First day - Plan Your Trip to Rome In 48 Hours

"First day - Plan Your Trip to Rome In 48 Hours" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Friday 10th June 2011

First day - Plan Your Trip to Rome In 48 Hours, Italy

A. The Vatican City

Arriving at St. Peter's Square, the visitor is immediately impressed by the size of the memorable square facing St. Peter's, surrounded by the magnificent four-row colonnade masterpiece of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Only when one gets inside the basilica, slowly climbing up the sweeping three flights of steps designed by Bernini, one will be truly amazed by the size and splendour of the largest church in the world, the symbol of Christianity, extending over a total of about 22,000 sqm.

B. Castel Sant'Angelo

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The first itinerary we suggest starts from

  1. St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City (A),
    Vatican City (A)
  2. goes on to Castel S.Angelo (B)
    Castel S.Angelo (B)
  3. then, crossing the Tiber,
  4. gets to Piazza Navona (C)
    Piazza Navona (C),
  5. next to the Pantheon(D)
    Pantheon(D),
  6. and finally, passing through Piazza Colonna,
  7. ends up in Piazza di Spagna (E)
    Piazza di Spagna (E).

A. The Vatican City

Arriving at St. Peter's Square, the visitor is immediately impressed by the size of the memorable square facing St. Peter's, surrounded by the magnificent four-row colonnade masterpiece of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Only when one gets inside the basilica, slowly climbing up the sweeping three flights of steps designed by Bernini, one will be truly amazed by the size and splendour of the largest church in the world, the symbol of Christianity, extending over a total of about 22,000 sqm.

The building is 136 m. high, the diameter of the Cupola, designed by Michelangelo, measures 42 m. It is possible to reach the top of the Cupola climbing 330 steps: once up there the view of the square below and of Rome is unforgettable. The church contains the masterpieces of important artists: the 29 m. high bronze baldachin by Bernini, the Pietà by Michelangelo, the tomb of Clement XIII by Canova and the mosaic of the Navicella by Giotto, located above the middle entrance to the Portico.

Numerous and timeless are the works of art, mainly paintings, kept in the Vatican Museums, which preserve the art of the most illustrious artists of all times. A visit to the Sistine Chapel, a milestone in the history of Italian painting, should not be missed.
The Vatican City
Brief historical outline
The first basilica of St. Peter, belonging to the Vatican City, independent State since 1929 (Lateran Pacts), was built by emperor Costantin about 320 A.D. near the necropolis which included the tomb of the martyrized Saint, that can still be visited today. Around 1450, reconstruction works were first entrusted to Bernardo Rossellino, later on to Bramante who designed a Greek-cross plan basilica, and then to Raphael who designed it, instead, following a Latin-cross plan. The design by Bramante was resumed and enlarged by Michelangelo in 1547. Before its official conservation in 1626, the church was modified by Carlo Maderno who reverted definitively to the Latin-cross plan.

B. Castel Sant'Angelo

From St. Peter's walking along Via della Conciliazione one can reach the second stop of our itinerary: Castel Sant'Angelo. The unique monument houses the National Museum where, besides the stuccoes, frescoes and furniture of the papal apartments, one can also admire an important collection of ancient arms. Castel Sant'Angelo is well known to Opera lovers, since right from its famous terrace overlooking the heart of Rome, Tosca, the protagonist of Giacomo Puccini's opera, threw herself down.
Castel Sant'Angelo
Brief historical outline
Castel Sant'Angelo is an imposing mausoleum built on the banks of the river Tiber, ordered and probably designed by Emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD), who wished to have a tomb for himself and his successors. Over the centuries Castel Sant'Angelo has undergone several changes: first a fortress against the attacks of the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, then a prison and finally a magnificent papal residence.

C. Piazza Navona

From an air view, the arena-like shape of Piazza Navona can be easily noticed. As a matter of fact, the piazza was built on the Stadium of Domitian, whose ruins can still be admired in the adjacent church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. The church, designed by the great architect Francesco Borromini, is an excellent example of the Roman Baroque architecture. In Piazza Navona are three fountains: Fontana del Moro, Fontana di Nettuno and in the centre of the square Bernini's magnificent Fontana dei Fiumi. Four allegorical statues portray the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and the Rio de la Plata, symbolizing the four corners of the world. Traditionally, from the beginning of December till the Epiphany, this piazza is occupied by stalls selling sweets and toys.
Piazza Navona
Brief historical outline
Around 86 A.D., Emperor Domitian had a stadium built on a pre-existing amphitheatre of Nero's time and over the centuries the square became a place for games, tournaments and processions. From the 17th to the 19th centuries the square used to be flooded to allow the ships of princes and prelates to parade in a background of fireworks.

D. Pantheon

The Pantheon is an impressive example of the exquisite architectural technique of ancient Rome. It consists of a huge cylindrical body of equal height and width, covered by a great hemispherical dome.

Important artists such as the painter Raphael are buried there, as well as the Italian Sovereigns of the period when Italy was a monarchy.

Opposite to the Pantheon is Piazza della Rotonda with its beautiful fountain designed by Giacomo Della Porta.
Pantheon, Rome
Brief historical outline
Built as a temple dedicated to all the gods, erected by Marcus Agrippa in 25 B.C. and later rebuilt by Hadrian around 120 A.D., the Pantheon underwent several transformations: a Christian church in 609 and a fortress in Medieval Times.

E. Piazza di Spagna

A meeting place for both Romans and tourists, Piazza di Spagna is famous for its theatrical staircase, a creation of Francesco De Sanctis, and for its fountain known as La Barcaccia, designed in 1629 by Pietro Bernini and his son Gian Lorenzo in the shape of a boat semisubmerged in water.

At the top of the Spanish Steps is the Church of Trinità dei Monti, erected by order of the king of France Louis XII in 1502. Farther along, on the left, is Villa Medici, today seat of the Academy of France. The streets that host the most important fashion shops, but also the sites that have left a mark on the history and the culture of Rome depart in rays from Piazza di Spagna. In this respect a visit to Caffè Greco in Via Condotti is not to be missed.
Piazza di Spagna, rome
Brief historical outline
Originally Piazza di Spagna was named after the imposing church at the top of the great flight of steps, Trinità dei Monti, one of the French churches of Rome. Only in the 17th century, when Palazzo Monaldeschi became seat of the Spanish Embassy, did the square become knows as Piazza di Spagna in order to win the rivalry with France, owner of Trinità dei Monti.

Continue To Second Day Trip to Rome - Colosseum, Fori Imperiali, Roman Forum, Campidoglio, Capitoline Museums and the Vittoriano

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