3 Days in Rome, Italy

What is Rome Italy Known For

Rome is simply breathtaking and beautiful during Christmas! As Rome is the heart of Catholicism, Christmas is a holiday well celebrated in this beautiful city. The rich Roman history presides in the walls and architecture of the basilicas, churches, and catacombs. Popes, Saints, and artists have spent a lifetime sharing the message of Christianity, and you can see this everywhere in Rome.

Planning your trip to Rome

You should probably plan your trip no less than 6 months in advance. Anywhere between 3-6 months is a good time to buy your plane tickets since this is an international flight if you are flying from the U.S.

Make sure you have a passport that has at least 6 months before it expires from the date of your return. We cannot emphasize this enough. This is critical otherwise the airlines will not let you on, and if for some reason they do, you will be stuck at the Immigration center and not be let into Italy. We found out all this the hard way. We ended up staying in the U.S. a lot longer just to get my husband’s passport renewed even though it would not have expired until several weeks after returning. So don’t let this happen to you!

If you are in a rush, like we were, we would highly recommend visiting a passport office in a major city, like Atlanta, Georgia. If you are in need of renewal, major cities can have it done that day by the afternoon. Otherwise, it can take 24-48 hours for expedited passports if you don’t have one. We would highly recommend that you stay in a hotel that is next door or on the same street as the Passport agency. Hotel Indigo is next door to the passport agency in Atlanta. They have an elevator that goes directly into that office, and people from all over stay here for that very purpose, as you want to be first in line when the passport agency opens. Gather all your information before you get there, and while there is an upcharge, it is well worth it!

What is the official language of Italy?

The official language of Italy is Italian as you may have guessed. So you would fare better there if you knew some Italian. We like learning some new languages in Duolingo. It’s a site where you can learn a new language for free. There’s also an application that you can use on your phone. It won’t make you fluent in that language, but it will help you get around. Another source we tend to use is called Coffee Talk which you can listen to as a podcast. This is a great way to learn a new language on your coffee break.

What books are good to read for my trip to Italy?

We would also recommend other resources besides us :), such as books that can help plan your trip. We like Frommer’s Rome Day by Day. It’s a pocket-size book with the 31 Smart Ways to see the city and it includes a map. If you intend to go to Italy for your very first time, you will likely visit Rome, and Rome needs a book in and of itself! Frommer’s is in color and it’s a much better read. Plus you can take it with you on the plane. What we really like about this pocket guide is if you are in Rome, only for a short time, it gives you the best itineraries for your limited days there. We also recommend Frommer’s Italy, but this is an actual book, as there is a lot more information, but also in color. While we bought Rick Steves’ Italy, we do not recommend it. It’s not in color, and not easy to read.

Weather in Rome

Rome in December is a great time to go as far as the weather is concerned. In its December weather history, Rome is typically 56 degrees Fahrenheit/13 degrees Celsius. The average rainfall is 3.66 inches. And they typically have zero snow days in December. For us, it was in the mid-50s Fahrenheit. We definitely brought a jacket but it was quite pleasing during the day.  The summer months of June, July, & August are typically hot days in Rome with record temps of 100 degrees Fahrenheit/37 degrees Celsius. And air conditioning is limited. Many Italians don’t like air conditioning. As such many museums do not have it. Hotels will likely have it. But if you are staying in an Airbnb, and visit Rome in the summer, you may want to make sure they have air conditioning if it is not listed. As such, December is a great time to visit if you don’t want to be hot, sticky, and muggy.

Where to Stay in Rome

We felt knowing the language to some degree was very important in your day to day activities here. We stayed at the IQ Hotel Roma for 1 night…I would highly recommend this place. It’s very well kept, very American friendly, and the rooms were decently spacious. The hotel is close to the Termini train station. It’s within walking distance and in a safe neighborhood. We were starving after we checked in. So we grabbed a bite to go at Rifugio Romano. We did our research before we arrived and the place did not disappoint!! We are pescatarians, and their vegetarian dish was to die for!

Is Rome Italy Dangerous

Rome is like any big city, stay away from people who want to sell you stuff, give you stuff, or take photos for you. These people generally want something, and while you’re distracted, can pickpocket you. Pickpocketing is common in Rome and in Vatican City. There’s a lot of vagrants in these cities. As such we would suggest you purchase a travel money belt with an RFID block. You’ll be walking a lot in Rome, as such travel lightly. If you have a camera, you may want to put it away in your bag while walking. And ladies don’t showcase your jewelry. With any travel, you want to look less like a tourist and more like locals. When the night falls, it is good to take an Uber, rather than walking. You don’t want to find yourself in dark alleys. Aside from the pickpocketing and some common-sense safety guidelines, Rome and Vatican City are pretty safe. 

When to visit the Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museum is huge! So we recommend visiting in the morning. Buy tickets ahead of time for the tour. If you like Art History and or Religion…this is a place to go. Even if you don’t like it, go anyway, as the place is spellbinding and there is no other museum like it! The tour is long so wear comfortable shoes or your feet and back will ache. Morning is when most people have energy, and you’ll need it to walk through the museum.

What you must see in the Vatican Museum? 

First of all, take a guided tour, this will help you make sense of all the beautiful paintings you see. Definitely visit the Pio-Clementine section of the museum. Here you’ll find the most important Greek and Roman sculptures and statues. Below is the Belvedere Apollo. Cardinal Giuliano Della Rovere held this statue in his palace in Rome until he was elected Pope. At that time the statue was transferred to the Vatican where it has been held since 1508.  

You should also visit Raphael’s Stanze. These are rooms that were created as apartments for Pope Julius II Della Rovere. Below you will see the Proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception fresco. 

Also, visit the Gallery of Maps. Here you’ll find large scale Italian Frescoes showing a region of the city. The geographical maps represent Ancient Italy and Modern Italy. You’ll also find the 4 major ports of the sixteenth century. Below is a painted, vaulted ceiling in the Map Room. 

And finally, the best for last. You end this tour in a private room where you have this panoramic view of the Sistine Chapel! It IS astounding!  It’s absolutely breathtaking and definitely worth the visit to Italy! The Sistine Chapel was originally built for an older chapel called the Capella Magna. In the 1400s, Pope Sixtus IV commissioned it. Numerous artists worked on it, but the most famous of all was Michangelo. Michelangelo painted roughly 300 figures illustrating man’s time on earth to the coming of Jesus Christ. It took Michelangelo 4 years to paint the Sistine Chapel. As extraordinary as it looks, fun fact…Michelangelo was not a painter. You are not allowed to take pictures in this room and are told to be quiet. There are guards watching you. You only have a little bit of time in this room, so mesmerize away. I’ll give you a sneak peek! 

Visit St. Peter’s Square

A trip to Rome wouldn’t be right without a visit to St. Peter’s Square. St. Peter’s Square is the largest plaza in the world!  Pope Francis commonly speaks to the public at this square. During Christmas, there was a large nativity scene set up here. There was a very tall Christmas tree here as well. 

How Many Saints are in St. Peter’s Square

Multiple artists in the 17th and 18th centuries created 140 statues of Roman Catholic Saints here.  The Square was named after Saint Peter who was an apostle to Jesus. He is considered by Catholics to have been the first pope.  The square itself was designed by the most famous Baroque artist Lorenzo Bernini. 

St. Peter’s Basilica

Within the square is the world’s largest Church known as St. Peter’s Basilica. It is 720 feet in length and 490 feet wide! It covers an area of 227,070 square feet or 21,095 square meters!! It is breathtaking. And no amount of words could ever describe what one sees with their eyes. This is believed to be the burial place of St. Peter. It took 120 years to complete the church! St. Peter’s is supported by 4 large piers! There are 100 tombs and 91 popes buried here. 

Is there a Colosseum in Italy?

If you are only in Rome for a few days, you must also visit the Colosseum. It is one of the eight wonders of the world. It is an oval amphitheater in the center of the city. It is the most ancient and largest standing theatres in the world! It stands at 171 feet tall and contains 70,000 seats. It was built by Emperor Vespasian. They had gladiator fights in this venue back in the day. Now it serves for important events. You can get a tour inside, but it’s hard to get, as tickets go by fast, so plan in advance to get one. The tours give you underground access and Roman Forum access.

What are some facts about the Roman Forum?

History is everywhere in Rome. While the area is not preserved well, it’s a significant part of Roman history. The Roman Forum was the center of civilization in ancient Rome, this is where people met and congregated. This is an important place to visit because this is where democracy once existed and fell to unelected emperors. Since the Roman Forum is close to the Colosseum, it is definitely not hard to miss. There are many areas you can’t walk on, without a tour guide or you cannot walk on at all due to the historical significance.

What was the Roman Pantheon?

The Pantheon is now a Catholic Church but was a former Roman temple. The Pantheon was built and designed by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD. With it being a perfect hemisphere, it is definitely a work of ancient art and architecture! It is 141 feet tall and 3 feet wider than St. Peter’s Dome.

Where is the Pantheon in Rome Located?

The Pantheon is located in the Piazza Navona. It is a 30 minute walk from Vatican City. It is a 20 minute walk from the Roman Forum, and a 5 minute walk from Trevi Fountain. It’s exact address is Piazza della Rotunda, Rome, Lazio 00186.

The Pantheon gets pretty busy, so come early as the line reaches around the building. The Pantheon is close to a lot of hotels and businesses, so bring some comfortable shoes to wait and walk in.

What is the most famous fountain in Italy?

Next stop, Trevi Fountain! Trevi Fountain is the most famous fountain in Italy and the world. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city. It is 86 feet tall and 161.3 feet wide. There is a replica fountain in Las Vegas, Nevada that looks just like it at Cesar’s Palace. As you can see from the picture below, this area gets very busy. But if you sit in the right spot, you can still get a decent picture. People throw coins into this fountain for their good wishes! Yes, we did too!

The largest baroque fountain in Rome and the most famous fountain in the world.

What are the Spanish Steps in Rome?

Another place you don’t want to miss is the Spanish Steps. The Spanish Steps in Rome are a 135 step stairway that can be a little steep to get to near the top. This place is surrounded by tourists, so you won’t get to run up the steps, but rather shuffle yourself around as you get to the top. We would highly advise taking a taxi, Uber, or Lyft from wherever you are coming from as you head to the Spanish Steps. Once you walk up the Spanish Steps, and then down, you’ll likely be a little tired. If you want a good picture, come early in the morning.

What is the area of shopping near the Spanish Steps?

The area around the Spanish Steps is very busy with high end shopping! So if you are rich, you will love it. And if you are not, it’s great to window shop, admire, and people watch! You’ll find luxury retail spots like Fendi, Bulgari, Valentino, Gucci, Prada, Hermes, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo, Ferragamo just to name a few!

Stairway of 135 steps in Rome Italy

In a nutshell, you don’t want to miss the locations above if you have limited time in Rome. We did all this in 3 days! We were also lucky to celebrate New Year’s Even in Rome and got a chance to see the fireworks here. The gelato is amazing here as you can imagine, the pasta is perfect, and the wine is so pure and free of sulfites unlike back at home.

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