Rome in five days

Blavatar_St Peter's dome

Five days walking and cycling itinerary to discover the best of Rome.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you will definitely need more than 24 hours to discover it! Actually, even though two or three rushy days may be sufficient to get a glimpse of the main sights, ideally you should try to dedicate not less than five days to the visit of the ethernal city.

So what should you see in five days? Well, here are my suggested itineraries. They are designed as walking tours (the best way to discover Rome, in my view!), so you don’t have to bother too much about public transportation. Renting a bicycle could be a good idea as well.

Ideally, try to reserve a hotel in the pedestrian area close to the Spanish steps. My preferred choice is the cosy Hotel La Lumière, a few minutes walking from the Spanish steps.

Day one: the Imperial Rome

Start this tour in Piazza Venezia. It’s easy to find, just at the end of via del Corso.

From Piazza Venezia, visit the Campidoglio square, designed by Michelangelo, who “recycled” the roman temple of Jupiter. Visit Santa maria in Aracoeli, then take the Altare della Patria elevator for a wonderful view on Rome.

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Go to Via dei Fori Imperiali (passing close to the Carcere Mamertino, St Peter’s jail), then enter the archaeological area of Fori Imperiali (ticket needed, which includes also the entrance to the Colosseum) and visit the Forum and the Orti Farnesiani (renaissance garden build in the XVI century over the remains of the Emperors palaces). Visit the colosseum and, if you have the time, have a nice walk in the medieval rome to discover the Roman houses buried under medieval churches (click here to learn more).


At night, have a walk in Trastevere and find a nice restaurant there. My favorites: ristorante Paris (100 meters from Santa Maria in trastevere and ristorante Roma Sparita, for the best tagliolini cacio e pepe ever!

Courtesy of Lonely Planet
Courtesy of Lonely Planet

Day two: St Peters and the Vatican+ climbing up the dome

Consider a full day for all this sites. You can’t visit St Peter during Sunday morning (there’s the papal audience!). Do reserve your Vatican museum tickets, to avoid spending hours in queues (click here to reserve your ticket).

Don’t miss climbing up St Peter’s dome!.

St Peter's square from cupola

At night have a drink in one of Campo de’ Fiori wineries. This is also a good place for your dinner. Suggested restaurant: Ditirambo, 50 meters from Campo dei Fiori square.

Day three: the Jewish Ghetto, Trastevere and palatino

Start in Campo de Fiori (nice market on week days) and walk to Largo Argentina. There you can enter the old Jewish ghetto and discover this off of the beaten track Roman neighbourhood.

Portico di Ottavia and teatro di Marcello

Have also a look at Portico di Ottavia and at Teatro di Marcello. Cross the Tiber river at Isola Tiberina and enter into Trastevere, heading toward Santa Maria in Trastevere Church.

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Visit the middle age church and enjoy the “old village” atmosphere. Loose yourself in the old streets, if you want you could visit Villa Farnesina Museum (paintings from Raffaello) and the Santa Cecilia church, hosting a touching statue of the saint. Cross the Tiber and visit the Santa maria in Cosmedin medieval church, which hosts the famous Bocca della Verità.

From there you can walk to the lovely Palatino neighbourhood (fabolous view on Circo Massimo and the Emperors palaces ruins), where you should visit the Giardino degli Aranci, the Santa Sabina church and the famous Key Hole with a view over St Peter (Piazza Cavalieri di Malta)

At night, go back to the ghetto for a kosher dinner. My suggestion: Il Giardino Romano.

Day four: Barocco Rome

Start your tour in Piazza del Popolo. From there,  first have a look at Santa Maria del Pololo church (quoted in  Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons”) which hosts two amazing paintings from caravaggio).

Walk up to the Pincio gardens (wonderful view on Rome) and keep on walking towards Trinità dei Monti. This is Villa Borghese, one of the most beautiful Roman parks, and a  fantastic place for your morning jogging.

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If you have time, get into Villa Medici (ticket required) and visit the renaissance palace and gardens. Continue to Trinità dei Monti where you will have the Spanish Steps at your feet. Go down, admire the Barcaccia fountain and, why not, have a coffee at the famous caffé Greco. Keep walking on your left, pass via Cavour and get to Fontana di Trevi (have a coin ready to be thrown in the fountain!). Click here to learn more.

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From there, cross via del Corso, heading to piazza del Pantheon (stop to visit Sant’Ignazio Church and admire the amazing trompe l’oeuil painted on the roof. Visit the Pantheon, and the churches of San Luigi dei Francesi and the Basilica di Sant’Agostino (hey host 3 wonderfl paintings by caravaggio) and continue to Piazza Navona. From there, you can loose yourself in the delightfull and lively streets behing it (via del Panico, piazza del Fico, via dei coronary). Then cross the tiber at ponte Sant’Angelo and visit Castel Sant’angelo at sunset. Saint Angel castle could be your starting point for a magical night Rome walking tour (click here to learn more).

Visit Rome_night_the Tiber Castel sat'Angelo_01

Day five: Appia Antica and rione Monti

If the weather is good, you can’t miss a biking tour on the Appian Antica archeological park (you will ride over an original roman causeway!) and a visit to the St Callisto and St Sebastiano catacombs. Click here to learn more.

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In the afternoon, you can explore the delightful Rione Monti (it’s just buhind the colosseum) and visit San Pietro in Vincoli (which hosts the famous Mosè statue by Michelangelo).

Rione Monti is an excellent place for a drink and a for your last Roman dinner. My favorite place: bottiglieria ai tre scalini. It’s the top drinking place in the neighbourhood, but you will find a lot of nice restaurants in the same street (via Panisperna)

Enjoy your Rome tour!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow and get free updates?


Climbing up St Peter’s Basilica’s dome

St Peters dome from the basilica

Climbing to the top of St Peter’s Basilica is possible, and it’s actually one of the highlights of a trip to Rome! Here is how to make it.

Cupola San Pietro

Not that many visitors know that it is possible to climb up to the top of St Peter’s dome (“cupola”) : it is a fantastic experience, and a great opportunity to enjoy a fantastic and dizzying city panorama all around Rome and to admire a top down view of St Peter’s basilica nave.

At the entrance to the basilica, after the security check, there is a sign that directs you to the far right of the portico (past the Holy Door) and to the kiosk for the elevator. Note that the Basilica entrance is on the right side of the colonnade (follow the queue… or click here to learn how to skip it).

You can take the elevator to the roof level (saving 320 steps), but if you want to be on the top of the cupola you must take the stairs for the last portion (551 steps in total). The entrance cost is Cost 10 Euros for elevator, 8 Euros for stairs.

After the brief elevator ride (or the first 320 steps), before your climb to the dome, you can stop and enjoy the view from the gallery inside the dome looking down into the basilica . Take a few moments to absorb the astonishing beauty of the cupola from within – and look down – the main altar.

St Peters insight from cupola_3

St Peters insight from cupola_2

St Peters insight _angel

Michelangelo himself designed this dome, which measurs  135m (450 ft.) above the ground at its top and stretches 42m (139 ft.) in diameter. Legend has it that in deference to the Pantheon, Michelangelo made his dome 1.5m (5 ft.) shorter across, saying “I could build one bigger, but not more beautiful, than that of the Pantheon.” Carlo Maderno later added the dome-top lantern.

The climb to the top of the dome proceeds through progressively narrower and sloping stairs. The narrow passageway can be uncomfortable you are claustrophobic (it could also get crowded and hot in summertime). Luckily, there are “slits” here and there to let fresh air in, and since you’re going up during the daylight hours you’ll have the interior lights plus sunlight now and then.

St Peter_climbing up the cupola

Once at the top, you will be rewarded by the views so often seen in photographs: St Peter’s square…

St Peter's square from cupola

… the Sistine chapel and the Vatican museums…

Vatican museums from cupola

… the Vatican gardens

Vatican Gardens from cupola

Back on the roof, you have access to restrooms, water fountains, a gift shop and a new coffeebar. Take a walk to the front of the basilica to look into the Square and observe the huge statues on the façade and the imposing Cupola just above you.

St Peters cupola

St Peter's facade statues

Vatican_tough jobs

When you’re ready to leave, there is again the option of elevator or stairs. Consider taking the stairs down, as this area contains marble plaques of all the famous who have visited the dome over the years. Going down takes much less time than going up!

Astonishingly, the exit is directly in St Peter’s nave, that you can now visit.

St Peters (navata)

St Peter_St Peter statue

St Peters Navata 2

Tips & Infos

Hours 8:00 – 18:00 (Apr – Sep) 8:00 – 17:00 (Oct – Mar)
Cost 10 Euros for elevator, 8 Euros for stairs (updated March 2018)

Web site (Italian):

Dress code: St. Peter’s has a strict dress code: no shorts, no skirts above the knee, and no bare shoulders. I am not kidding. They will not let you in if you do not come dressed appropriately. In a pinch, guys and gals alike can buy a big, cheap scarf from a nearby souvenir stand and wrap it around legs as a long skirt or throw over shoulders as a shawl.

Drop your bags: They no longer allow you to take large bags or purses into the basilica. Luckily, they’ve also arranged a drop-off point for all bags in a room just to the right of the steps leading up into the church. This service is free.

Free Tours: There are free guided visits to St. Peter’s run by volunteer professors and scholars from North American College in Rome. They’re offered Mon–Fri at 2:15pm and 3pm, Sat at 10:15am and 2:15pm, and Sun at 2:30pm. They meet in front of the Vatican tourist info office, which is to the building along Piazza S. Pietro just left (south) of the main steps into the basilica.

Otherwise, follow this link to skip the queues and get a complete St Peter’s basilica tour.

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