If you want one of life’s more memorable experiences, take a comprehensive leisurely tour of Rome in one day. Now, that raises the question, what should you do and see when only in Rome for a day? LOL. I’m sorry, I can’t go on with this…this is a hilarious absurdity…at least I made it through two sentences. What in the world are you thinking? Rome is one of the most important historical and religious institutions in the history of humankind. How can you hope to see or much less be satisfied with a one-day trip to one of the five most important cities in history?
What? How do I know this is a futile mission? Well, my family and I were those crazy people who tried to do Rome in a day...and we failed miserably.
Don’t Do What We Did! A Florence to Rome Day Trip via Train
We were in the middle of a furious and frantic 10-day trip across Italy when we decided to see Rome in a day. Bless our hearts. We didn’t know better since this was only our second trip out of the USA. We wanted to see it all and had a crazy itinerary that included Naples, the Amalfi Coast (Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano, and Pompeii, etc.), Florence, and Venice. Still, we decided to make the journey from our home base in Florence to Rome via train.
The train ride through the Tuscany Countryside was beautiful and only increased our appetite to see more of Italy and its countryside. However, that would have to wait for another vacation (which we have yet to take).
During the 279-kilometer train ride to Rome, through the central-western part of Italy, you will see countless undulating foothills laden with rustic villages of slanting red-tiled roofs. After seeing these from a distance, I realized that I didn’t want to be on a train. I wanted to be in a car wandering through all the little stops and villages along the route to Rome. Of course, we would never have reached Rome in one day if we were traveling by car. The many charming small towns in Tuscany would have made that impossible.
As the train approached Rome, you see that beautiful scenery comprising of seven hills surround it. I soon found out that the scenery is a primary reason why many tourists travel to the city making it one of the most visited destinations in the world.
Arriving in Rome
Once we left the train station, which is situated in a convenient location for a one-day tour (which you shouldn’t do), the first thing I noticed was the vibrant cityscape and the classical Greek architecture lining the streets. Rome seemed like a big open-air museum with ruins and historical buildings painted in view.
We headed directly for the Roman Colosseum although not knowing where it was. However, there was a flow of people on their way to some place of significance, and we just followed them. The walk through this part of the city with its colorful cafes and interesting winding pathways was, strangely, a highlight of the day trip. Still, there seemed to be an instinctive push to the tourist apex of the city…the Colosseum.
The Roman Colosseum and Surrounding Sites
By the time we arrived at the Colosseum, we were starving but had passed all the neat little cafes and restaurants along the way. Now, the only thing to eat near this tourist trap was fast-food pizza and similar foods. So, we merely ate what provided sustenance at the time (Sadly, this is my only recollection of food in Rome). With our energy replenished, it was time to go.
The Roman Colosseum was impressive and miserable at the same time. The physical structure, the amphitheater, of course, is a must-see for first-timers to Rome like us. However, the overwhelming and annoying street artists made it almost unbearable as they hounded you to take pictures with them and then became furious if you didn’t pay them for this photographic privilege.
Once we moved away from the Colosseum to the excavated part of the Roman empire and beyond, things calmed down, and it was much easier to enjoy the historical sites like Platine Hill, the Roman Forum, Piazza Venezia, Altare della Patria, and the Pantheon. It was a pleasure to visit these sites, and we saw them in detail, but that’s all we saw.
What time is it? Time to Go Already? But We Haven’t Seen…
Remember, we had taken a 1.5-hour train ride from Florence to Rome. We didn’t arrive in Rome until 10:00 am or so. We had a total of fewer than 10 hours to spend before we took the train back to Florence…and that 10 hours was already almost over. How could that be?
We saw many of the sights near the Roman Colosseum, and that was it. Yes, that’s it. That gives you an indication of how jam-packed the tourist attractions are in this energetic and historic area of Rome.
Even though Rome is allied with Christianity, with Catholicism’s home in Vatican City, we didn't have an opportunity to see any of the significant attractions associated with its religious history. We did not have enough time to visit The Vatican, Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, nor the world’s largest basilica of Christianity, St. Peter's Basilica. The closest we came to St. Peter's Basilica was from a view at the top of Altare della Patria.
We didn’t see any of Rome’s world-renown art museums. We didn’t see the coastline to the west. We did not have time to visit any of the beautiful natural parks that are spread throughout the city.
One day does not allow you to do these things. Frankly, you need a minimum of one week.
Some Tidbits That Will Make You Not Want to See Rome in a Day
Rome’s modern part consists of hotels and restaurants. It is also an economic center making it a perfect destination for business people and shoppers. We didn’t see any of those things. It’s a city that starkly contrasts the modern and the historical element, and we only saw a microscopic amount of its history.
For over 3000 years, Rome has held its place in the elite cities of Europe. It’s the most populated city in Italy with over 3 million people and has millions of tourists visiting each year. It’s the third most visited city in Europe because of its wealth of attractions. It is a place that all lovers of traveling must visit and absorb; however, not in one day.
Don't be fooled by all of the beautiful photos associated with this article. Going to Rome for one day will only make you want more and more. It is like eating an excellent piece of cake just to have it drop in a puddle of mud after one delicious once-in-a-lifetime bite. For anyone who thinks they want to see Rome in a day, you must be crazy! Don’t do it!
Well, maybe it wasn't too bad.