My flight to Portugal was with an eight-hour stopover in Rome. I realized that for a full tour in Rome Ι needed at least 3 days, but I didn’t want to waste my time and decided to make a maximum quick tour of the city in about 4 hours. You think it’s impossible? YES? Not at all, and below you will find how to see Rome in 4 hours and to taste a real Italian pizza 😀 .
So, let’s start…
FROM AIRPORT TO ROME
I arrived at Rome’s Ciampino Airport at 11 am. Since I only had a carry-on baggage, I left the airport in 15 minutes. I bought a ticket to the Termini Central Station operated by Terravision shuttle bus (I have already used their services for traveling in Italy and was pleased). These shuttle buses connect Ciampino Airport with the Termini station in approximately 40 minutes. The first bus leaves the airport at 8:15 am and the last departs at 12:15 (midnight). The first bus to leave from Termini to the airport is at 4:30 am. If you buy the ticket online before you get to Rome or a few days before going back home, you can find tickets for just 4 €. If you purchase a one-way journey it will cost 6 € but, 10 € for a roundtrip.
The road to the central station took about an hour due to the traffic and construction work, so I got there at 12:20 pm.
My first goal was to leave my luggage in the storage room and I found it right inside the station – KiPoint Deposito Bagagli. I read something that said there was usually a very long queue in the high season, but when I came I saw only 10 people in front of me. The cost of one bag is 6 €, but if you do not want to wait in line when getting back the luggage it’s cost 12 €. Since I had a little time, I decided to pay a double rate, although I regretted it since after my tour there was no line at all.
MY SIGHTSEEING RACE
By marking the attractions on my map, I realized that I could make a circular walk from the Termini and back.
It is 12:30 on my watch and I began my acquaintance with the church with a long name Santa Maria Degli Angeli e Dei Martiri. It is one of the most remarkable and impressive churches in the city.
The next church on the way is the Church of Santa Susanna which has, until 2017, been known as the American church in Rome and is a parish for English-speaking people living in Rome. Due to problems discovered in June 2013 (wooden items falling from the ceiling), the church was regrettably closed to the public; however, as of August 1, 2017, the parish has been moved to Saint Patrick’s Church on Via Boncompagni No. 31, one block from the American Embassy.
So I moved on to the next stop, the Fountain of Moses. It was the first of the many monumental fountains that were installed in the city of Rome after the Middle Ages. The fountain is named for the large statue of Moses that stands at its center and, in my opinion, this is not the best copy of the original by Michelangelo!
Then I turned into the street via Barberini and passed by the Triton Fountain. I really like a lot of the fountains in Rome!
Finally, after 30 minutes, I reached the Spanish Steps…yeahhh… Down below was a huge crowd of tourists, so I moved on.
Unfortunately, I did not have time to visit Piazza del Popolo “People’s Square” and Villa Borghese gardens, which is a MUST see! So, I went in search of the Trevi Fountain. This is not so easy, as the fountain is located in a small square amongst the alleys, and BINGO! I found it! By the way, this is the most recognizable and famous fountain in the world! I LOVE IT! The fountain has its own myth: “Three Coins in the Fountain” and it goes like this:
- If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome.
- If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian.
- If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met
So, I threw one coin (I will be back 😛 ) and went on to my next point – the Pantheon, my favorite building in Rome. The curious fact is that the word Pantheon is a Greek adjective meaning “honor all Gods”(hello, Greece!). In fact, the Pantheon was first built as a temple to all gods.
Ok, I went further to Piazza Navona. I passed by the Church of St. Louis of the French. It would have been great to go to look at Caravaggio, but again not enough time. From the Pantheon to Navona a little more than 5 minutes.
Piazza Navona is one of the largest and most beautiful (piazza) squares in Rome with three impressive fountains, including la Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi(the Fountain of Four Rivers) by Bernini with its large obelisk at the center. Once again: I love the fountains! and Bernini 😀 . It’s just breathtaking…and a lot of amazed tourists all around it.
After the square, I came out on the Tiber embankment. From here I saw my next target – the Castle of the Holy Angel (my regards to Dan Brown). From Navona, it’s about 15 minutes walk and time is 14:00. The bridge is full of vendors with different miscellaneous objects.
In the year 1277, an 800-meter fortified corridor was built that connected the castle with the Vatican City so that the Pope could escape in the event that he was in danger, but I went to the Vatican in the usual touristic way.
And what a pleasant surprise! The vast square of St. Peter is relatively uncrowded and there was no queue practically, so I went inside. There are two levels below St Peter’s Basilica; the first level is known as the Vatican Grottoes where the tombs of 91 Popes are buried. The level below this is the Vatican Necropolis and houses St Peter’s Tomb. There are only three women entombed in the Vatican Grottoes; Queen Christina of Sweden, Agnesina Colonna Caetani and Queen Charlotte of Cyprus. The holy door in St Peter’s Basilica is only opened for Jubilee Years, which is once every 25 years. They are usually cemented shut to prevent them from accidentally being opened. What I remembered was the Michelangelo’s famous carving of the Pieta and it is protected by bulletproof glass.
I was inside about 30 minutes and after I just had to run to the square Pizza Della Chiesa Nuova with the church Santa Maria in Vallicella.
At 15:10 I reached Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, where Giordano Bruno was burned to death. Here now is the usual bazaar, around his monument.
One of the most picturesque places is the Largo Dei Librari with its tiny church of Santa Barbara. I moved on to the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina. It is a square in Rome that houses four Roman temples and the remains of a Temple, discovered in 1920. But it is more famous for its large number of cats, and the site of the murder of Julius Caesar.
I returned to the Tiber embankment, the time on my watch – 15:30, so I did not have time to visit the island of Tiberius and went on further. I passed the Temple of Portunus, and the Fountain of Triton and I came out near the church Saint Mary in Cosmedin. Again another Greek word hohoho. The name Cosmedin comes from the Greek word “kosmidion”, meaning ornamented, thanks to its beautifully decorated interior.
And what did I see behind…? Bocca Della Verita or the Mouth of Truth. During ancient times it was more like a lie detector. The offenders would be asked to take the oath and have to place their hand inside the open mouth while they answer the executioner’s questions. It was believed that if a person is telling the truth, the disc would never move a muscle. However, if the person was telling a lie, the mouth would close and then cut off the hand of that person…OMG…I decided not to try 🙂
Next stop was Circus Maximus – the largest stadium in ancient Rome built for chariot races. Further, I passed the Arch of Constantine and finally – The Colosseum! One word – COLOSSAL! As usual, swarming of tourists armed with cameras and ticket sellers speaking all languages of the world. The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater (meaning “theatre in the round”) in the world! This brilliant building had 80 entrance…wow… and could seat approximately 50,000 spectators who would come to watch sporting events and games. FREE FOR ALL! At the Colosseum’s major events – often those organized and paid for by the emperors themselves – there was no entry fee. And the free food was sometimes served, too.
After a few photos, and with hurried steps, I went to the Trajan’s Forum and reached the most insane and pretentious structure in Rome – the Vittoriano. It is the huge white monument which obstructs the most panoramic views of Rome.
What a pity? It’s already 16:10 and I had to go back. And my final point was the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, which has a beautiful legend in its history:
By my watch is 16:35, and my bus would leave at 17:10. I found a small pizzeria near the church and realized that I was really hungry. I finally sat down after the 4-hour race and ordered a fresh Italian pizza, which I got after 10 minutes of waiting (well done, fast guys). The pizza was just awesome and it took me only 10 minutes to leave not even a slice (well done for me 😛 ).
Only 10 minutes left to pick up my luggage and find a bus. Exactly at 17:08 I was near the bus but …. oh my God …. what is this queue! Anyone who had missed the first bus must wait for the second one. I had no time and decided to take a taxi. I was in a hurry and the driver did not speak English at all! Unbelievable! As I understood, in Rome, the biggest problem is the traffic lights, they are just every 100 meters. And thankfully, exactly at 18:00, I was at the airport. By taxi it took 50 minutes and cost 40 euros, on the bus, I have been late for sure…
I want to mention, one more time, how I admire the airports, serving low-cost airlines. They are so simple and fast in services. Within 20 minutes I was expecting a boarding call with a cup of Italian coffee in my hand…