Top Sights for a Three Day Trip to Rome, Italy

Rome is a beautiful city with a fascinating history, interesting culture, and wonderful food. During our two week visit to Italy, we spent three full days in Rome, which was just enough time to see some of the most important sites within the city. We stayed at a boutique hotel that was right on the Piazza Navona, which gave us a central location to explore the city. Since we only had three days in Rome, we made sure to see as much as we could, but we also kept it at a casual pace with plenty of time to relax and people watch on the many restaurant patios. These were the top highlights for our visit to Rome in no particular order.

View of the Colosseum from the Roman Forum
  1. The Colosseum – This is obviously one of the most recognizable locations in Rome and certainly not something to be missed. We visited during the off-season, in February, and even then the crowds can be quite large and lines can be long. There will be many tour guides outside of the Colosseum offering to take you on a tour and allowing you to jump into a shorter line.

    Walking the Museum Halls
  2. Vatican Museums – The Vatican Museums house thousands of works of art that have been collected throughout the centuries. There is too much to see in a single visit and we had to choose between focusing on sculptures or paintings during our tour of the museums. The final stop of any tour of the galleries is to see the interior of the Sistine Chapel. Often you don’t get a lot of time in the chapel because of the large crowds and long lines, but we were fortunate to get to spend as long as we wanted.

    Marble Floors and the Interior of the Pantheon
  3. The Pantheon – Surrounded by the streets of Rome, the Pantheon is a fascinating piece of history in the heart of the city. The exterior of the Pantheon reveals its true age and classical architecture, but the interior looks like it could have been built recently. The interior of the dome is quite stunning and all of the marble floors, various statues, and beautiful artwork are worth making your way through the crowds to see.

    Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Palace in Piazza Navona
  4. Piazza Navona – We were fortunate to have our hotel located right on the Piazza Navona with amazing views from our room. The fountains are quite beautiful and during the day there will be artists and vendors selling items to the tourists as well as musicians playing a variety of music. Seeing the fountains at night when they are lit up is one of our favorite memories. Another reason to visit the Piazza Navona are all of the restaurants and cafes that are located in and around the piazza.

    View of the Roman Forum from Above
  5. The Roman Forum – Walking the paths of the Roman Forum might be our favorite memory of visiting Rome. We would recommend buying a bundled ticket that includes both the Colosseum as well as the Roman Forum. It would be a shame to visit Rome and not take the time to see the Roman Forum with the thousands of years of history and culture that it represents.

    Inside of Saint Peter’s Basilica
  6. Vatican City and Saint Peter’s Basilica – Obviously the Vatican Museums are wonderful to visit, especially with the inclusion of the Sistine Chapel, but just visiting Vatican City is worth it. There is something truly special about walking through Saint Peter’s Basilica and seeing the incredible artwork and architectural details. Stepping outside of the basilica and heading into Saint Peter’s Square is equally impressive with all of its historical significance.

    The Columns and Statues of the Monument
  7. Altare Della Patria – Located about halfway between the Colosseum and the Pantheon, visiting Altare Della Patria is worth visiting for several reasons. There is an observation deck on the roof that provides stunning views of the city as well as the Piazza Venezia, which is across the busy street from the building. There are the statues of the chariots and horses that can be seen from throughout the city. It is also the location of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As with much of Rome, there are also many choices of restaurants in the area.

    Trevi Fountain in Rome
  8. Trevi Fountain – This might be the second most photographed location in Rome with its beautiful statues, flowing waters, and iconic scenes from the movies. Legend has it that if you toss a coin over your left shoulder that your dreams will come true. Money is collected from the fountain and used to provide food for the less fortunate, so even if your dreams don’t come true, you’ve done a good deed. It is a wonderful place to sit and take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy a sunny afternoon.

    City Views of Rome

Regardless of how many days that you have or the time of year that you visit, all of these locations should be on your itinerary. It is difficult seeing a city with a history and culture as diverse as Rome’s in such a short amount of time, but if you relax and walk the streets to visit each of these locations, you will certainly go home with incredible memories. We certainly treasure the time that we spent in Rome and in Italy in general.

Floors and Ceilings at the Vatican Museums

There are a few places where the floors, ceilings, and even the walls can be just as fascinating as the pieces of art or furniture that are in them. The Vatican Museums are definitely such a place where no matter which way you look there seem to be beautiful geometric patterns or murals painted directly onto the ceiling. Obviously there is the Sistine Chapel, but just within the Vatican Museums themselves there is much to see beyond the famous artwork that is housed there. There are certainly many other palaces that we’ve visited that have very ornate floors and ceilings, but these are definitely some of the most interesting and beautiful. It isn’t often that you find yourself taking photographs of a floor, but just because it is beneath your feet doesn’t mean it can’t be art. It is certainly a reminder to not only look left and right, but to also look up and down as well.

Individual Art Combining to a Cohesive Ceiling
Looking Up at a Dome
Every Hallway’s Ceiling is Unique
Beautiful Floor
Connecting Patterns
Mural on the Ceiling
Symmetry above a Doorway
Another Dome
The Floor is as Interesting as Everything Else
So Many Murals Inside of a Dome
3 Dimensional Walls and Ceiling
Another Ceiling with Artwork
Archway and Dome
Colorful Walls and Ceiling


The Vatican Museums in Vatican City

When traveling to Rome, one of the highlights is taking the time to visit Vatican City and specifically the Vatican Museums. Throughout history, the Popes have collected artistic treasures from throughout the world. The majority of the artwork that the church has collected is not on display, but what is on display is overwhelming and can’t be taken in during a single visit to the museums or even to just one of the museums. We were on a tour of Vatican City and our guide asked us whether we wanted to focus on the paintings or on the sculptures since there wouldn’t be time to see both. We decided upon the sculptures, but we really wish we could have had enough time to see both.

Room after Room of Artwork
Colorful Details
Walking the Museum Halls
Detailed Tapestry

There are 54 galleries spread out inside of the museums and even 4 museums dedicated to the various sculptures. With over 50,000 pieces of art and approximately 20,000 of them on display, the total area of the museums is daunting. Included in the galleries is the final stop on any tour to the museums, which is the Sistine Chapel. You often get very limited time inside of the Sistine Chapel, but we were fortunate to be able to stay as long as we wanted, which was truly a memory that we will never forget. Photography is not allowed, although some people were sneaking photos, but we chose to obey the rules and not take any photos ourselves.

Room Filled with Animal Statues
Ornate Ceiling
Enormous Marble Tub
Capturing the Reality of Nature

The very first piece of art collected and put on display at the museums over 500 years ago is the Laocoön and his Sons, which truly is an amazing marble sculpture with incredible details. It was put on display one month after its discovery in 1506 at a vineyard in Rome. There were so many interesting pieces of art that we couldn’t come close to describing them all here, but one other statue that we found fascinating was of a man with a child on his shoulder with such lifelike eyes. One thing that is hard not to notice is that many of the statues have been “censored” by the church through the addition of fig leaves, which we think is a shame since it modifies the original sculpture.

Statue of Laocoön and His Sons
Look at the Amazing Details
Lifelike Eyes
The Full Statue

Like many other large museums, to truly appreciate all of the artwork you would need to visit many times and spend more time truly enjoying each piece of art. At a certain point, when you are walking past masterpiece after masterpiece, the mind starts to tune out and you stop absorbing the beauty that is in front of you. No visit to Vatican City would be complete without visiting the museums, especially to see the spectacular Sistine Chapel.

Each Pope Proudly Takes Credit for Their Additions
Admiring the Statues
Religious Tapestry
Damaged, But Still Beautiful
Sphere within Sphere
3-D Relief