A two-day itinerary for Rome

How to get the most out of just two full days in Rome

You will notice these are set up as rigorously timed days. There's no need to treat tem as such. Feel free to use this Rome plan more as a rough guide than a set itinerary. Adjust the times to fit your personal style and desires.

Note: This is the itinerary to follow if you actually have two full days in Rome. I say that because many of you will be arriving in Rome from somewhere else to start your Italian vacation, in which case—sad to say—you don't actually have two full days to spend here, since much of that first morning will be spent arriving (at the airport or train station), perhaps clearing customs, getting into town, and settling into your hotel.

Below is the itinerary if Rome is just another stop on your itinerary and you genuinely have two full days to spend. (This separate page has a two-day itinerary for those arriving in Rome on "Day 1.")

St. Peter's, the Vatican, and the medieval heart of Rome

06:40

Be up bright and early so that you beat the legions of tour buses to the grandiose church of St. Peter's Basilica, which opens at 7am.

Time to spend there:
 
105 min

08:45

By 8:45am, have exited the church, turned left under the start of the colonnade surrounding St. Peter's Square out front, and be walking around the Vatican walls to get to the entrance to the world-famous Vatican Museums, which open at 9am.

You'll have time only for the highlights of its artistic wonders: the Pinacoteca painting gallery with Raphael's Transfiguration and Caravaggio's Deposition, the Raphael Rooms, and Michelangelo's incomparable Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Time to spend there:
 
2.5 hr

11:30

By 11:30am, head out of the galleries and grab lunch on the run as you cross the Tiber River into the center of Rome.

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

12:30

Check out the Pantheon, the only ancient Roman temple to survive the centuries intact.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

12:55

The nearby church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, has Michelangelo's Risen Christ statue and Filippo Lippi frescoes.

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

13:25

Walk a few blocks west and spend some time amid the gracious fountains in Piazza Navona.

Time to spend there:
 
15 min

13:50

Station yourself at Tre Scalini's outdoor cafe tables to enjoy their famous tartufo dessert while watching children play soccer under the shadow of Bernini's fountains.

Time to spend there:
 
40 min

14:30

Wander the churches and piazze of the Tiber Bend area, starting with San Luigi dei Francesi and its Caravaggio paintings. (Other faves: Sant'Agostino, with another Caravaggio, and Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza with its baroque curlicue soft-serve dome.)

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

16:00

Pop into the gorgeous Palazzo Altemps, just off the north end of Piazza Navona, for its spectacular ancient Roman collections.

Time to spend there:
 
70 min

17:15

Walk south, across Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II, and through the postcard medieval market square of Campo de' Fiori.

Time to spend there:
 
5 min

17:30

Cross the Ponte Sisto bridge into the medieval Trastevere district.

17:45

If you are not all art'ed out yet, turn north a few blocks to see the Renaissance and Baroque paintings inside the Palazzo Corsini.

Time to spend there:
 
65 min

19:00

Head to the public living room of Trastevere, Piazza Santa Maria, and its medieval church of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

20:00

Have dinner in Trastevere.

21:30

Optional: You may be all tuckered out (it's been a looong day), but I like to end an evening in Trastevere with a climb up the Gianicolo Hill for a nighttime panorama of the cuty below.

Ancient Rome and elegant Rome

07:45

Have the earliest reservation possible (9am) at the Galleria Borghese villa, packed with baroque paintings by Caravaggio and sculptures by Bernini. Make sure you give yourself time to get there—and you have to get there at least 10–15 minutes early (poke around this corner of the Villa Borghese park while you wait).

Time to spend there:
 
75 min

10:15

Swing by the antiquities-filled Palazzo Massimo alle Terme branch of the Museo Nazionale Romano.

Time to spend there:
 
70 min

11:40

Try to arrive at the Forum by noon to spend an hour or so wandering the ruins where orators once held forth, senators debated, and Julius Caesar strode the streets. Unfortunately, there's little of the Forum left to see save some standing columns and paved pathways—it takes a lot of imagination to conjure up the city of the Caesars—but so much the better, as there's still much more of Rome to see.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

13:00

You can be out of the Forum by 1pm and on your way past the Imperial Forums.

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

13:25

Have lunch at the old-school wine bar, Cavour 313.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

13:30
★☆☆
 (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
€€
Cavour 313
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome
 
14:30

(If the timing works out, afterwards you can continue continue up Via Cavour a few blocks and climb up the steps of a tunnel-like street on the right to the tiny piazza hiding the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, home to Michelangelo's Moses, but it doesn't reopen for the afternoon until 3pm. If you do work it in, it means you are running a bit late, so don't spend more than 15 minutes in here.)

Time to spend there:
 
15 min

14:30

Next, pay a visit to the Colosseum (save time in the often long lines by booking your entry ahead).

If you manage to get out of the Colosseum by 4pm, you're in good shape and have time for both of the next sights. If it's closer to 5pm, you only have time for one, so pick.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

16:00

  1. Walk around the back of the Colosseum and a few long blocks southeast along Via San Giovanni in Laterano to tour the church of San Clemente, with medieval mosaics glittering in the apse, Renaissance frescoes in the chapels, and a door off the gift shop leading down to the first of several basements that provide an unparalleled tour through Rome's layer cake of history: below the current, medieval church is a 4C church, and below that is a pagan temple to Mithras and the remains of several ancient Roman buildings, streets, and the splashing waters of a still-functioning aqueduct (go ahead and fill your water bottle; the water is clean, cold, and delicious).

Time to spend there:
 
50 min

17:00

  1. Go to Via Labianca (behind the church) to catch bus 85 or 87 headed west ("left") back around the Colosseum and up Via dei Fori Imperiali to Piazza Venezia, at the north end of the Forum. Walk around the giant Vittoriano monument and down Via del Teatro di Marcello to the stairs up to the elevated square Piazza del Campidoglio, where the Capitoline Museums will entertain you with ancient sculptures and Renaissance and baroque paintings until 6:30pm.

Time to spend there:
 
70 min

18:30

Make sure that before sunset you nip around the back of the right side of the central building on Piazza del Campidoglio where you're treated to a surprise panorama of the Forum from above, with the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum as a backdrop.

Time to spend there:
 
9 min

18:40

Make your way over to the lively Spanish Steps. Mingle for a while.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

19:15

Also make sure you stop for some gelato (Italy's divine ice cream). In fact, if you have to choose between gelato and the Spanish Steps, well...

Time to spend there:
 
15 min

19:30

Window shop down fashionable Via dei Condotti and the surrounding streets. By the time you get to the Corso, one of Rome's main drags, the evening passeggiata stroll will be in full swing.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

20:00

Have dinner in the Old City tonight.

21:30

Before you turn in for the night, be sure you stroll to the famous Trevi Fountain, into which it is tradition to toss a few coins in order to ensure that, one day, you'll return to the Eternal City.

What the grey and blue time bubbles mean

Since this itinerary takes into account travel time (walking, taking the Métro, driving, whatever):

  • The times in grey circles are the times by which you need to start moving in order to go to the next stop.
  • The times in blue circles are the times by which you should arrive at that stop to begin the fun.
 
Activities, walks, & excursions links
Escorted tours links
Active tours links
Family tours links
Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for rail travel

English (inglese) Italian (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...train station la ferroviaria [or] la stazione lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah [or] lah stat-zee-YO-nay
ticket un biglietto oon beel-YET-toh
first class prima classe PREE-mah CLAH-say
second class seconda classe say-CONE-dah CLAH-say
one way solo andata SO-low ahn-DAHT-tah
round trip (return) andata e ritorno ahn-DAH-tah ay ree-TOUR-noh
Just the supplement Soltanto il supplemento soul-TAHN-toh eel sou-play-MEN-toh
Just a seat reservation Soltanto una prenotazione soal-TAHN-toh oo-nah pray-no-tah-tsee-YOH-nay
I have a Eurailpass Ho il Eurailpass oh eel YOO-rail-pahs
sleeping couchette una cucetta oo-nah koo-CHET-tah
berth in a sleeping car un posto nel vagone letto oon POH-sto nell vah-GOAN-nay LET-toh
track binario been-AR-ree-yoh
train treno TRE-no
car (carriage) carozza ka-RO-tza
seat posto PO-sto
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay
left luggage deposito bagagli day-PO-zee-toh ba-GAHL-yee
     
punch your ticket timbrare il biglietto teem-BRA-ray eel beel-YET-toh
Is this the right platform for the Rome train? E questo il binario per il treno à Roma? ay KWAY-sto eel been-AR-ree-yo pair eel TRE-no ah RO-ma? 
delayed in retardo een ree-TAR-do
strike sciopero SHO-pair-oh
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
City / Train station names
English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Main station
Rome Roma Termini
Florence Firenze Santa Maria Novella
Venice Venezia Santa Lucia
Milan Milano Centrale
Genoa Genova Porta Principe
Naples Napoli Centrale
Leghorn Livorno Centrale
Turin Torino Porta Nuova

Useful Italian for air travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)   Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
the airport l'aeroporto LAHW-ro-port-oh
the airplane l'aereo LAIR-reh-oh
terminal terminal TEAR-me-nahl
flight volo VOH-lo
gate uscita d'imbarco oo-SHEE-tah deem-BARK-oh
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
delayed in ritardo een ree-TAR-doh
on time in orario een oh-RAH-ree-yo
early in avanti een ah-VAHN-tee
boarding imbarco eem-BARK-o
connecting flight la coincidenza la ko-een-chee-DEN-za
check-in accettazione ah-chet-ta-zee-YO-nee
immigration controllo passaporti cone-TRO-lo pah-sa-POR-tee
security check controllo di sicurezza kohn-TRO-lo dee see-kur-AY-tzah
customs dogana do-GA-na
shuttle la navetta lah na-VET-tah
boarding pass carta d'imbarco kart-ta deem-BARK-o
baggage claim ritiro bagagli ree-TEER-oh bah-GA-lyee
carry-on luggage bagaglio à mano bah-GA-lyo ah MA_no
checked luggage bagalio bah-GA-lyo

Useful Italian for car travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
car automobile ow-toh-MO-bee-lay
scooter/motorboke un motorino oon mo-tair-EE-no
gas station stazione di servizio stah-zee-YO-nay dee sair-VEE-tzee-yo
gas benzina ben-ZEE-nah
diesel gasolio [or] diesel gah-ZOH-lee-oh [or] DEE-zell
Fill it up, please al pieno, per favore ahl pee-YAY-noh, pair fa-VOHR-ray
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the highway l'autostrada lout-oh-STRA-dah
...the state highway la statale [written "SS"] lah sta-TAHL-eh
...the road for Rome la strada per Roma lah STRA-dah pair RO-mah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
to cross attraversare ah-tra-vair-SAR-ay
toll pedaggio peh-DA-jo
parking parcheggio par-KEH-jo
road map carta stradale kar-ta stra-DA-lay
where can I pay the fine? dove posso pagare la multa DOH-veh Po-so pag-GAR-ray la MOOL-tah


Typical road signs / terms » more

English (anglais) French (français) 
Stop Stop
Exit  Uscita
Staffic light Semaforo
One-way Senso unico
Dead-end Strada senza uscita
Parking prohibited No parcheggio or parcheggio proibito
Pedestrian zone Area pedonale
Limited Traffic Zone (you pay to drive in) ZTL or Zona Traffico Limitato

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).