Three days in Rome – a sacred city – day 2

With all there is to see on the main side of the river in Rome, there’s even more at the Vatican and surrounding hills and neighbourhoods. Get ready for day two on our 3-day tour of Rome.

10:00-13:00 - The Vatican, including the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

View down Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Basilica by jimmyharrisThe Vatican is not only the home of the Pope and centre of the Catholic world - it’s also its own separate country with one of the largest art collections in the world.

In order to avoid the long queues assembled along the Vatican’s 8th-century defensive walls, you might want to consider booking tickets online in advance directly with the Vatican. You could also book a guide who will manage your time to see the extensive art collection in the museums that leads into the Sistine Chapel, followed by the world’s biggest church, St. Peter’s Basilica.

Highlights of the museum collection include the Pinacoteca Gallery, with paintings by Raphael, da Vinci and Caravaggio, along with the sculpture garden in the Pio Clementine Gallery. Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, look out for the tombs of several popes and spectacular funeral monuments on the main level of the church. The most startling tomb is the waxed body of Pope John XXIII. For hundreds more tombs of former popes you can visit the crypt of the popes underneath the church.

13:30 - time for lunch

Chitarra by Renée S. SuenTo escape the crowds and souvenir vendors exit the Vatican at St. Peter’s Square and cross the street at Via di Porta di Cavalleggeri. Here you’ll find a charming local Roman restaurant called Perdincibacco on Via delle Fornaci 5/9. Try Rome’s most popular pasta dish of carbonara - a creamy egg sauce with pancetta and cheese. That will give you the energy to get up the imposing Janiculum hill where you’ll spend the rest of your day.

In order to reach the top of the Janiculum Hill you could either walk the street that intersects Via delle Fornaci called Viale delle Mure Aurelie or take the 870 bus on Via di Porta di Cavalleggeri and get off at the Garibaldi Park.

15:00 – 18:00 - Janiculum Hill

View of Rome from the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola by Rene CunninghamIn Garibaldi park you will notice busts of great patriots who fought in the struggle for Italy’s unification in the 19th century. This is a popular spot for romantics and locals, as it’s removed from the bustle of the city looking down on the city’s hundreds of church domes and monuments. You will see plenty of lovers and friends enjoying the city view and cooler temperatures up here.

Walking towards one of the city’s most impressive fountains called Acqua Paola, you will pass by the façade of Michelangelo’s former dwelling where he lived while he was painting the Sistine Chapel. The façade was moved to this location from below the hill for historic preservation. The Acqua Paola fountain is one of the best examples of recycled materials in Rome, built by the Borghese Pope in the 17th century out of the marble materials from the original St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s a showcase for a re-activated ancient aqueduct with powerful cascading water pouring out of a decorative theatre stage set.

Heading down the hill on Via Garibaldi you can’t miss the Renaissance architectural perfection of Bramante’s Tempietto, a small temple hidden beside the church of San Pietro in Montorio.

For a break and to enjoy the greenery, stop in at a wine bar on the cliff called Il Baretto at Via Garibaldi 27/f. When you’re suitably refuelled and ready for more sightseeing, continue heading down Via Garibaldi into the trendy Trastevere neighbourhood. The church of Santa Maria in Trastevere is the oldest church in Rome. It was built in the third century and has beautiful Byzantine mosaics and Cosmati floor patterns decorating the interior.

This is also a great neighbourhood if you fancy a spot of shopping. You can find some fine handmade jewellery and artisanal leather accessories in the numerous local boutiques.

19:30 - Dinner in Trastevere

Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere by DamounsThe district of Trastevere is famous for its food, and is home to a wide variety of fine dining and unassuming trattorias. For some homemade pasta and other traditional Italian dishes try Osteria Ponte Sisto on Via di Ponte Sisto 80. If you want to taste Rome’s most famous pizza, be prepared to queue for a table at Pizzeria Ai Marmi on Viale Trastevere 53.

When the evening is done, do as the Romans – pick up some gelato and stroll the intricate quarters of the Trastevere neighbourhood getting lost in its winding streets.