are by Giacomo della Porta: the church served as a model for all the other Jesuit churches throughout Europe and was further enriched when, between 1670 and 1683, the painter Giovanni Battista Gaulli, known as Baciccia, was called to paint the vault of its dome, apse and nave with the work ‘Triumph of the Name of Jesus’, one of the most spectacular trompe-l’œil in the history of art. Continuing on Via del Plebiscito, you can reach Largo di Torre Argentina, where you can appreciate the sacred area, dating back to the 4th-3rd century BC, and discovered during some demolition works between 1926 and 1929. A little further on you can see the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, one of the most significant churches of the sixteenth century art for its facade built between 1590 and 1650 by Giacomo della Porta, Francesco Grimaldi and Carlo Maderno, for its dome, being the third highest in Rome after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and the Basilica  dei Santi Pietro e Paolo in the EUR district, and for the decoration of the presbytery and the dome, being two masterpieces by two important artists active during the seventeenth century in Rome, Domenichino and Lanfranco.

Leaving the church behind, past the fountain built by Carlo Maderno in 1614 and moved to its current location in 1958 following the destruction of Piazza Scossacavalli in Borgo Pio, you can head towards Corso Rinascimento, where the elegant Palazzo della Sapienza from the 16th century by Giacomo della Porta and Pirro Ligorio stands out. Almost a century later the church of Sant’Ivo will be installed in the palace, resulting in a masterpiece by Francesco Borromini especially for its polylobed plan and its famous lantern with its unique spiral pattern.

Returning to Corso Rinascimento and going towards via dei Canestrari, you reach one of the most emblematic squares of Rome, Piazza Navona, rich in ancient history and splendid monuments, such as the amazing Fountain of the Four Rivers, which is a must-see during any trip to Rome.

Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Pantheon, Basilica Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Church of Sant’Ignazio da Loyola

From the Parione district you can head back to the Sant’Eustachio district for visiting San Luigi dei Francesi: the church built by Domenico Fontana in 1589, preserving its famous Contarelli Chapel in which Caravaggio inserted the Cycle of St. Matthew at the beginning of the 1600s, was the painter’s first commission in Rome from the testamentary heirs of Cardinal Mathieu Cointrel from which the chapel takes its name.

Leaving the church and continuing towards Via dei Giustiniani, you can reach the Pantheon, which still today holds the record for being the largest non-reinforced concrete dome in the world, and then continue your itinerary towards Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, one of the rare examples of Gothic architecture in Rome, on whose square stands the famous obelisk of Minerva. This granite obelisk, about 13 meters high and coming from the city of Sais in Egypt, was found near the square in 1665 and placed, based on a drawing by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, on the elephant carved by one of his most faithful collaborators, Ettore Ferrata.

Before continuing this itinerary towards via del Corso, the ancient via Lata and one of the main arteries of the historic center, you can stop by the church of Sant’Ignazio da Loyola, commissioned by Cardinal Ludovisi in 1626 to pay homage to the Order’s founder, and which hosts the exceptional quadrature by Andrea Pozzo from 1685 on its central nave, which depicts the ‘Glory of Saint Ignatius’.

Trevi Fountain and Galleria Sciarra

Your next stop should be one of the most famous fountains in the world, if not the most famous, the Trevi Fountain: scenographic masterpiece by Nicola Salvi completed in 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini, still supplied by the Virgin Aqueduct.

If you get to the fountain coming from via Margo Minghetti you will have the opportunity to observe one of the most unusual places in the city: Galleria Sciarra, built by Giulio De Angelis – author of the building of the former Rinascente al Corso – in 1885 according to the dictates of the iron and glass architecture that at the end of the century spread in Italy and throughout Europe, and then masterfully painted by Giuseppe Cellini, using typical Liberty-Belle Epoque motifs. 

Via del Corso, Via Margutta, Fontana delle Arti and Piazza di Spagna

You can then choose whether to continue your itinerary on Via del Corso, enjoying some shopping and cultural attractions along this street – for instance the church of the SS. Ambrogio and Carlo al Corso, an admirable example of late Roman Baroque having its dome built in 1678 by Pietro da Cortona and its gold and pink marble interiors – or you can choose a less mainstream route and pass by via del Babuino and via Margutta, both famous for their numerous shops and the presence of the Fontana delle Arti, a tribute by Pietro Lombardi to the numerous artists who lived in this neighborhood.

Whichever route you choose, before completing your second day tour, you have to stop by Piazza di Spagna, one of the most magical squares in the capital with its famous staircase (Spanish Steps), Fontana della Barcaccia designed by Pietro Bernini and completed by Gian Lorenzo in 1627, and Trinità dei Monti: this church, whose building works started in 1502 at the behest of Louis XII, king of France, using a Gothic style, was restored after the sack of Rome by some French cardinals who handed over to the fathers of the Order of Minims of St. Francis of Paola (who took care of the church) a new complex covered by a barrel vault and closed by a facade decorated with two symmetrical bell towers, by Giacomo della Porta and Carlo Maderno.

Piazza del Popolo, the Twin Churches, Porta del Popolo, Pincio

Your last stop on your second day will be Piazza del Popolo, where you can admire a myriad of works from different eras and styles. The twin churches, S. Maria di Montesano and S. Maria dei Miracoli, designed by Carlo Rainaldi and both finished by Carlo Fontana during the late 17th century. The flaminian obelisk brought to Rome from Egypt by order of Augustus in 10 BC, erected according to Sixtus V’s will by Domenico Fontana in 1589, and adorned with tanks and lions by Giuseppe Valadier in 1823. The Porta del Popolo, one of the Aurelian Walls’ gate, whose facade visible from Piazza del Popolo was built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Pope Alexander VII on the occasion of the arrival of Queen Christina of Sweden in 1655, whereas the facade towards Piazzale Flaminio was commissioned from Pope Pius IV to Michelangelo, who, however, left this assignment to Nanni di Baccio Bigio that eventually carried out this work between 1562 and 1565 inspired by the Arch of Titus. The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, originally built in 1099 but today carrying a profound Baroque appearance thanks to some interventions in the XV-XVI century by some of the greatest protagonists of the history of architecture, such as Bramante, Maderno (who took care of the Cerasi Chapel), Raphael (who designed the Chigi Chapel) and Bernini (who in 1660 took care of the restoration of the church that finally gave it its current facies).

If you are looking for a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset in this area you can go to the Pincio terrace, climbing the rise designed by Giuseppe Valadier in 1816 and dedicated to Napoleon I, from which you can appreciate all of Rome’s beauty. 

What to See in Rome in 3 Days: Day 3

Castel Sant’Angelo, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums

While the first two days of this itinerary are entirely dedicated to the eastern area of the Tiber, the third day will instead concern the western area for many stretches, and will have as its starting point one of the most significant monuments of the city of Rome, scene of numerous events over the centuries: Castel Sant’Angelo. From being the mausoleum of the emperor Hadrian, to a medieval castle, to a papal bastion, and finally a prison, until it was eventually cleared after the unification of Italy, this monument offers a series of incredible scenarios, including prisons and papal frescoed apartments from the XVI century, as well as, going up to its seventh floor, an incredible 360° view of Rome.

Leaving Castel Sant’Angelo, you can head towards Via della Conciliazione to admire St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest basilica in Rome, result of the work of exceptional artists, including Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the Vatican Museums, which represent one of the most significant art collections in the world starting from the Greek sculptures of Phidias and Lysippus, passing through Renaissance works by Leonardo and Raphael, up to works of contemporary art by Henri Matisse and Salvador Dalì.

Campo de Fiori, Arco degli Acetari, Palazzo Farnese and Palazzo Spada

Once out of the Vatican, walking along the Lungotevere, a short deviation from Ponte Sisto to Campo de ‘Fiori is highly recommended: this area, which from 1869 became the seat of a market, offers visitors the chance to enjoy some of the most characteristic spots of Rome, including the Arco degli Acetari on a side street of Via del Pellegrino, as well as to admire some famous noble palaces, including Palazzo Farnese, built by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and Michelangelo, being an extraordinary example of 16th century architecture.

From here you can head to Palazzo Spada, where you can find a rich picture gallery and the famous perspective gallery by Francesco Borromini that, framing a statue at the end of a narrow walkway covered with barrel, wisely reduced in progression the height and size of the columns, giving the illusion the route is 30 meters long, despite actually being about 8 meters.

Trastevere, Santa Maria in Trastevere, Janiculum Hill and Fontana dell’Acqua Paola

Returning to the Lungotevere from Piazza Trilussa it is possible to get lost into the alleys of Trastevere, precisely trans Tiberim beyond the Tiber: this neighborhood is considered the true heart of the Roman world and figures countless characteristic spots, a series of restaurants and taverns where you can enjoy the true Roman cuisine, but also a great portion of architecture, especially palaces and churches among which the Basilica of San Crisogono, the Basilica of Santa Cecilia and the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere; in the center of Santa Maria in Trastevere square is one of the oldest fountains in Rome, which was last refurbished by Carlo Fontana in 1694.

This itinerary can then continue up to the Janiculum, one of the hills of Rome from which it is possible to have one of the greatest and most exceptional views of the eternal city, as well as to admire the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, a terminal exhibition of the eponymous Aqueduct commissioned by Pope Paul V between 1610 and 1614, the so-called ‘Fontanone’, which can also be seen from Piazza Trilussa in a suggestive perspective that sees it as aligned to the fountain in the square.

Circus Maximus, Aventine Hill, Church of Santa Sabina, Orange Garden, Keyhole

Coming down from the Janiculum and going back to the Lungotevere you can pass on the Palatine bridge reaching the area of the Forum Boarium or continue towards Porta Portese, reaching the next stop of this itinerary, the Circus Maximus and then the Aventine Hill. This hill hosts some splendid examples from the early Christian architecture, such as the Church of Santa Sabina, but also two of the most magical places in Rome: the first is the Orange Garden, built as we see it today in the 1930s by the architect Raffaele De Vico (also known in Rome for a series of buildings inside Villa Borghese, the Ossuary of the Fallen in the Verano cemetery and some accommodations of Parco Virgiliano and Villa Sciarra), from which you can enjoy one of the most famous views over Rome; the second is Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, designed in 1765 by Giovanni Battista Piranesi: its peculiarity is the keyhole on the gate of the Priory of the Knights of Malta, through which you can see the dome of St. Peter’s in all its majesty framed by the hedges of the garden of Malta.  

Pyramid of Cestius, Garbatella, Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura

Going down from the Aventine, you can head towards the Pyramid of Cestius, a symbolic structure in the Ostiense district built between 18 and 12 BC as the tomb of Gaius Cestius Epulone, prefect and tribune of the plebs of Rome. You can then head towards the southern area of the city: this itinerary will end, after a possible stop at the characteristic 20th century district of Garbatella, at the Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura.

This basilica, which houses the tomb of the Apostle Paul, is one of the four papal basilicas in Rome. It was consecrated by Sylvester IV in 324 AD and it constituted the largest ecclesiastical building in Rome, until the 16th century when Saint Peter’s Basilica was built, becoming and still remaining the second biggest in the city. The current building is very different from the original because of the many interventions that were carried out over the centuries, and above all because of a fire that in 1823 almost completely destroyed the church. Its apse, transept and the ciborium by Arnolfo di Cambio from 1285, fortunately resisted the fire: during the nineteenth century the rebuilding works were carried out, while the external four-sided portico by Guglielmo Calderini – former architect of the Palace of Justice in Rome – dates back to 1928.


See the route What to See in Rome in 3 Days on the google map: [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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